Monday, September 15, 2014

Blogger’s Unite!

Recently Blogger Betsy contacted Blogger Big Dude about getting together so she and her husband George could meet Blogger Big Daddy Dave and my better half Laurie… Betsy has been on a campaign to meet fellow bloggers…

Big Dude and his wife Beverly set a date and provided a feast for us all on their party dock.  Both Betsy and Big Dude (Larry) have previously blogged on our gathering of East Tennessee Bloggers.
Betsy’s blog site can be found at and Big Dude’s site is at
In any case, I also took some photos of our gathering…

Betsy and George together on Larry and Beverly’s party dock… Betsy’s blog focuses on nature, flowers, waterfalls, travel and each other!

Laurie took this photo of Big Dude (Larry), Betsy and me (Big Daddy Dave).  Note the wine and the top of the Tabasco bottle…life is good!

In this photo…from the left, we have Pat (Bev’s sister), Laurie (turned away from the camera), Big Dude, Beverly, Betsy and George. 

Big Dude’s blog is focused on food, “RVing” and family.  FYI… He smokes the best BBQ Ribs in East Tennessee!  

This is Madison, Larry and Beverly’s granddaughter.  She is growing up fast and is becoming a very pretty and bright young woman…

OK… This little collage pictures the food that we enjoyed during our little Blogger get together. Larry and Bev provided ABT’s/Stuffed Jalapenos, Larry’s great BBQ pork ribs, pulled pork, coleslaw and baked beans.  Larry also made some terrific Chipotle BBQ Sauce which I put on everything…including the ABT’s!  We provided the Tres Leche cake which we purchased at Costco.  For more about the food at our little party, including some recipes, you can just go to

Just click on any of the photographs to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, September 12, 2014


Recently we took a day trip up into the Northeast corner of Tennessee.  I’d checked Trip Advisor for possible places to eat in Greeneville, which was our primary destination… My first choice, the “Bean Barn”, a local joint, looked like it was out of business.  So we went for our second choice…

This is the FATZ Café in Greeneville Tennessee… I’m not sure that I should be eating at a restaurant named FATZ!  We had eaten at another FATZ location in South Carolina a couple of years ago and we remembered that it was a decent road food stop.

The entrance to FATZ was framed by these attractive big planters overflowing with blooms.

I always prefer a table…with chairs…instead of booths.  To me, a chair is predictable and the seats in many booths just aren’t that comfortable. (Prior to losing about 45 lbs., the spacing between table and booth seat was also important!) This FATZ location only had one table that was half-booth and the other side had chairs.  So we ended up being seated in the bar area.

This is a view of the main dining area at the FATZ Café in Greeneville. 

I was unable to find out how or why these restaurants are named FATZ… There are 46 FATZ Café locations in the southeastern USA.  They are exclusively situated in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee.  FATZ Cafes are operated by Café Enterprises Inc.  The company is currently testing 2 other concepts, ‘Tavern 24’ and ‘Tablefields’.  To learn more, you can go to

Our waitress started us out with these small warm poppy seed rolls.  They were fairly tasty although not really special… However, the butter was soft just as it should have been!

Laurie ordered a sandwich plus a bowl of soup.  The soup was tomato bisque and it was quite tasty.  Laurie liked it a lot!  

Looking at the on-line menu and the various options, it appears that we weren’t charged for the soup…  Per the menu, the soup should have cost $3.79 but I’m guessing that it may have been substituted for one of the ‘Signature Sides’ that she could have chosen from.  Soups and salads are not listed as Signature Sides…

For her sandwich, Laurie ordered one of her favorites…a Patty Melt. ($8.49) This is seasoned grilled Angus beef topped with melted Cheddar, Swiss cheese, and caramelized onions on grilled rye bread. 

Laurie had requested her hamburger cooked medium rare and our waitress said she’d do what she could to ensure that it was cooked as requested.  Apparently FATZ burgers are supposed to be minimally grilled to medium.  Happily, Laurie’s burger came out perfectly as requested! She said that it was a very good Patty Melt!! 

