Bonny Kate, Revolutionary War Heroine

This ‘n’ That

By Jack Swift

In Elizabethton, Tennessee fronting on Sycamore Street is a somewhat large building known as the Bonnie Kate Theatre building. Opening in 1926, the Bonnie Kate was a leading place of entertainment for miles around.
As a young person traveling through Elizabethton, I often wondered about that name. But I never asked.
The theatre showed popular movies of that era of course. From time to time bluegrass bands would play there. A Saturday morning radio program called “The Barrel of Fun Time” took place on the Bonnie Kate stage. Now, before I had the opportunity to study much history I often wondered just who this woman Bonnie Kate was and why she had a theatre named after her. Her name was Bonnie Kate Sherrill. (some references spell her name Sherril).
It was only after finding her name listed in a number of history books and reading her story that I got to know a little more about this heroic woman. She was the second wife of John Sevier. Sevier was a frontiersman, military leader, and first Governor of Tennessee. Sevier County is named in his honor.
History books give varying accounts of her fame. But a common thread that runs through them is that she proved to be a brave lady. The story is told that during the long siege
of Fort Watauga, she ventured outside the fort and found herself chased by Indians. She ran
toward the fort but the gate was closed and she only had a short time to escape capture or harm. She ran to another part of the stockade and jumped over the top and fell into the arms of Sevier.
After Sevier’s wife died Bonnie Kate became his second wife and when Sevier became the first governor of Tennessee,
She became the first
“First Lady of Tennessee.” Bonnie Kate was originally buried in Russellville, Alabama but was later reburied in 1822 next to her husband on the lawn of the old Knox County Courthouse in Knoxville.
I understand that the Bonnie Kate Theatre is being restored and programs are already being held there.

The Johnson County Center for the Arts

This ‘n’ That; By Jack Swift

It had been awhile since I visited the
Johnson County Center for the Arts on College Street and I decided to visit the Center and see what new works that might be featured there. As always I was very
impressed by the quality of the works presented. I’ve always felt that there is a great deal of talent in Johnson County. Visiting the Johnson County Center for the Arts bares that out.
While I’m certainly no expert in art, I can appreciate it for its beauty, its impact and its value in the world of today. We read and learn about it, we attend museums to view it, and perhaps sometimes draw it out of ourselves in moments of extreme emotion in our lives. Art takes many forms. Often the word art brings to our minds various kinds of painting. Landscapes, seacapes and still life are just a few of the many types of painting that people have produced in the annals of time. The making of pottery dates back many hundreds of years. Cave drawings has been discovered that date back thousands of years.
I have painted a couple of pictures using oil as a medium. I tried watercolors once, but that just wasn’t for me. I was fortunate to know Mrs. Blain Cole when I was a youngster. She was a local artist who lived on Highway 67 about three miles west of Mountain City. She taught me a lot about painting. Her paintings hung in every room in her spacious house. I wonder what happened to them. I also took some lessons in painting under David Huyard, who was once a Johnson County minister and artist.
Art can take many forms. Other than painting, there is sculpture, pottery and more. I suppose drawing is an art form as well. My experience in drawing occurred when as part of my job at the Tomahawk, I also sold advertisement. One business owner would only advertise if I would draw a cartoon strip and charge him with the space. The cartoon I drew featured characters Rhea and Bo and their various activities concerning the place of business being advertised. Anyway, it was a pleasure indeed to visit the Art Center and see the talent displayed there.

You’ve got this! Celeste asks: I often get called codependent, but I think I’m compassionate, what’s the difference?

By Tracy Becker

Licensed Counselor

Licensed counselor Tracy Becker answers your questions.

Celeste, people who are codependent do believe they are being compassionate, but codependency is the likely culprit. So let me give you the results of some recent research.

If you are codependent you will likely relate to these behaviors: your sense of purpose involves making sacrifices to satisfy other’s needs; it is difficult to say no when other’s ask for your time and energy; you minimize problems or addictions that others have; you constantly worry about others’ opinions of you; you feel trapped or like you can’t say no; you keep quiet to avoid arguments; you devalue your wants and desires; you are a people pleaser at the cost of your own wellbeing; you often feel resentful or taken advantage of.

Here’s the good news, Celeste, everyone can heal from codependency and release themselves from codependent relationships. To gain more personal power and fulfillment you’ll need good guidance and to start setting limits and boundaries with yourself and others.

Having and setting healthy boundaries is a good thing for everyone’s well-being. The definition of a healthy boundary is to honor your personal limits so that you can live and/or work together with another person in kind and loving ways. They also allow everyone to have the limits to heal. If they are done correctly love grows, not resentment.

Compassion is defined as a deep awareness for another’s suffering. The human quality of understanding the suffering of others. It doesn’t mean that you necessarily act on the awareness, but feel it and wish for it to improve. You may help in some way by joining an organization, donating money or volunteering.

