History of Carpenters Campground
Written by: Stanley Delozier
This book consists of material gathered from the senior citizens of our community and research from the public library. We extend our appreciation to all. For centuries, perhaps as long as 13,000 years, the part of the world that was to become Carpenters Campground was included in the Cherokee Indian Nation.
The ancient Cherokee Capitol of Chota was along the Little Tennessee River about, seven miles upstream from where Highway 411 crosses today. The Indians hunted and trapped along the river and its tributaries — some later to be named Nine Mile Creek, Little Nine Mile Creek, Six Mile Creek, and Four Mile Creek.
Judging from the number of arrowheads found around springs and along creeks, no doubt the Cherokees were the first citizens of Carpenters Campground.
It is likely that on their way to Chota, representatives of Indian tribes living in the North, maybe as far as the Great Lakes, traveled through or very near what was to become Carpenters. No one knows when the first white man came to Carpenters Campground. No one knows who he was. However, by the turn of the 18th century, trappers, hunters, and scouts were passing through the area with regularity.
The English were the Europeans making the earliest and most contact with the Cherokees. It was the English who turned the Indians from killing deer for food to killing them commercially.
A thriving deerskin trade developed between the Cherokees and the English in the 1700s. It was a good deal for the English, a questionable one for the Indians.
In return for skins, the Cherokees were introduced to liquor, venereal disease, and smallpox. But unknown to the Cherokees, drunkenness and new diseases were minor problems compared to those to come.
While the English colonized the coast of South Carolina and pushed north and west, the French established trapping outposts along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. A clash between Great Britain and France appeared inevitable. The Cherokee Nation was caught in the middle.
With this in mind, the English struck a treaty with the Cherokees in 1730 that required the Indians to fight any enemy of The Crown. The agreement was of little significance for nearly two decades.
But the French and the British were still on a collision course. Both were eyeing the fertile Tennessee River Valley. When the French and Indian War began in the 1750s, the English called on the Indians to fight with them according to the 1730 treaty.
The Cherokees were asked to fight the French and their Indian allies in Virginia. However, the Indians were reluctant to go for it would leave their homeland along the Little Tennessee unprotected.
To resolve the problem, the British agreed to build and man a fort along the river. Fort Loudon, which overlooked the Little Tennessee near the mouth of the Tellico River was completed in July 1757.
The Cherokees kept their part of the bargain. Hundreds marched to Virginia to fight. Their route from the river to the battle was along a way that came to be called the Indian War Path.
The old trail followed Nine Mile Creek. It wound through the future Carpenters Campground, on to Maryville and along what became 411 North. A section of the route between Mint and Highway 129 today is named the Indian War Path Road.
By the summer of 1758, the Cherokees, homesick and weary of war, wanted to return to their river. Unable to communicate sufficiently with the English to get horses, a large group of Indians struck for home on foot.
Along the way, they stole some horses owned by White settlers. The Cherokees were caught and 3 fights broke out. There were deaths on both sides. The Indians said nineteen of their party were killed. When the warriors got home and told their story, the tribe was enraged. Seeking vengeance on the nearest white men, the Indians swarmed into North Carolina killing nineteen settlers, who had no idea why they were attacked.
From that time, relations between the Cherokees and the English deteriorated. There were sporadic skirmishes. Both Indians and whites were killed.
Finally, a Cherokee peace delegation led by Oconostota traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, to try to settle the differences.
When the Indians arrived in Charleston, they found 1500 soldiers ready for battle. Oconostota attempted appeasement. Instead, the group was thrown in chains and forced to accompany the English troops headed for Fort Loudoun. However, an outbreak of smallpox and dissatisfaction among the English troops halted the contingent at Fort Prince George in northwest South Carolina.
Unable to advance, the British decided to negotiate. The terms were for the surrender of twenty-four Cherokees believed to have been among the North Carolina Raiders. In return, the peace delegation would be freed. The Cherokee leaders were in an impossible situation. They could not surrender men, who had acted in accordance with tribal law when they sought revenge against the Carolina frontiersmen. Neither could they abandon innocent leaders who only had sought peace.
