Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cotton Junction: Teapots to Sweet Spots, Ulysses S. Grant, Providence House and a Discovered Song Book

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Me with Mr. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant at Providence House

(He really does look a lot like Grant. Check this out.)

This week, I had the pleasure of attending the launch of the "Cotton Junction Trail," an event held at Providence House in Jackson, TN. It was a great event for me personally because cotton is such an important part of the history of the south, the trail includes many attractions and restaurants I think everyone needs to explore and it was an opportunity to get to check out Providence House.

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Opening ceremony of the Cotton Junction Trail

The 320-mile long trail is the last of 16 produced by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and is a great way to get people off the Interstate and into some of Tennessee's historic towns, back roads and one-of-a-kind attractions.

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Cotton Junction brochure

Some of the sites you can find on the trail's brochure or on the Web site are places I have visited but there are many others that I plan to check out soon.

The list of spots now on my "Summer of 2012" family bucket list include:

The Cotton Museum in Memphis
Vinegar Jim's in Arlington
Helen's Bar-B-Q in Brownsville
The Arts Co-op in Martin
Green Frog Village Cotton Museum of the South

Tennessee Safari Park in Alamo

The launch of the new trail was held at Providence House in Jackson which I was anxious to see.

One of Tennessee's oldest homes, Providence House was built in 1837 and was relocated to Jackson from Trenton, Tennessee by Clark and Juanita Shaw in the Summer of 2010.

Clark and I share the same third great grandfather, Beverly Williamson and many of our mutual ancestors are buried in the Providence Methodist Church Cemetery for which Williamson donated the land.

During the Civil War's Battle of Trenton, citizens gathered on the roof of what is now called The Providence House to watch the battle unfold. It later became the home of Judge M.M. Neil who served as the Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

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It's located right behind the Shaw family's other attraction and restaurant, Casey Jones Village which is on the Highway 45 By-pass at I-40 exit 80A. If you happen to be in the area, you don't want to miss Brooks Shaw's Old Country Store, Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum, the Wellwood country store, the Shoppes at Casey Jones Village, the Judge Milton Brown Pullman Car, Casey Jones Amphitheatre and the Village Church.

Clark's father, Brooks Shaw opened the Old Country Store in 1965.

I actually ate at the Old Country Store many times as a young boy when I visited my paternal grandparents, Bo and Elizabeth Williams. I remember once waiting for a table with my grandparents (we called them Granny and Daddy Bo) and Granny nudged me with her elbow and whispered, "you know, your people own this." When I asked her how they were "my people," she replied, "I don't remember, I just know they are."

So for many years, whenever I passed the Old Country Store's billboard on I-40, I would make sure whoever I was with knew my people owned it.

Speaking of Providence and Granny, while I was in the area for launch of the trail, I received another really priceless gift from another distant relative, Sonia Outlaw-Clark who is doing a great job running the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center.  We share mutual Outlaw ancestors.

While cleaning out a closet at Providence United Methodist Church, where Granny and Daddy Bo were members the later part of their lives, Bitsy Williamson found an old song book donated by my grandparents. They saved it for me which I know my grandmother would have really appreciated.

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Song book donated by Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Williams

The funny thing about the song book is, while it was donated to their original church, Holly Grove Baptist Church, it was found in a closet at Providence Methodist Church. If you knew my grandmother, who was a pretty big character, you can be pretty certain that when she got mad and left Holly Grove for Providence, she took her song book with her.

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or to check out the genealogy research about my specific family lines, go to Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

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