However, your self-worth isn’t connected to it. It doesn’t drain you. In fact, you’re uplifted by it. With compassion you will never feel unheard, or devalued. You will feel empowered and authentically able to be you and be appreciated by giving when and however you can.

All the best in this journey, Celeste.

Please submit questions to tracy@tracybecker.com

This ‘n’ That Do we really have to have it and have It now

Do we really have to have it and have It now

By Jack Swift

Johnson County Historian

We seem to be living in an era when folks “want it and want it now,” “It” being goods and services that make life easier and more pleasant. Perhaps it has always been so. But in my lifetime I believe I have seen a rise in the “want it now” philosophy. Of course, now there are a greater number of goods and services to have than ever before. In an earlier day, time wasn’t as important as it is now.
Folks just have to have the latest “device” that Silicon Valley can come up with. Who would have thought we would be carrying around a pocket-sized telephone. A number of machines have come about due to the miniaturization of electronics. I thought the so called “car phone” was about the ultimate in bringing the phone to us instead of us going to it. I was really wrong about that. Now comes along the smart-phone and it is amazing indeed, since it has a number of functions in such a small machine.
People want the latest fashions in clothing. And they want them now before they go out of style. Children have to have the latest in the toy line. They must have Elmo or whatever toy has been featured on television.
I believe our use of time has changed much in my lifetime. Folks often let time rule them instead of them ruling time. I’m reminded of a joke that I enjoyed a lot when I read it. It seems a man came along and saw a man holding a pig up and letting it eat apples off a tree. The man said “Don’t you know you can save time by letting the pig eat off the ground? The man replied, “What’s time to a pig?
Perhaps there are advantages to wanting it and wanting it now. But sometimes I believe it is better to slow down, be patient and let the world go by. Perhaps the item you want will be less expensive then.

This ‘n’ That By Jack Swift Johnson County Historian

Education in Johnson County

If you read my column of the last two weeks about me as a student at Dewey Elementary School, you may wonder how we came from the way things were then to the modern schools of today.
As I was gathering information for my last two columns, one of the most interesting bits of information I came across was the fact that there had been 67 different schools in Johnson County. Many were two-room, two-teacher schools. When consolidation came about, not a few citizens were unhappy that consolidation was taking place. Some people felt that the schools should be in their own communities. But consolidation advanced and now students have modern well furnished, well staffed schools to learn in.
I didn’t plan it but I thought it was ironic that last week’s column ran in the annual Progress Edition of the Tomahawk. From my description of Dewey School then and the way schools are now shows a great deal of progress. Progress is shown in the school plants, the modern equipment, the qualification of teachers, and in many other ways as well. While it took many years for education to become available for everyone, Johnson County was progressive in the field of education. Thomas Jefferson once said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
Our founding fathers were men who valued education highly. Early on the citizens of Johnson County or what would become Johnson County were descendents of the hardy sturdy, fearless frontiersmen who marched westward to claim the American Dream.
In the early existence of Johnson County few children were enrolled in the schools. In 1839 (three years after Johnson County was established), there were 787 enrolled in school. In 1840 there were 736 enrolled. In 1842 there were 768. The enrollment jumped to 1,189 in 1848.
The first Johnson County public secondary school was opened February 1, 1908. The semester was three months. The opportunity to achieve an education increased in Johnson County over time with a few blips along the way. To enable some students to attend high school who lived in outlying areas, a dormitory was constructed on North Church Street.
History shows that Johnson County folks were education-minded and they wanted their children and youth to become an educated citizenry.

This ‘n’ That, Jack Swift

Dewey School Continued

My last column was a trip down memory land as I mentioned some of the interesting facts about Dewey Elementary School that I attended from grade one through grade eight. Dewey School was typical of the many schools that dotted the countryside in the early days of Johnson County’s attempts to educate its children and youth. It was a two-teacher school with one of the teachers acting as principal who also taught grades five through eight. The other teacher taught grades one through four.
I remember most, if not all, of my elementary school teachers. I was blessed to have John A. Shoun, Mark Reece, R. Clyde Wilson and a Mrs. Robinson as my fifth through eighth grade teachers. A long-time teacher for the lower grades at Dewey was Mrs. Rena Shoun. I’m sure many of the readers of this column will remember her. Mrs. Alta Loyd was also one of my teachers. She was the only teacher that I remember that gave me several smacks with a ruler on the palm of my hand for a minor infraction. Back then there was a 30-minute break for lunch. There was a 15-minute break in the morning and a 15-minute break in the afternoon. Of course we students looked forward to those times of fun and games. I remember how excited we were when Ray Shoun and another gentleman came and erected two basketball goals in a level area in a corner of the school grounds.
After the hot lunch program was started, the meals were prepared in a small kitchen that was a part of the building. Lunch was served at the students’ desks. I believe the desks are popular collector’s items these days. The lower part of the desks was used to store books. Of course, there was a place to sit. The writing board had a place for pens and pencils. There was an inkwell on each desk. For why, I do not know. The era of the quill and fountain pen had long passed.
Anyway, Dewey Elementary School was typical of the type of schools that made up the educational system of Johnson County during my grade school days. As I mentioned in the beginning of this column, now, we have the beautiful buildings that came about as a result of consolidation.