The stalemate was broken when three alleged killers of the settlers were surrendered. However, only Oconostota and two others were released. Oconostota continued to negotiate for the freedom of the others.
In 1760, he went to Fort Prince George to meet with Lt. Richard Coytmore, commander of the fort. Coytmore agreed to talk with the Cherokees at a location outside the fort, and he was killed from ambush.
Angry soldiers slaughtered the two hostages inside Fort Prince George, an act that led to an attack by the Cherokees on Fort Loudoun miles away across the mountains. The outnumbered British held out for reinforcements from South Carolina. Help never arrived. The Cherokees ambushed 1500 British soldiers along the Little Tennessee in North Carolina. The British were routed.
A few weeks later, the troops at Fort Loudoun surrendered. They were to be returned to Fort Prince George, but for some reason, on the second day of the trip, scores were slaughtered. The officers were tortured. Their arms and legs were cut off, and they were scalped alive. One soldier was burned alive.
The Indians had extracted revenge, but it was to be at a price to be paid in blood.
The war with the French had ended, leaving only the Indians for the British to fight. In 1761, Cherokee towns in North Carolina were laid to waste by 2000 soldiers. Scores were killed and crops were destroyed.
However, the expedition was stopped before it reached Tennessee. So, as the Indians had done to the North Carolina settlers a few years earlier, the British punished innocent people.
After the British foray against the Indians, hostilities subsided. But the influx of settlers continued to haunt the Cherokees. As the size of their hunting lands decreased, Indian anger increased.
By 1775, settlers were thriving in what is now Carter County in the northeast corner of Tennessee. The frontier was being pushed south and west. The older Cherokee leaders had witnessed what happened when ill-equipped Indians tried to fight well-armed white armies. They favored the cession of more land.
The idea was not shared by the younger generation. Even as the tribal elders gave up their land to secure peace, a young hot-headed chief, Dragging Canoe, was rallying a war party. In 1776 Cherokee warriors again hit the Indian War Path, this time intent on driving out the white invaders. However, the settlers were warned.
When Dragging Canoe’s 300-man force struck the first outpost, it was defeated. Later, he formed his braves into smaller raiding parties and killed several settlers along the Clinch, Powell, and Holsten Rivers. The Cherokees then retreated along the Indian War Path to the Little Tennessee.
A counterattack from the frontiersmen was close on their heels. Hundreds of militiamen from the north used the Indian War Path to strike back. They were joined by forces from the south. Cherokee towns along the Little Tennessee were burned. Hundreds were killed. Others fled into the mountains. Dragging Canoe and what was left of his warriors fled to the vicinity of what now is Chattanooga.
With the Cherokee nation in ruin and the Revolutionary War against the British ended, the push of settlers continued. At this time, the territory which became Tennessee was still part of North Carolina. Settlers became disenchanted with that government and in 1784 formed the short-lived State of Franklin.
It was during this time that the first settlers moved to what now is Blount County. By 1785 a fort was established at Houston Station along today’s Highway 129 near Gillenwater Road.
Settlement was not easy, but more and more people moved into the fringes of Indian territory. The Cherokees agreed in 1785 with the State of Franklin that settlers could live along Little River and its drainage area, but the Little Tennessee River and its tributaries were to remain for the Indians. Frontiersmen, anxious to forge a new home in the wilderness, paid little heed to the treaties. Settlements grew where a clearing in the forest could be made and a crop planted.
Settlers poured into the area along the Indian War Path, the same trail the Cherokees had trod in vain trying to turn the white tide. Fort McTeer was established along the trail and Eusebia Presbyterian Church was formed. Another settlement was at Fort Craig, a forerunner of Maryville. Tedford’s Fort was built in the area of the present-day community of Fairview.
The Indians viewed all the settlements from Tedford’s Fort south as illegal because it was in the Little Tennessee watershed. From time to time, settlers were caught working in the field and not handy to a rifle. They paid for such foolhardy acts with their lives. Others were killed traveling between settlements. Barns were burned. Crops were ruined. Fences were destroyed.
