University of Tennessee
Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
Kerr Hollow History Kerr Hollow Map Property Plat Oral Histories Kerr Hollow Properties 1942 Aerial Photo

Kerr Hollow Heritage Trace - Oral Histories

Oral History by Vivian Lillian Kerr Young

I am Vivian Lillian Kerr Young, Born June 25, 1925 in Kerr Hollow, Scarboro. The address was Rt 1 Edgemoor, TN. My parents came from Corbin KY. in March of 1925. My Father Joe Lee Kerr was a railroader, his hobby was horse trading. Mother's hobbies were knitting, playing piano, sewing and reading the Bible. She also played the ju-harp. Popie, as we called our dad, would work the L&N railroad from Corbin to Etowah, and was home every two weeks for a few days. Momie had to manage the farm and children most of the time by herself. The children at home was Joe Edward, Joe Lee Jr., Lula J., Vivian Lillian, and Thomas Hoover, and two of Momie's grandchildren, Kenneth and Margaret Williams.

Our house was a two story with four rooms downstairs and two rooms upstairs. There was 2 chimneys with 3 fireplaces, telephone in the hallway and a place for cook stove. Off the kitchen was a small pantry. The front of the house faced the road with concrete steps leading down to the road. Out buildings consisted of chicken house, outhouse, cellar, smokehouse, corn crib beside the road and a barn close to the creek that ran the length of farm. Kerr Hollow at Scarboro was a nice community with good people. The neighbors was always helping. Our farm also had 3 other houses, one was torn down in the 30's. The house near the main road at one time was telephone office then later became a grocery store rented by Edgar and Susie Ford. Across the road was another grocery run by Hobart and Bessie Brimer. Back of there store was their house. Over from the Brimer house was Roy and Julie Scarbrough, later Edgar and Susie Ford moved next door to the Scarbroughs. Down the hill lived Roy Ivals, across the road L.A. Freels, down from them the Paris Lea family, then Mr. & Mrs. Thorpe. The Gans family ran a grist mill, that the community used for making corn meal.

Before getting to the Scarboro school was Dr. & Mrs. Lea's house. Over from the grammar school was a lodge hall and the Burgess house and Methodist church. Going toward Solway we had another grocery store run by Jim and Frances Freels. Grandma and pa Freels house was across the creek from our farm. Also Mrs. Lockett's house was across the road from the end of the Kerr farm. Across from Jim Freel's grocery store, was the Presbyterian church.

Things I remember about Momie and Popie. Momie would take us opossum hunting. She would invite the children in Scarboro to go too. Also, she always killed the hog for meat by hitting it with a single edge axe, then stick it with butcher knife. The neighbor, Gaint Keith, would help her get it upon the hanging poles there she would finish. Many times she would tell us about the stars and big dipper and seven sisters, and heard her pray for one of us to get well when we was sick. Popie always was fixing fences when he got to come home, and lots of times he would take us to tent meetings in the wagon. Later he taught me to drive a car. They always encouraged us to read the bible and learn in school.

When my brother Thomas Hoover and I were small, Momie had some problems with a neighbor Mr. Gourmly. He broke into our house and tried to make Momie give him a key to unlock the telphone house. Popie had locked the doors. Momie said that he got rough with her, so the next day when he went by our house she took her rifle and shot at him. He had her arrested but the Judge told her "next time get something you can reach him with". From then on Mr. Gourmly took the woods to pass our house.

Joe Lee Kerr's father was from Scotland. Mary Mollie Walters Williams Kerr's people were Cherokee Indians. They were born in Whitley County, Kentucky. Joe Lee in 1881 and Mollie in 1882.

Oral History by Joe Edward Kerr

My name is Joe Edward Kerr. I am the 7th child of Joe Lee and Mollie Kerr. My brothers and sisters at the time our parents bought the farm on Kerr Hollow Road were Everett, Snow, Lizzie, Cecil, J.L., Lula, and later came Lillian and Tom.

The Kerr clan bought the 140 acre farm in March of 1925 from a real estate firm in Knoxville for a contract of $14,000. The house was occupied by people by the name of Ellis who were renters. We lived at Corbin, Ky, before purchasing the farm.