I ordered the Calabash Combo…FATZ Calabash Chicken and popcorn shrimp served with honey mustard, cocktail sauce, a lemon wedge and a signature side dish. ($10.99) I went with the steamed broccoli as my side in a passing effort for some healthy dietary input…

YIKES!  Can you believe the amount of food on my plate?  There were 5 chicken tenders and a heap of fried popcorn shrimp!  I was really glad that I didn’t order potatoes for my side… The broccoli was properly steamed and both the chicken and shrimp were OK, but I thought the latter items lacked any pizzazz.  I guess that it’s food for the masses but I prefer more spice/flavor or heat in my food.  The honey mustard sauce and cocktail sauce were really a necessity from my viewpoint…

OK…FATZ provides lots of food at a good price.  In our opinion, the food ranged from OK to very good.  Service and housekeeping standards were solid.  We would stop at another FATZ Café for a food break when traveling…

The FATZ Café in Greeneville Tennessee is located at 3140 East Andrew Johnson Highway.  Phone: 423-787-9090.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

History Along the Way…

During our exploratory drive up into northeastern Tennessee this past August, we did come across a number of interesting and/or historical buildings…

Anyone who follows my blog has probably become aware that I like to photograph and research railroad related buildings, structures and rolling stock.  This is the former Southern Railroad Depot in Newport Tennessee.  It isn’t listed in the National Register of Historic Places and I couldn’t find any information about when it was built.  Norfolk Southern Railroad currently owns and uses this building as a maintenance office.
To view a video of a former Southern Railroad Steam Locomotive pulling a special train through Newport and past the depot, just click on the following link:  The first railroad to come to Newport was the Cincinnati, Cumberland Gap and Charleston Railroad back in 1867.  The Western Carolina Railroad came to town in 1882.

Newport today is a town with a population of just under 7,000.  It is located west of the Smoky Mountains just to the north of I-40.  US Highway 321 runs right through the middle of town.

This is the Valentine Sevier House in Greeneville Tennessee. It’s located just down the street from the Andrew Johnson homestead and National Historic Site.  This is the oldest home in Greeneville, having been built in 1795.  Today’s home is built around the original log structure.  
Valentine Sevier II (1747–1800) was a pioneer settler on the Tennessee frontier and a younger brother of John Sevier, the state's first governor.  During the American Revolutionary War, Sevier fought against the British Regular and Loyalist forces.  Sevier also fought in many actions against Native Americans across part of eastern Tennessee). During the Chickamauga Wars, Sevier was promoted to the rank of colonel.  Sevier's three sons were killed by a raiding party under the Chickamauga Indian leader, ‘Doublehead’.  In a subsequent fray, one of Valentine Sevier’s daughters was scalped but survived.

Greeneville is the county seat of Greene County, Tennessee.  The population as of the 2010 census was 15,062.  The town was named in honor of Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene. (One of Laurie's ancestors) Permanent European settlement of Greene County began in 1772.  In 1785, Greeneville was named as the capital of the short-lived State of Franklin and Valentine’s brother, John, was named as its first governor.  The state of Franklin was dissolved and members of its government swore allegiance to the State of Tennessee in 1789. 
Another attempt at statehood occurred on the eve of the Civil War.  Thirty counties of the pro-Union East Tennessee Convention met in Greeneville to discuss strategy after state voters had elected to join the Confederate States of America.  The convention sought to create a separate state in East Tennessee that would remain with the United States.  The state government in Nashville rejected the convention's request, however, and Greeneville was occupied by Confederate forces for most of the rest of the war. 

This is the historic downtown district of Rogersville Tennessee.  It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  In addition to the downtown area, there are many beautiful well maintained old homes up and down Main Street.  The current population of Rogersville is about 5,300 with another 6,200 people living within 4 miles of the town. 

