My passion is reading vintage history books about Northeast Tennessee and its surrounding areas. One treasured volume was written in 1913 by Margaret W. Morley of the Houghton Mifflin Company. Here is a sample of her prose:
The words to the song, “The Death of Floyd Collins,” speak of a Kentucky mining tragedy that claimed the life of a young cave explorer on January 30, 1925. Andrew B. Jenkins, a blind Atlanta evangelist, composed the original song and Fiddlin' John Carson (Okeh Records) and Vernon Dalhart (Perfect Records) each recorded the song about the tragic mishap.
A spring 1912 Comet article addressed the reason why area East Tennessee farmers were poor. The piece was addressed to Mr. Tennessee Farmer: "The reason why this occurs is always a vital question, so I stopped beside the road, let my old mare browse at some nearby sedge grass while I figured it out. Well, I figured it out and here is my explanation.
On March 15, 1884, Nathaniel C.T. Love published the first issue of the Comet newspaper in Johnson City, Tennessee. Attorneys Robert Burrow and Robert L. Taylor (later Tennessee governors) served as the newspaper’s editors. The paper’s salutatory piece affirmed its perspective: “In politics, we are democratic; in religion, we are orthodox.” At the time of the Comet’s first issue, the town had just one other newspaper, the politically independent Enterprise, established the previous year.
In September 1899, reports circulated about the discovery of caves in the mountains of Claiborne County, located about 100 miles from Johnson City. Reportedly, the caves, if true, would rival the famous Mammoth Cave of Kentucky or the Luray Caverns in Virginia.
Today's column is an 11-year cornucopia of "newsy news," from around the state, ranging from July 1874 to January 1885. Several items deal with the latest newspapers coming to the area and the status of railroad projects."
The Comet, an early newspaper of Johnson City, occasionally included a column titled, "This and That," aptly named because of its unusual subject matter and curious wording.
In March 1917, Ms. Geneva Conway, Specialist in Home Economics at the University of Tennessee, penned an article for a Johnson City newspaper titled, "Mrs. Housewife, Have You Tried These?"
In earlier times, some newspapers gave numerous news briefs of small communities from around the East Tennessee area, such as Watauga, Austin's Springs, Flourville, Unaka Springs, Brush Creek, Hampton, Spurgin and numerous others.
In May 1910, Harry W. Brimer, a reader of the Washington (DC) Herald, wrote an editorial to the newspaper commencing with these words: "I would like to say a word about the State of Tennessee that, while great and prosperous, has not received the public recognition to which she is dually entitled."