History of Campbell County, Tennessee

Time Line


By Dallas Bogan

Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.  This article was published in the LaFollette Press.


     Many stores sprang up in the eastern part of Campbell County in early times along the Powell River. Carter Brown operated a store about two miles downriver from the Robbins General Store. Baldwin Sweat operated a store near Riverview School but it became extinct shortly thereafter. Isaac Robbins organized a place of business below Cannon Bridge from before 1900 until about 1918.

     Hugh McNeeley operated a business across the ridge from Powder Mill Hollow for about 50 years, from 1900 until 1949-50. The home of Hugh McNeeley was started in 1903 and was located where Fast Freddy's Market and Deli is located today. The original McNeeley store was located on the opposite side of the Alder Springs Road at the intersection with Powder Mill Hollow Road. Around 1946 this store was sold to Claude and Martha Robbins Goins and still later to her brother, Ebb, and h
his wife, June.

     After Ford's Chapel school was discontinued, Riverview School became its successor utilizing a two-room frame building that was located on the north bank of the Powell River, facing south. As was Ford's Chapel, primer through eighth grades were offered, which necessitated a need for housing of schoolteachers.

     Of this necessity, beds and daily meals were utilized. Everyday washing of laundry and bed linens was done by hand on a scrub board-using Octagon bar soap. The contents were boiled in an outdoor iron kettle and pressed with aged irons heated on the wood stove or hearth. Also included was the massive amount of dishwashing.

     Cooking of the fine foods was also an imperative operation. Delicious meals were prepared and eaten with great enthusiasm.

     Living with the school teachers under the same roof always meant having your homework done, never being absent without a good reason, and being on your best behavior.

     Hope Dossett was described as a caring and affectionate teacher. Other teachers who were boarders were Georgia Bolton Hobbs, Gladys Sharp and Emma Teague. Some of the classmates were Wanda Marsee and her brothers, Clifton and Burton McNeeley, and Hazel Sweat. James F. Jones was principal while Ethel Moore began teaching in 1927. Sam White was a teacher and did not board.

     School in session meant there no "weather days" that kept the doors closed. The schoolmaster and teachers that did not board walked to work; the students were expected to attend, rain or shine.

     When the classmates graduated from Riverview's eighth grade, they rode a bus to LaFollette. The students would walk from their homes to the forks of the creek below Robbins General Store and wait for the bus, driven by Hugh McNeeley. The bus was uncomfortable with hard plank seats running horizontally along the interior. McNeeley drove the Powder Mill students to his store where they were dropped off to wait outside. Meanwhile, he drove to Alder Springs and gathered the high school students from that area.

     When the weather turned bad, the Powder Mill students were allowed to wait inside the store, which was warmed by a wood-burning stove. After the return of McNeeley, the Powder Mill students would once again climb aboard for the long, winding drive on Long the Long Hollow Road to LaFollette.

     Churches sponsored a few schools. Liberty Baptist operated a school from 1890 to March 1929, along Powell River. Victory Baptist provided two buildings for a county school. Bethlehem, not far away, also supported a county school.
Riverview School was in operation from 1916 until its removal November 28, 1934. At its climax, it supported two teachers per term. Powell River School, very possibly the oldest school in the river basin, had become known as Cedar Creek School, and then in 1931, merged with Demory.

     Enrollments prior to removal were Riverview, 48; Victory, 50; Walnut Grove Elementary, 68; Alder Springs Elementary, 103; Demory, 136; Agee, 57; Flat Hollow Elementary, 61; Davis Creek Elementary, 69; Valley View Elementary, 116; Well Springs Elementary along with two years of high school, 176.

     The Robbins women were faithful church attendees along with the other women in the hollows and ridges. Most of these women were Baptists. The young men would go to church and hang around outside hoping to walk a girl home, possibly even hold her hand.

     The Powder Mill Robbins favored Liberty Baptist Church, while others attended Alder Springs, Cedar Creek, Victory Baptist and still others traveled to Powell River/Cedar Creek Baptist.

     Alvis Robbins, in the late 1920s, purchased for himself a recent invention...the automobile. It seems that he was not a very good driver and the roads were in an atrocious state. These avenues of travel were steep and worn by a hundred years of wagon wheels along with an immense erosion problem. Several times Alvis had to be pulled out of off-road mishaps.
More times than one the vehicle would break down. Replacement parts, repair garages and auto mechanics were very scarce. When the first one broke down it was hauled back to Alvis's place by mule. He later would buy another one and when that one broke down it was also hauled by mule back to the reclamation area and parked. It seems that Alvis' barns were cluttered with a bunch of broken-down disabled vehicles.

     The area was hit with another invention in the 1930s, a new variation of the plow. The newest and best plow was the "Gee-Whiz" plow, which had about seven or eight spring teeth. This implement was lightweight, which was a noteworthy improvement to anyone who had ever had to manhandle a plow. It did not cultivate deep; its chief use was to turn weeds in spaces between furrows. Because it did not plow deep, roots of corn and other crops in the furrows were not disturbed.
(This article was taken from a manuscript written by Jocelyn Lavonna Woods, a descendant of the Robbins family.)

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