In spite of resistance, the frontier advanced. About 1788 Sloan’s Mill was established at Mint. A short time later it was sold to a miller named Cook and became known as Cook’s Mill. Cook’s Mill was a sidelight to an event that led to the final backbreaking blow to the Cherokees.
By the time the mill was in operation, several families had settled along Nine Mile Creek and Little Nine Mile Creek, which has headwaters in the present Carpenters Campground Community. All of this land was in dispute, with the Cherokees claiming the area ineligible for white settlement.
John Kirk’s family was one living in the disputed region. In May 1788, he and his son, John Jr., had gone to Cook’s Mill to get corn ground into meal. Upon their return home, they found the other eleven members of their family slain by Indians.
The call went out to Col. John Sevier’s militia, a force 150 strong that included John Kirk, Jr. The Indians fled south to the Hiwassee River with Sevier in pursuit. The Indian town of Hiwassee was burned.
When the militia returned, the contingent went to the Cherokee town of Chilhowee on the Little Tennessee. The Chief at Chilhowee was Old Abram. He and four other leaders were assembled at the chief’s home under a flag of truce.
The Indians were unarmed, but the militia was not Guards were posted. John Kirk, Jr. was handed a tomahawk and told to extract his revenge. He killed all five of the Cherokee leaders.
The burning of Hiwassee and the murders under a flag of truce were enough to make most Indians want more distance between them and the settlers. Dragging Canoe and his band was the first to leave their Little Tennessee homeland. Many who stayed had little appetite for further struggle against the white man. The Cherokee capitol was moved from Chota to Ustanali near today’s town of Calhoun, Georgia. A few Indians concentrated in the rugged upper reaches of the Little Tennessee River Valley. A few others remained in scattered locations in the general area. With the exception of a few minor uprisings, the Cherokees lived peacefully with their white neighbors. After 1795 there were no more skirmishes between settlers in Blount County and the Indians.
Even as the Indians were being driven from East Tennessee in savage encounters, the frontier was being tamed. A semblance of civilization was creeping westward across the mountains from the Carolinas and southward down the valleys from Virginia.
Churches on the frontier were few and far between. Formal church services were often held when a circuit rider visited a settlement, but there were few meetings otherwise.
Methodists were among the leaders in bringing Christianity to the new lands the settlers opened. Francis Asbury, an Englishman, brought the Word to the frontier. He rode a circuit that swept through upper East Tennessee, over the Wilderness Trail blazed by Daniel Boone, and into Kentucky. But this was only a portion of his circuit. During his long career, he preached all the way from the South Carolina coast to New England.
The Methodist movement was burgeoning in the colonies during the later part of the 1700s. However, it was 1788 before Asbury made his way into what would become Tennessee. That year, according to a journal kept by Asbury, he preached at Elizabethton in Carter County.
By 1790 his circuit had extended into Hawkins County at Rogersville and to Bean Station in Grainger County. In 1793 Asbury preached in Greene County.
His was not an easy life. The frontier was wild. The dangers were many. Heathen Indians were no respecters of a man of God, and some settlers were little better. Asbury carried a gun for protection. An entry in his journal said he had come to realize men had not come to the frontier to find religion, but to find rich, free land.
Although Asbury was the most famous of the early circuit riders, he was not the only one. William Burke is generally regarded as the first circuit rider to visit Blount County. Courthouse records indicate a few Methodists were living in Blount County as early as 1788. It was four years later that Burke visited in the County.
Some authorities say he met with a Methodist congregation at Middlesettlements in 1792 and that same year visited with members of the denomination at what was to become Logan’s Chapel at Wildwood.
Burke’s early accounts of his ministry confirm he was in Blount in 1792, but he makes no mention of delivering a sermon. He visited with settlers along Little River but noted that they were so frightened by rampaging Indians they scarcely went outdoors.
