2018 is the twenty-ninth year that the Fentress County Historical Society has produced its annual Heritage Day, an event that has always focused on one particular aspect of Fentress County history. This year, the Society’s 50th Anniversary Year, will be very different, as its Heritage Day will be a cumulative look back at previous Heritage Days.
The Heritage Day theme, this year, is taken from the Society’s theme for its 50th Anniversary, “Looking Back – Moving Forward: A Celebration of 50 Years of Preserving and Sharing Fentress County History”. To be held, Saturday, April 28, 9:00am to 3:00pm, in the York Elementary School, Heritage Day will feature many of the themed displays from past years, including those focused on education, business, the Civil War, The Way We Worked in Fentress County 1850-1960, and more. Displays will be arranged by year; and some unique new displays will be available for viewing for the first time.
A highlight of this year’s Heritage Day will be a presentation of First Family Certificates to individuals who have recently completed their First Family documentation, as well as recognition of all First Family certificate holders who are present. With almost one hundred members of Fentress County’s First Families group, this part of the day’s program will be an important part of the event’s activity. The presentation and recognition ceremony is scheduled for 11:00am-11:30am.
The midday program will also include the announcement and introduction of the Fentress County Historical Society’s 2018 scholarship recipient as well as a surprise musical presentation. The Society will have a book sale table and other booksellers are expected to be present.
Lunch will be available. For $5.00, Heritage Day attendees can have a midday meal of sandwich, chips or nuts, dessert and a drink. Door prizes will be drawn for and winners announced throughout the day.
This twenty-ninth Heritage Day will round out the Fentress County Historical Society’s year long 50th Anniversary celebration, which has included several programs and seminars, an open house and other activities. The Society was founded on May 22, 1968, when Ruble Upchurch convened a meeting with about fifteen interested persons for the purpose of organizing a historical society. This group elected officers, drafted a constitution and set about the business of preserving and sharing the history of Fentress County. Since that time, the FCHS has been at the forefront of collecting, preserving and promoting the historical and cultural heritage of this place we call home.


If you have ever thought about becoming a member of the Fentress County Historical Society, there is a great opportunity to follow through on that thought waiting for you at this twenty-ninth Heritage Day, to be held at York Elementary School, Saturday, April 28. If you join as a new member at the Heritage Day event, you will receive, in addition to the other benefits of membership, a free lunch! The offer applies to both new individual adult memberships and new family memberships. Lunch will be served at midday and will include sandwich, chips or nuts, dessert and drink, for which the cost, otherwise, will be $5.00. To qualify, the new membership form must be completed and payment received at the Historical Society registration table prior to lunch being served.
This year’s Heritage Day will be the culmination of a year full of events celebrating the Fentress County Historical Society’s half century of preserving and sharing the history of Fentress County, Tennessee. The theme – “Looking Back, Moving Forward: A Celebration of 50 Years of Preserving and Sharing Fentress County History” - will be showcased by displays from Heritage Days held over the past several years.
Highlights of the day’s activities will be the presentation of First Family certificates recognition of Fentress County’s First Family Certificate holders, and the announcement of the Fentress County Historical Society’s 2018 scholarship recipient.
The Historical Society and others will have books for sale, door prize winners will be announced throughout the day, and free coffee will be available. Everyone is invited to come out to York Elementary School, April 28, 9am-3pm, to join the FCHS in celebrating its fifty years of service to Fentress County, to learn more about the people, places and events of this place we call home and visit with family and friends. Admission is free and everyone is invited.
The Fentress County Historical Society is a 501 (c) 3, not-for-profit organization.
Find us on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/fentresscountyhistoricalsociety/


The Fentress County Historical Society is planning an auction to benefit its building fund. The auction, which will be held at the Jamestown Community Center, Saturday, March 24, 5:30pm until the last item is sold, is an event of the organization’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Throughout these fifty years, the Society has served Fentress County in historic preservation and promotion. As an organization, it has preserved artifacts and documents pertaining to the county’s history and its families, published books about our people, places and events, and presented free and open programs and workshops to educate our residents and other interested individuals about the unique heritage of this area.

“Throughout the years, we have fulfilled our mission without funding from any source other than memberships, fundraisers and small donations. Neither have we had a home, a central location in which to bring together our organizational offices, holdings, resources, programs and other activities,” said Tom Potter, Society President.

“During this, our 50th anniversary year,” he continued, “we see an opportunity to have a home, thanks to a bequest from the estate of Mrs. Helen Linder Hull. Her bequest provided us with the financial foundation upon which we can build a future home, although it is insufficient, in itself, to build or purchase such a structure."

To build upon the foundation provided by Mrs. Hull, the Fentress County Historical Society has set about to raise the money necessary to do just that. As a first step, the Society is planning an auction with a goal of raising a minimum of $5,000 to add to its building fund.

The public is invited to join with the organization in taking this step toward creating a new home that will hold, preserve and protect the history and heritage of Fentress County – one that will make all Fentress Countians proud.

Society board members and volunteers are contacting Fentress County businesses and interested individuals to request donations for the March 24 auction. Donations will be appreciated and publicly (unless otherwise requested) recognized, both prior to and during the auction.

