Jessie Ball duPont Library Celebrates 150 Years in the Federal Depository Library Program

The University of the South’s Jessie Ball duPont Library celebrates 150 years in the U.S. Government Publishing Office’s (GPO’s) Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).

The FDLP ensures the public has free access to Federal documents in participating libraries across the Nation. The libraries, in partnership with GPO, work in support of Keeping America Informed. The Jessie Ball duPont Library has long served the public through the FDLP, carefully selecting and providing access to vital government information resources for students, researchers, businesses, scientists, educators, non-profits, and many others in our region.

To mark our sesquicentennial providing unfettered access to U.S. Government information, the Library hosted an open house on July 20, with cake and a “Documents through the Decades” exhibit.

Kevin Reynolds, Associate Provost for Library and Information Technology Services at the University of the South said, “I am very proud of the fact that the University has participated in the FDLP for so many years. Since it was my job to manage our Federal Depository collection many years ago, I know first hand how extraordinarily important, diverse, and truly fascinating these resources are. Our library was one of the very first Federal Depository Libraries in the state of Tennessee, and I am excited to see how we will continue in the important role of being a conduit to Federal information well into the 21st century.”

Through the FDLP, approximately 1,150 libraries nationwide work with GPO to provide public access to authentic, published information from all three branches of the Federal Government in print and electronic formats. The program’s antecedents can be traced back to the act of Congress dated December 27, 1813 (3 Stat. 140), which provided that one copy of the journals and documents of the Senate and House be sent to each university and college and each historical society in each state. GPO has operated the FDLP since 1895.

Librarians at nationwide FDLP libraries also offer expert assistance in navigating digital copies of many of the historical and current Government documents through govinfo <> and GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications <>.

Explore Untold Stories of Tennessee History at the Tennessee State Library & Archives Author Talks Event

From Tennessee’s first steamboats to the glory and tragedy of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, explore previously untold stories of the Volunteer State at the Tennessee State Library & Archives’ free Author Talks event with special guest Bill Carey noon to 1 p.m., Friday, Aug. 11, 2023.

“Tennessee has a rich history of stories, some better known than others,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “I encourage anyone interested in discovering something new about the Volunteer State’s historical past to join us during your lunch break for this free presentation.”

Author and columnist Bill Carey will take attendees on a journey into the past, exploring stories from 19th-century Tennessee as steamboats, the telegraph and railroads transformed the Volunteer State connecting Tennesseans to each other and the rest of the nation.

Bill Carey is the author of several books about Tennessee and Nashville history, including his new book “True Tales of Tennessee: Earthquake to Railroad,” detailing the stories of people and events that have often been overlooked. He has also written “Fortunes, Fiddles and Fried Chicken: A Nashville Business History and Runaways,” “Coffles and Fancy Girls: A History of Slavery in Tennessee.” Carey is a monthly columnist for Tennessee Magazine. He is also the founder of the Tennessee History for Kids organization.

“We are excited to host Bill Carey to share stories he discovered while doing research at the Tennessee State Library & Archives,” said State Librarian and Archivist Jamie Ritter. “Anyone who attends this talk is bound to learn something new about Tennessee’s past.”

This talk will be at the Library & Archives and is free to attend. Attendees are welcome to bring their lunch. Seating is limited. To make a reservation, visit <>.

The Library & Archives is located at 1001 Rep. John Lewis Way North on Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, across from the Tennessee State Museum. The Library & Archives garage is on Junior Gilliam Way.

For the latest information about this event, follow social media channels: Facebook: Tennessee State Library & Archives and Instagram: @tnlibarchives and the Secretary of State’s Twitter account: @tnsecofstate.

To learn more about the Library & Archives or schedule a research visit, call (615) 741-2764, email <>, or visit <>.

