Scott County, Tennessee
FNB Chronicles

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Adelbert Doisy and the ‘Jot’ Em Down’ Store

(Reprinted from Historical Society Newsletter)

One hundred years is a long time in the life of man. ADELBERT H. DOISY, who passed away February 1, 1962, came within nine months of reaching the century mark. To span a century means a heap of living. He saw generations come and go and marked time to the onrushing surge of progress. To stay forever young at heart is an attribute to one who loved his fellowman and kept an open mind to economical, political and social change. It was, indeed, remarkable that regardless of time and change, he could still remain a man of the hour.

Adelbert Doisy, 1862-1962

When Mr. DOISY came as a hunter to this remote, mountainous vastness, he [had] little thought that he would become an adopted citizen. But when he met the sparkling, beautiful and vivacious LINA WEST, he quickly changed his mind. They were married and from that day on, Mr. DOISY remained a Scott Countian.

When Mr. DOISY first came to Scott County, it had a population of 6000. The great majority of the people had not come here, like Topsy, they had just "growed" here. The influx of outsiders, especially men like Mr. DOISY, had a marked influence upon the county. After Mr. DOISY became a member of the Huntsville Supply Company, it was not long until he knew almost every man and woman in the entire county by their first names. Since Huntsville was the county seat and centrally located, people came from all sections of the county to do their trading. Mr. DOISY made many warm and lasting friends due to his jovial disposition and his congenial personality. He was a diligent, efficient businessman and the long years of successful operation of the Huntsville Supply Store can be attributed, in large measure, to his honesty, integrity and keen business judgment. People from all walks of life felt free to come to him for advise and favors. He was prudent in his business, but he was never known to refuse an honest man a favor.

If the Huntsville Supply Store did not have some article in stock that a customer called for, he could order it for you on the next mail, and he was always as good as his word. He bought every kind of produce from the farmers who were glad to exchange them for "store boughten" things. He always paid the highest possible prices for hides, tallow pelts, molasses honey, chickens, eggs, feathers, wool, mountain herbs, gin sang, yellow root, sassafras, sarsaparilla and numerous other things.

During the courts, the store would be packed to overflowing. Since there was not a restaurant in town, and it was impossible for the hotels to feed the large crowds, the long counters in the store were used to serve food to the public. The bill of fare consisted of cheese and crackers, sardines, salmon, and peaches and tomatoes "fixed up" in a bowl with spoon and crackers. On one occasion an old farmer friend whispered in Mr. DOISY’s ear, "Bert, I thought I’d better tell you that your cheese are ‘spiled.’" They happened to be sharp cheddar cheese that the old farmer had never tasted before.

After court closed, the Supply Store again became the "Country Club", where the farmers and town people enjoyed sitting on the cracker barrels, exchanging yarns and playing checkers. A familiar figure was Uncle NAT HANCOCK, the last remaining former slave in the county who was a source of fun at checkers. He was loved and respected by the town’s people and farmers. He never went hungry or in need of clothing; first one and another would buy his lunch and give him clothing. There was nothing he prized more than the derby hat that Mr. BERT gave him.

There was a feeling of nostalgia among the older residents of Huntsville when the Supply Store closed its doors. No more the friendly handshake of old friends, the hearty laugh of the yard spinners, the good-natured rivalry over the checker boards, or the warmth of the pot-bellied stove. The handy push carts in the big supermarkets can never replace the friendly atmosphere of the smaller "jot ‘em down" stores of yesteryear.

ADELBERT DOISY, born October 2, 1862, in Cincinnati, Ohio, was the son of A. E. DOISY and MARY KENNEDY DOISY. There were five brothers and a sister. His grandfather, ADELBERT JACQUES DOISY, brought his family to this country from Paris, France, and settled in Cincinnati where he served as the French and Italian Consul for many years. The sons were all active in sports in that area. Mr. DOISY and his brother, ROBERT, were members of the Grand Skating Rink crack polo teams of Covington, Kentucky. Polo on skates was a popular pastime in the 1880s. Both played baseball on league teams in Cincinnati.