Rogersville is the county seat of Hawkins County Tennessee. It was settled in 1775 by the grandparents of Davy Crockett, and it is the second-oldest town in the state. It is named for its founder, Joseph Rogers. John Rogers’ Tavern became the first county courthouse and he was also the first postmaster. Tennessee's second oldest courthouse, the Hawkins County Courthouse, its first newspaper - The Knoxville Gazette, and the state’s first post office are all located in Rogersville.  The first post office was actually built in 1792 and the current building was built ca. 1815.  The Rogersville Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  

This is the former Southern Railroad Depot at 415 Depot Street in Rogersville.  It was built ca. 1890.  The first railroad to come into this area was the East Tennessee and Virginia back in 1858.

The restored depot now serves as the Tennessee Newspaper and Printing Museum.  Back in 1791, George Roulston and Robert Ferguson printed the Knoxville Gazette, the first newspaper in the Territory South of the Ohio River, right here in Rogersville. Visitors can tour the award-winning recreation of a 19th century print shop and view originals or copies of over two dozen papers printed in Rogersville. The Newspaper and Printing Museum pays tribute to the area's long history of involvement in the printing industry.  The Depot also houses the office of the Rogersville Heritage Association.  Unfortunately, the museum was closed due to illness on the day we stopped by.

To view a video regarding this museum, just click on this link:

This very attractive building is the Hale Springs Inn in Rogersville Tennessee.  It was established in 1824.  The Inn features 9 well-appointed and updated guest rooms and suites, all with private baths.  The Hale Springs Inn has no less than 3 Presidential Suites, all named after Presidents who have been guests at the Inn.  The 3 Presidents were Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, and James Polk.  The Hale Springs Inn is located at 110 West Main Street.  Phone: 1-877-222-1616.  Website:

Laurie and I have no information about this old home just a block or two off Main Street in Rogersville.  We thought that it was pretty interesting.  As you can see, sometime in the distant past, wood siding was applied over the original mud chinked logs of the original structure.  The solid rock base for the house is also evident.  We couldn’t tell if this building was set for demolition or if it was going to be conserved…

This is St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Rogersville.  Its African-American congregation was first established in about 1875 and this church was built in 1912.  It is a wood-frame building on a brick foundation with decorative patterned wood shingles, a characteristic of Shingle Style architecture...very unusual in Tennessee.  Stained-glass windows are a prominent feature of the sanctuary.  There are two front entrances to the building; the western door was originally for women and the eastern door was for men.  Early on, men and women sat separately during services. With dwindling membership, the St. Marks congregation stopped holding regular worship services in 2000 and the congregation was ‘dissolved’ in 2002.  The building currently appears to be in disuse...and distress.
The founding minister of St. Mark’s was, William Franklin, the son of slave parents.  He was an early black graduate from Maryville College in Maryville Tennessee.  When the State of Tennessee passed legislation in 1901 banning African Americans from attending Maryville College, Franklin founded Swift Memorial College, which was adjacent to his church.  It’s an interesting story… Check it out at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a tour of some historical structures in upper East Tennessee.

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, September 8, 2014

Bullfish Grill – Pigeon Forge Tennessee

When we ventured over to Pigeon Forge a few weeks ago to check out the 8 PM show at the Sable (sab-LAY) Theater, (, we drove over early so we’d have enough time to do a little shopping and then find a place for an early dinner.

I selected Bullfish Grill… It’s located just below the Sable Theater and its part of the DCL Foods Group, a company which manages several restaurants and restaurant chains.  Within a couple hundred feet of Bullfish Grill, DCL Foods also operates Johnny Carino’s and Blue Moose.  We’ve previously dined at Parkside Grill and Lakeside Tavern in Knoxville.  

To learn more about the restaurants operated by DCL Foods, go to

The restaurant was busy…but large enough to accommodate what I’m sure was at least partially a pre-evening show crowd for all of the various evening entertainment venues operating in Pigeon Forge.
Of course, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Gatlinburg comprise a huge tourist area with many attractions.  Some tourists actually visit the Smoky Mountain National Park!  To learn about the many attractions in the area, just go to

The bar area was on the other side of this wall of bottles… The dining area, bar and bathroom were all clean and we consider the décor as ‘tourist area upscale casual’.  Since I only wear golf shirts, shorts and tennis shoes for at least 8 months a year, this environment is perfect for me!

