Recently, Ron and Debbie Moore received the History in Media Award for their preservation and promotion of local history. The East Tennessee Historical Society’s annual Awards of Excellence were presented at the organization’s annual meeting on May 6 at the East Tennessee History Center.
Since 1982, the Society has been recognizing individuals and organizations each year that have made significant contributions to the preservation, promotion, programming and interpretation of the region’s history. The two Bradley County initiatives were among the 21 honored at the event.
The Moores co-host a local history show, Old Town Cleveland, on WOOP 99.9 FM on Saturday mornings. With guests and call-ins, the show explores a wide variety of topics, from national significance to family history. Live streaming and social media have increased the show’s reach and impact.
The two also received the Award of Distinction for their documentary “It’s a Track Life: Memories of Dirt Track Racing from Dawnsonville to Gatlinburg.” The 80-minute documentary captures the memories of drivers, moonshiner and fans from the “glory years” of the sport through interviews, old home movies, vintage photographs and original music.
ETHS Executive Director Cherel Henderson said, “Ron and Debbie Moore are a wonderful example of public history at its finest.”
The Moores have co-hosted Old Town Cleveland radio show for the past three years. He works in the Families First program and was the editor of the documentary on Caney Creek Village, a family project with their son, Will Moore.
Amateur historian and Bradley County native Debbie Moore has been an elementary teacher in the Bradley County School System for 34 years. She is an avid researcher of local history and has written several family history books, including the Stephenson, Dunn, Epperson and Frazier families.
Another of Moore’s projects, “Confederate Voices,” a 248-page book about Confederate soldiers and families from the region, was released in September last year.
“Confederate Voices” is a selection of obituaries, interviews, family stories, diaries, pension applications and newspaper articles. Confederate soldiers and families from Polk, Bradley, McMinn and Rhea counties in Tennessee and Whitfield and Murray counties in Georgia are included in the book. An extensive index has been included for researchers. The book contains more than 200 photographs, including an 1866 map showing the history of the Rebellion in Bradley County.
Moore said, “The book gives a glimpse into the lives of the soldiers and their families in lower East Tennessee and North Georgia. The women have remarkable stories of survival since this area was occupied by one side or the other throughout the entire conflict. This is not a book about famous people, but very ordinary people during very difficult times.”
The book also highlights Confederate cemeteries in Bradley and Hamilton counties. The story of the Rhea County Spartans, an “All-girl troop” is in the book, also, and includes photographs of two of the girls. The Rhea County Spartans — a cavalry company of girls — was organized in the summer of 1862. There were three companies stationed along the foot of Walden’s Ridge from Sale Creek to Emory Gap.
The Cleveland Daily Banner is referenced on six pages of “Confederate Voices” — Page 37: advertisement for James M. Charles’ “Halfway House,” a tavern-hotel between Ducktown and Cleveland; Page 45: the unveiling of the Confederate Monument in Cleveland; the life and death of F.M. Gibson of Cleveland, one of the youngest Confederates in the nation during the war and who died at age 91; Page 89: the story of Jane Montgomery Hardwick who lived on Inman Street between 1860 and 1870; Page 97: A dinner given by Dr. and Mrs. T.G. Jordan in October, 1911, in honor of their granddaughter, Blanche Jordan Greene, whose mother was a honorary member of the John D. Traynor camp; and Page 207: Historian Roy Lillard wrote about Dr. George R Stuart (Aug. 11, 1985) who married the daughter of the Rev. Dr. David Sullins who fought under Gen. Zollicoffer — Zollie Sullins, who was born on Christmas Day. Dr. Sullins was the first president of Centenary College.
The Moore’s 21-year-old son, Will Moore of Ooltewah, joined with his parents to do the historical documentary about Caney Creek Village that was located near the Ocoee No. 2 Powerhouse in Polk County. A student at Chattanooga State Technical Community College, he appeared as an extra in the hit TV series “Nashville.” He is a professional photographer and DJ and is presently working at McKee Foods in Collegedale. He is married to the former Alliea Carver of Ooltewah. He served as producer of the documentary and was the videographer.
Caney Creek Village housed the workers from the Ocoee No. 2 project from 1912-43. It was closed when TVA took over in the 1940s. Former residents Marilyn Lowe Kirkland, Geraldine Lowe King, John “Doc” German, Troye Moore Linginfelter, Anna Ruth Lillard Green and the late Margaret Poe Trotter shared their memories of living at Caney Creek. The subtitle “Going Home” came from two of the residents returning to the ruins of the village.
The documentary has original music by John Cook and was edited by Ron Moore. Debbie narrated and wrote the story. Many historical photographs are included. The documentary runs 45 minutes and was released in a premiere showing at Walker Valley High School. The 47-minute documentary took 18 months (longer than it took to build the Ocoee Dam No. 1) to film and edit the footage.
Moore, as president of the Bradley County Genealogical Society was involved in the Blythe Ferry Cherokee Removal Park project. She, along with Shirley Lawrence, worked to document the Bell route, who separated from the Cherokee groups from Charleston and went through Walker Valley. Bradley County’s oldest history, she has discovered, began in Charleston. Proof of the route includes an 1830s map of the road through Walker Valley of the Cherokee Removal, the 1820s Bob Irvin House with an existing road documented.
Moore said it is an exciting time to be a historian in Bradley County. In the last few years, she has done more than a dozen presentations on cemeteries and families in the county.
“People are interested,” she said, and she wants to make sure family graves are marked. She said people need to write the stories of their families and preserve history. “An old person dying is like a library burning,” she quoted.