Main Street Property

Colonial Hall - Built shortly after 1819 - on National Historical Registry - 104 Morgan Street

The oldest home in Oliver Springs, Colonial Hall. There are different accounts as to the origin and date of the house, some accounts take the original to 1799 and Major Moses C. Winters but I believe the best account is that it would date to after the property was purchased by Louis Rector in 1819 and his old log cabin was built. Louis Rector who was the son-in-law of wealthy William Butler, had bought twenty-one acres from Moses C Winters in 1819. Elizabeth Rector then increased it to ninety-six acres by buying adjoining land. Here he built his cabin at the corner of Main and Springs Street which contained six large rooms.

Elijah Cross would acquire the home from Rector after he fell behind in taxes and the Sheriff sold the property to Cross in 1868. It was then sold to Joseph B Christie of Crawford County, Ohio for $3,000 on January 31,1881. The heirs of Christie would sell to Col. John G.Scott in August 1882 for the same $3,000. Scott was the person that subdivided the property that would become Oliver Springs and the remainder which included the house to his daughter, Ellen W. Scott. Ellen would then sell the house, store building and some adjacent lots to Dr. Robert A McFerrin and Lillie L. McFerrin (formerly Hannah) on December 2, 1886. Dr. McFerrin had been practicing medicine in Oliver Springs since 1880 and he had married Lillie l. Hannah, the widow of Major John Hannah in 1881. One daughter blessed this marriage; Bernice L. McFerrin who later married Nathaniel F. Powell who at one time was manager of the Oliver Springs Resort Hotel. Mrs. Lillie McFerrin had two sons, Gerald G. and Harvey H Hannah by her first husband. 

The logs were later covered with poplar siding. In 1898 a pedimented front porch with six fluted columns was added to the house. The entrance doorway, which opens into what was formerly the dog-trot, is flanked by panels of small checkered stained glass, which was added during the 1898 alterations. To the left are double doors entering a large oval-shaped living room. On the right a door opens into the library and a large dining room with a field-stone fireplace. Back of the dining room is a large kitchen with a brick fireplace and hearth and a four-inch thick walnut mantel.From the dog-trot hall one climbs the steep stairway with a hand-carved walnut handrail and newel post, turning left up a short flight of stairs to the two bedrooms and bath upstairs. The master bedroom is directly above and the same size as the living room. Each room in the house contains a fireplace with a mantel. 

On the back of the house, a L-shaped addition is used for a second living and dining room. Beside this addition is a brick-payed patio with an old field-stone wishing well, ninety feet deep, formerly used for drinking water,but now only used for gardening. A path leads to a smokehouse, with a field-stone and mud foundation. On the opposite side of the house a brick patio leads from the kitchen down a brick walk to a formal boxwood garden. Dr. Robert A McFerrin also owned farm land and 3,600 acres of coal lands in Morgan County where he was a leader in the coal business. He had joint interest in certain coal operations with Benjamin Bradford, the former Wall Street, New York City stockbroker who had purchased the former William P Smith Finishing School building for his home. Benjamin Bradford had come to Oliver Springs to get into the coal business. These two men also built and operated the Bradford-McFerrin Pharmacy in a two story frame building on the site next to the present day Post Office on Springs Street.

Colonial Hall, Oliver Springs most prominent landmark, has been associated with the lives of many important people of the area.  After Dr. Robert A. and Lillie McFerrin purchased the house in 1886, she then reared her two prominent sons, General Harvey H. Hannah and Gerald Gerding Hannah, and a daughter, Bernice McFerrin. Mrs. McFerrin was the daughter of George Frederick Gerding who formed the East Tennessee Colonization Company and in 1844 founded Wartburg, Tennessee, as a place for immigrants from Germany, France, Poland, and Switzerland to settle. Gerding later moved to Oliver Springs where he died in 1884


Harvey H. Hannah was a lieutenant-colonel of the 4th Tennessee Infantry in the Spanish-American War and was military governor of Sancti Spiritus, Cuba He was adjutant-general of Tennessee from 1900 to 1906, and was an unsuccessful candidate for governor of Tennessee. In 1906 he was elected Railroad Commissioner of Tennessee, being chosen as chairman of the Commission in 1922, a position he held until his death in 1936. A great orator and extremely popular man, the state of Tennessee named the highway from Oliver Springs to Harriman in his honor. Gerald Hannah operated coal mines which belonged to his mother. He later became head of the motor carrier department of the Railroad and Public Utilities Department of Tennessee. He was also mayor of Oliver Springs. His daughter, Geraldine (Mrs. Lewis Vaughan Blanton), was well know as being the owner of Colonial Hall, and the house was well maintained and preserved under her watch.

