By Fred Brown
East Tennessee Chronicles, written in conjunction with the East Tennessee Historical Society.
Wright Brothers Find a Little Wing Lift from East Tennessean
Edward Chalmers Huffaker was, by all accounts, a gentle man, but he had his quirks, like a well advertised ability to spew a stream of tobacco across the room into the bottom of a spittoon.
And his ingenuity with math was so good he was asked once to correct some of George Washington’s messy arithmetic in a surveying job.
There was something else Huffaker was also pretty handy at flight. He studied birds, watching them in graceful ascent. He marveled at the ease with which they climbed and soared on wind currents, expending little energy, seemingly without so much as flapping a wing.
From those studies on a hillside in Chuckey, near Greeneville, Tenn., he devised a glider for Octave Chanute, one of the nation’s earliest and foremost pioneers in flight.
At the time, Chanute, an engineer, was working with Orville and Wilbur Wright. In fact, Chanute was so concerned about what the brothers were up to he paid for Huffaker’s room and board and sent him to the site of the birth of powered flight.
The year was 1899, and flying free of earthly bonds was on everyone’s mind, including a couple of bicycle building brothers from Dayton, Ohio.
Huffaker was a mathematical genius, having graduated from Emory and Henry College with honors. After completing a master’s degree in math at the University of Virginia, he was offered a four year fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, which he turned down, saying he was tired of studying.
Huffaker turned his attention to birds and flight. He also discovered that Chanute was serious about flying machines. Chanute was so impressed with Huffaker’s math skills and his ideas about gliding, that he got him a job at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington as an assistant in aerodynamical experiments.
There, Huffaker wrote a pamphlet, ”On Soaring Flight.” At the time, it was a masterful treatise on how to fly without crashing and burning. Chanute had been working with gliders, and after consulting with Huffaker, he built one that he thought would be the first to make it aloft.
Huffaker told him the glider needed alterations to the wings and the tail, or it, too, would go down in a hurry. The man from East Tennessee doubted the stability of curved wings, and he said the tail needed to be used more for guidance than a means of support.
An incredulous Chanute said he wasn’t so sure, but went along with Huffaker’s new wing design and the changes he crafted onto the tail section. The glider soared. Like the birds of Chuckey.
That glider flight, which lifted off May 5, 1896, was one of the earliest success stories in flight. Hundreds of other attempts had resulted in rather humorous, sometimes tragic, results in nose dive after nose dive.
A gleeful Chanute was so excited, he contacted the Wright boys and informed them he was sending
his man, Huffaker, over to see if he could help them. He had, Chanute bragged, just put the first glider aloft.
Some authorities think Chanute sent Huffaker in with his glider concept to keep an eye on the crafty brothers. This would have made Huffaker one of the first industrial spies, perhaps.
”Chanute who befriended the Wright brothers but with some reservations . . . saw in these young upstarts from Ohio potential competition for the position of the authority on heavier than air experiment,” writes Tom Underwood, who is distantly relatedto Huffaker.
Underwood, manager of the Knoxville Teachers Federal Credit Union, says that Huffaker spent a season with the Wright brothers in Kitty Hawk, while on Chanute’s payroll, and became something of a thorn in their side.
”It appears from letters home (from the brothers to their sister) that Huffaker’s rough ways with special attention to his use of chewing tobacco . . . seemed to be an unwelcome dining event,” Underwood writes about his famous kinsman.
It didn’t help that Huffaker arrived at the Kill Devil Hills camp near Kitty Hawk, N.C., in July 1901 to conduct experiments with Chanute’s glider in pieces, either.
He had also strolled into camp just after a seven day storm that brought squadrons of black mosquitoes, which Orville said chewed on them clear through to their underwear.
Whatever else they may have been, the Wright boys were extremely wary of Huffaker. They thought he was shiftless, didn’t enjoy his using their box camera for a footstool, didn’t much take to his East Tennessee mannerisms, especially his ability to stream tobacco over great distances, and they halfway thought he was to blame for the arriving mosquitoes.
While camped at Seven Devil Hills in a wooden shed that served as a hangar, the brothers noted that Huffaker was slow to clean up after himself, shunned washing dishes and didn’t like to take baths.