Barn Quilts, Learning from the Land, and the Largest Cave Art in the Americas at the MSSA

The Monteagle Sunday School Assembly in Monteagle continues its 141st consecutive summer season of enrichment through Sunday, Aug. 6, featuring numerous visiting lecturers who will present morning and evening programs in the Auditorium that are open free of charge to the public; unless otherwise noted, morning lectures begin at 10:45 a.m. and evening lectures at 7:45 p.m. Anyone interested in a full schedule of the Monteagle Assembly’s 2023 program is welcome to pick one up at the Assembly Office (tel. (931) 924-2286), or to peruse the schedule on the Assembly’s website at <>.

Nationally recognized photographer Stephen Alvarez is passionate about preserving and sharing humanity’s oldest artworks—that’s why he founded the Ancient Art Archive in 2016. The project works to capture the earliest artworks around the globe, using photography and the newest image-based virtual reality technology. Alvarez is also an award-winning National Geographic photographer, filmmaker and explorer. The magazine has featured his work more than a dozen times, including on the cover of the July 2023 issue. Alvarez will share his stories and work in a Thursday evening lecture in the Auditorium: “The Art Beneath Our Feet: Discovering the Largest Cave Art in the Americas is On the Cumberland Plateau.”

Surely you’ve noticed brightly painted patterns on the sides of barns as you’re driving around. But how did this movement of quilt-like decorations get their start? Elizabeth Curtis will lecture Tuesday morning on “Barn Quilts: How They Started and Where They’re Going.” Curtis is the owner of Liz’s Barn Quilts. Her passion for this movement inspired her to help establish the St. Claire County Quilt Trail in Michigan, which has resulted in more than 1,000 barn quilts in 45 states.

This week’s Plateau talk and excursion features Stephanie Colchado-Kelley, who will lecture Wednesday morning on “What We Learn From the Land: Indigenous Narratives on the South Cumberland Plateau.” Colchado-Kelley is no stranger to many of us on the Plateau; through her work with the Office of Civic Engagement at Sewanee, as well as her advocacy for food access and community wellness through the nonprofit Growing Roots. Colchado-Kelley will lead a Plateau walk on the theme of “The Native Plant Space” at 1 p.m., Wednesday; meet at the Front Gate to join the walk.

This theme runs through the week’s subsequent morning lectures, too. Jess Wilson will lecture Thursday morning on “The Future of Farming and Rural Communities.” Wilson is perhaps best known locally for her years of service in the Rooted Here farmer’s market that shares local farmers’ bounties at the Sewanee Community Center. She is the president of the Southeast Tennessee Young Farmers Coalition. On Friday, Katharine Ray will lecture on “Navigating Nutrition.” Ray is the executive director of the Heimerdinger Foundation, an organization that provides about 800 meals per week to people facing cancer in the Nashville area.

MSSA Preview: Kevin Wilson, Ken Farmer

The Monteagle Sunday School Assembly in Monteagle continues its 141st consecutive summer season of enrichment through Sunday, Aug. 6, featuring numerous visiting lecturers who will present morning and evening programs in the Auditorium that are open free of charge to the public; unless otherwise noted, morning lectures begin at 10:45 a.m. and evening lectures at 7:45 p.m. Anyone interested in a full schedule of the Monteagle Assembly’s 2023 program is welcome to pick one up at the Assembly Office (tel. (931) 924-2286), or to peruse the schedule on the Assembly’s website at <>.

How much is that antique piece of furniture in your formal living room? Ken Farmer is just the man to tell you, and he’s made a career out of appraising American and decorative arts as an auctioneer and appraiser. So talented and dynamic is his approach that he’s a favorite on the popular PBS series Antiques Roadshow since its inception, specializing in folk art, furniture, decorative arts, and musical instruments. Farmer brings that keen eye to the Assembly for a live appraisal event Thursday evening in the Auditorium. Assembly members have submitted their family heirlooms to Farmer for potential inclusion in this fun program. Saturday evening, Farmer will lead a musical performance of acoustic music in the Auditorium, “From Appalachia to LA.”