The home is now owned by Brian and Heather Burnett.


J K Butler 1st home - 504 Main Street

James K P Butler built in the 1880's at the beginning of the coal boom. The house was built with handmade brick and has gingerbread trimmed eaves and gables as well as stained glass windows. James was a coal mine operator and was a decedent of the prominent Butler family that settled the Poplar Creek area in the 1790's. James married Laura Frances Walker of Blount County in 1880, together they had six children.

Most old timers view this as one of the most historic homes because of its various owners. The house was soon sold to W.S. Geers and his wife Martha Wiley Geers who I mentioned in an earlier article. James K P Butler then built the home on Roane Street that would later become Sharp Funeral Home. During the Geers ownership the home had lattice porch banisters and a semi-circular stone retaining wall with alcoves inset for seating and were covered with trellises for climbing roses and a level grassy courtyard that contained croquet courts. At this time it was known as "Rose Terrace."

The house was later occupied by A.J. Queener, former Mayor and coal mine operator and son-in-law of the Geers. It was later rented to Martin Brown, a Rev. Hoyle and others before it was sold in 1921 to Chris J. Ladd and Matilda "Tilda" Cox Ladd. Chris was a wealthy contractor in the logging and road construction business. He was elected Sheriff of Roane County in 1926. I recently wrote an article on his wife Tilda about being the first woman sheriff in Tennessee after Chris's death. The Ladds also had a daughter Dora, who married Howard H Baker, Sr. and was the mother to Senator Howard H Baker, Jr.

The house was rented to Mayor Arvil Anderson after Tilda's daughters married then in 1942 the house was sold to Henry L Halburnt, the former Commissary Manager at the Windrock Mines. After the Halburnt's death, the heirs sold the house to a daughter and son-in-law, Martin and Onelda McCubbins. Many here should remember Mrs. McCubbins as a wonderful school teacher.


Oliver Springs Banking - 410 Main Street

Next we will look at The Oliver Springs Banking Company Building at old Main Street.The first bank in Oliver Springs was chartered and operated in Sienknecht's Store for a short time until this bank building could be built on an adjacent lot. The bank in the store utilized the large concrete and steel vault and office space of the store. This was the town's first bank, and was chartered March 12, 1904 as the "Oliver Springs Banking Company, Inc." with H. Sienknecht, Sam Tunnell, H.C. Thompson, D.C. Richards, and J.F. Taylor as directors. A Statement of the "Oliver Springs Banking Company, Inc."

The new building would be completed in 1907 and in the January 11, 1908 issue of the "Clinton Gazette" showed Sam Tunnell as Cashier. At some time the bank's name changed to Tri-County National Bank but would close in the 1930's feeling the effects of the depression.  Dr. Herman Everett Heacker bought the building after the Tri-County National Bank closed and used it for his doctor's office.

The Union Peoples Bank in Clinton would reopen in this building in 1947 and a photo survives today with Arthur Russell vice-president Hamilton National Bank, David Crockett American National Bank Nashville, TN, Frank Fox assistant cashier, Garvan W Walls Mayor of Oliver Springs, H.F. Rutherford president Union Peoples Bank, C.W Peak director, Harry Miller, director, Harvey M Nancey Jr. assistant vice-president Hamilton Bank, P.H. Worthington director Union Peoples Bank, Ray H Jones commander Post #112 American Legion Oliver Springs, J.M. Burkhart director Union Peoples Bank pictured. The building has been used since that time as different businesses, like Brown's Applances and a ceramic business. It also served as two appartments, an upstairs apartment and a downstairs apartment. Bill, Gary and Ronnie Kreis family lived in the upstairs in their pre-school years. Paul Hyde also lived there as a child.