Laurie started out our evening ‘on the town’ with a Dirty Martini ($6.00) and I ordered a Miller Lite beer. ($3.00) Laurie reported that her martini was pretty darn good!

We love good bread and Amy, our waitress, brought out a hunk of this nice warm chewy bread with a salted top and accompanied by soft butter.  When I took this photo, both of us had already eaten a slice of bread!

We were really surprised and happy to find this entrée on the menu!  It was the first time we’d tasted this fish since we went to Australia on vacation in 1989…
This was Laurie’s order of Barramundi with a lemon butter sauce.  It was accompanied by white cheddar mashed potatoes. ($19.99) In Australia, Barramundi is referred to as poor man’s lobster.  It has a nice meaty texture without any hint of a ‘fishy’ taste.  Laurie also enjoyed her mashed potatoes…but she loved the Barramundi!

Entrées also came with a house or a Caesar salad.  We chose the Caesar salad. (Failed to take a photo) It was very bland…just a salad with a faint hint of Caesar dressing.  If we hadn’t known what it was supposed to be, we would have thought that it was a house salad with a bland creamy dressing. 

I also ordered the Barramundi…in my case with the mustard dill sauce.  For a side I chose the stone ground cheese grits.  I would have never ordered grits before we moved south to East Tennessee but now I have grown to like them…if they’re done properly.  These grits were pretty good and I also really enjoyed my barramundi!

FYI… Barramundi or Asian seabass are widely distributed in the Indo-West Pacific region from the Persian Gulf, through Southeast Asia to Papua New Guinea and Northern Australia.  Barramundi is a ‘loanword’ from an Australian Aboriginal language meaning "large-scaled river fish".  Originally, the name ‘barramundi’ referred to a species of less desirable fish, but the name was appropriated for marketing reasons during the 1980s, a decision which has aided in raising the positive profile of this fish significantly.  Although unusual, barramundi can reach up to 6 feet long and can weigh up to 130 lbs.  The barramundi is a game fish but it is also farmed in Australia with operations gearing up here in the USA.

Other than the lackluster Caesar salad, Laurie and I really enjoyed our dinner at Bullfish!  Our waitress, Amy, was very pleasant and helpful.  We will return for more barramundi…and perhaps another dirty martini… Bullfish Grill is located at 2441 Parkway in Pigeon Forge Tennessee.  Phone: 865-868-1000.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Our 17th President – Lincoln’s Successor

We hadn’t gone for a long exploratory drive here in East Tennessee in quite a long time… Even more startling for those who know us, is that we have never really explored much of northeastern Tennessee beyond Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Gatlinburg.  I think that it’s because it takes over an hour to pass through Knoxville and arrive at the Kodak exit 407…Tennessee Highway 66, leading to the aforementioned tourist destinations.  I guess that it’s a mental block…

In any case, I decided that after over 5 years in East Tennessee, enough is enough!  So, on a recent Saturday we got in our car and took off on a 10 hour exploration of a small portion of upper East Tennessee.

Of course, I’d researched the area…looking for attractions and historical landmarks as well as restaurants where we might stop for lunch.  One of the main attractions on my list was the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greeneville Tennessee.  This multi-faceted site is operated by the National Park Service.  I was a little unhappy because I’d forgotten my Golden Age Passport which gives us free entry to the National Park and Recreation system.  As it turns out, no admission is charged at this Historic Site…

Andrew Johnson is relatively unknown today… He was Vice President during Abraham Lincoln’s 2nd term and he succeeded Lincoln as President following Lincoln’s assassination.  Many Americans today might only remember that Johnson was the only President to be impeached by Congress…other than Bill Clinton.

