Papa Report #12


Papa Was A Boy in Gray Book Tour

with Prize-Winning author Mary w. Schaller


Report #12 from Robert E. & Ulysses:July 25, 2001

Dispatches from Pigeon Forge & Cookeville, TN

Dixie Stampede:
Robert E.: Sacagawea was so excited about her visit to the Cherokee Reservation (Report #11) she forgot to mention Marty and Mary attended an equestrian extravaganza in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, called the Dixie Stampede on the evening of July 12. It was a most impressive two-hour show featuring the talents of 32 superb horses and their riders. Trick riding, rodeo competitions, music, dance, comedy, dressage, buckboard races, mounted ostrich races, fireworks, and even piglet races featuring the speedy little Miss Scarlett O'Hamhocks were just some of the highlights. I must add, the dinner served during the performance was delicious.

Cookeville, Tennessee:
Ulysses: Early the following morning, July 13, Marty packed up the car, and we headed down the road to Cookeville, Tennessee, where we were invited to a very special luncheon.

Cookeville was founded by a man named Cooke in the mid-1850's, and it is located approximately 80 miles east of Nashville, Tennessee. Among other points of interest, Cookeville is the home of Russell Stover Chocolates.

Robert E.: Cookeville is also the home of one of the ladies whose father is featured in Mary's book, PAPA WAS A BOY IN GRAY.

Ulysses: That is just what I was about to say. We were looking forward to meeting Mrs. Aurelia Hurlbert Hannon. In fact, we were so excited, we plum forgot we crossed into a different time zone, going from Eastern Daylight Time to Central Daylight Time.

Robert E.: Which means we arrived in Cookeville an hour and a half early.

Cookeville Depot Museum:

Ulysses: Since we had an unexpected hour to fill, Marty located the Cookeville Depot Museum in the old section of downtown Cookeville. Photo: Me and Robert E. atop the Museum's sign.

The Depot was originally built by the Tennessee Central Railway Company in 1909. The preserved building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is now open to the public as a railway museum. The displays include a working model railroad layout that looks like Cookeville in the 1920's. There is a replica of the Station Master's Office inside the Depot. You can even tap out a message on the old fashion telegraph key -- if you know Morse Code, of course.

Photo: Mary with Robert E. and me by the historical marker at the Depot. The marker states, "A locomotive on the Nashville-Knoxville Railroad first steamed into Cookeville in 1890. The Tennessee Central bought the line in 1902 and built this depot with its distinctive pagoda design in 1909. Soon six trains daily brought visitors, shoppers, and salesmen to town and took natives to distant places. Also, freights loaded with lumber, poultry, hogs, corn, and tobacco rolled to faraway markets."

Outside the Depot are two cabooses, one from the 1920's Tennessee Central and the other from a Louisville & Nashville Railway train in the 1960's.

Both railway cars are open for inspection, and it was very interesting to walk through them while imagining yourself riding in them during Railroad's Golden Age in the early part of the 20th Century. Photo: Mary, Robert E., and me inspecting the 1920's era caboose.

The passenger service doesn't stop at Cookeville any more, but twice a week, a freight train delivers refined sugar, chocolate, and other materials to the Russell Stover Candy factory.

MEET A PAPA DAUGHTER -- Mrs. Aurelia Hurlbert Hannon:
After biding farewell to Judy Duke, administer of the Deport Museum, we hurried over to Nick's Restaurant to meet Mrs. Hannon, age 90, and her friends.

Robert E.: Mrs. Hannon's father, Francis Hurlbert, known as "Frank," was only fifteen years old when he enlisted with the 3rd Florida, Company A on May 1, 1861. When the 3rd Florida marched out of Jacksonville the following May, 1862, no one in the regiment, least of all young Frank, realized they would never return to Florida until after the end of the Civil War in 1865. Frank first saw action at the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, where he was wounded twice but still kept fighting.

In March, 1865, Frank was again wounded and captured at the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina.

As he was being carried to a Union hospital tent, Federal General William T. Sherman stopped his stretcher-bearers and proceeded to interrogate the dazed nineteen-year-old. General Sherman wanted to know the number of men in Frank's brigade. Frank had no idea. The average common infantryman only had a rough idea of the number of men in his own company, never a full brigade that comprised four or more regiments. When Frank said he didn't know, General Sherman continued to bombard the boy with questions. Finally, Frank mumbled some number, hoping his answer would appease the short-tempered Sherman. At that point, the Union general cursed the wounded soldier and called him a liar. Then he stalked away. Frank never forgot that unpleasant meeting. Photo: Mrs. Aurelia Hurlbert Hannon, age 90, with her Robert E. Bear.

Ulysses: Bill Sherman may have lacked tact, but he was an excellent officer in the field.

Robert E.: Mrs. Hannon never forgot that story of her father's. Nor has she ever forgotten the words her father uttered when, as an elderly veteran, he was asked to dedicate her elementary school's new flagpole in 1920. Frank took the Stars and Stripes in his hands and told the children: "For four years I fought against this flag, but that is now in the past. Today, this is my flag and my country."

Robert E. Attends a Luncheon in Cookeville, Tennessee:

Mrs. Hannon was honored at the luncheon with speeches and a bouquet of yellow roses. Everyone wanted her autograph as well as Mary's signature on their copy of PAPA WAS A BOY IN GRAY. When Mary presented Mrs. Hannon with one of my brothers, she sat him up beside her plate for the rest of the luncheon. He now happily resides with Mrs. Hannon in Cookeville, Tennessee.

Next Stops -- Gallatin and the Titanic:
Ulysses: Mary, Marty, and we had to say good-bye in the mid-afternoon so we could make our next stop, Gallatin, Tennessee, in time for dinner.

Christopher: As it turned out, they took a quick side trip to the fabulous Opryland Hotel in Nashville to visit a special exhibition of artifacts from the sunken liner, the Titanic. I will have a separate report on this side trip at a later date.

Robert E.: We arrived at our hotel in Gallatin around 9:00 P.M. where we were all very happy to go to bed.

Next time I will give my report on our book signing at the Treasure Island Bookstore in Gallatin, Tennessee -- where we met a third Confederate Daughter.