There was even the case of their missing blanket. The brothers suspected it was Huffaker’s doing.
For his part, Huffaker paid little attention to that sort of thing. His passion was flight, math and watching and learning from birds.
Without much prodding, he also offered an opinion on a glider the brothers were assembling. Huffaker said it would nose into earth if they didn’t figure out what to do about the pressure on its curved surface
s in relation the angle of the wing with the horizon.
He had already tried it and lost a glider or two.
Huffaker departed Kitty Hawk after that year of work, leaving behind math calculations on wing warp. It is known the brothers used the Huffaker calculations because they wrote about the contribution in their
Years later during a trial on patent infringement, the brothers needed Huffaker’s help again. They sent him a letter, asking him to testify on their behalf.
If Huffaker had been a thorn in their side at Seven Devil Hills, he was now as mute as stone.
When he died, the letter sent by the Wright brothers was found among his effects. Inside the Wright brothers’ letter was a self addressed envelope, asking Huffaker to let them know his whereabouts and his answer. They needed his testimony.
Huffaker, perhaps getting even, did nothing. The East Tennessean must have figured that by that time, the boys from Dayton should have known enough about wing warp to get by on their own in a courtroom.
German Immigrant Louis Gratz Made His Mark on Knoxville
In 1861 when Louis Gratz arrived in New York, he was 19 years old, had $10 in his pockets and was reduced to peddling thimbles and stockings in the streets to survive.
That’s not what you would call a roaring start for the first mayor of North Knoxville.
The realities looked woeful for Gratz, who would become one of Knoxville’s notable politicians and prominent citizen.
But a scant two decades later, Gratz, a German Jew who left his home in Prussia with dreams of fame and fortune, would find both a wife and happiness in a city by the river.
Evidence of Gratz’s contribution to Knoxville are still apparent. A city street is named for him. He established and laid out the streets in Oakwood
(North Knoxville) where he served two terms as mayor, He even worked to have Oakwood annexed by the much larger and growing city of Knoxville.
Gratz left a well to do family in Germany, a family related to the famed Heinrich Gratz, classical Jewish historian. After a troubling eight week voyage that left him sick and weakened, he entered New York, still in his teens, unable to speak English.
Because of the language barrier Gratz couldn’t find a job. In the tradition of many immigrants, he turned to peddling and was eeking out a bare bones living. In his spare moments, he studied English.
About this time, President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers to fight in a war between the states.
Gratz, who felt strongly about his new freedom and new nation, enlisted in the 15th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment in late April 1861. Because of his dedication, he was made a corporal and right away, Gratz began working to become a commissioned officer.
His English studies intensified and in October after his original enlistment was up, he re enlisted as a first lieutenant in Co. B, 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry, which was sent to fight in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Gratz had not yet been in America a full year, and already was an officer in the Union Army. His English was improving daily and in late August he was commissioned a major in the 6th Regiment of the Kentucky Cavalry, badly in need of officers, which is the reason given for his being able to skip entirely the rank of captain.
With the 6th, Gratz fought his way from Cumberland Gap, through Knoxville and down to Chattanooga. Sept. 19, 1863, found him at Chickamauga, cut off and surrounded by tough Confederate forces under Gen. Braxton Bragg.
At the battle of Crawfish Springs, he lost 120 men, many of them killed and captured. His regimental chaplain was shot and killed standing beside him, and his orderly was shot off of his horse dead, not three feet from him.
At Chickamauga on that day, Gratz ordered his men to fight their way to freedom rather than surrender and be taken prisoner. For his courage under fire, Gen. Samuel Powhatan Carter made the young major a member of his personal staff on Christmas Day, 1863.
The next summer, Gratz marched with Gen. Tecumseh Sherman, burning their way through
Georgia, making that state howl with the pain of war.
By the end of the war, Gratz was in Knoxville, turning his attention to a degree in law and the young
woman he had met earlier when he was with the Kentucky cavalry.
He married into a prominent Knoxville family when he wed Elizabeth ”Lizzie” Trigg Bearden. After the marriage, Gratz embroiled himself in law and the movement of the city he had come to love.