He first came to Scott County on hunting trips in the 1880s. At that time he was working in his father’s wholesale dry goods business in Cincinnati. He liked the mountains and people in this section and came back to stay. When he and the late Judge JAMES F. BAKER opened the Huntsville Supply Company in 1897, it was one of the few stores in the county at that time. Here he met LINA WEST, a Scott County school teacher, and they were married in 1902.

Always an ardent sports fan, he attended every running of the Kentucky Derby for many years and also saw many Cincinnati baseball games. In later years, he never missed watching football, basketball and baseball games on TV.

Mr. DOISY was proud of his nephew, Dr. EDWARD ADELBERT DOISY, of St. Louis, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in the field of medicine in 1943. Dr. DOISY has visited in Huntsville several times in the past few years while in this section to attend meetings at Oak Ridge.

LINA WEST DOISY was the daughter of JERRY WEST and MELISSA ANN SEXTON WEST. In the West family were seven sisters and one brother; namely: EMILY TERRY, NANCY PHILLIPS, MARTHA PHILLIPS (mother of Dr. H. S. PHILLIPS of Knoxville), ARTEMA HATFIELD, ROSETTA THOMPSON (mother of M. O. THOMPSON of Erwin), KATHERINE HARRINGTON, and COLUMBUS WEST, father of LAWRENCE WEST of Helenwood.

Mrs. DOISY taught school in Scott County for fifteen years. When the short term schools were out in the spring, she attended Maryville College and Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Ky. Mrs. DOISY was an energetic church and community worker. She served many years as president of the P.T.A. and the church auxiliary. The Huntsville Presbyterian Church never had a more faithful or ardent supporter. When the church was without a minister during the war years, the faithful few — Mrs. DOISY, Mrs. ELLA YORK and Mrs. OLLIE FOSTER — through their persistence and personal sacrifices, kept the church alive. This was a labor of love. They cooked for food sales, they did sewing for bazaars, they held used clothing sales, and did many things to raise money for the operation of the church. They served as teachers, superintendents and secretaries of the Sunday School. They served the church as deaconesses, elders, and trustees. They worked toward the completion of the new building, living to enjoy the good fellowship of worshiping in it.

Mr. and Mrs. DOISY were the parents of one daughter, MARY HELEN. She graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1928. She has been teaching in the Huntsville High School for more than thirty years. She is so very thorough in her work in the Commercial Department that her pupils are in great demand as secretaries.

MARY HELEN married DAN WALKER, and they have two children, BERT and LOUISE. BERT graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.S. in chemistry. He is employed as a chemist at General Motors Frigidaire Division, Dayton, Ohio. LOUISE is a senior at Huntsville High School.

DAN WALKER is the son of JOHN and MARY HUGHETT WALKER. He taught public school a number of years, and he served as County Court Clerk six years. He served on the Republican Primary Board and has been active in County, State and National politics for many years. DAN is a public-spirited citizen, belonging to a number of civic organizations. He served as Lieutenant of the National Kiwanis Club in 1947. Both MARY HELEN and DAN work unceasingly for the good of their church and the community. DAN WALKER, even though physically handicapped, did more toward the construction of the Presbyterian Church than any other member. He is an elder in the church. MARY HELEN has served as pianist and teacher. LOUISE and BERT were members of the choir.

BERT was a member of the University of Tennessee Chorus that toured Europe. He is a member of the choir in the Presbyterian Church he attends in Dayton. Louise is an expert with the baton, having won prizes in twirling in both Tennessee and other state competitions. The Walker family, Mrs. WALKER, BERT and LOUISE, all play the piano and sing. Wherever you find a West in Scott County you will find music in some form. It just comes naturally.

FOOTNOTE This article was written in 1964 and was first published in the Scott County News as one the "Profiles In Courage" series of articles. Later, the story was published in the Fall, 1985 edition of the Scott County Historical Society Newsletter.

FNB Chronicle, Vol. 1, No. 2 – Winter 1990
First National Bank
P.O. Box 4699
Oneida, TN 37841
(page 1 and 5)

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