Another early circuit rider in Blount County was Mark Moore, who lived near Maryville. He started preaching in 1786, traveling some and serving locally. In 1808 he was visited at his home by Asbury. That same year, Asbury visited at Middlesettlements, and ten years later preached there.
Although the circuit riders were important in spreading the Gospel, it may have been two more evangelist-like preachers who played a more important role in pushing Methodism forward in Blount.
In 1804 a Methodist named Lorenzo Dow preached to a large crowd in Maryville. Apparently, his sermon was the spark. Six years later, George Eakin held a great revival in Blount County that fanned the spark of Methodism into a full-blown flame.
Eakin rode a circuit in Blount County for many years. By 1830 at least seven Methodist churches were established and more were being formed.
As the Methodist movement gained a toehold in Blount County, there were other important developments as well. The area’s frontier days were past and in 1796 Tennessee became a state.
Settlement came rapidly around the turn of the century, Records show that land grants went to J.W. and Arch Lackey and to William Tyrell. All settled on Six Mile Creek. Others who settled in the general vicinity of Carpenters Campground were Henry Rowan, Alexander, and Andrew Miller, all of who lived on Nine Mile Creek. Andrew Greer lived on Four Mile Creek.
As the land became more populated, the old guard that had driven away the Indians was passing. In the early 1800s then Tedford, that had established the fort near Fairview two decades earlier, died.
The Tedford’s formed a fearless clan. Among their numbers were Revolutionary War soldiers George Tedford, James Tedford, John Tedford, Joseph Tedford, and Robert Tedford. These five and other members of the family were buried in the Tedford Cemetery believed established in the early 1800s.
The cemetery was also referred to as the Hamil Cemetery, but it is not known why it was given that name. The cemetery is off Carpenters Grade Road on the Max Mize Property.
One buried there was Samuel Carpenter, whose father, Thomas Carpenter, later was to give land for the cemetery at Carpenters Campground Methodist Church. Samuel Carpenter died in 1859. Sometime after Thomas died in 1862, Samuel’s remains were moved from the Hamil Cemetery to the Carpenters Cemetery.
Among the early residents of Carpenters Campground were the Carpenters, Huffstetlers, McGhees, Costners, Giffins, and Bests. Many of the settlers’ descendants still live in the community.
The Carpenters and Huffstetlers have traced their families from Switzerland near the border with Germany. Members of both families came to Pennsylvania about the same time, the mid-1700s. Later, family members moved to North Carolina, then to Tennessee.
The name Carpenters Campground given to the Methodist Church and the community more than a century ago was derived from the Carpenter family. Thomas Carpenter and Philip Costner are credited with giving the land where the church and cemetery are now.
Little is known about Philip Costner, but the Carpenter family has done research shedding light on Thomas Carpenter.
He was born in North Carolina and moved to Blount County sometime in the 1830s. His name appears on the county tax rolls at the Blount County Courthouse for the first time in 1837.
That is the same year some historians say Carpenters Campground Methodist Church was organized. There is disagreement, but the first church building is believed to have been constructed in 1838. Some put the date ten years earlier, some ten years later. However, a stone marker under the pulpit of the present building bears the date 1838.
From the 1830s until the beginning of the War Between the States three decades later, Carpenters Campground and the surrounding area prospered. The church was the focal point for both spiritual and social life.
Community events were generally centered around the church and reflected the activities necessary for survival in the rural area. Neighbors helped neighbors. The backbreaking chores required daily were turned into festive occasions. There were barn raisings, corn shucking, molasses makings, and quiltings.
Every self-respecting housewife had a garden, a patch of cotton, and a few sheep. Food was stored for the lean winter months. The cotton and wool from the sheep were made into clothing.
By this time, there were several mills in operation. Birdwill’s Mill was established in 1831 at Springview along what now is Highway 411. In the 1840s, Michael Best built a mill on Nine Mile Creek. It later was operated by Elijah Brown, then James Murphy, and finally, Zephaniah Cotant.
