Banner - Roslin
[Note: This story was originally submitted in 1969 by Mrs. Rogers for an earlier history book which was not published. It is included here, in an edited form, with the permission of her daughter, Mrs. Henri Ella Howard. Mrs. Rogers, a retired Fentress County school teacher, will be 97 years old on November 1, 1987. She still resides in her old home in the Banner-Roslln Community.]
Banner-Roslin is located in the southern part of Fentress County near the Morgan County line. The first Banner-Roslin settlers came the same route from Virginia and North Carolina that the neighboring pioneers traveled. Differing from Tinchtown settlers, these settlers did not ford the north prong of the Clear Fork River. They settled instead on the south side of the river and the Banner-Roslin communities "sprang up."
The earliest settlers brought seeds and farm animals to include cattle and horses which were used to pull their wagons. Some settlers stopped on the way and spent a season to raise crops before continuing on. When they settled in this region of Banner and Roslin they established farms where they grew their food. From their sheep, wool was carded, spun and woven into material for clothing. They also hunted and fished. From the forest, they got tar, turpentine, and lumber which they hauled by wagon to the market in Nashville. From the 1840's until the 1890's, oxen pulled the wagons.
In the 1880's, lumbermen began making railroad ties. Soon stave mills began working the timber. Then George Carson brought the first sawmill into the community. This led to a timber industry which greatly improved standards of living in this section. Some of those who worked in the timber industry were Oscar Bicknell, Will H. Bicknell, Wilburn and Neely Stowers, Norman LaRue, W.B. Atkinson, C.E. Atkinson, J.L. Atkinson, Clark Atkinson and Sons, Luke Atkinson, Robert Young and Sons, H.H. Rogers, Virgil Ramsey, and Edgar Ramsey.
By 1940, general agriculture was the primary economic force in the community. Green beans, produced for the commercial market, furnished work for a significant portion of the population. Later on strawberries, pepper and cabbage were grown commercially. About 1950. the raising of broilers was begun and by the late 1950's had grown into quite an extensive industry.
Many of the earliest settlers came in family groups. The Alexander family was one of these. Robert Alexander settled in the Roslin area on what subsequently became known as East Alexander Creek; now the Meister Hill Community. Ros Alexander came on to the Banner area. James Alexander settled on the A.B. Ramsey Place. Alvin Young bought this land in 1906. Elija Alexander and his wife, Martella Young Alexander settled on Downs Place.
Coming from North Carolina, Broke Ramsey settled on Broke Place and built a gristmill. Luke Hall, Sr.. moved there and kept the mill and had a blacksmith shop. His son, C.M.Hall, a teacher and Methodist minister, resided there after his father's death. M.V.Hall, son of C.M. Hall, continued to live there after his father's death. George Smith and wife, Nancy Young Smith, also lived on the Broke Ramsey Place.
James Lee and wife, Nancy Albertson Young, lived with their children, Alice and Mae, on Downs Place. John Buck first came to Bucks Place but eventually settled north of there on Brushy Fork Creek on Clear Fork. In 1820, Howell Downs and Willie Downs came to Downs Branch, hence the name. McFarland Branch is on Downs Branch. Will and Annie Garrett lived there.
William LaRue, Donald Lavender and the Howes came from Knox County. Their children later came on up the river and settled in the Banner, Roslin, and Mt. Gilead Communities. In the 1800's, the McGees and Grays came from Indiana to Mt. Gilead. Philip York, a doctor, lived where the present Jimmy Norris Service Station is located. W.H. Edwards' sons, Ed and Wallace came from Kentucky.
Calvin and Winnie Ward Smith ran a boarding house for sawmill workers until Alvin and Loretta Young bought the place where the Youngs lived from 1906 to 1936. Some other early settlers were John Smith, John Durham, John Morgan (1844-1932), Dock Morgan ( I875- I956), T.J. Norris ( 1857 -1950). T.J. Norris married Rhoda England and lived on the Louisa Smith farm from 1893-1917 where the Smith Cemetery is located. The late Jack Atkinson, father of Elmer and Luther, said his grandfather Lewis Atkinson's mother, Arsinia Wilson, brought thirteen children here from Martha Washington, Virginia. The Keys and Todds also came from the Martha Washington Community.
According to postal records the first post office to serve the area was established in Roslyn in Fentress County on November 7, 1888. The name was later changed to Roslin. Records indicate that the post office was located in Morgan County on June 26, 1895 and relocated to Fentress County on March 2, 1903. It was discontinued on July 21, 1961 when the Jamestown Post Office assumed responsibility for the area. The first Postmaster was William R. Ross and the last was Mrs. Anne A.J. Beaty. [Note: The author, Mrs. Ella A. Rogers, was appointed Postmistress on November 1, 1935 as the successor of Sarah M. Rogers and was herself succeeded by Mrs. Beaty on November 30, 1960.]
The Banner Springs Post Office was established on August 18, 1890 with Paul S. Alexander serving as the first Postmaster. It was discontinued on September 1, 1961 when the Jamestown Post Office assumed responsibility for the area. Mrs Zola Belle York, appointed May 16, 1938, was the last Postmistress.
There was one other Post Office in the area. It was located at Mt. Gilead and was known as the Keese Post Office. Mae Keese, the wife of Nathan Keese, was the Postmistress in 1889. Nathan and Mae moved to the area from Indiana in 1887.
Mrs. Keese was also the teacher in the first formal school in this area. It was conducted in Tommy Ramsey's kitchen at Mt. Gilead. Later the Marietta school house was built about three miles northeast of the Mt. Gilead Church. The Ramsey Chapel was built about one and one half miles east of the Mt. Gilead Church. Then the Long Branch School was built about one mile north of the Church. The first building was a log house which was later replaced by a frame school building located about one half mile farther south. This finally became a three teacher school. It was evidently consolidated with the Roslin School and became the present Banner-Roslin School. The Ramsey Chapel and the Marietta School house were used for both school and church purposes.
"The Pioneer" was the first newspaper in Fentress County. This newspaper was published in the 1880's with Althea F. Dickson, the editor, in Banner Springs. The purpose of the paper was the advertising of land. Later there was a newspaper called the "Roslyn Tickler" to advertise land for sale.
In the early years grist mills were established to grind the corn and wheat into meal and flour. Robert H. Rogers had a grist mill on Showl Creek near the forks of Clear Fork River. Jasper Atkinson had one on the road to Grimsley. Luke Hall, Sr. had a grist mill on Mill Creek near the Alvin Young Place which subsequently became the Luke Hall and Wallace Beaty Places. F.M. Atkinson's grist mill was located near Carter's Branch on Clear Fork River. His son ran the mill for many years.
There are seven cemeteries in the Banner-Roslin area. The Elijah Buck Cemetery, located at the old Elijah Buck Place below Baxter Wilson's Dairy Barn, is the oldest. The others are Mt. Gilead, Beaty, Springs Chapel, Louisa Smith (on Mill Creek, south), and Hicks (near the J. Human Place). During a typhoid epidemic in the 1880's or 1890's, all of one family of Atkinsons were buried at the Beaty Cemetery.
by Ella Anne (Young) Rogers
-- Scanned & Transcribed by Randall Choate