OF TENNESSEE'S THREE GRAND DIVISIONS HAS ITS OWN DISTINCTIVE MANNERS,
By Dallas Bogan
Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.
This article was published in the LaFollette Press.
The official state
flag of Tennessee was adopted on April 17, 1905. LeRoy Reeves of the
Third Regiment of the Tennessee Infantry designed this flag. The three
white stars in the center symbolize the three different geographical
regions or an hour's conservation of Tennessee: the Great Smoky Mountains
(in eastern Tennessee), the highlands (in central Tennessee) and the
lowlands (in western Tennessee, by the Mississippi River). The white
circle binds them together. The blue stripe along the margin was added
for when the flag is hanging with the stripe, not only the red shows
while the flag is hanging.
Tennesseans lives are deliberate, they
being unhurried. They all occasionally complain about the weather, crops,
bad business and politics, but beneath all this they have an immense
feeling of security. The farmer will leave his plowing, the lawyer his
lawsuit, the business man his accounts, all for a moment's or an hour's
conservation with a stranger or friend.
Accumulated in the Volunteer State is a strong sense of family, kin
and clan. Blood relationships stand out as the greatest single connection
between these hardy people. These relationships surely influence county
and local politics and business affairs. When a local politician announces
his intention to run for office all his kinfolk start electioneering
for him. No one stands in the way of a family relationship.
Tennessee is an agricultural State with
the culture of its people growing out of their struggle with the earth.
And still the urban areas are dominated by the traditions of farm life.
East, Middle, and West Tennessee are the
three geographic divisions that lend to the state its belief of three
separate states. The residents of the State are alike in their heritage
and in general attitude, but there are conspicuous differences in the
sections as to manners and customs. These differences range from the
people of the Appalachian Mountain regions to those of the Mississippi
Between the North Carolina line and the
Cumberland Plateau is East Tennessee, an upland region whose high mountains,
thickly wooded foothills, broken knob country, and narrow valleys have
made it, until recent years, the most shut-in section of the State.
In this section are the misty walls of the Great Smokies, the slender
ridges of the Unakas and the Clinch Mountains. Within this portion of
the Tennessee Valley lies Norris Dam, one of the chief components of
the Tennessee Valley Authority's vast projects.
This region is the home of the mountain
folk, descendants of British, Huguenot, and Pennsylvania. These pioneers
built their log cabins deep among the ridges. These rugged people, for
many years, were content to live their lives, as did the first white
men. Throughout Tennessee, for many years, the cabins of old frontier
days, with their little porthole-like windows, stood as a symbol to
the rugged mountaineers and pioneer who first traversed this beautiful
State. In times past, in East Tennessee, the ancient gristmills would
rumble their song and call out to the rugged mountain boys to hop onto
their mules and take the corn to be ground into meal. Simple pleasures
such as quilting and husking parties, fiddling, singing, and dancing
all came under the handle of pioneer life.
The long and meandering Tennessee River
borders middle Tennessee. This beautiful country contains a gentle rolling
bluegrass heritage. It is well known for its fine livestock blooded
horses and mules and its tobacco crops. It is geographically the heart
of the State, rich in tradition and history. Customarily, hardly a day
goes by that the old timers don't discuss the past and traditions of
the Old South. The great Indian mounds of the Harpeth and Cumberland
rivers are links with a more distant past.
Descendants of the State proudly cling
to their traditions. Nashville, capital of the State, was in 1780 the
scene of the drafting of the Cumberland Compact, whereby 256 pioneers
set up an independent government. Places of importance in Middle Tennessee
are the Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson, the town of Smyrna, birthplace
of Sam Davis, hero of the American Civil War. Sixty miles south of Nashville,
was where the Ku Klux was formed in 1865.
Located between the Tennessee River and
Mississippi is West Tennessee. These lands once belonged to the Chickasaw
Indian tribe. This area, with its rugged hills, rich valleys, and deep
black bottoms, was the last frontier of Tennessee. The farms have become
mostly small parcels of land and are certainly not rivals of the cotton
and corn crops. The bottoms are sometimes at the mercy of floodwaters.
In this section a great deal of the free-and-easy spirit of the frontier
remains. Cotton once dominated its economy, which in turn allowed West
Tennessee to have the largest African-American population in the State.
Memphis is located on the Mississippi
River near the Arkansas boundary line; it is the metropolis of the division.
It has the atmosphere of the broad-based West.