Find your roots at the Genealogy Jamboree

Published 8:11 am Monday, October 7, 2019

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Living in our historic three-state region allows for rich digging into the earth of our ancestors via the annual Genealogy Jamboree & Pioneer Days – the event first conceived of by Mark Treadway and John Adams.

The celebration of our roots has grown into quite the special weekend with loads of old-timey demonstrations and informative lectures that are sure to deliver a treasure-trove of knowledge.

The event, slated for Oct. 18-19, will feature local history buff Randy Bullen, who will speak on the county public school system. Bullen will concentrate on the interesting tidbits surrounding the 145 documented schools in existence from 1827 through 1970.

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According to Bullen, Claiborne County has some serious bragging rights. The county has the oldest private school, the oldest high school and the oldest single-room school houses still standing in Tennessee.

There was a voluntary desegregation in 1954 of a Claiborne County school – the second such school across the south to do so. Over 20 rural school structures are still standing in the county – more than any other across the state.

“However, no preservation efforts are being made to keep them,” said Bullen.

The county has suffered a few embarrassments as well.

Bullen says the Claiborne Commission was once threatened with a state-run takeover due to county government’s refusal to properly support its schools.

Then-presidential hopeful Lyndon Johnson mentioned the Claiborne school system some 23 times during campaign speeches in 1964, due to the “pathetic conditions” of the county schools.

During that same year, over 100 newspapers around the globe spoke of the “inept job” being done by the Claiborne school system, said Bullen.

The history buff’s latest project involves the audio recording of oral histories detailing events witnessed by those living in the region prior to 1960.

Bullen will lecture on Oct. 19, from 1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the LMU Convention Center in Cumberland Gap. Other keynote speakers include Jamboree favorites Lori Thornton, Brett Compton, Wayne Gregg, Sally and Bob Hatfield and Dick Gault.

New to the event is the 200th Anniversary Celebration of the Iron Furnace. Visitors will have the opportunity to see a live modern iron pour and charcoal making and will learn about the history of iron making and molds.

The Genealogy Jamboree will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day in downtown Cumberland Gap. For more information, or to reserve your seat for one or more of the lectures, you may log onto the event website at: Seating is limited inside the Convention Center.