At about the same time the Best Mill was begun David McKamey went into business with a mill at Clover Hill. Records show that his business included a Distillery from 1848 to 1860. He also had a wool carding machine.
Apparently, the cotton gin nearest Carpenters Campground was at a mill at Wellsville.
There was at least one other area industry during this period. A man named John E. Glass, who lived on Six Mile Creek, operated a crock factory.
Although life in Carpenters Campground during the 1850s was comparatively serene, most of the nation was in an uproar. The issue of slavery and whether southern states had the right to withdraw from the Union were plunging the nation into a civil war.
Battle lines were drawn between the North and the South. Although Blount Countians favored staying with the Union by four to one, Confederate sympathizers in Middle and West Tennessee carried the vote for secession. Tennessee joined the Confederate States of America in 1861.
East Tennessee was somewhat of an occupied territory during the early years of the War Between the States. Confederate troops blocked main travel in and out of the area.
The war did not bypass Carpenters. It was a terrible time. The cooperation between neighbors that marked life in preceding years was replaced by suspicion.
Simeon Crye, who lived in the community or very near it, was a member of the Blount County Home Guard for the Seventh District. He died at the hands of Rebel bushwhackers after being waylaid along Nine Mile Creek.
Tobe Tuck, another member of the Home Guard, was forced to shoot a man to death in the line of duty. History records the victim only as a man named Wilson. He was part of a gang that had traveled to Morganton on the Little Tennessee River to rob a store.
Others who were members of the Home Guard were Philip Costner, who gave land for the church in Carpenters, David Addison Huffstetler, Jackson Best, Martin Christopher Best, Caleb Carpenter, and Samuel Costner.
It may have been because the terrain and climate are not suited for plantations or it may have been the character of the people. Whatever the reason, people in Carpenters and Blount County did not look kindly on slavery.
The Quaker settlement of Friendsville was a hotbed of the abolitionist movement. During the years that slavery was legal, it is believed that hundreds of escaped slaves seeking a “free state” made their way north through Friendsville. Many were hidden in a cave not far from the Quaker church. Dr. J. D. Garner, who lived near Carpenters, was one of the leaders of the anti-slavery movement in the county.
Although no blacks lived in Carpenters, racial tolerance surely prevailed. Several Negroes were buried in the church cemetery, especially following the war. Garner and his family were responsible for some of the blacks buried in the church cemetery. Some had unmarked graves, but one prominent monument is that of W. T. Scott, Jr., a black man who lived in Maryville.
The Civil War must surely have had a disruptive influence on the Methodist Church in Carpenters, but the church stuck together. In 1862 it was listed as a part of the Louisville circuit.
Carpenters was the scene of a historic church vote in 1864. For years, the Methodist church in the United States had northern and southern branches. The Holston Conference had always affiliated with the south when the vote was taken at the annual conference. The action made little difference until the war.
But with the war drawing to a close, there was sentiment for the Holston Conference to join the northern branch. In the summer of 1864, a vote was taken in Knoxville that the conference withdraw from the southern branch. Final approval was to be given by a vote in each circuit. The Maryville circuit met at Carpenters. A motion to join the M.E. Church USA was made by Spencer Henry and seconded by Martin Christopher Best. Future relations would be with the north.
This action did not end the bickering and feuding within the Methodist Church. Some quit the conference and stayed with the southern branch. The doors of a church in Maryville were nailed shut.
Although there was no violence in Carpenters, some Methodist ministers paid a dear price for their views. One, L.K. Haynes, was run out of the territory. Dissension simmered for several years. In 1868 Henry C. Neal, a Blount County preacher who favored the South, was taken into the woods and whipped. In March 1869, a mob chased Jacob Smith from the pulpit at Logan’s Chapel. A few weeks later he was beaten.
The scars from the war remained for years. It was not until the next century that the United Methodist Church was achieved.
Although Carpenters remained a peaceful, sleepy farming area during the half-century following the Civil War, great strides were made in the community. During this period, the name Carpenters Campground came into general use.
