26 February 2005

frederick gates and harriman - eerie coincidence

eerie coincidence or finger of fate? you decide.

in a recent post here, i wrote about arson as one of harriman's resident evils. well, today, with my morning coffee i was thumbing through my massive harriman, the town that temperance built by walter t. pulliam. i got to an early section on frederick gates, the entrepeneur who is considered harriman's founder, and i registered for the first time that he was also the founder of the diamond match company.

insert the background music: twilight zone theme.

by the way, this past week has marked the 115th anniversary of harriman's great land sale by the east tennessee land company. [you can read about roane county, temperance, and the east tennessee land company's great land sale in the online tennessee encyclopedia of history & culture | here |.

23 February 2005

genealogy and identity theft - a red herring - open the records back up please

an article published on better business bureau news and alerts is entitled "new research shows that identity theft is more prevalent offline with paper than online," and the title says it all.

the bureau links to more information about the studies which is available at .

green tower - porch - harriman tn

green tower - porch, harriman, tn, sep 2003

harriman and the dream - should we just roll up the streets and say it's over

in browsing the archives of wate news 6 in knoxville this morning, i came across an article from 2003 about a pothole twelve feet wide and ten feet deep on trenton street in harriman. what struck me was a poignant assessment of the situation in the article from harriman resident jerry burgess and the serendipity of my finding the article so close on the heels of my recent posting here about harriman ghosts:

Harriman resident Jerry Burgess said the pothole is symbolic of a city with a budget that's gone awry. 'It's a one horse town. All they need to do is roll up the streets and it's over.'

the larger implication, of course, is that the pothole is symbolic not only of harriman's budget but of the town as a whole - no pun intended. okay, so maybe one was...

but it's all very sad, really, the streets opening up and swallowing all those utopic dreams.

when i get the chance to go home, as i did twice last year, i get out of the ute and wander the streets where my ancestors lived and worked with my camera. i click away with the stunned fascination of one documenting a train wreck in progress. sadly, no amount of designating homes on historic registers or establishing hooray for harriman committees or posting websites extolling the utopic vision of its founders and earliest residents has saved the precipitous decline of the wonderful east tennessee town where i was born.

i work daily at a desk above which hangs a huge copy of the panoramic map of the town stamped 1892 inside a library of congress seal. when i'm stumped or when my eyes just need a break from the computer monitor, i look up and visit those houses where family members lived and raised their children, letting my eyes meander down those streets i love to walk.

oh, i love that map. i love it in part because each house is distinctly rendered, individualized. i can almost walk right up on people's front porches and knock on the door. and i love it in part, too, because i get sucked into what was even in 1892 an idyllic vision of the town. the idyll reminds me of all those dreams family members i haven't even discovered must have had. and not just when they moved into harriman but when they set themselves down to stay there among those smoky hills of east tennessee. when i finally draw my eyes away, i feel more centered, more grounded somehow. and romanticized or not, the harriman on that map is the one i carry with me as i get back to my genealogy research: harriman, my hometown, all circled round by that ancient hump-back walden ridge and the cradling arms of the emory. harriman, a town made of dreams.

22 February 2005

a harriman guy's blog and photos - PikeMurdy by Mike Purdy

i was checking out themes (web templates) for my new wordpress 1.5 installation at my new, and i came across not only a neat template (called quentin) but a blog and some harriman photos by the guy who created the template. the photos are small, but they are fun to look at - quirky, very harriman. another of mike's photo projects online centers on knoxville, where he's a designer. check out his projects for yourself: PikeMurdy by Mike Purdy- Projects.

20 February 2005

the house on walden street - harriman tn

the house on walden street, harriman, tn

harriman - haunted in roane county, tennessee

today i came upon a web page, haunted places in tennessee, that includes a site in harriman: swan pond baptist church.

according to the site called juicy news daily, the church is haunted by a pastor who hanged himself there seventeen years ago.

now, i have no knowledge one way or the other about the hanging or the haunting itself. in fact, as a genealogist loathe to post anything on the internet less than two generations old, i'm a little hesitant about passing on the story. however, i was drawn to write about it by my surprise that the alleged haunting is from such a relatively recent occurrence - genealogically, i mean ;-) .

