The Fentress County Historical Society was organized May 22, 1968 in the Fentress County Public Library. Twelve individuals were present at this meeting — eleven adults and one teenager. Ruble Upchurch was elected as President, Mrs. Jane Dayhuff, Vice-President, and Wanda June Sewell was elected as Secretary-Treasurer. Ernest Buck, Paul Sidwell and Charles Chambers were elected as directors. All that were present at this meeting are now deceased, except for Wanda Sewell Hatfiield and the teenager, Daniel Smith. Daniel never joined as a member.
The first project developed by the Society was efforts toward the publishing of a new Fentress County History book. A few community histories were written, but the group was small, and little progress being made.
Will Peavyhouse and his wife did published a short, but interesting history of the Boatland area. Hazel Wheeler publish a history of the Wilder-Davidson area and later, a pictorial history of the City of Jamestown. Wilma Reagan Pinckley published several books about the area. Janice Pile Brannon published a history of the Wolf River Valley Area. These were an outgrowth of the efforts of the Historical Society, but as a Society, we were making little progress. Printed copies of the various census records for Fentress County became available.
Meanwhile, the Society had published Sgt. York and His People with added information and pictures to bring it up to date. This book was originally published by Sam Cowan in 1922 and became one of our best sellers.
We needed money and requests were received for some of Albert R. Hogue’s books. This lead to the reprinting of three of his books and these have proved to be a good addition to our collection.
Changes were occurring. Members died and some left for other reasons. New members came in and the society moved forward. The long awaited History of Fentress County became a reality in 1987. Two reprintings followed — all sold.
Some people had collected family information for a number of years. The Casper Patton published two books about his families and this area. His brother also published a book. Maudean Wright Shanks researched and did a History of Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute in 1994. Joyce Greer Crouch published two books — one on the Greer Family and one on the Crouch families. The Society collected pictures and published a pictorial history in 1998.
New life came to the society when new members joined and became involved. The veterans book came out in 2013 and came be credited to Myra Moody Smith. This was followed by a book devoted to the men who served in World War I. Joyce Greer Crouch and Kathy Stockton Williams are due credit for this book.
The Society is still “reaching for the stars” in that we have set out to reach our goal — a place to house all the materials that we have collected during the past forty-nine years. We have a good chance of obtaining that goal in the near future.