Sewanee professor and writer Kevin Wilson is a best-selling author and sought-after speaker—luckily, he’s local, too. Wilson is known for his quirky and masterful novels, such as “Nothing to See Here” and “The Family Fang,” which was adapted into a movie starring Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman. He will offer a writing workshop titled “Narrative Machines: How to Develop and Build a Story” on Thursday afternoon in the Pulliam Center. Wilson will return Friday morning for a lecture about his latest novel, “Now is Not the Time to Panic,” in the Auditorium.

Additional events the sixth week of the Monteagle Assembly’s 2023 season include the following:

Tuesday, July 25, 10:45 a.m., Warren Chapel – Lecture with Lei-Guang Huang, “Sharing God’s Gift with the Needy Half a Globe Away: The Wonderful Life of Dr. Charles Mackenzie.”

Wednesday, July 26, 10:45 a.m., Warren Chapel – Plateau Talk with Pledger Schaefer on “Mushrooms on the Mountain.” Schaefer will lead a tour of his company’s work at Midway Mushrooms, departing from the Auditorium at 1:00 pm Wednesday.

Thursday, July 27, 10:45 a.m., Auditorium – Eric Ross lectures on “Decorating with Antiques in a Modern World.”

The Mission of the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly is to be a welcoming community of Christian faith where people gather to engage in spiritual growth and renewal, lifelong inquiry and learning, recreational, and cultural enrichment, while being good stewards of our natural resources and our Assembly heritage.

SUD: New Billing Software, Cybersecurity Highlights

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the July 18 meeting, the Sewanee Utility District Board of Commissioners reviewed the features of the new billing software SUD will implement in January 2024 and the proposed cybersecurity policy and the cybersecurity plan recently adopted. The board also weighed the pros and cons of switching from spray-field to dripline application of effluent at the wastewater treatment plant.

The new CUSI billing software will be far more customer friendly. “People’s access to their information will be substantially better,” said SUD manager Ben Beavers. Customers will be able to change email and other account information, sign up for continual credit-card billing, check on their annual water usage and more. CUSI will make a prototype portal available so customers can interact with the software’s features before SUD implements the new platform. Watch the Messenger and the SUD website for details.

In keeping with a state-comptroller requirement, SUD recently adopted a cybersecurity plan. Employee training is underway. The plan stipulates “how we’re going to keep people from getting our stuff,” Beavers said. At the water plant, controls are not hooked up to or accessed via the internet. The four office computers have access to billing software, but employees cannot use SUD computers for personal business; employees needing to conduct business during breaks must use their personal devices and connect to SUD’s guest network. The Tennessee Association of Utility Districts (TAUD) recommended SUD have a cybersecurity policy, as well. The board will review the suggested TAUD policy for a vote at the next meeting on Aug. 15. TAUD said in the future insurance companies would insist public utilities have a cybersecurity policy on the books.

Revisiting the topic of dripline versus spray field application of effluent, Beavers said he spoke with Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation official Bob O’Dette who oversees subsurface sewage disposal. O’Dette has been involved with the SUD spray-field operation since its inception. O’Dette highly recommended dripline dispersal, Beavers said. Dripline installation costs 40 percent less and increases application amounts by as much as 10-15 percent since no buffer is needed to avoid overspray onto adjoining property. However, the soil loading allowance would be the same, Beavers noted, and the same rules would apply (no pooling and nothing leaves the site). Beavers suggested switching one spray field to dripline as a test. According to Beavers, O’Dette said he would back SUD’s application “as an experiment” to gauge potential increased application rates, since the knowledge gained would benefit other water utilities. At present, no municipal sewage disposal operations use dripline.

Updating the board on the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) project to narrow Highway 41A, Beavers said TDOT had not closed out the project even though the work was completed. As a result, SUD must continue to hold in escrow unspent money earmarked for the project. Beavers said the project was bid under the same contract as another project in which there was an ongoing dispute over a culvert. The dispute has prevented the project from being closed.