of course, any ghost haunting a building in the town of harriman would have to be relatively recently deceased, i'd think. harriman is only a little over a century old, founded in 1890 as a temperance utopia by the east tennessee land company. the area it's in, though - roane county and its surrounds - is ancient, lore-filled land.

much of the early county was forged from the heartland of the cherokees who settled there first and whose burial mounds can still be discerned in what was known as the hiwassee district south of the tennessee river which snakes right across the county's belly. indeed, roane county is wrapped around the juncture of the tennessee, clinch, and emory rivers, vitally important to both white settlers and native americans in early tennessee history.

somewhere outside - on that land, i'd think - is where i'd be if i were a ghost. even in harriman - though the temperance building and the library would be sorely tempting.

but no, i'd likely stake out one of the craggy escarpments that for me set the character of the town. or i'd be up at the harriman cemetery, standing knee-deep in kudzu that's waiting until all the caretakers die away. and i'd be peering out over the county from the ridge edge just above the giles family plot. or i'd be
wearing an engineer cap, standing on the trestle bridge going into town, waiting for now diverted trains to churn right through me. or maybe i'd be down by the emory, dodging the poison ivy in webb park, dangling my toes from one of its memorial benches as i gaze across at the little waterfall spouting from beneath the road. or i'd be up walking in cornstalk heights, just around the corner from the house i lived in on walden street as a kid.

no - in truth, i'd likely be down in south harriman, wandering around the yard where the nightgown of the newly deceased baby clara floated in the dark and landed on the rose arbor. but absolutely no way would i be inside the house there, still standing, where the yellakin stretchers - those viscous yellow monsters brought to life in my childish mind by my grandmother- may still lurk in the attic room with the door that opens to nowhere.

oh, yeah, on second thought, roane county's towns do offer homes, public spaces, and factories fit for apparitions. and maybe this is especially true for harriman, its utopic vision now blurred in a vortex of decline.

roane street, once a jewel of the county with the princess theater at its center, has become a desolate few blocks of mostly empty buildings bought up by a health conglomerate. the hosiery mill has closed. what a declining economy and the destructive pine beetle hasn't accomplished in harriman, it appears, arsonists have. seems they always did have trouble keeping a school standing. and just last august, what remained of the paper mill burned to the ground [see footnote.]

footnote: arson seems almost to be a roane county pasttime. on this past new year's eve, the scarborough memorial free methodist church in midtown was the target of an arsonist. the main suspect is a former firefighter in the county. read today's news about it in the roane county news here .

16 February 2005 opening day - go see opening day. go see!

oh, there are still a zillion things to iron out, but i'm really relieved to have a space of my own up and running again.

so what's there? well, the same sort of genealogy information found in the tn type site you're viewing right now. the site, like this one, centers mainly on families from roane county, tennessee and the surrounding area.

a main difference bewteen that site and this one is that control of the design and content rest with me. though wordpress - a blogging software - limits me somewhat in structuring the site, it permits easy updating and consistency of design for most of the pages. anyone who's put up a website knows what a headache those elements can be for the webkeeper.

once i get a proper gallery area set up, visitors to tn type and kiddo ink will be able to visit (virtually, natch) many, many roane county cemeteries and view copies of some of my source documentation. please bookmark both sites and check them frequently for updates. by the middle of next week, they should both have quite a bit of data you can sink your teeth into.

tn type and kiddo ink - they're heeere

hooray. there's a start. i figured out how to get the new wordpress 1.5 installed on my brand new host for my brand new tn type domain.

not much there yet, but the next project is migrating this blog there. i'm working on kiddo ink, too. yes! i've got it baaack.... you can read a bit about what the current status of many of the tn type sites is by reading tn type's first posting, good news, bad news...

06 February 2005

tennessee clamps down on vital records access

the nashville city paper recently ran an article outlining the way tennessee has tightened the hold on dissemination of its vital records. as of 15 february, 2005, certified copies of the records will be available only to the person/s named on the record, their children, or legal guardians. others applying for copies must present notarized applications along with ample proof of identification.

authorities cited in the City Paper article say that the policy changes, made to bring the volunteer state into compliance with new federal safeguards against identity theft and fraud, mainly effect those applying via the internet for certified copies of birth and death records. well, i reckon that all us genealogists who had vital records ordering on one of our endless to-do lists are gonna find out soon enough exactly what the new parameters are, huh?

read the original nashville city paper article | here |.