23 October 2004

roane county name by name roll call

i've been spending a lot of time updating the new companion blog today. i posted a roane county individuals-by-name roll call.

15 October 2004

six degrees of separation - rosie the riveter from rockwood, roane co, tn


library of congress, us war office photograph by andreas feininger: a rosie at work.

fred brown wrote a delightful short article about a local rosie the riveter that appeared in the knox news online this past august. since rosie has long been a favorite icon of women's strength and flexibility for me, i was really thrilled to discover a rosie not only with roane county roots but with a work history at the harriman hosiery mill where women in my own family worked, too.

lucille litton, now 82, was a graduate of rockwood high school where she played basketball for four years. during high school she began darning socks for 36 cents an hour at the harriman hosiery mill to help out her mother. litton's father had died when she was twelve, and supporting eight children was a constant struggle for her mother.

when litton was recruited by the anderson aircraft school in nashville, she left the mill for greener pastures. during her training at the school litton earned a whopping $90 a month. after graduating from their program in december 1943, she headed out to san bernadino, california and a job as a sheet metal mechanic earning up to $12 an hour, both building and maintaining c-47 transport planes.

when brown interviewed her, he did a good job of getting her to reminisce about the lifestyle of the rosies, as they were called, at air service command's "victory village." in brown's article, she briefly but succinctly touches on the the physicality of her job, of her idealism, of her ideas of fun, and more.

in 1946, litton returned to roane county and the hosiery mill where she worked for seventeen years and where my grandmother, a griege goods sizer, was also working, and where my own mother had worked, i only recently learned, for a short time in the middle of the depression.

eventually litton moved on, becoming nursing assistant.

but her association with my family - even if it's a little nebulous - doesn't end there. when i saw that she began working in rockwood at chamberlain memorial hospital and was there until her retirement in 1983, i was again tramping around in my own women's history.

that hospital took up the block where rathburn and chamberlain streets meet. it - and preumably lucille litton - were smack dab across the street from where my grandmother and grandfather purchased and retired to their tiny two bedroom frame house after they moved from south harriman.

that little house at 314 w rathburn was torn down a few years ago. it was so small that its vacant lot is easily overlooked. these days it looks more like a side yard to the house next door than any city lot a house ever stood on. and these days, too, chamberlain memorial has become its own memorial of sorts. it closed in 1996. it has been converted to a retirement/nursing home.

though my grandmother, who died in 1977, was about twenty-two years older than lucille litton, it's entirely possible that she knew her. if she didn't, i don't think i want to know.

the harriman hosiery mill closed down in july of last year. in september 2003, darleen trent at the roane county heritage commission gave me a few strands from one of the mill's last spools along with a certificate of authenticity all typed up on commission letterhead paper. then in august of this year, on another visit to tennessee, i was lucky enough to find some of the mill's spools for sale at rocky top general store in harriman. i snatched them up from david webb, the store's proprietor and chairman of the hooray for harriman committee. they're in a wooden bowl on my living room coffee table. and now, in october, i have the story of lucille litton - her story and its proof that my own grandmother really is fewer than six degrees of separation from rosie the riveter.

10 October 2004

1935 harriman, tn city directory ~ selected listings


national recovery act cartoon, w.h. "bill" giles, harriman record, 1933

1935 City Directory of Harriman, Tennessee, Vol 2
Harriman, TN: Rev. HC Coleman Publ. (Introduction/Letter dated 10 Mar 1936. Printed by Holston Printing Co, Knoxville TN. )

Selected extracts/listings:

City Judge W.M. GILES, "City Officials" page

BENNECKER, Mrs. Lumi, Lab, Barton, So Harr, RFD 1

Maxwell Funeral Home, Queen and Trenton Streets (advertisement)

ELLIS, Lucille, 728 Clifty St.

ELLIS, Monroe, Lab, Mrs. Monroe, Hwf, 51 Front St.

FORRESTER, J.E., Lab Paper Mill, Mrs. J.E., Hwf, Edward, Harlan, James, June, Lawrence, Marjorie Sue, Mildred, Pauline, 15 Tennessee St.

GILES, Charles, Lab, Mrs. Charles, Lab Hos. Mill, So Harr, RFD 3

GILES, Henry, Lab, Mrs. Henry, Hwf, Bill Edd, H.M., Henrietta, 507 Morgan St.

GILES, Ray, Lab Paper Mill, Mrs. Ray, Hwf, Cor Devonia and Morgan St.

