4th Annual
Briceville School History Field Trip

Who:       Briceville 4th and 5th grade students

What:      Annual History Field Trip to learn about the rich coal mining history of Coal Creek

When:     Friday, May 21, 2004, from 8:00 am until 1:30 pm

Where:    Drummond Bridge, Militia Hill, Wiley Cemetery, Leach 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.  The Civil War had devastated Knoxville and the surrounding area.  The influence of the Welsh iron and coal mining ventures in the area was principally responsible for the region’s quick return to economic stability. 

In 1878, many of the Welsh coal miners lost their jobs due to convict labor being brought to Coal Creek.  When additional miners lost their jobs to convict labor in 1891, the free miners of Coal Creek went to war with the Tennessee Militia over the use of convict labor in the mines.  In a new book scheduled to be published in October by Michael J. Carroll titled, “Fire on Coal Creek”, government officials considered the mountain people of Coal Creek to be illiterate hillbillies.  “Little did they know that these backwoods men... would organize themselves into a sophisticated, viable, solidarity force whose tale should never be forgotten.”

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.  The Tennessee Militia learned this lesson about the character of the Coal Creek miners the hard way.

On Friday, May 21, 2004, the Briceville 4th and 5th grade students will visit historic sites in the Coal Creek Watershed.  We will leave Briceville School at 8:00 am and stop at Drummond Bridge where Dick Drummond was lynched by the Tennessee Militia in 1892.  We will then travel to Militia Hill where Fort Anderson was built during the Coal Creek War. 

We will also visit Wiley Cemetery where Rees R. Thomas is buried and Leach Cemetery where David R. Thomas is buried.  Rees and his son David are the coal miners responsible for the rare books from Coal Creek being part of the library at Harvard University.  We will clean the headstones of Rees and David and make rubbings to send to Dr. Davies to thank him for sharing his knowledge about Coal Creek with us.  Also in Wiley Cemetery, we will clear some of the 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.  Afterwards, we will travel to Cracker Barrel for lunch before returning to Briceville School.

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