FYI…To learn about Golden Age Passports, now called Senior Passes, you can go to Interagency Senior Passes are available to seniors over 62 years of age.  The cost is $10.00 at any of the National Recreation Areas or $20.00 via US Mail.  They are valid for the pass holder’s lifetime.  Holders of Senior Passes or Golden Age Passports and up to 3 adults in the same non-commercial vehicle are not charged when entering Forest Service, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, or Bureau of Reclamation properties where Entrance or Standard Amenity Fees are charged.  It’s a heck of a deal!

This is the first of the locations in Greeneville that comprise the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site.  This is one of Andrew Johnson’s early homes. (ca. 1830’s – 1851) It’s located at 201 East Depot Street.  The house is open on the first level and basement with information about Andrew Johnson's early life, the purchase of his first slaves, and his beginnings in the world of politics.  Exhibits consist of a family photo album and the time-line of national events as they related to Andrew Johnson's life.

In the early days of our government, it wasn’t uncommon for the President to be from one political party and the Vice President to be from another… In this case, Lincoln was a Republican and his successor, Andrew Johnson was a Democrat.  Although the Constitution actually states that the President and Vice President are to be chosen separately, in practice today they are chosen as a team.  This is because members of the electoral college from the different parties are committed to both candidates with the winning ‘team’ getting the votes.  Lincoln chose Johnson primarily because he was a southern Senator who was loyal to the Union...  

This is the back of the early Johnson home.  The building to the right, (the lighter brick), is part of the National Historic Site’s Visitor Center.  It’s actually across the street from this home. 

While living in this home, Johnson purchased his first slaves.  In 1842, Andrew Johnson was a State Senator.  During this year he bought his first slave.  Dolly was a fourteen year old girl who approached Andrew Johnson and asked him to buy her, because, according to her son William, she "liked his looks." A short time later, Johnson bought Dolly's half-brother Sam as well.  In time, Dolly would give birth to three children, Liz, Florence and William.

Sam and his wife Margaret, had nine children.  When Johnson freed his slaves in 1863, Sam and others stayed on as employees.  They lived in Johnson’s old tailor shop and an older family home.  Johnson allegedly never sold one of his slaves… After the Civil War, Sam was appointed as one of the Commissioners of the Freedmen’s Bureau.  His goal was to raise money for the purchase of a lot where the Bureau could build a School House for the education of the “Coloured children of Greeneville”.  Johnson donated one of his lots for this purpose.  To learn more about Johnson and his relationship with his slaves and household staff, go to

Note: By many accounts, Johnson actually set back many reforms that would have sped up the integration of former slaves into society.  His southern leanings and sympathies caused him focus on helping the former southern white establishment recover…to the detriment of the newly freed population.

This is Andrew Johnson’s former Tailor Shop.  It’s on display inside a portion of the Historic Site’s Visitor Center.

Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on December 29, 1808, to Jacob Johnson and Mary ("Polly") McDonough, a laundress.  Jacob Johnson was a poor man, as was his father, William, but became town constable of Raleigh before marrying and starting a family. He died of an apparent heart attack when Andrew was only 3 years old.  Polly Johnson continued as a washerwoman as the sole support of her children.  At the time, her occupation was considered less than respectable as it often took her into others' homes unaccompanied.  The Johnsons were considered white trash, and there were rumors that Andrew, who did not resemble his siblings, was fathered by another man. 

This is an early photo of Andrew Johnson’s Tailor Shop in Greeneville Tennessee.  His mother Polly was unable to support her family so she apprenticed out Andrew and one of his brothers to a tailor in Raleigh.  Andrew was only 9 years old.  In those days, being an apprentice meant that you had to stay and serve in that role until you were 21 years old.  At 14 or 15 years of age, Andrew and his brother ran away from this situation.  The tailor to whom they were apprenticed put a $10 reward out for their capture and return. ($230 in 2013 dollars)

Johnson stuck with his trade…and he definitely prospered.  Once he moved to Greeneville, he established a successful tailoring business in the front of his home. In 1827, at the age of 18, he married 16-year-old Eliza McCardle, the daughter of a local shoemaker.  The Johnsons were married for almost 50 years and had five children.  Although she suffered from consumption, (tuberculosis), Eliza strongly supported her husband.  She taught him mathematics skills and tutored him to improve his writing.  Johnson's tailoring business prospered, enabling him to hire help and giving him the funds to invest profitably in real estate. 

