Tan Rara Oeste Subdivision, Knoxville, TN

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Tan Rara History

by Ginger Fox

Part 1

The history of an area is more meaningful if it includes its surrounding territory. Tan Rara was not settled in and of itself. Also, one cannot separate the territory from the folks who settled and inhabited it from the beginning. This history of Tan Rara Oeste (Spanish for "So Rare in the West") is taken from records written by my ancestors, the book Southern Pioneer Families written by J.C.F. Herrell, memories from my family - and some memories of my own as the writer of this history. The name Tan Rara Oeste was given to our subdivision by Ralph Kinzalow, the original developer of the subdivision. Ralph saw the beauty of this particular area and gave it a fitting name. It is the intent of the writer of this history to not only give you information, but to enhance your appreciation of your beautiful portion of Tan Rara Oeste. The development of Tan Rara Oeste as a subdivision began in 1967 when Lou Mae Koon Fox sold the property to Ralph Kinzalow.

From the accounting of J.C.F. Herrell in his book, Southern Pioneer Families, we find the following: "In the early days, when Tennessee was yet a Territory, the road leading Westward from near Morgantown, North Carolina, was knows as "The Yellow Mountain" and a portion of it by "The Emory." This trail crossing the mountain barrier, which separates the mother from her majestic son, found a passable gap near Jonesboro. From there the trail winds over the hill, mountain, and through the great and smaller valleys of East Tennessee to terminate perhaps near Nashville."

In this original trail came the Foxes and the Herrells who settled East, North, South, and West of Emory Road. This Emory Road is the road north of Knoxville in the Powell area. Emory Church Road, as it is now called, just Southeast of our subdivision, circling the lake and currently under major construction, received its name from its predecessor, Emory Road, described in the previous paragraphs. I believe in the earliest days it was called the Road West of the Emory. This is the information that was given to me. This road's proper name, unless changed recently, is West Emory Road. These two families, the Herrels and the Foxes, were some of the first families to settle, farm, and govern this area, and it is my privilege and pleasure to share a bit of their history with you.

The land of Tan Rara Oeste was originally a farm owned by the descendants of the Foxes, who were God fearing people who landed in North Carolina during the 1600s. History tells us they came from England. Many of the Foxes occupied responsible positions, some in the military under General Lee, four of the Foxes served in the house of Burgesses, many lived lives that were dedicated to public service in governmental capacities such as Pennsylvania Assembly. (Details of this information are found in Colonial Record of North Carolina by Saffels and Clark.) In some mysterious way, the southern highlands of North Carolina have been one of the central points where great men - physically, mentally, and spiritually - have gone forth to be an asset to states and to our nation. Perhaps you, the reader, have some ancestors who have hailed from this area of North Carolina. When each of us looks backward into our respective history, we usually find we have a lot to live up to in order to carry forward the dream and standards of strength of mind, body, and spirit that we have inherited from our ancestors.

The Fox family who belongs in the history of Tan Rara is John Fox, who, at age 82, migrated to Tennessee from Burke County, North Carolina in 1836. He purchased four farms, which totaled 700 acres, about three miles southwest of Powell Station and Beaver Creek, bisected by Emory Road.

John Fox had eighteen children by two wives. The first wife is reported to be a Miss Lovin, who bore him ten children. His second of these two wives, Valencia Branch, bore him eight children. He was a man six feet, six inches tall. He fought against the British in the battle of King's Mountain. Having been wounded during this battle, he was allowed a pension on Certificate No. 23881 which was issued April 20, 1834 at the rate of $26.66 per year, Act of June 7, 1832, North Carolina Agency. The wound was from a ball which passed through his left arm almost at the shoulder into his right side. From this wound it is said that John Fox walked in a stooped posture.

Farming and public service comprised John Fox's life. From all the information available to me, John Fox was a strong, reliable, trustworthy, and industrious man. He was born in Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1754. He died in 1840 at age 86 and was buried on his home farm. His second wife, Valentia, survived him by fifteen years and is also buried on the home farm.

One of John Fox's sons, Austin, was born in 1792, in Burke County, North Carolina. In 1827, Austin married Margaret Walker and soon started the slow moving wagon train trip westward from Burke County, eventually to find Beaver Creek Valley. They settled in the Ninth District of Knox County, one mile northwest of Karns School on Beaver Creek. From an investigation in the Register's Office, his farm was near 400 acres. Bringing all of their possessions, which included furniture, hay for feeding the horses, seed to plant, sheep, cattle, et cetera, the trip took longer than it would take today to circle the globe several times.

