A Tennessean Thanksgiving History

Thanksgiving wasn’t widely celebrated in Tennessee until the late-1800s.

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Our lovely corner of Tennessee (in case you’re wondering, our corner is the upper East one) is full of transplants from all over the country. People move in for the beauty, the usually pleasant weather, the comfortable cost of living and the laid-back lifestyle. It’s a great place for families, too, with our country traditions.

But some of our most cherished traditions are transplanted here, just like many of our citizens. It might surprise you, but Thanksgiving was considered a Yankee holiday until pretty recently in our country’s history!

Even when the rest of the country—Michigan, New York, Ohio territories—were digging in to turkey dinners each fall in celebration of the early Massachusetts settlers, Tennessee didn’t join in. (Volunteers we might be, but Tennesseans have always marched to the beat of their own, mountain-made drum.) In fact, most of the South shunned Thanksgiving.

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According to the website SeriousEats.com, an author by the name of Sara Josepha Hale launched a personal crusade in the 1800s to nationalize Thanksgiving as a holiday, to be set at one, unified date each November.

It’s difficult to imagine a country divided over a holiday like Thanksgiving, but in the mid-1800s, we were in a period of political, religious and cultural turmoil. Many Southerners considered Thanksgiving to be bound up in the push for Abolitionist views, and rebelled against the holiday. (Remember when we said Tennesseans march to our own beat? Many will be surprised to learn that a Quaker in Jonesborough, Tennessee published the first newspaper in the country devoted to the Abolitionist movement. It was called The Emancipator.)

Adding to the alienation most Southerners felt in regard to the holiday was the Thanksgiving feast itself, full of cranberries and pumpkin pie and generally fare that wasn’t typically seen on a Southern table.

Thanksgiving didn’t become universally accepted in America until after the Civil War. In fact, Abraham Lincoln himself tipped his hat (metaphorically) to the tenacious Sara Josepha Hale and ultimately declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday. As a result of the political tumult surrounding the War Between the States, Thanksgiving was only patchily observed, at best, in the South. Eventually, though, the lure of turkey dinners and the sweet homecoming that Thanksgiving offers to many families won out.

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The traditional Southern Thanksgiving meal still includes recipes original to New England, like cranberry sauce and even oyster stuffing. Many Southerners still rebel a bit, though, adding in cornbread and pimiento wherever they can. Few things can bring people together like good food, and remembering that even us mountain-southerners wouldn’t be here without the first Yankees surviving their harrowing first winter makes us enjoy that second piece of pie even more.

So the next time you think your family talks about politics too much around the Thanksgiving dinner table, remember this fine holiday was adopted nationally during the Civil War! Political arguments are as American as pumpkin pie.

Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com to find your perfect home for the holidays. And Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Halloween!

If you’re looking for some family-friendly Halloween activities, we’ve got you covered!

Halloween is fast approaching! East Tennessee loves its ghosts and goblins. (We wrote here about some popular local haunts.)

Many neighborhoods still gear up for trick-or-treating, turning on those porch lights and decking out the house in spooky decorations. There are many other fun ways to celebrate this creepy time of year, too! If you’re looking for some family-friendly Halloween activities, we’ve got you covered! Read on to find out more.

Trunk or Treat

This spooky tradition is a fun, safe way to dress up and trick-or-treat … with cars! Locals dress themselves and their cars up in silly or spooky ways and hand out treats to little princesses, super heroes and any other kids who come out in costume! 2017’s event details for local Trunk or Treat events are as follows:

Morristown: 5 p.m., October 31, Trunk or Treat at the Farmer’s Market. (There’s also Trick or Treating downtown at the same time.)

Rogersville:  5 p.m. October 31, Trunk or Treat in the Historic District. Call 423-272-2186 for more information.

Jefferson City: Saturday, October 28, Trunk or Treat at the Fair Grounds. Call 423-312-1081 to find out more!

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Boo at the Zoo!

This annual favorite at Zoo Knoxville is geared toward little ones, from infants through elementary age. This activity is a fun way to see some of your favorite animal friends while loading up on candy, donated by local businesses. Proceeds from the event go toward zoo programs like the Species Survival Program, helping endangered animals survive extinction. Expect to see some of your favorite book and movie characters throughout the zoo, and lots of smiling faces!

Boo at the Zoo: Three weekends in October, from 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Admission is $9 per person over 4 years old (free for kids under 4) and parking is free for this event.

Dates: October 12 – 15, 19 – 22, 26 – 29

Corn Mazes

Here’s a trade secret you probably didn’t know: maze creators use GPS equipment on their tractors to carve out mazes in the corn fields. I bet corn mazes look pretty amazing from the sky!

