How we began
The Fentress County Historical Society Museum was opened on October 6, 2012 following a successful six-week run of the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit, “The Way We Worked”, co-sponsored by the Sgt York Patriotic Foundation and the Fentress County Historical Society and hosted by Progressive Savings Bank in June 2012.
With the approval of the Smithsonian Institution, some private funding and a grant from Humanities Tennessee the Society prepared a companion exhibit “The Way Fentress County Worked 1860-1960” made up of photos, artifacts and historical information donated or loaned to the Society by Fentress County residents. Over 600 photographs were digitally scanned and indexed. Hundreds of artifacts were loaned to the Society for the event. After many requests from visitors that the display be made available to other residents and visitors, a search began for a suitable building in which to house the Smithsonian Companion Display.
The Museum participates as a vendor business during the Allardt Pumpkin Festival each year with baked goods and crafts for sale and is open for tours by individuals or groups with extended hours.
The Museum has an Open House at Christmas, with free holiday dainties, coffee and punch. We invite you to stop in for a visit during our Open House. We have historical and genealogical books for sale that would make great Christmas gifts for that special person on your list. Open House dates are announced each year in advance.
One of the features of the Museum is a replica of a Grist Mill which was used in the Smithsonian Exhibit as an example of one type of work engaged in from the organization of the county in 1823 until about the mid-fifties. During this period, more than 150 water powered gristmills dotted the landscape along the creeks and rivers in Fentress County. There is today only one remaining gristmill that is still standing in the county. It is the Sgt Alvin C. York mill in Pall Mall, which is the centerpiece for the Sgt Alvin C York State Historic Park. The model gristmill below was built and donated to the Fentress County Historical Society by the late Bernard Taubert, a local businessman and wood craftsman.
Fentress County was at one time rich in natural resources including coal, timber, tar, oil and other valuable sources of prosperity for industrious businessmen and landowners. Artifacts from these and other businesses including merchandising, blacksmithing, wagon-making, burning tar, log rafting, railroading, growing beans and tobacco are displayed in the Museum with brief sketches of their histories
The Gernt Family generously offered the Old Allardt Land Company Office in which the museum could be housed. Society members went to work and were able to open in time for the Allardt Pumpkin Festival that fall. About one-half of the Fentress County exhibit is currently on display in the museum. It is intended that the display will change from time to time.
Who We Are
The Museum is currently operated by the Fentress County Historical Society. The Society was organized in 1968 by a group of citizens interested in collecting, preserving and sharing the valuable stories, photographs, documents and other records that illustrate the rich and varied landscape, geography, geology and the hardy and self-reliant people who first settled in this rugged and storied land and who passed on to the next generation a cultural heritage that is still being shared today. The Historical Society seeks to cultivate and preserve this heritage through a variety of approaches including collecting and preserving archival materials in print, photographic and oral forms, and by publishing new and reprinting out-of-print books with significant historical or genealogical value.
The Fentress County Historical Society meets every 2nd Tuesday of the month, January through November. Meetings are temporarily being held in First Baptist Church at 4:30 p.m. while construction is being finished on an addition to the library. Our Annual Meeting is the regular meeting in July.
We invite all interested persons to become a member of the Society, and to attend any of our meetings for sharing and learning.
The Wilma R. Pinckley Collection
The Society has recently become the caretaker for the over 100 boxes of genealogical, historical and personal items from the estate of the late Mrs. Wilma R. Pinckley. These materials are currently being organized and catalogued and will eventually be made available for public viewing.
One of the limitations the Society has to deal with is not having adequate space in which to house all our collections of research materials, storage needs and work space. A single building located in a convenient, central location would be an asset to the Society and would allow for workshops, seminars and seasonal exhibits to be offered to local residents and other visitors.