A Tennessee Story

My mother’s maternal family hails from Tennessee, and while I haven’t had the chance to see the Volunteer State myself, it was fun to imagine how my relatives would have experienced the places featured in Moon Tennessee.

Moonshine was big business during Prohibition, and the Cades Cove area—and the surrounding counties—dominated bootlegging activities in Tennessee.My great-grandparents, Sylvan and Flossie Carter, lived in Flagpond, TN, about 100 miles east of Knoxville and about 50 miles northeast from the area now known as Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They moved out west when my grandmother was 6-years-old. Grandma doesn’t remember much, except that the move west wasn’t exactly planned.

Great-grandpa was a moonshine runner in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia. Moonshine was big business during Prohibition, and the Cades Cove area—and the surrounding counties—dominated bootlegging activities in Tennessee. Being a hotbed of illegal activity meant that revenuers were quite active in the area as well, and they eventually located my great grandfather’s moonshine still, prompting the family’s quick move west.

The story goes that great-grandpa Carter ran for the house when the revenuers found the still site. He ran in one door yelling, “Flossie, load up the kids and meet me somewhere,” and ran out the other door. And that’s just what she did. She loaded up all seven kids in a station wagon and met him at some still undisclosed location. They started driving west and didn’t stop until they reached Estacada, OR.

Grandma eventually married my grandpa, also a Tennessean—from Nashville—who had made his way west as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

While working on the Tennessee content for the website, I remembered some rather appropriate music on my iPod by John Hiatt.

Memphis in the Meantime is about a Nashville couple running away to Memphis for the weekend, appropriately, the following video was recorded at Fisk University in Nashville.

Tennessee Plates is about a man on the run from the law who travels from California to Tennessee to visit Graceland and steal one of Elvis’s Cadillacs.

That’s my Tennessee story. If you have one, I’d love to hear it.

Leave a Reply