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This corn maze, in Sevierville, is celebrating its 10th season. The maze will be open through October 29, so get out and get lost!

Echo Valley

In Jefferson City, this maze is great for groups and families. Admission is $15, but that covers a lot: even a free pumpkin for the kids! The maze stays open until November 4.

Oakes Farm

In Corryton, this family-friendly attraction is a whole lot more than just a corn maze. Check them out for pumpkins, food, games and tons of activities.

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Weather this time of year can be pretty unpredictable; an 80-degree day can plunge quickly into a 40-degree night! So make sure you check the forecast and dress accordingly. Layers are always a good idea during the fall in East Tennessee. And be sure to use safety lights, like flash lights and glow sticks, and have a safety plan in place with your kids whether you’re out trick-or-treating or getting lost in the corn!

 

Looking for a (not haunted) house? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com! Happy Halloween!

 

Volunteer Spirit

Again and again, Tennesseans prove why we’re the Volunteer State.

Last year, much of our beloved Smoky Mountains National Park was destroyed by wildfires. Much of Gatlinburg also burned, and that community was left with many scars. But, through volunteers and programs like Mountain Strong and Dolly Parton’s My People fund, Gatlinburg and the surrounding area has come a long way toward healing.

Tennesseans are called Volunteers, not just because we support the University of Tennessee, but because we are famous for stepping up when help is needed. During the Mexican-American war, when President Polk called for 2,600 troops to volunteer in America, Tennessee showed up with 30,000 men, ready to fight. This was after the Alamo, and former Tennessee Governor Sam Houston demanded great loyalty from his home state. This year, Houston needed help again, and Tennesseans showed up, again!

This hurricane season has been horrific, with Harvey and Irma causing devastation with record-breaking flooding in Houston and massive destruction of homes and land in the Florida Keys and along the West Coast of the sunshine state. Many people came up to East Tennessee to escape Irma’s fury, seeking refuge in the safety of our mountains.

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Now that the storms have passed, relief is needed, and Tennesseans have once again proven they go above and beyond the call of duty. Celebrities like Kenny Chesney and Dolly Parton donate time and money, but regular Tennesseans step up to help, too.  Tennesseans in Nashville and Knoxville showed up in droves with boats and other watercraft hitched to their vehicles, ready to drive to Houston for search and rescue efforts.  Knoxville firefighters, emergency responders, churches and volunteers donated time, money and relief supplies to help people whose lives were disrupted by these natural disasters. Knoxville residents are raising money for relief efforts in both Houston and Florida through sales of these t-shirts.

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It’s easy to watch the morning news and believe that we don’t care about each other in this country, that hatred and arguments and irreconcilable differences are the new cultural norm in America. But, when disaster strikes, we help each other. We rescue our fellow human beings from the floods, and bring food and drinking water to those who need it. So many people responded to the call for help in Houston that volunteers had to be turned away! Tennesseans were front and center in the big-hearted groups who showed up.

We’re proud to call Tennessee our home, and we love the giving hearts of our neighbors.

If you’re looking for a Tennessee home, too, visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

Pickin’ in East Tennessee

People around here buy and sell anything from lamps to antique mason jars…

Rural East Tennesseans are no strangers to the “gettin’ it done” mentality. Only a few short generations ago, it took hours—even days, for those living way up in the hills—of arduous travel just to get to the nearest town of any size. So, if you needed farm implements, kitchen staples or even clothes, you made very certain you loaded up on all you could in that semi-annual trip to town.

As a result of living so remotely, people in East Tennessee made do with what they had. They learned to make just about everything with what was available: barrels, boats, furniture, homes, clothes, preserves … you name it, it could pretty much be conjured with some hard work and creativity. And, people didn’t throw away anything that had some kind of use left in it!

These days, of course, just about anything a body could need is a short drive into town or a decisive click of the computer mouse away. But that creative philosophy of life never quite left folks in this part of the world. One of the best results of this is a thriving flea market economy. People around here buy and sell anything from lamps to antique mason jars, and if you’re willing to spend the time hunting, you can find what you need. (Or what you didn’t even know you needed!) And, of course, the hunt is most of the fun!

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Some flea markets, like the Porter Flea in Nashville, are an annual event, worth the pilgrimage if you want to combine a vacation with a pickin’ trip. Others are closer to our neck of the woods, like the Centre Brick Indoor Flea Market in New Tazewell or the Green Acres Flea Market in Louisville (near the airport, just outside of Knoxville.)