GILES, W.H., Printer Harr Record, Mrs. W.H. , Lab Woolen Mill, Jimmy, Lina Jean, 420 Clifty St.

GILES, W.M. City Judge, Mrs. W.M., Hwf, Bill Edd, Henrietta, Hobbs, Margaret, 418 Clifty St.

GRAVES, Alta, Lab Hos Mill, Geraldine, Bds 413 Clifty St

MAJORS, Mack, Lab, Mrs. Mack, Lab Hos Mill, Evelyn, Geraldine, Stanley, So Harr, RFD 3

PHILLIPS, W.A., RR Car Inspector, Mrs. W.A., Hwf, So Harr RFD 1

PATTERSON, Newton, TERA, Mrs. Newton, Hwf, JoAnn, 507 Morgan St.

SHANNON, Houk, Lab Hos Mill, Mrs. Houk, Hwf, Jimmie Lon [sic], Joyce, So Harr, RFD 1

WRIGHT, Mrs. Kenneth 420 Clifty St.

WYRICK, J.C., For Woolen Mill, Mrs. J.C., Hwf, Claude, Edna, 425 Clifty St.

1. Mrs. Lumi BENNECKER is Mary Ann Columbia (JONES) BENNECKER, widow of Edward Lustus BENNECKER, murdered in Rockwood in 1921. "Lumi" was her nickname. Her son Barton will marry Margaret Abbey GILES, youngest daughter of William Morgan and Cora Pickens (ELLIS) GILES in 1939. Claude and Edna WYRICK (above) will be witnesses to the eloping couple's marriage.

2. Compare the household of W.M. (William Morgan) GILES with that of Henry GILES. Two of Henry and Vesta (PASS) GILES' children, Bill Edd and Henrietta, are listed in both households.

3. The woolen mill in which Grace (GAMBILL) GILES works may be the Cumberland Woolen Mill, advertised in the directory. This is likely the same mill in which J.C. WYRICK, a Clifty Street neighbor of the GILES', is a foreman (see WYRICK above).

4. Genevieve (MAJORS) and Charles GILES were newlyweds - married 11 May 1935. They may have been living with Genevieve's parents (Mack and Clara (PHILLIPS) MAJORS, who are also listed as living on RFD 3 in South Harriman (see above). Genevieve's mother is listed as working at the hosiery mill, her place of employment for most of her adult life. This may have been the only time in Genevieve's life, however, that she worked outside the home. Her oldest daughter was born the following year. Genevieve, whose full name was Lula Emma Genevieve (MAJORS) GILES delivered five babies. Until this directory listing was uncovered, her surviving daughters and her son had no idea that she had ever held a paying job.

5. Mrs. Houk SHANNON is Beatrice "Bea" (MAJORS) SHANNON, daughter of W.A. (William Abraham "Bud") and Lula
(Mrs. W.A. - Jimmie L. SARRATT) PHILLIPS (see listing above) . Clara MAJORS (above) is Bea's sister and also a daughter of Bud and Lula PHILLIPS. There are four SHANNON families listed in the directory, some of which may be relatives of Bea's husband Houk (Roy Houck SHANNON).

6. Louise (GILES) WRIGHT - Mrs. Kenneth WRIGHT, though listed separately, can be seen to be living with her parents, Bill and Grace (GAMBILL) GILES, when the listing was compiled.

(This lsiting/entry was expanded and amended on Thursday, 14 Oct 2004, at 8:43 a.m.)

04 October 2004

death, dying, and genealogy


1930s tva grave relocation
roane co, tn

-NARA photo

a sentimentalizing of mortality ... the dead body is fetishized as a catalyst for truth telling - ron rosenbaum

ron rosebaum's september article in slate - "dead like her - how elisabeth kubler-ross went around the bend" - has set me thinking today about those of us - and here i imperiously decide that i am not alone - who originally took up genealogy as tool to cope with the death of a loved one (or two).

rosenbaum would likely suggest that genealogy is one form of fetishizing death. msnbc's online series of articles "genetic genealogy" under its science and technology flag may have him gleefully rubbing his hands together as evidence of yet one more "treacly simalacrum of psuedo-science" perpetrated on a sentimentalizing public.

remember this, though: rosenbaum's critique of kubler-ross's methodology and his inquiry into commodification and quantification of death and dying ought not to be dismissed out of hand. it wouldn't hurt any of us to examine the commodification of even our own family's vital records these days. you pays your bucks and you gets your death certificate here with just a modest markup.

can you say af·fil·i·ate, boys and girls?