Scott County, Tennessee
FNB Chronicles

This page was updated 06 Sep 2008

Esther Sharp Sanderson: County Historian


ESTHER SHARP SANDERSON (born October 31, 1896, died September 21, 1979), was a Scott County teacher and historian. She was the daughter of CAROLINE LLEWAYLLN and JOSEPH SHARP of Huntsville, Tennessee. The SHARP family, which included ESTHER, five sisters and one brother, lived on a farm on the outskirts of Huntsville. She was a member of the Huntsville Presbyterian Church. Much of her early education was received at the Huntsville Presbyterian Academy. Later in her teaching career, she attended Tennessee Polytechnic Institute (now Tennessee Technological University) in Cookeville.

Esther Sharp Sanderson

ESTHER began her teaching career at a time when a college degree was not required. She took an examination which was offered by the State of Tennessee. She passed the examination with a score high enough to receive a lifetime teaching certificate.

Lemuel Phillips, son of Johnson and Arlene Phillips, and whose sister was Othelo Phillips (later married to dentist Joe Pemberton) of the Paint Rock or Almy community, was the first husband of ESTHER. They had a son, Herman Andrew (born July 25, 1917, died February 25, 1986). During the time ESTHER and LEMUEL were married they lived in Detroit, Michigan, and Scott County. After LEMUELís death in 1932, ESTHER and HERMAN lived at home with her parents. Her father died in 1933. ESTHER later married FRED K. SANDERSON and they lived with her mother until her death in 1944. Then they purchased the house in Huntsville which JOHN (Crit) CRITENDEN and UNA PHILLIPS and their family had owned. They lived there until their death. ESTHER and FRED had no children.

During her long teaching career, ESTHER taught at the Low Gap Elementary, Paint Rock or Almy Elementary, Oneida Elementary and Huntsville Elementary schools. Teaching was one of the few jobs available to women in Scott County. The pay was poor, the job was hard to get, and transportation was often nil. Walking from Huntsville to the Almy School was the usual. Often teachers had to take a discount on their checks (county warrants) before they could get them cashed.

ESTHER enjoyed teaching and was considered a very good teacher. She directed many good and successful school operettas, plays and programs, often using large groups of children. And with the help of other teachers, parents and friends, she would manage to have appropriate costumes which were homemade, using crepe paper as the cheapest of materials. These performances she directed helped children by giving them self assurance, confidence and experience at an early age by speaking and performing before large groups of people.

Eleven "Freedom Foundation Awards" were received by ESTHER and her classrooms during her later teaching career. The children taught by ESTHER have had many different occupations and careers, from homemakers to the highest positions in the land, and I am sure most all will agree that she was an excellent teacher of children and helped in giving them a foundation to help them to be able to develop to the best of their capabilities.

One of ESTHERís hobbies or interests was gardening and the growing of beautiful flowers. Many awards and prizes for arrangements made from flowers out of her garden were received. ESTHER was a charter member of the Huntsville Garden Club.

In the mid-1950s, ESTHER wrote and published her first book, County Scott and its Mountain Folk, which was well received by the public. This book has done more to get Scott County people interested in knowing more about their family trees and history than any other work published since. This book kindled the flame for more knowledge of family which has resulted in much research and good work being done by others and shared for all to enjoy.

In ESTHERís Profiles, many early Scott County families were featured; however, as with many good works, many families were not featured. But Scott County, Tennessee And Its Families, published recently by the Scott County Historical Society, gives information about many other families of Scott County and some of their history.

One of the rewards of ESTHERís teaching career was the visits she received from former students, parents, teachers, and friends from the various communities she had served. With them, she would reminisce about incidents and events which occurred during her long teaching career, and would hear about the various achievements of her former students and friends.

The five books written and published by ESTHER SHARP SANDERS [Sanderson] were Scott County and its Mountain Folk, Scott County Gem of the Cumberlands, Freedom Foundation Award Essays and Courageous Mountain Men, Bicentennial Edition of the Scott County History and Folklore, and The History of the Huntsville Presbyterian Church.

FNB Chronicle, Vol. 3 No. 1 Ė Spring 1991
First National Bank
P.O. Box 4699
Oneida, TN 37841

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