Part 2

Austin and Margaret built a large, two-story brick house made from bricks burned on their farm. This house heard the laughter and cries of their fourteen children. Ten of these fourteen children’s names are known, four are unknown.

Traveling on down through the generations, the grandson of the previously mentioned John Fox, Sr., and the son of the just mentioned Austin Fox, Sr., was named William McCamey Fox. William McCamey was born November 7, 1834, and grew up in the Beaver Ridge area. His boyhood was spent quietly in the large brick farmhouse built by his father and built within sight of the old Beaver Ridge Church. He was content to live there until he met and married Louisa Nelson of the Ebenezer Community. They married and purchased 350 plus acres of land two miles east of Concord. This purchase was made in 1871. The original William and Louisa Fox home place is the two-story white house that sits on the left of Fox Road at the corner of Fox Road and West Emory Road at the location where Fox Road intersects with the railroad tracks just to the south of Tan Rara Oeste.

William McCamey and Louisa Nelson Fox died on Jan 15 and 20, 1910, respectively.

The middle son of William M. Fox and Louisa Nelson Fox, grandson of Austin Fox, Sr., great grandson of John Fox, is William McCamey, Jr., who married Lou Mae Koon, and this couple, after living in and owning several homes on Kingston Pike, purchased this farm from his father’s estate. A portion of this original farm is now the subdivision Tan Rara Oeste. William McCamey and Lou Mae Fox were the grandparents of the writer of this history.

At this point in the history of Tan Rara Oeste, I hope to bring you to consider yourself as part of this history and this history a part of you. Living in Tan Rara makes each of you a part of the life and history of Tan Rara. I hope that each of us can love our respective portions of this farm and care for our neighborhood in its entirety for those who follow after us.

The original farmhouse built by William and Lou on what is now called Tan Rara Oeste burned at some point in time and was replaced with another farm house. Some of the original Tan Rara residents will remember this second farm home. This house was located first house on the left of Tan Rara Drive as you enter from Fox Road. It was remodeled in 1978 by the writer of this history to a country cottage. The smoke house and other out buildings were removed at that time, except for the chicken house, which was made into a shed to house small tools and potting supplies and, I suppose, to just preserve it for a time. This small house, which originally sat close to Tan Rara Drive, has been moved to the woods line. A large portion of the land was reconfigured to accommodate the enlargement of the farmhouse when remodeled.

William McCamey Fox, Jr. was a progressive farmer even though he was active in politics as a County Court Squire and Justice of the Peace, served on the School Board, had several buses that ferried children to and from their homes to Farragut School, operated Fox Motor Coach Lines with bus transportation routes from Knoxville to several outlying areas west of the city, and was active in his church at Grassy Valley Baptist Church. Lou, his wife, worked right alongside him as they raised their eight children. All eight of his children settled in and around this area. The children are Edith F. Brashear, (deceased), Naomi F. Donovan, (deceased), Mabel F. Vance, (deceased), Louise F. Harley, (deceased), William M., III, Ruby F. Hobbs, Mildred F. Benson, mother of the writer, (deceased), and David Nelson. William McCamey died in 1948 and Lou Mae died in 1976.

William McCamey’s nickname from the children who rode his school buses was “Sugarcoat.” To associates he was known as “Squire,” to friends “Will” or “W.M.” But to his family he was “Papa.” Being a Justice of the Peace, many couples were married in the parlor of their home, with Lou, his wife, being their witness. There is probably no way to know how many folks have considered Tan Rara special because of their wedding day.

During the years as a farm, the land produced sugar cane, an orchard of peaches, apples, gardens of vegetables, hay, wheat, corn, et cetera. There were dairy cattle. Milk products were sold to dairies in the surrounding area. There were pigs raised for sale as well as for food for the family. There were some beef cattle. Chickens were raised for eggs and food. During planting and harvest, Lou cooked lunch for all of the farm hands. There were pigs raised for sale as well as for food for the family. There was a large bell that rang to signal lunch was ready. The bell, when rung at other times, told Papa he was needed at home. This bell could be heard for quite a long distance. It was the bell that told of Papa’s death when heard ringing up the valley in the middle of the night. The clanging of the bell brought the neighbors to the house that night.