The old log structure that was the first church, was replaced by a frame building. It was the site of the famed camp meetings, protracted sessions drawing worshipers from far and near. The meetings usually lasted thirty days.
Normally, the camp meetings were in the fall. Since visitors often came a considerable distance, camps were set up to accommodate them. The men would return home during the day to work, but would come back to the camp at night to be with their families and to worship.
Among those who had camps were “Uncle Abe” Carpenter, “Aunt Celia” Martin, Spencer Henry, Elisha Carpenter, Caleb Best, Eli Huffstetler, Joseph Kagley, and Reno Curtis. The camps were equipped with bunks fastened to the walls. Some had lofts. When there were large crowds for the meetings, straw was scattered on the dirt floor of the quarters to provide additional sleeping space.
The church was lighted by tallow candles. A shed on the north side was lined with stones on which burning pine knots provided light.
But the church at Carpenters was not the only one in the area during this time. Records indicate a Methodist church was meeting at Best School in 1873 on Six Mile Road. Sometime in the 1880s, the school was replaced by Christy Hill School, a name honoring Christy Best. A new church was built a mile or so away on land owned by the Kagley family.
That church became known as “Red Strip” because Henry Blevins, who painted the building, painted the trim red. This church later was moved to Mint and was named Mount Olive. It was dissolved in the 1930’s.
As churches in the area prospered, so did the community. In the 1880’s, a post office was opened in a store operated by John Huffstetler. Thus, the community was known by some as Huffstetler, although the church continued to be called Carpenters Campground. The name of the post office was changed to McKinley in 1891 in honor of President William McKinley. However, it continued to operate out of Huffstetler’s Store.
There was industrialization of sorts in the vicinity in the late 1800’s. Shortly after the end of the Civil War, a number of families moved from Happy Valley in Carter County to the valley east of Chilhowee Mountain from Carpenters. In remembrance of their home in Upper East Tennessee, the valley where their new homes were built was also called Happy Valley.
One of those who settled there was William Grindstaff. a potter. About 1870, he moved his pottery across the mountain to Six Mile Road. He made all types of crocks, jugs, jars, flowerpots, and tiling.
In the 1880’s, Grlndstaff moved his pottery again, this time to a location in what is now the front yard of Carpenters Baptist Church. He operated at that site for about five years. About the time Grindstaff was quitting the pottery business, Dr. J. D. Garner, who had been active in the movement to abolish slavery, was getting into it.
About a mile north of Carpenters near what was to become Bert Garner Lane in honor of his son, Dr. Garner set up a tile business with the products being shipped to distant places by rail, In 1896 William Rasor bought the business and operated it about two years.
Around the turn of the century, “mineral hunters” took options to mine iron ore on several parcels of land in Carpenters. Mining was conducted at three locations, but that industry soon played out since no rich strikes were made.
In the 1890’s, the community was excited when it was announced that a railroad was to be built from Maryville to the Little Tennessee River near Abram’s Creek. The Knoxville, Montvale, and Chilhowee Railroad Company was chartered in 1891. The idea was to connect with railroads east of the mountains which linked Virginia and Georgia with a north-south route.
The plan was never carried out by that company, but a railroad was built in the early 1900’s to serve the Aluminum Company of American’s dam construction on the Little Tennessee River. Another company, the Tennessee and Carolina Southern Railroad, completed the job. The stop at Carpenters was called Montvale Station, a name used by many referring to the community.
The railroad station consisted of a couple of boxcars at one side of the track and was along the creek near the bottom of the hill where the church stands. The track ran between the community’s two stores — one operated by Charley Huffstetler and the other by A. F. Callahan. The Huffstetler Store included the post office and the Callahan Store had the only telephone in the area.
When Calderwood Dam was completed in 1930, the principal use of the railroad was ended. The rails were removed in 1932 about the same time the post office was closed.
Coinciding with the construction of the railroad, the first community telephone, and other advances, Blount Countians were joining other Tennesseans in demanding better education. In pioneer days, school was taught inside forts and later often was held in churches. In those rugged times, learning was not a priority.