If yard sales get your creative gears cranking, there are plenty of events in Tennessee for you. Every weekend in the summer, sometimes starting as early as Thursday morning, you can find yard sales. If it’s a big event you’re looking for, Tennessee has annual yard sale events that stretch for miles along our highways! A little bit west of here, in Fentress County, there is the annual 127 Corridor yard sale. This one’s coming up: August 3-6, 2017. It actually stretches from Addison, Michigan, to Chattanooga, Tennessee! Next spring, plan for the U.S. 11 Antique Alley and Yard Sale, which runs from Meridian, Missouri to Bristol, Virginia.

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Need a little inspiration for what to do with your newfound trash-to-treasure? Check out this article from Good Housekeeping. You can turn out-of-date end tables into a Lego brick paradise, colanders into planters, and jars and cans into anything from candle holders to terrariums. If something has “good bones,” you can find a fantastic use for it! And, really, nothing makes a house into a home more than the hand-made touch.

So, get pickin’! And, if you see a property you like while you’re out searching for antiques and up-cycle projects, visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’ll be happy to help you find your East Tennessee home!

Campfire Ghost Tales

Check out a few local “haunted” places!

Every year there comes a season for telling tales to make your short hairs stand up, for giving you the shivers, for making the friendly light of a bonfire turn trees and shadows into dancing ghosts … if you think I’m talking about Halloween, think again!

It’s camping season, and the weather has been great for it! Aside from all this rain from Tropical Storm Cindy, we’ve had days and nights of mild weather and even relatively low humidity here in pleasant East Tennessee. All this sweet summer weather makes it just right to pitch a tent in the backyard, roast hot dogs over a camp fire and chase fireflies in the twilight.

But, when the moon is out and the fire gets low, the time for telling tales is just right. Locals know that East Tennessee is famous for storytelling! With misty apparitions, magical fireflies and mysterious late-night animal noises, the background is perfect for some old-fashioned yarn-spinning! And, something about a good campfire brings out the best ghost stories.

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Here are a few infamously haunted places in our area to get your campfire tales started:

Bethesda Church and Cemetery in Morristown, Tennessee

Reportedly, Confederate soldiers buried here at the cemetery don’t take kindly to visitors with *ahem* Yankee accents coming around. Stories of women weeping, misty, foggy shapes and general creepy feelings surround this historic site when the sun goes down and the moon comes out. If you find yourself wandering outside the cemetery at night, you’d best starting whistling Dixie!

Greeneville, Tennessee: General Morgan Inn

HauntedPlaces.org lists historic General Morgan Inn as one of its haunted places. Green Room Grace, a waitress in times of yore, is supposedly playful and fun. Her favorite prank is snatching spoons from the hotel restaurant! Maybe they’ll renovate the hotel someday and find a whole stash of tarnished spoons behind a wall!

Jonesboro, Tennessee

The oldest official town of Tennessee, this place has two reportedly haunted hotels! The Hawley House Bed and Breakfast and the Historic Eureka Inn have given guests the heebie-jeebies with late-night whispers, unexplained footsteps and shadowy figures,  thought to be the spirits of women who once worked in the hotels.

Glenmore Mansion in Jefferson City, Tennessee

It’s rare that a ghost announces he’ll be a ghost before he passes, but that’s what witnesses say happened at the famous Glenmore Mansion! This Victorian gem, restored and maintained by diligent locals, is reportedly a favorite spot for now-deceased historian Thomas Roach. Witnesses have seen a friendly, misty figure roaming the property. There have also been sightings of an apparition of a woman in white in the upper windows at night.

Looking for more ghost stories? Check out these haunted tours by Appalachian Ghost Walks!

If you like to hear a masterful tale spinner, then Jonesboro, Tennessee is the place for you. The International Storytelling Center there has events year-round for audiences and participants alike! You have plenty of time to plan to attend this year’s National Storytelling Festival, October 6-8, 2017.

Interested in looking for the perfect backyard to tell your own campfire tales? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com!

Spring Festivals in East Tennessee

Once the warm weather starts, it’s officially festival season.

Now that spring is here, it’s time for one of the best parts of family life here in East Tennessee: the festivals! From car enthusiasts to artists, people around here love to get out for more than just hiking in the Smokies. Once the warm weather starts, it’s officially festival season. We’ve rounded up a few happening in the area. Read on to find out more:

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Morristown:

Annual Spring Thyme in the Garden

Located at the Rose Center

On Earth Day: April 22

Presented by the Garden Thyme Herb Society, this annual event is the perfect kickoff to the year’s gardening season! Buy your herbs, flowers and other plants, as well as yard art, signs, pottery and other art. There will be live music and food available, and more! Visit rosecenter.org for more information about this and other Rose Center events.