Gratz was twice elected as city attorney of Knoxville. He became the first mayor of North Knoxville when it was incorporated in 1889, a little over two decades after the day he arrived in America.
By 1907, Gratz had moved to Louisville, Ky., where he could better serve as an attorney for a burgeoning brewing firm in that city.
He was on his way from Louisville to Knoxville to conduct business when he died of a heart attack aboard the Louisville & Nashville railroad. He had been in the smoker car, where he had been enjoying a late meal and a cigar with friends when he keeled over.
In writing about Gratz’s death, a Knoxville newspaper said that ”no man has lived in Knoxville who was more prominently identified with the city’s interests while a resident here.”
Gratz was 64 when he died, ending the career of a man who began on the lean streets as a peddler and became one of Knoxville’s premier politicians and leaders.
Cherokee Beads Given as Token in 1700s Are Still in the Family
The day the Rev. John Martin wandered into the Cherokee Overhill Towns as a Presbyterian missionary, the neighborhood wasn’t exactly an ideal spot to locate a church.
The French and Indian War was in full swing, but if it bothered Martin, he didn’t let it show. Everyone with a hand in the struggle, the French, the English and Americans, was wooing the Cherokee of the Overhill Towns because of their strategic location on the Little Tennessee River.
Martin had no such notion. He was there to save souls as best he could.
By 1758, the intrepid minister, a fiery graduate of the College of New Jersey, later to be known as
Princeton, had opened up a place of hope in the ill fated Fort Loudoun and then set about the countryside to bring in the sheaves.
He had arrived at the Overhill Towns as an ”animated evangelic preacher,” for the Hanover Presbytery,
set to open mission schools among the Indians.
There is ample evidence that, better than any artilleryman, he simply wore the Cherokee down with his sermons of fire and his notion of heaven and hell, for the good preacher was a man whose ”abilities natural and acquired were very great.”
Henry Timberlake, a young lieutenant for the colonists, volunteered as an emissary of peace to the Cherokee after a treaty in 1761 brought on by the fall of Fort Loudoun and subsequent destruction of several Cherokee villages in reprisal.
Timberlake saw Martin in action and wrote in his memoirs: ”Mr. Martin, who, having preached script
ure till both his audience and he were heartily tired, was told at last, that they knew very well, that, if they were good, they should go up; if bad, down; that he could tell no more; that he had long plagued them with what they no ways understood, and that they desired him to depart the country.”
In other words, the preacher was asked politely to leave, which he did.
Perhaps as a tokenof their appreciation for his message and exodus, in 1758 Martin was given a set
of beads by Emperor Old Hop and Attakullakulla, the Little Carpenter who later became the nation’s principal chief.
”They may have given him the beadwork just to get rid of him,” laughs Patrick Meguiar, the great great great great great grandson of the famed minister, who is thought to be the first Protestant missionary in Tennessee.
Regardless of whether or not Martin received the gift for his delivery or departure, the beads have survived and are now owned by Meguiar, a farmer who works 300 acres of land near Portland in Sumner County near Nashville.
One of the most remarkable facts about the Venetian glass trade beads, known as seed beads, is that they also represent some religious symbol for the Cherokee, according to Meguiar.
One of the sections is different from the other six. It has three crosses instead of four, and these are not fused as are the crosses in the other six sections. Also the beads in this section are red instead of the white and light blue of the others.
Meguiar’s family has had the beads since they were first given to the frontier minister, a fearless man who walked into hostile towns armed with only his Bible and long sermons.
The beads were given to Patrick Meguiar by his great aunt, Pattie Meguiar Simmons. Museums have sought the beads and there have been many offers of purchase.
”One offer was for a horrendous amount of money,” he says with a laugh. ”In the six figures.”
The beads, given to a firebreathing preacher on the portals of history in East Tennessee, are not for sale and are locked away in an environmentally safe container in a bank vault.
From time to time, Meguiar takes them out and re tells the story of the minister, the old chiefs, and a handful of beads that link the past with today.
Journal Gave Birth to State’s Nickname
The year is 1813, and the Creek Indians are spreading terror on the frontier. Andrew Jackson, grievously wounded in one of his notorious pistol duels, gathers his famous courage and rises from his
sickbed to travel to the wilds of Alabama to join the fight.