Some great items have already been donated and many others are needed. If you have items to donate and have not been contacted, please call 931/879-9275

Everyone is invited to attend this fundraising auction for the Fentress County Historical Society at the Jamestown Community Center, Saturday, March 24, 5:30pm until the last item is sold. Darren Rudd Auction Company will be auctioneering.

There will be special guests and live entertainment. Food and beverages will be available, door prizes given away and, to round out the evening, an old-fashioned Cake Walk.

Wishing you and yours a bright & blessed Christmas & the happiest of New Years!



The Fentress County Historical Society will have a Christmas Open House, Saturday, December 9, noon to 3pm, at the Society’s museum in Allardt. This open house will be particularly significant, as it will mark the fiftieth Christmas that the Society has been preserving and promoting the history of Fentress County.

There will be music, refreshments, door prizes and a warm welcome for everyone. Guided tours of the museum will be given. The museum will be decorated for Christmas. Anyone having a vintage Christmas ornament that they would like to add to the Christmas tree is invited to bring it and hang it on the tree at a special 50th Anniversary “Decorate the Tree” ceremony.

Meeting for First Families of Fentress County Certificate Was a Success

Successful First Families of Fentress County Certificate Meeting

There was a productive meeting relating to doing research and documenting the information needed to obtain a First Families of Fentress County Certificate. It was held on Saturday, November 4, 2017 at the Fentress County Library.

Blank pedigree charts and family group sheets were given to each participant. Some of the handouts utilized were a county map showing the county boundaries in 1823, also a list of families that possible lived in this area in 1823. A sample time lime was also presented, in case someone would need to do one.

Three or four previously submitted applications were reviewed so the participants could visualized and learn some of the documents to copy and the way to utilize them in the application. Proof needed is showing he or she is the son or daughter of so and so.

Pedigree charts were printed using York’s Fentress County Families, a huge computer program utilizing more than 350,00 names. These charts show all the generations back to an ancestor who lived in Fentress County, before or at the time of organization. Primary sources  must be used to prove each generation.  Birth certificates, death certificates or obituaries can be used to document the first two or three generations.  Census records from the 1920 census back to the 1850 census can be useful.  Prior to 1850, the census records noted the number of males or females, broken down into age groups.  The 1880 census is the first one to note relationship to the head of household.

Ancestors being researched for a certificate included Thomas Stephens, Christopher Choate, Joseph Upchurch, and William Travis, but some were undecided as to which family they would use.  Copies of the family appearing in the 1820 Overton County Census and then in the 1830 Fentress County Census is proof enough that they lived in what became Fentress County.  Land records can also be used to show where the person lived.  The most difficult step can be the proving of the children or grandchildren of this ancestor.  Please allow time for this research.  Review Revolutionary War records, if they are available.

Since the documentation of the early ancestors are usually the more difficult ones to document, it will be necessary to  utilize something other than census records.  This is where estate settlements or wills can be an important resource.  Understandable, these records are in short supply, but some are out there.

The group was excited about getting on with their project.l  It was suggested that if they had problems beyond their capabilities, they they contact either Kathy Williams or Wanda Hatfield.


Workshop for First Families Certificate

The Fentress County Historical Society has been issuing First Family Certificates to individuals who had an ancestor living in Fentress County in 1823 and could prove their linage back to that ancestor. Each step in the linage needs to be proven by using birth or death records, census records, estate settlement records, court records, or any similar record.

To help you in your endeavor, members of the local Historical Society will be at the Fentress County Public Library, 306 South Main Street, Jamestown, to assist you, from 9:00 A.M. until noon on Saturday, November 4, 2017. Someone can help you get started, point you as to where information can be found, and maybe give you the “little push” that will keep you going. You will learn how to use many of the items that can be used to document your application. This promises to be an interesting program, so plan to be there.

Your ancestor, why did he or she come to what became Fentress County, Tennessee? Did he get a land grant for service in the Revolutionary War? Or maybe he was the assignee for someone who received land for their service? He may have served as a chain carrier when the land was surveyed for another individual. Perhaps, the beauty of the area attracted his attention. It could have been the openness of the area — back East settlers were more close together.

The first settlers, to this area, arrived in the late 1790s or early 1800s when the land was yet considered as Indian Territory. Overton County was organized in 1806 — a large part of the eastern section was taken from Indian Lands.

The federal census records, for Fentress County, go back to the 1830 census and continue to the last one released, the 1940 census. These early records are a good starting point.

Another excellent resource is the early Entry Books which are available for this county and nearby counties. These record the first owners of the land and may contain a wealth of information. Deeds are recorded in both Overton and Morgan Counties, before the formation of Fentress in 1823.

Filling out the application form takes a little time, but can easily be done by following a few important steps. Application forms will be available. A $10.00 fee for the certificate must be submitted with the application.


The annual History & Heritage Day will be held April 28, 2018 at the York Elementary School in Jamestown, Tennessee, starting at 9:00 A.M.  The theme will be “Fiftieth Anniversary – Looking Back, Moving Forward.”  Past accomplishments will be shown.  Plans for the future will be exhibited.

Genealogy exchange is an important part of this event, so bring your family history and share with others.

Fiftieth Anniversary Coming — Looking Back

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.