This ‘n’ That Happenings In The Year 1836

The year 1836 is of particu-lar interest to me because
it was the year Johnson County was carved out of Carter County to become the most northeastern county in Ten-nessee. Citizens of the area that became Johnson County had been plagued for years by the difficulty of traveling to Elizabethton, the county seat of Carter County, to conduct necessary business. In those days, travel was
grueling and time consum-ing. There were rivers to cross
and ridges to traverse. Johnson County was named for Thomas Johnson, a very respected and influential man of the area.
The county seat of Johnson County was laid out and lots were sold. Originally named Taylorsville to honor Carter County’s James P. Taylor. The name was changed from Taylorsville to Mountain City in 1885. Since the town was surrounded by beautiful mountains, it was a very ap-propriate name.
As I was thinking about 1836, I decided to try to find some other happenings in that year. It was in that year that the Battle of the Alamo in what is now San Antonio Texas was fought. After 13 days of fighting the Texas defenders were over-whelmed and the entire gar-rison was killed. Two hun-dred fifty seven Texans were killed including Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett. Crocket, a Tennessee Congressman, had left for Texas following a disappointing loss in his final bid for Congress.
Andrew Jackson was presi-dent in 1836. He had been a popular and successful gen-eral prior to becoming a U.S. president. He served as president from 1829 to 1837. Englishman Charles Dickens, the famous author of the Victorian Era, was born February 7, 1812. Fol-lowing his marriage in 1836, he became a prolific writer with such works as David Copperfield, Great Expecta-tions and other novels. He was also the author of a number of short stories. One famous person who married in 1836 was famous writer Harriet Beecher to Calvin Stowe in Cincinnati, Ohio on January 6. On May 16 Edgar Allan Poe married his cousin Virginia Clemm. Eng-lish novelist William Makepeace Thackeray mar-ried Isabella Gethin Shawe.
Among the deaths in 1836 were Betsy Ross (1752 – 1836), Aaron Burr (1756 – 1836 and as mentioned ear-lier Davy Crockett (1786 – 1836). James Madison, who died in 1836, served as U. S. President from 1809 to1817. The Texas Capital City, Aus-tin, is named for Stephen F. Austin who passed away in 1836. I found a birthday that was quiet interesting. Win-slow Homer, a famous American Painter was born February 24, 1836 in Boston, Massachusetts. He died Sep-tember 29, 1910 at the age of 74. Homer is one of the most famous American painters. His maritime paint-ings are superb.
So, a lot was going on in the United States in 1836. I suppose that in what would become Mountain City there was a lot going on also. It was truly the Horse and Buggy days.

You’ve got this! Alison asks: How can I help my friends and family that have depression or anxiety?

By Tracy Becker

Licensed Counselor

Thank you, Alison, for this question. It is estimated that approximately 16.2 million adults have at least one depressive episode per year.

The numbers for anxiety run as high as 40 million adults per year. Yet know these are not necessarily “real” numbers as a vast percentage of people do not seek help for either disorder.

Having said all this, it is quite “normal” for people to have episodes of anxiety, depression or a combination of the two in a life-time. There are situations that one would only expect this.

Some of these situations are death of a loved one; divorce; loss of income stream; or other life changing events. Your childhood life-experiences also have a great impact on your ability to cope with major life changes.

Some strengths that help us overcome would be having a strong emotional, spiritual and social support system, a positive outlook and mindset, and good physical habits of diet, exercise and a preventive care. If we lack in these areas, the struggle becomes more profound.

The most obvious way to help is to have your loved one get professional help. You can start with a licensed counselor who can easily
assess the level of impact, and determine what actions need to be taken to increase the person’s ability to overcome.

Yet, the main necessary ingredient is WILLINGNESS. If the person is not willing to overcome, change, or follow-up with treatment success will be greatly limited. Willingness isn’t something we can give to another person, they have to pull from deep with in to generate it, and have a great desire to feel better.

In a nutshell, it isn’t easy and may take patience, but keep trying with love and tenderness.

Resources: Insurance companies will help find a counselor. Google can be helpful too.
Books: From Tears to Triumph by Marianne Williamson; Top bestselling books on anxiety and depression

All information, content, and material of this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician,
licensed counselor or
healthcare provider.