Bullen researches local history

Published 4:04 pm Tuesday, February 26, 2019

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Randy Bullen is in the process of digging up colorful local history in preparation for a book dealing with little-known facts about Claiborne county. While researching, Bullen came upon some information about early slave days.

For instance, did you know that current day Howard’s Quarter was known in 1811 as Hord’s Quarter? And, that the Quarter was located at that time in Hawkins, not Claiborne county?

It seems landowner William Hord of New Canton – currently Church Hill – kept and sold slaves there. According to Bullen, the spot where the old Howard’s Quarter School was located was once a slave market.

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When Hord died, sometime in the 1840s, his son moved the slave market to the Dallas, Texas area, transporting those slaves that had not yet been sold, and established a Hord’s Quarter there.

Bullen says that students of color were first allowed to attend the Howard’s Quarter School in September of 1955, when the Claiborne Board of Education passed a motion allowing the measure. The motion cemented the school district in black history. Howard’s Quarter School was the second one throughout the south to desegregate, following the lead of Oak Ridge Schools, who desegregated just one month prior. The desegregation of the Howard’s Quarter School was accomplished a full year before the forced desegregation of the Clinton Schools.

Bullen says those first Howard’s Quarter School students of color were of the Hill family.

Claiborne county historian Jim Welch recently submitted an old photograph of the Reverend Ardill and Mrs. Mary Ann Blake Brooks, who were notable people of color residing in the Springdale area of Claiborne county.

Rev. Brooks was born on Feb. 28, 1880 and died on June 17 of 1971. Mrs. Brooks was born on May 8, 1882 and died on June 26 of 1967.

The reverend pastored Keg Branch Church in Powell Valley and spent much of his time preaching and pastoring many other black churches in the area, according to Welch.

The 1940 census shows the couple had apparently moved to Sneedville, TN at some point during the previous ten years. The two were buried in the Brooks Seals Cemetery in Howard’s Quarter.

Bullen and Welch are treasure troves of county information. To read more about Bullen’s research, you may log onto his Facebook page.

Welch may be reached at: 423-526-5737.