The building was also used in the movie October Sky as the Union Hall. It is in need of repair but is on the National Historic Registrar but still stands today and is owned by Charles Tichey


H C Sienknecht Department Store - 460 Main Street

Dr Henry Christian Ludwig Sienknecht was born in Preetz, Plon, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany in 1838 to Dr Fredrich August Sienknecht and Katherine Heik. Henry was twelve when his father came to the German-Swiss colony of Wartburg in Morgan County in 1948 and practiced medicine there.

Henry received his medical training in Philadelphia, PA and served as a doctor in the Confederate Army. until he was captured near Chattanooga. After the war he practiced medicine at Robertsville, (present day Oak Ridge) In 1868 he married Barbara Ann Tadlock who was the daughter of well-to-do farmer and trader John Blair Tadlock. His practice flourished in the Robertsville area but he often received farm produce, which prompted him to open a country store He built a two-story home on the present day Oak Ridge High School campus.

Dr. Henry C Sienknecht practiced at Robertsville until poor health forced him to retire. In 1890 he sold his home to Robert S Roberts and moved to Oliver Springs. The Sienknecht's bought a former hotel on Roane Street, and remodeled it for residential use. This home was later raised to build the Dr Jessie Thaxton Hayes and Daisy Ella Sienknecht Hayes fine brick home that still exists. At first he enlisted the help of his brother-in-law, J S Keebler to partner in a large general store which was named J S Keebler at the corner of Main and Roane Street about 1885-6

About 1899-1900 J S Keebler and Dr Henry C Sienknecht decided to dissolve their business partnership and J S Keebler continued under the name of Keebler & Son. Dr. Henry C Sienknech set up an intern store in the old Bradford-McFerrin Pharmacy building on the site of the Loans Phillips home. In the meantime, a large magnificent, two-story brick building was being erected on Main Street at the Southern Railway crossing to house the new H Sienknecht Department Store. The new building was occupied the latter part of 1901, and/or the first part of 1902.

Business was excellent, the town was then the trade center for the booming coal mining industry. It had fine railroad facilities as well the Oliver Springs Hotel was in its heyday. The store was stocked to take care of the free-spending miners, farmers and the affluent patrons of the Oliver Springs Hotel. This diversity in needs of the potential customers meant the store had to stock everything from coal shovels, seed corn, tuxedos to evening dresses. All the needs were met and the store was a flourishing business.

The town's first bank was housed in the store building until the building next door was built; the "Oliver Springs Banking Company" was chartered in 1904, with H. Sienknecht, Sam Tunnell, H.C. Thompson, D.C. Richards, and J.F. Taylor as directors. A Statement of the "Oliver Springs Banking Company, Inc." in the January 11, 1908 issue of the "Clinton Gazette" showed Sam Tunnell as Cashier. The building still stands today.

Dr Henry C Sienknecht died in 1916 but his son Fred Sienknech had run the business for a number of years. In 1918 it claimed that it carried the largest stock of merchandise of any store in Roane, Anderson and Morgan Counties. It drew customers from a wide area through the 1920's, but of course it felt the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930's. Fred Sienknech left the store in the late 1930's or early 1940's and opened a store of his own in Knoxville. Later Roy Owen bought and operated the store and after his death the building was bought by Nash Copeland for use as an Auto Parts Store.

Over the approximately forty years that the H Sienknecht Department Store was in business many local people worked there. The building still stands today and was also used as a general store in the movie "October Sky."


Dr Joseph Augustus Sienknecht Home - 217 Main Street

Dr Joseph Augustus Sienknecht, the second child of Dr. Theodore F Sienknecht and Matilda Adelaide Muecke. He was born July 1872 at Kingston. He received his medical degree from Vanderbilt in 1898. He began his practice with his father in Oliver Springs in an office between the present day post office and main street.

On June 1909, Dr. Joe married Mary "Mamie" Richards, who was the daughter of John R. Richards, one of the owners of the grand Oliver Springs Hotel. For a while Dr. Joe was the company doctor on top of Windrock and he and Mamie lived there but most of their married life was spent in this home built in the 1900's on the corner of Main and Morgan Streets

Dr. Joe practiced in Oliver Springs until the 1920's. On August 24, 1927 he died under mysterious circumstances when he was filling in for the prison doctor who was on vacation. His death was never solved and at the time was first reported that he fell from a bridge in Petros and cracked his skull on his way to the prison to see an ill inmate. His brother, Louis Christian Sienknecht said he was murdered, that his keys, watch and pocketbook was missing. A man seen with him earlier was questioned but released. Strangely, two days later his keys appeared a mile down the road. Nothing else was ever found.