13th Annual Strawberry Festival

Located at 510 West Economy Road

This free community event features family friendly vendors, food and events, all geared toward celebrating the year’s strawberry harvest. Visit their website for more information.

Sevierville:

Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass

May 19 and 20

Do you enjoy live bluegrass music, world-class barbeque (seriously: this is a World Food Championship qualifier event!) and other fun festivities? Head to Sevierville this May! This year, Ricky Scaggs and Kentucky Thunder will be live on Saturday! Think you’ve got what it takes to win the Mountain Soul Vocal Competition? Then bring your pipes and your favorite Dolly Parton songs to sing. And don’t forget to try some amazing barbeque while you’re here. Click here for more information.

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Knoxville:

Dogwood Arts Festival

Located on Market Square

April 28-30

This one is a regional favorite, celebrating spring and the arts! It’s a beautiful combination. This festival has plenty to do for adults and children, with public art displays, cooking demonstrations, entertainment and activities for the family, and more! Check out the site for more information.

Vestival

Located at the old Candoro Marble Building in South Knoxville

Mother’s Day Weekend (May 13)

Music, art, food, hand-crafted goods and tons of history abound at this annual event. The Candoro Arts and Heritage Center was once central to the Tennessee Pink Marble industry—a fascinating subject all by itself! Whether you’re a mother or want to honor yours, this is a great event to share. Visit the website to find out more.

International Biscuit Festival

Market Square

May 20

You know you’re really in the south when you find a whole festival dedicated to biscuits. The $15 ticket pays for 5 separate biscuit samples, so come hungry and visit Biscuit Boulevard first thing! Visit the site to learn more.

Be sure to check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com if you’re looking to find (or sell!) your home in East Tennessee.

Community and Beauty: Why We Love East Tennessee!

Our eastern corner of Tennessee is full of places like that: local secrets, where the authenticity hasn’t been polished off by the tourism industry.

Ask anyone who has made East Tennessee their home what their favorite things about living here are, and sense of community is bound to make the list.

During our 2016 wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains, local businesses, churches, schools and groups of private individuals banded together to provide relief in the form of food, clothing (including pajamas and teddy bears for displaced kids), Power Bars, water and Gatorade for fire fighters, and money. The support was so immediate and overwhelming that, at one point during the crisis, aid workers in Sevier County couldn’t find space to put all the supplies! It’s exactly this spirit that makes Tennessee the Volunteer State.

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Our smaller communities have this amazing “helping out” attitude, too. It’s evident in the revitalization of the Mossy Creek district in Jefferson City, the organizations that provide help to homeless families in Morristown, the knowledgeable folks at Clinch-Powell RC&D in Rutledge who help local families become first-time homeowners and veterans get help paying off their mortgages.

Remember that list of reasons why people love to call East Tennessee home? The beauty of our natural environment is high on that list, too.

Clinch-Powell RC&D combines its mission for benefiting local communities with benefiting the environment in Hancock County. There, they have revitalized an old general store into a hub for ecotourism. Kyles Ford in Hancock County is remote, but it’s this secluded quality that makes it ripe for a great family vacation experience. There are cabins for rent and space to pitch a tent if that’s more your pace. There’s a great restaurant in the old store, and the porch doubles as a stage for regular local and regional live music performances.

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It’s called River Place on the Clinch, and it overlooks (you guessed it!) the sleepy Clinch River, which is home to an amazingly diverse ecosystem. There is more diversity of mussels in the Clinch River than can be found in the entirety of Europe! So, don’t be surprised if you see scientists wading through the water to study its residents. In fact, you might see lots of things you’d never catch sight of in town, like turkey and deer wandering in the grass down below the back deck.

River Place offers tube rentals and shuttles during the hot summer months. You could spend a whole weekend just floating on the river, listening to live music, chowing down on food, spotting wild deer and turkey, catching twilight fireflies, and generally enjoying the natural bounty of East Tennessee. With spring peeking around the corner, this kind of vacation sounds just about perfect.

Kyles Ford is about an hour from Morristown on Highway 31, making it a great weekend escape location. Lots of repeat visitors found it originally while wandering on the backroads, or traveling via motorcycle on Highway 70. Our eastern corner of Tennessee is full of places like that: local secrets, where the authenticity hasn’t been polished off by the tourism industry.

If you’re interested in learning more about real estate in Morristown, Jefferson City, or even Hancock County, go to DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’ll be happy to answer your questions.