64th Annual Mountain Market for Arts & Crafts

The 64th annual Mountain Market for Arts & Crafts will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, July 29, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, July 30. This show is one of the longest-running and most popular craft shows in the Southeast. This event will be in Hannah Pickett Park behind City Hall. The park has picnic tables, and nice playground equipment for kids of all ages. City Hall is at 16 Dixie Lee Ave in Monteagle. Admission is free.

This event will feature more than 150 artisans and crafters displaying their handmade creations which will include: fine art; stained glass; pottery; fine, primitive and refurbished furniture; bird houses; paintings in a variety of media; quilts; woodcrafts; folk art; toys; jewelry; leather items; metal art; soaps and lotions; local honey; embroidered baby items and doll clothing; knitted and hand sewn items; and so much more. The Monteagle Fire Department will have a fire truck for the kids to check out, and they will talk about fire safety and offer kids activities.

A variety of delicious food will be available from barbecue, sub sandwiches, pizza, Philly cheese steak, barbecued chicken legs, to desserts and sweets such as ice cream, banana pudding, cheesecake, kettle corn and much more. There will be something for everyone

For more information, contact the South Cumberland Chamber of Chamber at (931) 924-5353 or <>. Additional information can be found at the Chamber’s Facebook page <;.

Join Towson Engsberg and Friends for the Final FNIP Concert

The highly anticipated final installment of the Friday Nights in the Park series is set to take place in downtown Sewanee at 6 p.m., Friday, July 21, at Angel Park. This event will feature the incredibly talented Towson Engsberg and friends, promising an unforgettable evening of exceptional music, entertainment, and community togetherness.

Friday Nights in the Park has been a delightful summer tradition that has captivated the Sewanee community. Week after week, residents and visitors alike have come together to revel in the beauty of our town’s central park while enjoying live performances by remarkable artists. As we bid farewell to this cherished series, we invite you to join us for one last celebration under the stars, commemorating the incredible talent of Towson Engsberg and friends.

Towson Engsberg, a local star well known in the music industry, will grace the stage with an electrifying performance that displays his band’s extraordinary vocal range and captivating stage presence. Engsberg’s blend of musical genres promises to mesmerize audiences of all ages. Accompanied by his talented friends, the night will be transformed into a musical extravaganza, leaving audiences longing for more.

Join us in bidding farewell to Friday Nights in the Park. Bring blankets or lawn chairs, and get ready to enjoy the music.

2023 Tennessee Sales Tax Holidays

For 2023, there are two sales tax holidays. The Tennessee General Assembly approved a three-month sales tax holiday on groceries. The traditional sales tax holiday on clothing, school supplies, and computers will also take place the last weekend of July.

Tennessee’s traditional sales tax holiday on clothing, school supplies and computers is the last full weekend in July. For 2023, it begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 28, 2023, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, July 30, 2023.

For 2023, Tennessee’s General Assembly has approved a three-month grocery tax holiday on food & food ingredients which begins at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023.

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MSSA Preview: Cottage Tour Week Features Margot Shaw, Oscar Fitzgerald

The Monteagle Sunday School Assembly in Monteagle continues its 141st consecutive summer season of enrichment through Sunday, Aug. 6, featuring numerous visiting lecturers who will present morning and evening programs in the Auditorium that are open free of charge to the public; unless otherwise noted, morning lectures begin at 10:45 a.m. and evening lectures at 7:45 p.m. Anyone interested in a full schedule of the Monteagle Assembly’s 2023 program is welcome to pick one up at the Assembly Office (tel. (931) 924-2286), or to peruse the schedule on the Assembly’s website at <>. As part of the Woman’s Association Cottage Tour and Bazaar week, the Assembly welcomes two popular speakers that will delight those interested in home décor. Margot Shaw, founder and editor-in-chief of Flower magazine, will lecture in the Auditorium on Friday morning on the topic of her 2019 book, Living Floral. Shaw’s passion for the magazine began when she helped plan her daughter’s wedding. As she worked with the floral and event designer, she saw the artistry and inspiration involved in floral design. She created Flower magazine to showcase exactly that. Over its 11 years in print, Flower has grown to include features on homes, gardens, entertaining, and lifestyle.