A long wooden bridge spanned the distance from Fox Road, high over the creek, and up to the side of the hill on which the house stood. The bridge was made safe by a handrail and wire sides. Squirrels were constantly playing on the bridge and running the handrails, jumping back and forth from the trees to the railing. The beams that supported this bridge were used in the remodeling of the farmhouse. These beams are very visible in the great room.

Part 3

There was no road proper up to the house, but a dirt road jutted off Fox Road where Tan Rara Drive is now located, and you had to ford the creek. Only the farm vehicles used this trail. The family automobiles and buses were housed in a very large garage on Fox Road just across the road from the Fox entrance to the bridge and one had to walk to the house from there by way of the bridge.

A very large barn used to occupy the empty lot between the first house (Fox) and the second house (Sudman) on the left as you enter Tan Rara Drive. This barn housed the cattle and the milking area. This was called the “cow barn.” Hay was also stored in its top floor. Behind this barn and into the woods was the pig lot with lots of squealing and pig sounds, a delight to the children, especially the sounds of little piglets. Many raccoons, squirrels, opossums, ground hogs, and chipmunks were part of the farm family. The master of this farm, William McCamey Fox, loved his family, his friends, the land and the animals.

Directly across from this cow barn and across from what is now Tan Rara Drive, there stood facing the cow barn, another very large barn. This barn housed horses, farm implements, farm machinery and hay, and was called, of course, the “horse barn.” There were horses to ride, mules to work, all of them to love. If this barn were still standing, it would be half on the Parkers’ lawn and half on their empty lot.

The cattle grazed in the meadow on top of the hill overlooking the lake. This area encompassed both sides of now Casa Real Cove. The homes, according to the map in the directory of 1998, that would be sitting in the pasture are Draper, Antonucci, Mishu, Taft, Stalker, Kuzma, Ebenezer, Bowen, Creswell, Dilworth, Conkin, Miller, Witt, and including Loma residents Shelby and Ball. [ed. note: Dilworth, Kuzma and Ebenezer have been replaced by Doeden, James and Douglas.] Mr. Bowen probably remembers most of this. The “cow path” from the meadow to the barn lay through the center of what are now the Brown, Smith, Schoonmaker, Hill and Sudman homes. The cows did not need to be called or herded to the barn, nor from the barn to the meadow. They knew the path and were always on time to the barn or to the meadow at the respective times of the day. They had names given to them by “Papa” Fox, but your writer does not remember them. The top of the meadow in the vicinity of the Ebenezer [James] home was a wonderful place for picnics. I remember once having a picnic there with special friends and while we were talking and making our way back to the house via the cow path, the cows decided it was time to head for the barn. One of my friends was unfamiliar with this process and his reaction was a funny sight to us, but not very pleasant to him as the cows pushed him out of the way.

El Pinar Drive once was a meadow that was green and lush and cattle grazed there, but the flat meadow also served as a runway for the Piper Cub plane belonging to W.M., III.

There was a lush and full patch of blackberries located in the area of the Gill, Holmes, Ambroz, and Marsh homes. The cobblers and ice cream toppings were worth the scratches received during the picking. The spring at the foot of the hill on Fox property was the water for the household and was at one time in the early days of the farm carried by bucket up the hill to the house. Later there was a pump installed and the sweet spring water was piped to the house. A springhouse sat across the small feeder creek that flows out of the spring from inside the small cave in the side of the hill and into the larger spring at the foot of the hill. It was in this house in the early days that the household dairy products were kept cool and fresh for consumption and for sale at the market. Lou sold butter and eggs and had a reputation for the best butter on the market. The creek provided water for all farm animals. The creek still provides water for a few raccoons, opossums, squirrels, groundhogs, and other small animals.

The Parker home, (first house on right as you enter Tan Rara Oeste), is situated where the house sat that was provided for the tenant farmer. A small path led to his home.

There was lush meadow-like grass, wildflowers, as well as gullies from water erosion. Most will remember that Fox Road was a lovely country lane prior to its being “upgraded” to handle the increase in traffic.

Tan Rara Oeste has evolved from the industrious farm into an enchanting “used to be” farm, and finally into one of the loveliest, if not the loveliest, subdivisions in West Knoxville and is rightly named “So Rare in the West.” I am glad you are here. I hope that you are happy to be here.

Respectfully Submitted,

Ginger Black Fox, December 2000

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