By Angie Georgeff
Last week I received a welcome announcement from the Tennessee Archives Listserv. The Tennessee Virtual Archive collection now has historical maps of all ninety-five Tennessee counties. They are available online at http://sos.tn.gov/tsla/maps. The Virtual Archive also contains maps of some of the “lost” counties of Tennessee, in addition to photographs, documents and other treasures.
New items are added to the digital collection each month, so it will continue to grow. Before Tennessee’s Virtual Archive came into existence, access to these resources required a trip to Nashville. Now they’re at the tips of your fingers.
The map that represents Unicoi County shows rural delivery routes in the county during the 1930s. That may not sound too exciting until you realize that it shows the location of every house in the county, along with schools, churches, stores, roads, railroads and other landmarks. It even references the names of some of the landowners.
Four rural free delivery routes served Unicoi County. Two circuits originated from the Erwin post office, one from Unicoi and another from Flag Pond. At three points, the Flag Pond route crossed the state line into Madison County, N.C.
Metadata for two other Unicoi County maps has been recorded in the Virtual Archive. The maps themselves have not yet been digitized, but you may order a reproduction from the State Archives if you know it is something you want. At least you’re aware that they are available and will be coming soon to a computer near you.
There are other gems of Unicoi County history reposing in the Tennessee State Archives that are now also available through the Tennessee Virtual Archive. My favorites are James Tinker’s antebellum store accounts. On January 12, 1859, Tinker shopped in Jonesboro [sic] and purchased coffee, sugar, rice, Epsom salts, a long handle shovel, a wool shawl, a wide variety of fabrics and notions and two boxes of Cook’s pills, a popular mercurial panacea.
In addition to the practical cambrics and calicos, the fabrics included luxurious but somber tones of alpaca, merino and velvet. The bill for the goods he purchased totaled $18.60, but Tinker sold the merchant 333 pounds of pork, 1 ushels of corn and 3 bushels of corn meal for $22.23. I imagine that Tinker was satisfied with his day’s trading.
If you are interested in history or genealogy, the Tennessee Virtual Archive is only one of many assets available online. Those resources will be the subject of our next computer class, which will be held Thursday, April 27, at 6 p.m. Since space is limited, please call the library at 743-6533, for reservations or further information.