At the time of moving, our furniture was shipped by the L & N Railroad to Solway, which was about 4-5 miles from the house. My brother and I were driving a 1921 Ford 3 door touring car from Corbin. We had several ducks and chickens and two pigs in the back seat. We left Corin early one morning at the same time our dad rode a horse and had two young mules following he and the horse. At the time, U.S. 25 was a narrow gravel road with no bridges across the creeks. My brother Evert and I were fording a creek near Jellico, TN when a front universal joint broke. We got a farmer to pull the car from the creek onto the side of the road. At about 3 pm, our dad caught up with us on his horse. He went on a bus to Knoxville and bought a universal joint and brought it back the next day. Then Evert and I repaired the car and continued on to the farm. My dad was at the farm by the time we arrived late that day. My Mother and sisters and younger brother, Lula and J.L. came to Solway by train from corbin, Ky. They were picked up by a neighbor in a buggy from the depot.

Oral History of Mrs. Ruth Kesterson Lackey

Visit of Mrs. Ruth Kesterson Lackey to the UT Arboretum on October 22, 2003

Mrs. Lackey stopped by the office and, in conversation with myself, gave the following information on the previous history of residents of the Oak Ridge Forest Resources Center properties pre-AEC. Mrs. Lackey's father was Sam Kesterson, a coal miner who worked in the mines near Lake City. She was born (1935) in a house near the present location of the Food Lion Store on Emory Valley Road (Emory Heights, or Lupton Cross Roads at that time). Her grandparents also occupied a house in that vicinity. Soon thereafter they moved to a house that was possibly located within the Forest Resources Center, near (across from, she said) the house of Aunt Jos (last name unknown), as she called her.

Aunt Jos was said to be a black lady who, from earlier reports that I've received, lived in a house that stood near the present location of the Kosa dogwood study, powerlines, and UT Chestnut Ridge Road. Aunt Jos was said to be the daughter of a slave and came from South Carolina. Mrs. Lackey said that Aunt Jos had a daughter-in-law, Ann Robinson and her son Cood. She related that she considered them family, and that there was a reciprocal respect between the two families. I have heard from other area residents that occasionally a man who would be driving a Cadillac automobile with South Carolina license plate would visit Aunt Jos. He was reported to stay for a few days.

Mrs. Lackey vividly remembers walking the Old Kerr Hollow road from her house to her previous house at Emory Heights and the near-by house of her grandparents. She attended the Old Scarborough School and was transported to and from by bus.

After AEC bought-out her father's property, they moved to Coalfield. She is now a resident of Oliver Springs, although she has also lived elsewhere. She said that her father moved them and their belongings to Coalfield by wagon. Also, she recounted that her father contested the price the Government offer him for his property in Oak Ridge, and subsequently, his property was further de-valued.

She recalled the prominence of the bootleggers that had a still in the vicinity (possibly near/along Kerr Hollow Road in the Pine Ridge area). She recalled the place was called the "Buzzard Roast", which I previously heard was in the vicinity of (or, at) the "JLS" tombstone (thought to be that of John Lupton Scarboro) on top of Pine Ridge at the gap of the Old Kerr Hollow Road crossing. She remembered the JLS Cemetery, although I'm not certain her recollection was exactly clear on its location.

From her description of her home place on the Forest Resources Center property, the exact location is not exactly clear to me. The 1936 aerial photos did not show another house near the supposed location of the Sands homeplace. She said that there was a spring near their house, and I do not think there was a spring near the Sands' house, nor does the topography suggest this, because it is near the top of the ridge. I think, from her recount of the setting, her house may have been at a place we call the "Old Farm Field". This place has many features that indicate the location of a residence, and the aerial photos and old AEC map so confirms. Below this location is the Old Kerr Hollow Road-bed and, below that, is a spring. This suspicion is further supported from her account of the occasions when men would frequently rendezvous at the spring, in a drunken state, to barter moonshine and delight in revelry. Mrs. Lackey recalls, that on such occasions when her father was not at home, her mother would fire a gun out the door (for which, there was a hole conveniently cut) as fair warning to the rowdy crowd of moonshine patrons to keep their distance. Proceeding reports on activities at that spring substantiates Mrs. Lackey's remembrance of its associations with the moonshine trade. Prior to my acquaintance with Mrs. Lackey, I've related the quaintness of the bootlegger story to many people. The telling of this account, as related to me, has, over time, slowly matriculated into its naming... "Bootlegger Spring".

Mrs. Lackey further recounts that the bootleggers and moonshiners would, for spite, poor-out their jugged milk that was in the springhouse (apparently there was an associated springhouse) and refill them with water. Other accounts of activity at the spring include reports that people often stopped there on Sundays to leave a watermelon to cool during church time and retrieve them afterwards for a picnic at the spring.

Richard Evans, Former Director
Oak Ridge Forest Resources Center and Arboretum

University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830 · Telephone: 865-483-3571 · Email: