Grundy County Herald

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“A Glance Back”

Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 2:43 pm

In my Grundy County history collection I have two work sheets from the Sam Werner Lumber Company dated May 1 thru May 15, 1939 and one dated May 15 thru May 30, 1939. Here I would like to give you the names of those workers at that time. They included Ernest Anderson, John Anderson, Sam Anderson, Sherman Anderson, Luther Bone, Buford Cantrell, Talmage Cantrell, Rudy Church, Henry Dove, Spencer Dove, Jim Harris, James M. Meyers, Harvey Owens, J.B. Owens, Rance Owens, Harold Pearson, Henry Schild, Martin Schild, Oscar Schulze, Clarence Summers, Marvin Summers, John Throneberry, Richard Throneberry, Charles M. Boyd, Carl E. Werner, Sam Werner, Jr. and Carl Werner.

The Sam Werner Company in Tracy City was a very large milling operation, making all types of lumber trim work, windows and doors. They were located in the Dutch-Town community in Tracy City.

News from the Grundy County Herald dated April 29, 1948 included: Della May Gross, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Claude Gross and Charles Byers were united in marriage at the Myers Hill Methodist Church Sunday, April 18th. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Aylor Layne.

In the May 13, 1948 edition of the Grundy County Herald, bids for a concrete block school building in the Providence community in Pelham were being asked for. The building would be 30 feet by 76 feet and one story. Bids were to be in no later than May 21, 1948. The notice was from E.J. Cunningham, Superintendent of Grundy County Schools. 

The Tracy City Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in Tracy City was advertising Coca-Cola’s for 25 cents plus deposit for a 6 bottle pack.

The Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative had an ad showing “A Story of Progress,” in the May 13, 1948 Grundy County Herald. Average residential consumption for 1944 was 1393 kilowatt hours; 1945 was 1551 kilowatt hours; 1946 was 1789 kilowatt hours; and 1947 was 2148 kilowatt hours. (I wrote this because Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative will be celebrating its 75th year).

Partin’s Store in Tracy City had these items for sale in the May 20, 1948 Grundy County Herald. Lard – 4 pounds for $1.03; Martha White Flour – 25 pounds for $2.09; Fleetwood Coffee – one pound for $.49; sugar – 10 pounds for $.89 and 5 pounds for $.45.

The Eagle Theatre in Monteagle had these movies in May 1948: “Cass Timberlake” with Spencer Tracy and Lana Turner; “Last of the Redmen” with Jon Hall and Michael O’Shea; “Gone with the Wind” with Clark Cable and Vivien Leigh” and “Rainbow Over the Rockies” with Jimmy Wakely.

In the Grundy County Herald of May 27, 1948: Grundy County students attending Tennessee Tech this quarter were: Gruetli: James Bouldin, James Moore and Tommy Moore; Tracy City: Ruth Geary, Paul Crick, Earl Cunningham, Joe Kilgore, Lloyd Ledbetter, Lillard Gibbs, Gene Nunley, R.D. Martin, Don Roberts, Bettye Crouch, and Orin Crouch; Palmer: Johnny Fletcher, Charles Levan, Jr., Robert Morgan, Jr., Ambrose Rust, and Richard Savage; Altamont: Betty Rollings and W.H. McGinnis. This makes a total of twenty-one students from Grundy County enrolled at Tech.

An article in the Grundy County Herald dated January 22, 1948: “Altamont is the first town in Grundy County to honor the veterans with a memorial marker – a beautiful granite marker has been erected by the “Town of Altamont” on the south side of the county courthouse listing the names of all veterans killed in the line of duty during World War I and World War II.

Now I’m going way back and give you a little information when the convicts worked the coalmines and coke ovens here in Tracy City for the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company.

On March 26, 1877 the penitentiary at Nashville and the labor of the convicts were leaded to A.M. Shook for six years from August 1, 1877 for a rental fee of $75,000 per year. The lessees were to receive the convicts at the place of conviction and pay the cost of transportation.

On December 1, 1880, there were 302 convicts working at the coalmines and coke ovens in Tracy City for the Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company. On January 1, 1884 the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company became the lessees of the penitentiary at a rental fee of $101,000 per year. They worked and contracted sixty per cent of the entire prison and sub-leased the rest to Cherry, Morrow, and Company.

On December 1, 1884 there were 436 convicts working the coalmines and coke ovens at Tracy City. During the two years, 1882-1884, 83 convicts died at the Tracy City Stockade, 14 convicts escaped during this time.

On December 1, 1886 there were 313 convicts at the Tracy City Stockade and on December 1, 1888 there was 352 convicts working the coke ovens and mines in Tracy City.

From 1886 thru 1888, 21 convicts died at Tracy City and 11 escaped.

A stockade for these convicts was located above where the Grundy County Highway Garage is now located in what we know as the “Headon.” Another stockade was located above the largest lake, now known as the Grundy Lakes State Park. The ovens are back to back, so when you are viewing the remains of these old coke ovens, think back to these old days here in Tracy City.