For sure the area had its schools. There was one on Walker School Road and another at Kagley’s Chapel. Perhaps the earliest school in Carpenters was a one-room facility a half-mile or so north of where Carpenters Baptist Church stands.
However, nearly every school in the county at this time was an elementary school. For high school education, most attended one of several private schools — Porter Academy, Maryville Polytechnic, and Friendsville Academy among them.
It was not until 1916 that the county issued bonds to build high schools. In 1918 the trustees of Porter Academy transferred its property to the county. That same year, high schools were established at Louisville and Carpenters.
During the next four years, high schools were established at Lanier, Prospect, Binfield, Townsend, Walland, and Everett. In 1923 the high school at Carpenters was discontinued and most high school students attended Lanier.
The school at Carpenters continued to provide education through the elementary grades until the early 1960’s. A frame building was used until about 1953 when a brick structure replaced it. That building later was sold and is now occupied by the Baptist Church.
The turn of the twentieth century also saw advances in medicine in Carpenters Campground. Dr. George Hannah set up a medical practice in his home. “Doc” was a familiar figure as he traveled about making house calls in his car, one of the community’s first.
Through all of these changes in medicine, education, and other facets of life, the church remained a constant. As always, it was the focal point of the community. Also during this period, some of the darkest events in the community history occurred. Perhaps the most tragic was the shooting of a young man on the church steps.
Some who witnessed the incident are still living. Accounts were that Hugh Everett and Ollie Spradlin argued over a girl both were courting. As the Sunday evening service concluded, they had words at the back of the church. When they reached the outside steps, witnesses said Spradlin was strapping on brass knuckles to fight.
He never struck a blow. Everett killed him with a single shot from his pistol.
A disagreement between members of the congregation also marked this period, There was a conflict over whether the church should continue as Methodist or become Holiness. Those who favored the Holiness doctrine left the church to form another church a short distance away toward Maryville. The church prospered for a time but was disbanded when the building was heavily damaged by fire.
After the split, the Methodist Church was placed on a circuit with six other churches, which included Mentor, Fairview, Mount Olive, Pleasant Hill, Union Grove, and West View.
Inspite of the setbacks, the church began to grow. By 1927 the membership was large enough and active enough that a stone church was built to replace the old frame structure that served so well and so long.
But somehow, the congregation couldn’t stand prosperity. Several members quarreled over alleged chicken thieving. Some transferred to Fairview and other churches. Among those who left were choir members and some who provided much of the church financial support.
The church lagged temporarily, but during the 1930s, it made a strong comeback.
Perhaps it was the seeming hopelessness of the Great Depression that was the catalyst for church growth from 1930 to 1940. The membership rebounded from the tragic events of previous years. The congregation grew, but there was more misfortune.
The circuit-owned parsonage on Broyles Street in Maryville was destroyed by fire. Police charged a man with arson, who was convicted in criminal court and sent to prison.
Congregations at Carpenters, Fairview, and Pleasant Hill planned a new parsonage. World War II caused a delay, but the building was finished and dedicated on November 19, 1944. Harold C. Harris was the pastor, F. B. Shelton district superintendent and Paul B. Kern resident bishop. The celebration began at 9:45 a. m. when Robert Hannah, Sunday School superintendent, opened the service. Rev. W. E. O. Roberson, pastor at Carpenters during the initial planning of the parsonage, preached.
There was a covered dish dinner, and the dedication program began at 3:00 p. rn. Bishop Kern was the main speaker, Rev. C. E. Pickering, who served Carpenters in the 193O’s, also spoke.
When World War II began, Carpenters was still a farming community. The roads were gravel. The white, frame schoolhouse provided education through the eighth grade. Most rode buses to high school at Lanier or Everett. There were two stores, one operated by K. B. Clark, the other by Royce and Grace Huffstetler.
But change was not long in coming.
During the war when many men were called to fight for our country, women left their homes and took jobs at the aluminum company. The custom continued after the war ended. Returning GI’s liked the idea of a second income for their families. For the first time, women began to hold jobs outside the home.