Jackson’s archenemy, John Sevier, is away tending to the state’s business in Congress. For Jackson, there is no time like now when the Creeks are in uprising, and Fort Mims in Alabama is the place. The fort has just fallen to fire and knife, with everyone inside its walls having been killed.
Jackson, under orders of Gov. Willie Blount, has West Tennessee militia with him and knows that men of East Tennessee, those wily marksmen, are on their way, itching to be in on the fight.
One of the frontiersmen heading to Alabama is Jacob Hartsell, a young man well thought of by his friends and acquaintances in Washington County.
Scholars now believe that Jacob Hartsell’s journal, a 6 by 8 inch 80 page brown leather bound volume kept during that 1812 campaign is the origin of Tennessee as the ”volunteers.”
At the time of the Creek disturbances, Hartsell was given command of a militia from Washington County, a local militia he called ”My boys.”
And despite his fragile frontier education, which enabled him to barely read and to write, he wrote descriptively about daily life on the frontier in an amazing record. Much of his prose is written phonetically.
Scholars now believe that a poem penned by Hartsell in his journal is the first mention of the word ”volunteers,” in the same breath with a military operation. As crude as the poem may be, it is likely the birthplace of the state’s historic nickname:
”Our Countries invaded, oheare the alarme ”Turn out sons of tennessee and gird on your armes
”We air sons of Columbia and straingers to fear ”Sure heaven will smile on the brave volenteere.”
W. Todd Groce, former executive director of the East Tennessee Historical Society, believes the Hartsell memora puts to rest the debate about the origins of the nickname.
”I think the word ‘volunteer’ in the poem in his diary is the first time it was used, but I don’t think Hartsell wrote it. It was probably a popular poem at the time and has now been lost to history,” Groce says.
”It was probably in the oral tradition, and Hartsell heard it and liked it, so he recorded it in his journal. I do think it is where the state got its nickname.
”I’ve never seen anything earlier than that (poem). And I think it helps to clarify the whole question of whether the nickname came from the War of 1812 or the Mexican War. I think this decides the issue,
and even more specifically, it was decided in the Creek War.”
The company of militia Hartsell put together was made up of men from Washington County where
his mother, Hannah, had settled in the late 1780s. The intrepid Hannah Hartsell, descended from Germany’s Rhine River feudal barons, arrived on the frontier by herself with her three sons to begin one of the great family names in pioneer history.
Hartsell began his journal, which he entitled, ”J. Hartsell Memora,” Oct. 12, 1813, with these lines: ”Captain Jacob Hartsell’s Company of East Tennessee Volunteers enrolled Oct. 12, 1813, in Jonesborough, Washington County.”
From that day on, he records faithfully his daily routine and what he saw as he and his men marched south from East Tennessee to join Jackson who had been instructed to engage the Creek Indians after they had destroyed the fort in Alabama, killing men, women and children.
Eventually he and his men arrived at Ten Islands on the Coosa River, Dec. 12, 1813, where Jackson was preparing to wage war against the Creeks.
Here, Hartsell visited the famous frontier general, who reminded him that they had met earlier in Jonesborough.
Hartsell evidently had been so unimpressed with Jackson that he did not recall the earlier meeting in Jonesborough.
It is also here in camp that Gen. Jackson decided that the men from East Tennessee would have to stay for six months rather than the three months for which they original enlisted.
”I could not help laughing until my sides did ache,” Hartsell wrote in his journal on Dec. 22.
”Some swore that before they would stay three months they would kill General Jackson.
”Some swore that they would desert. . . . Some said they would lose all their wagons before they would stay any longer.”
The problem didn’t stop with the men, either.
Gen. Isaac Roberts was another commander whose men’s terms of enlistment were up before a major campaign with the Creeks.
He asked Jackson if his men would be paid for their re enlistment. Jackson said that mattered little when it came to serving and protecting the nation.
Roberts ordered his men home. A furious Jackson challenged Roberts, and both men drew their swords.
”They swore vengeance one against the other, but it was squashed without any blows,” Hartsell wrote of the incident.