Miss Mamie survived her husband by fifty years. She served as City Treasure, and as clerk in the Water Dept. She also had an insurance agency. After Joe's death she lived for a while with her sister Rachel Richards Wiley at the John R Richards home on Main street.

Mamie sold the home and the small office to Jimmie Turner where he had a small office in 1973 and later the newspaper the Oliver Springs Citizen in the home, from l975-l979. Some of you may also remember Pandora's Box in the small office building in the 1970's.

The death of Mamie Sienknecht in 1977 marked the end of the Sienknecht family in Oliver Springs. She and Dr. Joe had no children. The home now belongs to the Harvey family


Oliver Springs Drug Company - 101 Main Street

The Oliver Springs Drug Company Building at 101 Main Street, which was built 1906-7 by Dr. Asa Kelly Shelton. Dr. Shelton had a huge influence in Oliver Springs as he practiced medicine here for more than fifty years. He was a businessman with extensive holdings in real estate, served as physician for the Brushy Mountain Prison for six years, and was the official physician for the famous Oliver Springs Resort Hotel. He was born one of eleven children in 1857 to George W. Shelton and Sarah Hornbeak near Jasper in Marion County. When he was sixteen he entered Hiwassee College and received two degrees before he was twenty-one. He then taught school for a short time before entering Vanderbilt and graduated in medicine and surgery in 1880. He came to Oliver Springs in 1882 to practice medicine.

In 1888 he married Mary Richards, the daughter of wealthy Joseph C Richards who had built the Richards house and first hotel at the Mineral Springs. Dr. Shelton and Mary lived in the first hotel until they build their new home in 1892 on the adjoining lot of the hotel property. This home stood until the new four-lane bypass razed it.  In the 1890’s he built a two story-frame, business building on Main Street beside the Southern Railway. His office was located on the second floor and he owned the drug store on the bottom floor that was operated by Dr. Thomas West. This building served him until the new brick building across the railroad tracks was completed in 1907. Mary Shelton also sold her interest in her father's estate in 1907 to her four brothers. Dr. Asa K Shelton then moved his office to the second floor of the new brick building and a new drug store opened on the first floor. Drug stores operated there continuously under different owners for the next eighty years. Others were Dr. Fred Hooper, and then his wife Anne Hooper, Dr. Steve Terrell, Dr. Jack Greene among others. It was a gathering place for many enjoying ice cream.

Dr. Asa K Shelton was quiet the promoter of the miraculous mineral waters at the Grand Oliver Springs Resort Hotel. He said, “The following conditions are cured or relieved by the mineral waters, such diseases as stomatitis glossitis, tonsillitis, gastric ulcer, diarrhea, constipation, jaundice, cirrhosis or drunkard’s liver, diseases of the urinary system. They also aid in the cure of gonorrhea, and syphilis complications.”

Dr. Shelton and Mary Richards Shelton had five children; Colonel Joseph Richards Shelton who is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Ann Shelton who taught school in Oliver Springs for many years before moving to Washington DC and working as an accountant for the US Treasury, Dr. William Asa Shelton, a graduate of Vanderbilt medical School had a well-known general practice in Knoxville for many years., Two children, Sadie and George died as infants. Dr. Asa K Shelton died in Knoxville in 1941 and is buried in the Oliver Springs Cemetery with his wife Mary.

Dr. Asa K Shelton’s grandson, William Asa Shelton Jr. attended MIT for two years before completing his education at The University of Tennessee. He later became fascinated with photography and film development. He moved to San Francisco and learned computer programming in 1962. While living in San Francisco, Bill met the famous photographer and author, Ansel Adams, who was a lifelong advisor and friend. During part of the 35 years he lived in Cambridge Massachusetts, Bill worked for Polaroid, where he developed the Polaroid Big Shot Camera.