There were other changes. Most of the well-traveled gravel roads were blacktopped in the 1940’s and early 1950’s. The frame schoolhouse was replaced by a modern, brick structure that featured a gymnasium and lunchroom, conveniences previously unknown.
A third store was opened in a little block building on Mint Road. The site was bought from Eric and Vera Kidd by Lon Huffstetler, who built the store. He later sold it to Cecil and Bonnie Giffin.
Even as general improvements were made in the community, the church was to suffer a setback. The stone church built in 1927 was destroyed by fire in the winter of 1949. Rev. John Greer was the pastor and arrangements were made with the county for church services to be in the schoolhouse.
For several years Carpenters, Fairview, and Pleasant Hill had formed a circuit. But as the new church was being built, it was decided that Carpenters should have its own pastor. The first to serve was John Chaney, who came to the church in 1955.
Building the church that now stands was a total effort of the congregation. The church women raised money with bake sales and suppers. The men gathered the stones used in construction from Chilhowee Mountain. Ross Hord did much of the woodwork inside.
Finally, the church was paid for and the dedication service was on December 23, 1956.
The decade of the 1950’s was an era of pride, not just because of the achievements of the church, but of the community as a whole. Perhaps this pride was no more evident than on a Saturday afternoon in summer when the Carpenters baseball team played.
It was customary for most to stop work for a few hours to attend the game. Soft drinks were sold from a tub filled with ice. Candy bars were also offered for sale. The proceeds were used to buy baseballs and bats for the team.
The home baseball diamond was behind the school. It was not uncommon for 100 or more to sit in the shade of the pine trees or perch on car hoods and pick-up trucks to watch the game. The rivalries between Carpenters and Calderwood and between Carpenters and Lanier were particularly lively.
Maybe it was the influence of television that brought distant places into every living room. Maybe it was the improved roads that made travel much easier. Whatever, by the late 1950s, Carpenters again was undergoing change.
The general stores that had provided nearly every need for years were no longer hubs of business. Supermarkets in Maryville offered a wider variety at lower prices and they were accessible over paved roads. Soon, the community stores became little more than convenience-type markets.
In Carpenters, as in other rural sections, young people began moving to larger cities where jobs were available. Some went no further than Maryville or Knoxville. Others moved to Chicago, Atlanta, Louisville, or Nashville. The exodus brought declining school enrollment. In the early 1960‘s, the elementary school was closed. Students were bused to Rush Strong, Fairview, or Forest Hill.
Carpenters School was sold. First, a glove factory occupied the facility. Later, the factory moved and the building became Carpenters Baptist Church, the community’s second Baptist Church. Earlier, Maple Grove Baptist Church was organized and a brick building was erected on Carpenters Grade Road.
By the 1970s, the declining population was reversed. Interest rates were low and home mortgages were easy to obtain. But it took the deaths of some of the community’s older citizens to make land available for new houses. During this time, Ike Morton, who owned a farm along Mint Road about a mile from the Old Niles Ferry Road, died. Today, houses line the road where wheat, hay, corn, and other crops once grew.
Otto Best’s heirs sold lots from his farm just across the road from the United Methodist Church. Now, several houses are on that property.
The divisions of the Morton and Best tracts are two examples of what has happened on a smaller scale elsewhere in the community.
The influx of new families must be viewed with optimism by loyal members of Carpenters United Methodist Church, Carpenters Baptist Church, Maple Grove Baptist Church, and others in the community. Each new family represents those who can become a part of a church congregation. Every newcomer has a chance to make a name in the community history — a story far from finished.
CARPENTERS CAMPGROUND MINISTERS
The listing is chronological and may be incomplete:
L. B. Caldwell
J. C. Eckles
W. B. Reppetoe
A. M. Kase
J. T. Ware
B. L. Sadler
G. W. Paul
J. T. Bird
J. F. Caldwell
R. H. Thames
C. E. Pickering
W. E. O. Roberson
Harold Harris L
R. G. Farmer
James T. Arnold