He wrote that both men retired to their tents where ”they sent letters all this night, back and forth.”
The matter was cooled when Gov. Blount sent word that Jackson was to release all of the East Tennessee volunteers and to temporarily abandon the campaign, a message that Hartsell evidently saw.
”He (Blount) further stated that the army was laying as a dead weight on the United States, and he thought the more he could dismiss the better it would be for the men and for the United States,” Hartsell
Not only did Hartsell write of wars, but also his journal contains notes about family births and records and the dowry given each of his children.
He also enjoyed writing ballads: such as, ”A Song Ballad Concerning War.”
But more than anything else, the diary, which will be on display in the Museum of East Tennessee History’s permanent exhibit records the paths of one of the state’s most famous sons and one of the state’s earliest families, whose descendants still live in Washington County.
Soldiers Aid Society Arrest Left History Questioning Who Were the Spartans?
Officially, the group of women was known as a soldiers aid society, which was a nice way of saying they were doing their part for the war effort.
Mainly, they sewed socks and made quilts for the boys of Rhea County who followed their hearts and marched off to fight for the Confederacy.
Soldiers aid societies were common during the Civil War in East Tennessee. Each community had one or several, all doing what they could to support their notions of right and wrong.
Some groups sported fancy names like the Rhea County Invincibles, the Yellow Creek Soldiers Aid Society and the Swee Soldiers Aid Society in Meigs County.
And then there were The Rebel Masked Batteries of Clarksville. They even wore Confederate uniforms of gray dresses with blue lapels. The dresses were trimmed with gold lace and brass buttons. The Clarksville women topped their outfits off with turned up black hats highlighted with a long black feather, a gold star and white buckskin gauntlets. A pistol and dagger completed the outfit.
So, the young women of Rhea County were not doing anything out of the norm for the day.
But there was something quite different, a difference that has never been fully explained.
Seems the ”Rhea County Spartans,” as one account named them, were no ordinary women sewing socks and helping the sick and wounded.
Bettye Broyles, Rhea County historian, doesn’t think the group’s name is right, but there is little dispute that the Rhea County women made a definite mark on their county.
The women were arrested and taken to Chattanooga to be jailed, but what they did to incite Union authorities has been lost to history.
Mary McDonald of Athens was captain of the company. Other officers were Caroline McDonald, first lieutenant; Ann Paine, second lieutenant; Rhodie Thomison, third lieutenant; Jane Keith, first sergeant; Rachel Howell, second sergeant; Sallie Mitchell, third sergeant, and Minerva Tucker, fourth sergeant.
Privates were: Mary Paine, Mary Keith, Mary Crawford, Sidney McDonald, Jennie Hoyal, Ann Gillespie, Barbara Allen, Jane Locke, Margaret Sykes, Martha Bell, Mary Robinson, Josephine Allen, Mary Ann McDonald, Sarah Rudd and Kate Dunwoody.
There were a number of others in the group. Most of them were teenagers, and none of the women was more than 21 years old.
Stories of the era reported that they provided food and clothing to the Confederate soldiers of Rhea County, in and around Athens and Washington.
Some newspaper accounts claim the ”Spartans” did more than sew socks and blankets for their Johnny Rebs. There is the hint they perhaps participated in raids, carried pistols and rode horses like men.
However, Broyles believes those stories are myth wrapped in misinformation. A letter from Mary McDonald after her arrest seems to bear out Broyles’ contention that the women were strictly an aid society.
”This company of girls was organized at the Brick Academy on the hill at Washington in the summer of 1862. It was a social organization. We had no guns, no pistols, no sabers, no uniforms.
”We were mounted on sidesaddles and had long riding habits.”
Broyles believes that letter puts to rest any thoughts the women were part of a military company of any nature.
The company, made up of some of the county’s most prominent families, was apparently organized in late 1862 or early 1863 when Rhea County was occupied by federal troops.
There was an urgent need for secrecy in the county, and one account says the young women even held secret meetings around Washington.
Some stories say they fanned out in squads, visiting their fathers, brothers and beaus, taking them food and clothing.
In 1865, the work of the Spartans came to an abrupt halt.