Assembly member Oscar Fitzgerald brings his expertise on furniture to a Thursday morning lecture: “If You Don’t Like Victorian, You Will Love Arts and Crafts Furniture,” taking place in Warren Chapel. Fitzgerald’s expertise in history and decorative arts has led to fascinating jobs over his life, including a stint as the director of the Navy Museum in Washington, DC, where he curated the Tingey House, the oldest quarters in the Navy. His latest book, “American Furniture Designers: 1900-2020,” was published last spring. As an avid antiques collector, Fitzgerald re-erected a 1840s log cabin in his backyard to house his extensive southern furniture collection.

Additional events the sixth week of the Monteagle Assembly’s 2023 season include the following:

Tuesday, July 18, 10:45 a.m., Warren Chapel – Lecture with Bill Flatley, “The History of Hong Kong.”

Wednesday, July 19, 10:45 a.m., Warren Chapel – Plateau Talk with Bruno Durant of Silver Bait Worm Farm on “Worm Farming.” Durant will lead a tour of his company’s facility, departing from the Auditorium at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Thursday, July 20, 7:45 p.m., Auditorium – Bob Rolfe lectures on “A Discussion with the State of Tennessee Former Commissioner of Economic and Community Development.”

Friday, July 21, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., The Mall – Woman’s Association Bazaar.

Friday, July 21, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., MSSA Grounds – 59th Woman’s Association Cottage Tour.

The Mission of the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly is to be a welcoming community of Christian faith where people gather to engage in spiritual growth and renewal, lifelong inquiry and learning, recreational, and cultural enrichment, while being good stewards of our natural resources and our Assembly heritage.

Franklin State Forest Restrictions

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry (TDF) is amending and extending the temporary restrictions of Franklin State Forest located in Franklin and Marion Counties. Public motorized vehicle use will continue to be prohibited while non-motorized traffic, such as hiking, horseback riding, and mechanical bicycles will be allowed through January 4, 2024.

“Damage from motorized vehicles, especially in non-designated areas, is extensive at Franklin State Forest,” State Forester David Arnold said. “We have been assessing conditions since March and have determined significant impact to erosion control, water quality, forest health, and other forms of recreation. This extension of some restrictions will provide our forest staff time to make repairs and consider future use on all forest roads and trails to adequately protect, conserve, and enhance this public forest for future generations.”

Under the amended restrictions for Franklin State Forest, all motorized vehicle use including, but not limited to, motorcycles, dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles, and off-highway vehicles is prohibited. This restriction is mandated pursuant to Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0080-07-01-.05 for the protection of Franklin State Forest and the safety and welfare of visitors. Motorized vehicles are allowed to access the three designated parking areas on the forest.

Failure to comply with this use restriction is a violation of state law and may result in civil penalties and/or criminal charges. This order expires on January 4, 2024, unless extended or otherwise rescinded by the State Forester.

Law enforcement with the department’s Agricultural Crime Unit (ACU) have continued to patrol Franklin State Forest. One arrest was made following multiple notices of violations. ACU will continue to enforce restrictions.

Foresters are working to rehabilitate damaged roads and trails. So far, TDF staff have worked nearly 1,000 hours to repair 6 miles of roads damaged by motorized vehicles. Another 30 miles of roads and trails remain for repair and improvement.

Damage to forest resources from motorized vehicles is not limited to Franklin State Forest. The division is monitoring and assessing measures to correct abuses across the state forest system, which includes 15 state forests totaling 168,000 acres. For all other state forests, the use of motorcycles, trail bikes, all-terrain vehicles, bicycles, and other off-road vehicles in any area of a state forest is strictly prohibited, except on designated roads or trails maintained by TDF.

