4th Annual
Briceville School History Field Trip

Friday, May 21, 2004

See more photos below text

Briceville School 4th and 5th grade students visited historic sites in the Coal Creek Watershed during our 4th annual coal mining history field trip.  We visited Drummond Bridge where Dick Drummond was lynched by the Tennessee Militia during the Coal Creek War.  We also toured the site of Fort Anderson on Militia Hill where the Tennessee Militia was based during the Coal Creek War.  Students got first-hand experience on what it was like lying in the trench surrounding the fort when the Tennessee Militia was attacked by free miners in 1891 and 1892.

Briceville students at Coal Creek
below Drummond Bridge

 

Students surround tumbled headstone of Rees R. Thomas after cleaning

We then found the grave of Rees R. Thomas in Wiley Cemetery.  Dr. Eirug Davies from Harvard University recently visited Briceville School to tell students about the Welsh who came to Coal Creek in 1868 to start the coal mine of the Knoxville Iron Company. 
As Dr. Davies taught us, the Welsh coal miners who came to Coal Creek had a thirst for knowledge. In Wales, their choices were limited, but not so in the United States. They worked in the coal mines by day to support their families but furthered their education at every opportunity. Those who could read and write taught the others.  Rare books from Coal Creek, donated to the Harvard Library in the late 1800's, are still used by graduate students at Harvard University today.  Coal Creek miner Rees R. Thomas owned the rare book collection that was donated to Harvard University by his son, David R. Thomas of Coal Creek.

Barry Thacker, PE, shows students how
to do a rubbing of inscription of
the headstone of Rees R. Thomas

We cleaned the headstone of Rees R. Thomas and made rubbings of his headstone to send to Dr. Davies to thank him for sharing his knowledge about Coal Creek mining history with us.  According to his headstone, Rees R. Thomas was born in 1814 in Carmarthen, South Wales and died in 1891.  According to Dr. Davies, legend has it that Carmarthen was the home of Merlin from King Arthur's days. An old stump of a tree is preserved in Carmarthen's town hall today because of a Welsh legend that says, "When Merlin's tree shall tumble down, then shall fall Carmarthen town".  
Also in Wiley Cemetery, we cleaned the headstone and cleared vines and fallen debris from around the headstone/monument of Henry Howard Wiley, civil engineer, businessman, and a leading citizen of Coal Creek in the 1800's. 

Students surround monument of
Henry Howard Wiley

 

Students clean headstone of David R. Thomas buried at Leach Cemetery

One of the things Dr. Davies didn’t accomplish during his recent visit to Coal Creek was to find the headstone of David R. Thomas.  Students found the headstone of David R. Thomas in Leach Cemetery.  His headstone was cleaned and photos were taken to send to Dr. Davies.  On behalf of Dr. Davies, students exclaimed, “You old Welsh coal miner, we found you David R. Thomas”!
Afterwards, students traveled to Cracker Barrel for lunch before returning to Briceville School.
Click on image to enlarge:  
Gathering at Drummond Bridge where Dick Drummond was hung during the Coal Creek War.

At Militia Hill, students lay face-down on bank of trenches that were dug over 100 years ago by Tennessee Militia during Coal Creek War.

Barry points towards the town of Coal Creek (Lake City) where the militia shot their cannons. Matthew Frizzell found a crawly friend in the woods.
More history lessons while gathered on Militia Hill at the site of
Fort Anderson.
At Wiley Cemetery, the students cleaned the headstone of Rees R. Thomas whose books were donated to Harvard's library. More headstones
were cleaned.

Cleaning of Henry Wiley's monument at his grave.  Mr. Wiley at one time owned 35,000 acres in Coal Creek and was one of the founders of Coal Creek Mining and Manufacturing Company.

More shots of cleaned
Wiley monument.

Displaying the rubbings made of the headstone.

 

Results of cleaning of Rees R. Thomas and his wife Margaret's headstone.

Next stop was Leach Cemetery where the students located the headstone of Rees R. Thomas' son, David R. Thomas and cleaned it in his honor.  David donated his father's book collection to Harvard University Library.
Coby Carroll was the first student to locate David R. Thomas' headstone in the large cemetery. Students gather at the monument erected in honor of the miners who perished in the Fraterville Mine Disaster of 1902.
Students who shared the family names of the
Fraterville miners.

It was so hot, we found the only shade tree at Leach Cemetery and Barry finished up our history lesson for the day before heading to Cracker Barrel for lunch.

Relaxing in the rocking chairs on the porch of Cracker Barrel before heading back to school.

Link to other Briceville School Coal Creek History Field Trips
 

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