Their troubles began when Union sympathizer John P. Walker formed a regiment known as ”Goon’s Hog Back Regulars.”
Walker, tiring of the female company and what they were up to in his county, ordered Lt. W.B. Gothard to arrest them.
Gothard conducted a house to house search and captured the women. They were ordered to Chattanooga, and McDonald, perhaps fearing for their safety, wrote a letter asking federal authorities
to allow Gothard to accompany them.
This plea was turned down. Walker herded the women to Chattanooga.
He first marched the Spartans six miles to Bell’s Landing on the Tennessee River. He left them standing for several hours in shoe top mud.
From the landing they were put aboard the steamboat, ”Chattanooga,” which had earned the nickname ”Chicken Thief.”
The boat was more of a barge than a boat and had been used by Union troops during the war to haul hay, hogs and cattle.
The barge was not equipped with sleeping quarters, so the women were put in an enclosed area that had served as a dining room.
There were no beds for them, so they stretched out on the hard floor.
They arrived in Chattanooga April 9, 1865, and were marched up Market Street to the corner of
Seventh Avenue in the mud and muck.
They were brought before a provost marshal who sent them on to Gen. James Blair Steedman.
Steedman listened to the women and then tongue lashed Walker for having brought them to Chattanooga.
He ordered Walker to return the young women to Rhea County on the Chicken Thief.
That order so infuriated Walker, he told the women they could just get back to Rhea County the best way they could.
He left, and so did the women. On their return, they learned that Lee had surrendered to Grant.
Despite the sadness of that news, the women were happy and still riding the joy of their accomplishments.
The record of what got them into trouble and hauled off to Chattanooga has never turned up, but Broyles says it must have been something other than sewing socks.
”They never did take up arms, but they were arrested. They did something to get themselves arrested,” she says.
Whatever it was, they were mighty proud on the return trip to Rhea County, after having outsmarted Walker.
Railroad Engineer Dave Holloway Went Down Testing the Track for Engine No. 10
The flooding Tennessee River of 1875 was a killer, much worse than the high water of ’67 all the oldtimers said.
Citizens of Knoxville tried to warn their friends and relatives as far away as Chattanooga that
high water was coming, and it was going to be very bad.
At first, people south of Knoxville paid little attention to the warnings. Until bridges began washing out as if they were made of matchsticks. Even train trestles were pushed aside by the great tide of water. The East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia rail line, a major link in the South, was broken in several sections because of the flood. Some train passengers were stranded in towns far from home as a result of the March floods.
David Humphreys Holloway, one of the best known engineers on the ET, V & Ga., had been away from home almost a week due to the flood. He was worried about his passengers and crew and their families.
Everyone said the Knoxville engineer always thought of others before himself.
That is why today the story of Holloway and Engine No. 10 has not been forgotten. The story o
f his death consumed five days in East Tennessee newspapers.
In fact, Holloway’s heroics may have inspired the legendary Casey Jones some 25 years later when as the engineer of the Cannonball Express he volunteered to replace a sick friend and lost his life in a crash of engines.
On March 4, 1875, Holloway was bound from near Sweetwater to Knoxville. Floodwaters had kept him and Ol’ No. 10 way behind schedule.
When he pulled in near Philadelphia, he discovered that a bridge had been washed out by the flooding Tennessee.
Also a number of bridges had floated off, but it appeared the structure over Sweetwater Creek near
Philadelphia had been repaired.
Holloway wasn’t so sure.
He ordered the passenger cars uncoupled from his big engine. He eased the engine up to the bridge and stopped.
Jud Smith, Holloway’s fireman, offered to take the engine across the bridge.
Holloway, who had wanted to go to college but wound up in the Civil War, ordered his fireman to step down from the engine.
”Jud, you need not go over the bridge . . . perhaps the bridge may fall, and something happen. You had better get off,” Smith wrote in a personal newspaper account of the accident.
”There is no reason why you and I should both be killed.”
Jud Smith stepped off the engine and Holloway climbed aboard.
He nudged the engine toward the creaking bridge. As engine No. 10 reached the center of the bridge, there was a loud crash. The bridge swayed and then gave way.