Updates regarding restriction status, assessment plans, and the mitigation response for Franklin State Forest can be found online at <> and on the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Facebook page.

Franklin State Forest covers more than 8,830 acres on the southern Cumberland Plateau. It contains a variety of forest communities ranging from oak and hickory to plantations of loblolly pine. Within the forest boundaries are numerous caves, abandoned mines, waterfalls, overlooks, and other examples of natural beauty which have made the state forest a popular destination for recreational use.

Franklin County Schools: Community Engagement; Policy Changes

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the July 10 meeting of the Franklin County School Board, new Director of Schools Cary Holman announced plans for several community engagement initiatives. The board approve the Code of Conduct for the 2023-2024 school year, with several changes to the dress code; the board also approved a number of Tennessee School Board Association (TSBA) recommended policy changes.

Beginning in August, Holman plans for each school board meeting to highlight a school, a business who supports the county schools, and a district department. There will be several townhall meetings throughout the year to share information with parents, teachers, students and other stakeholders; and “to set the tone for the upcoming school year” and “how we want to partner with our local government and community,” the district will host a “Unity on the Yard” open house at the central office 2–5 p.m., Thursday, July 27, featuring community partners and businesses, with food trucks and other activities.

Changes to the dress code in the Code of Conduct stipulate “Rips, tears, or slits showing above mid-thigh length are not permitted. Students may wear clothing with rips, tears, or slits as long as leggings, tights/yoga pants or compression-type clothes are worn underneath rips or tears …Tights of any kind — leggings/jeggings, or yoga pants — worn as outer wear are not permitted unless the following criteria is met: the shirt, skirt, or dress worn with the tights, leggings/jeggings, or yoga pants must strike the legs at mid-thigh … Pants must be worn above the hip-bone; sagging/bagging is not allowed … Hoods on outerwear and hoodies may not be worn inside the school building.”

The Code of Conduct also addressed “personal communication devices,” such as cell phones. PCDs are not allowed in grades K-5, and in grades 6-12, students are not allowed to use PCDs during class time. Violation of the rule can result in confiscation of the PCD and disciplinary action which can include detention and withdrawal of privileges.

At a July 6 workshop, the board reviewed more than 20 TSBA recommended policy changes. Among the changes approved at the July 10 meeting were the following. Extracurricular Activities: students shall present a signed and dated statement from their parent/guardian before joining any club. Library Materials: those having a complaint about school library materials may submit a “Request for Reconsideration” by a review committee appointed by the principal; the complainant may appeal the principal’s subsequent decision to the Director of School and may appeal the Director of Schools’ decision to the board. Family and Medical Leave: an additional six work weeks of paid leave are available to eligible employees [teacher, principals and supervisors] after a birth, stillbirth or adoption. School Nutrition Management: students not on free or reduced lunch may charge up to $10 to pay for school meals. Security: all exterior doors leading into the school buildings shall be locked at all times, during the school day as well as when students are present outside of regular school hours; if there is a need to unlock the doors during a school activity, a school district employee will be stationed by the door to ensure access is limited.

Commenting on the Emergency Preparedness Plan policy “incident command drill” requirement, Holman explained the purpose of the drill would be to insure “each student will know how to respond” in a crisis. The drills will be coordinated with the sheriff’s department and school resource officer.

The board deferred a decision on the Attendance policy. Board member Sara Liechty questioned if five days allowed students enough time to complete makeup work. “We want to be fair to students out for two weeks,” Liechty said, suggesting the policy should allow more than five days in “extenuating circumstances.”

The board also deferred a decision on the policy governing Appeals to the Board to discuss the provisions with the school district’s attorney. The TSBA policy changes called for a 30-minute public comment period at each board meeting and limiting individuals who wished to address the board to five minutes.

The board meets next Monday, Aug. 7, different from the regular meeting day on the second Monday of the month.