The coal tender fell into the water and then the engine tumbled in afterwards, doing a somersault, one eyewitness said. The engine’s bright headlight pointed toward the darkening skies, and then down into the water.
Holloway was pinned underneath the engine in the water.
Work crews struggled feverishly, those not too stunned to act, to save the engineer. Somebody called out that they saw him in the water.
It was only his hat.
A surgeon was summoned to help with the badly mangled engineer. He said there was not enough money to get him to the scene of such tragedy. A brakeman, who had seen surgery in the Civil War, volunteered to remove Holloway.
Holloway’s wife, Mary Jane Lonas, learned of her husband’s death by reading it in the newspaper.
As the train went over the side of the bridge, later found to be held up with only a single trestle, Holloway yanked on the whistle cord, sounding a requiem as he and Engine No. 10 sailed to their deaths.
Holloway was so well liked that the popular Turn Verein Silver Coronet Band of Knoxville accompanied the funeral cortege from Holloway’s home to Broad Street M.E. Church and then from the church to Gray Cemetery, playing everystep of the way.
Today the tombstone that marks Holloway’s grave is one of the more remarkable stones in the famous old cemetery. Engine No. 10 is etched in the stone, depicted going over the side, crashing through the bridge. If you listen right hard, you can almost hear David Holloway pulling the lonesome sound of the whistle as he stayed with his train and gave up his life.
A Young Woman’s Diary Recalls Days of the Civil War in Knoxville
The guns of war were on the horizon, conversations bristled with the words of combat in the gray,
uncertain months in Knoxville before the Civil War broke across the landscape.
But for an 18 year old whose wealthy parents had died, it was a time to turn to a diary, to write of herself and her surroundings, her feelings and thoughts on life, her town.
The diary of Eleanor Wilson White, daughter of Hugh A. M. White and Elizabeth Humes White, is fascinating for many reasons, but most directly for its insight into Knoxville just before the cannons flared and the rifles blasted away peace.
The ink and pencil diary, written in a swirling penmanship of a bygone time, was donated to the McClung Historical Collection by Roy Rochelle of Knoxville.
Eleanor White, born July 31, 1842, was the great granddaughter of Knoxville founder, James White.
She lived with her mother and father at ”Sunnyside,” a two story, white frame antebellum home, now the site ofthe University of Tennessee’s Jessie Harris Building of Human Ecology. After the death of her mother and father, she remained at the home to care for it and her four sisters.
Her diary, a thin, marbled brown hardback book, opens: ”Aug. 18, 1860, my diary commences.”
She writes of going to St. John’s Episcopal to hear the sermons of her uncle Thomas Humes, the church’s first rector.
And she recounts splendidly bright days at the 4,000 acre ”Tuskeega,” plantation in Monroe County built by her brother in law, Charles McClung McGhee, later the founder of Lawson McGhee Library.
There are shopping sprees in Knoxville and expressed delight in meals of fruit and fresh vegetables with her sisters and other family members.
But it is her entries in the days before and during the Civil War that are riveting.
Her words speak for themselves:
November, 1860, Friday 16th: Cloudy all day and rain tonight. We all have dreadful colds. Every one is almost dreading the war. I haven’t been allowing myself to think about it much.
April 22nd, 1861, Sunday: Clearly a week has passed since I wrote in my journal. In that time, Brother Charles (McGhee) gave C (sister Cornelia) the news of wars every day. Sister C fears that he (will) enlist in some company. Tonight is lovely moonlight. We saw the mountains on fire. We thought at first it was a comet. It seemed to be in the sky.
Saturday 27th: The war progresses. Troops have been organized and sent off from Sweetwater and Madisonville.
Jan. 8, Saturday: A whole month has elapsed since I last opened my journal . It was a dreadful rainy day with thunder and lightning. Events have transpired too numerous to mention. Today is Election Day. The news is ”war” all the time. Tennessee will secede today I hope.
Sunday June 9th: Tennessee has seceded. Uncle Thomas’ congregation has diminished considerably on account of his persistency in praying for Lincoln as president. He said he would continue to do so
until Tennessee seceded and then he would either cease to do so or leave the state.
Wednesday 13th: Brother James (husband of her sister, Ann) brought news that a party from Roane County was being formed to burn the bridge at Loudon and the company from Knoxville was going down to prevent it. It is horrible! I amafraid we will have fighting right amongst us all.
Saturday 15th: Another very warm day. There was a cavalry company come up past our house from Chattanooga this morning under the Southern flag. There was a man shot in town today an innocent man. I’ll declare I’ll soon be afraid to go to town.
Sunday morning 16th: Uncle Thomas didn’t pray for the president today, but for those in authority.
Saturday 22nd: Brother Jimmie brought news last night that the East Tennessee boys had had a fight in Virginia where they have been called at Winchester. It seems to me they get nearer and nearer to us every day. No rain yet. I am reading ”Mes Prisons,” by Silvio Pellico.
Thursday 27th: Another warm, sunny day. We need rain so much. Brother Jimmie told us tonight we must pray for Jeff Davis’ success, that the two armies were within a few hours march of each other, that they could hear the drums beat. I hope this battle will result in peace. We heard carriages and buggies rambling down the road tonight.
Saturday June 29th: The cavalry company from Monroe County came up this evening. It is called for Brother Charley ”The McGhee Invincibles.” They were dressed in red flannel and looked very handsomely.
We all went down to the gate to see them. One of them hollered ”hurrah for Jeff Davis.” I said, ”hurrah for The McGhee Invincibles!” And then one of them said, ”Hurrah for the ladies” and they took off their hats and got ready to hurrah when the captain said, ”to move boys.”
They were very orderly indeed and made no noise at all. Everyone said they were the handsomiest company they had seen.
July, Thursday 4th: The once Glorious Fourth. Brother Jimmie says he thinks (Gen. P.G.T.) Beauregard will make it a Glorious Day for the Southern Confederacy. The sun shines brighter this morning.
Sunday 21st: Bright morning. Brother Jimmie took tea at his father’s this evening. He brought news from the telegraph office that there had been a terrible battle at Manassas. Eighty thousand on each side.
The great Sherman battery taken by the Confederacy. War still raging it being 9 O’clock at night.
Much loss on both sides. The enemy repulsed and driven back to Alexandria.
Tuesday 23rd: Beautiful day. The bells were rung in honor of the victory at Manassas. Our forces having defeated the Federalists; with the loss of 7,000 on our side and 30,000 on theirs.
Thursday 25th: We received more direct news from the battle today. Camp Turner is among the slain. Little Charlie McClung was in the fight but wasn’t hurt.
Saturday 27th: Brother J says it is dangerous to walk to town.
Wednesday July 31: Beautiful day. Today is my 19th birthday. How fast I am growing old. I must try and improve my time better in the future.
March 19th, 1862: I had determined to leave off writing in my journal altogether, but so many events of importance are transpiring every day since I ceased to do so. I have concluded to recommense it. It rained all day today.
The college buildings are filled and running over with soldiers. Five or six soldiers came here for supper said they had had nothing to eat since yesterday morning. Several soldiers came wanting to get the barn to sleep in and on being refused one of them ”hoped” the Yankees would catch us all. I hope we will not be disturbed tonight.
April, Saturday 26th: The news is that the Federalists have taken New Orleans.
September Thursday 18th: The news is our forces have possession of Harpers Ferry.
October Thursday 23rd: Annie and little James dined with us. We had such a good dinner. Sweet and Irish potatoes, rice, beef and pork and for dessert boiled custard and jelly cake . . . had to wait some time for the government wagons to pass. I never saw so many in my life just going past all the time in one continuous row.
I have been eating too much.
Jan. 1, 1863: Everybody black and white except Luice and I left the place today. F cavalry company of Federalists have burned two bridges in or near Bristol. Nearer and nearer they come.
Jan. 2nd: Brother James says Gen. (Kirby) Smith was really afraid the Yankees would attack the town last night. I forgot to mention (Gen. Braxton) Bragg had whipped the enemy into Murfreesboro and was fighting still when last heard from.
Monday the 3rd of April 1865: We received news of the fall of Richmond.
That is the last entry in Eleanor Wilkson White’s diary.
Eleanor lived out her days at Sunnyside and died, Aug. 29, 1889. She never married.