33rd Annual Sewanee Writers’ Conference

From July 18-29, 2023, the University of the South will host the 33rd annual session of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Supported by Tennessee Williams and the Walter E. Dakin Memorial Fund, the Conference provides promising writers instruction through workshops and craft lectures in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and playwriting.

Although workshops are limited to Conference participants, lectures and readings are open to the public and free to attend. These events will be held in Guerry Auditorium on the corner of University Avenue and Georgia Avenue on the campus of the University of the South. Masking is required at all events.

The Conference will feature readings by fiction writers Venita Blackburn, Chris Bachelder, Kirstin Chen, Vanessa Hua, Holly Goddard Jones, Michael Knight, Leigh Newman, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Kirstin Valdez Quade, and Stephanie Powell Watts; poets Eduardo C. Corral, Camille Dungy, Tarfia Faizullah, Nate Marshall, A. E. Stallings, and Caki Wilkinson; nonfiction writers Alexander Chee, Jaquira Díaz, Lacy M. Johnson, and Aisha Sabatini Sloan; and playwrights David Adjmi, Brittany K. Allen, Talene Monahon, and Dan O’Brien.

A complete Conference schedule can be found online at

Authors’ books are available at the University Book & Supply Store.

Swiss Society Announces 2023 Celebration

It’s time once again for the annual Swiss Heritage Celebration on Saturday, July 29, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (CDT) at the Stoker-Stampfli Farm Museum in Gruetli-Laager, Tenn. The public is invited to join the fun. You don’t have to be Swiss to attend.

The event commemorates the 154th year since families from Switzerland settled the Colony of Gruetli in Grundy County. Last year, nearly 700 people attended.

This year, the Consul General from the Swiss Consulate in Atlanta, Urs Bronnimann, and his wife, Katrin Bronnimann, plan to attend as honored guests. The Swiss Society of Nashville plans to send a contingency and meet during the festival.

The featured musicians will be the Musik Meisters from Nashville, a prominent polka band known in the city’s German restaurants. A local group that jams regularly on the mountain will offer additional musical entertainment.

Besides the music and dancing, visitors can glimpse rural life in the late 1800s by touring the historic farmhouse and viewing its furnishings, documents, memorabilia and quilts. Attendees can purchase soaps, crafts, handmade children’s toys, mountain plants and herbs. Local artisans will demonstrate soapmaking, woodworking, and carding and weaving of Alpaca wool. The Tullahoma Ham Radio Club, MTARS, will demonstrate how emergency preparedness involves the use of radio communication.

Children will enjoy jumping in the bouncy house and swinging on a tire swing. Kids of all ages can ride a flag-festooned wagon around the grounds.

Vendors will sell beverages, bratwurst, sandwiches, canned goods, fried pies and baked goods, including Swiss cookies and Springerle cookies. A highlight of the day is always the tasting booth featuring locally made wine and cheese.

Additional vendors are welcome. To apply, please contact Jackie Lawley at (931) 235-3029 or <>.

The cost is $5 per person. Children under 12 are admitted free. Parking is free.

For more information, visit, the website of the Grundy County Swiss Historical Society.

School Supply Drive for SES

The Sewanee Civic Association is inviting individuals, local groups and businesses to help collect donations of elementary school supplies. The National Retail Federation said families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $864 on school supplies.

This is where you can help. Collect school supplies and then deliver them to the bins at Sewanee Elementary School Aug. 1-3. SES is located at 206 University Ave.

Monetary donations are accepted at Stirling’s Coffee House, the Blue Chair and Taylor’s Mercantile beginning Monday, July 10. Please make checks payable to Sewanee Elementary School.

There is also an Amazon Wish List from the Sewanee Community Chest for those who want to order school supplies. These will be delivered to Sewanee Elementary School. The link is;. The address will be listed as Kerstin Beavers, Sewanee Community Chest, Sewanee, TN 37375.

Sewanee Elementary will oversee the distribution of the available donations to those who need it on Friday, Aug. 4, during the welcome back to school picnic.

This event is part of the Sewanee Civic Association Treasures for the Chest initiative, a campaign to help promote community-wide service of giving time, support and donations. Volunteers are needed. To volunteer contact <>.

The event is sponsored by the Sewanee Community Chest, the Sewanee Civic Association, and the Sewanee Elementary School.

A school supply list for Sewanee Elementary is on page 15 of this issue.

McDonough Documentaries: Troubling Questions, Secret Truth

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Sewanee Classics professor Chris McDonough’s two documentaries plumb unspoken truths in the history of Plateau coal mining and raise troubling questions. Released in 2018, “Mine 21” steps back in time to revisit the tragic 1981 Whitwell coalmine explosion McDonough calls “the local nine-eleven disaster ... none of us know about.” “Ghosts of Lone Rock,” still under production, documents the operation of the Lone Rock mine in Tracy City where in the late 1800s angry local miners replaced by leased convicts rose up in rebellion against the mining company. At a June 28 Monteagle Sunday School Assembly program, McDonough talked about the two documentaries and what prompted him to pursue the projects.

McDonough learned about the Mine 21 explosion from Tony Gilliam, a University HVAC technician who once worked at the mine. “How do I not know about this?” McDonough asked Gilliam. Student Kelsey Arbuckle had the same question. She learned her grandfather died in the explosion from a newspaper anniversary-account of the tragedy. Arbuckle sought out McDonough who had blogged on the topic. Still more secrets surfaced. Arbuckle’s grandmother, Barbara Myers, sued the mining company and the federal government testififying before the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee chaired by Senator Ted Kennedy. A cigarette lighter ignited the methane explosion in the mine. Thirteen miners died. Temperatures reached one-thousand degrees. According to McDonough, following a Whitwell screening of Mine 21, a woman rose to her feet and addressing her father, a miner who appeared in the documentary, said, “I never heard this story before.” Her father replied, “How could I tell you? I could tell Chris. But I couldn’t tell this to you.”

McDonough became aware of the convict lease system employed at the Tracy City Lone Rock mining operation from University researcher Camille Westmont’s work on the cultural memory of coalmining. The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibited slavery except in the case of convicted criminals, a law that remained on the books in Tennessee until this past November. In the late 1800s, mining companies throughout southern Appalachia leased convicts to work in the coal mines. Promotional literature for the Assembly from the 1880s touted the “picturesque” Tracy City mining district as a tourist attraction. But visitors expressed horror at the convicts’ circumstances. One wrote, “to think of human beings subjected to this slow torturing existence, can you call it life?” Eighty-five percent of the convicts were African Americans; over 200 were children under age 11. During the mines 25 years of operation, 1871-1896, 10 percent or more of the convicts died. “Where are they? Is there a mass grave in Tracy City?” McDonough speculated.

A descendant of one convict recounted how her great uncle, a white man, was arrested and sent to Lone Rock for bouncing a check to buy shoes. He tried to escape and was shot. Prior to his death, he was tortured by being lowered into a well filling with water. McDonough emphasized local people felt tremendous sympathy for the convicts, but despised the mining company for giving the convicts their jobs. In 1892, armed men ordered the convicts from the mines at gunpoint, loaded them on a train, sent them them ‘away,’ and burned the stockade.

McDonough praised the skill of filmographer Stephen Garrett who directed the award winning “Mine 21” documentary. To view “Mine 21,” visit YouTube or Alexander Street videos. Garrett is also directing the upcoming “Ghosts of the Stockade,” being made in partnership with the nonprofit Blacks in Appalachia. View the trailer at <>.

The coal mines brought prosperity to the Plateau, McDonough stressed, and a unique culture. The miners “loved working in the mines” where camaraderie and rules entirely different from those above ground held forth. The University and Assembly owe their existence to the mines, McDonough insisted. “We are here, because there was a train.” The train made the Plateau accessible, but the train existed to transport coal from the mines.

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