We had some time between our tour of the Visitor Center and the early home and before our scheduled tour of the family homestead.  We opted to drive a few blocks to visit the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery.

The 23 acres of land that comprises the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery was bought by Andrew Johnson in 1852.  According to family tradition, Johnson enjoyed coming to this spot for peace and meditation. It afforded superb and unpopulated views of the mountains in the distance.  Because of its height, it was used during the Civil War for signaling, and it became known as "Signal Hill."

It was Andrew Johnson's request that he be buried here.  He was interred here on August 3rd, 1875.  The family plot also includes graves of his wife, sons and other family members.

This National Cemetery is one of the few controlled by the National Park Service to contain soldiers of both World Wars, Spanish-American War, Korean War, Vietnam War, and the Gulf War.  Aside from Andersonville National Cemetery, it is the only National Cemetery controlled by the United States Department of the Interior to accept new burials.  The views from Monument Hill are spectacular…

This is Johnson Family Homestead. It’s located at 209 S. Main Street in Greeneville.  Andrew Johnson owned this home for 24 years, and he lived in it both prior to and after his presidency.

During the Civil War, soldiers occupied the house and left it in disrepair. The Johnsons renovated the home when they returned from Washington. Three generations occupied the home before placing it in the stewardship of the National Park Service. The Homestead is filled with many original family belongings and memorabilia.

Laurie snapped this photo of yours truly waiting for our National Park Ranger to take us on a guided tour of the Johnson homestead.  There were 2 other couples on this tour with us.  The Park Ranger who conducted the tour started ‘working’ at this house when she was only 6 years old… She had played the piano during a Christmas celebration.  She spent so much time hanging around the property that, as she tells it, the Park Service finally gave in and hired her!

This is one end of Andrew Johnson's bedroom.  The interior of the Johnson Homestead was nicely furnished and quite intimate.  The Homestead is maintained to look as it did when Andrew Johnson and his wife lived there from 1869 to 1875.  Johnson had originally purchased the home in 1851. 

During the war years, the house was occupied by Confederate soldiers so most of the original belongings ‘disappeared’ and graffiti covered the walls.  It was also used as hospital.  When the family returned home after Johnson left the presidency in 1869, extensive renovations were required.

This is a view of other end of Andrew Johnson’s bedroom.  Due to his wife’s consumption/tuberculosis, the couple had separate bedrooms.
There are some very interesting facts about Andrew Johnson.  He was the first President of the United States who wasn't a military hero or who hadn't studied law.  Known in his time as the "courageous commoner," this former tailor's apprentice rose to the top from poverty… Johnson held nearly every political office available on his way to the Presidency…without attending a single day of school!  Johnson was a town Alderman, Mayor, member of the Tennessee House of Representative, the Tennessee Senate, the US House of Representatives, the US Senate, and Vice President, subsequently, following Lincoln’s assassination, he became President.  He was also the first and only President to ever be elected to return to Congress (as a Senator) after serving as President.

This is a view of the parlor...with a portrait of Andrew Johnson.  Note: Most of the interior photos were 'borrowed' from the National Park Service's website.  It was very difficult to take quality photos inside the Johnson homestead.

Andrew Johnson, who spoken out and fought against secession in Tennessee, was the only senator from the South to remain loyal to the Union after his state seceded.  He resigned from the Senate in 1862 when Lincoln appointed him as Tennessee’s military governor. Then Lincoln chose Johnson as his running mate in 1864.  When Lincoln was assassinated, Johnson himself escaped death.  John Wilkes Booth’s original plot had also targeted the vice president and U.S. Secretary of State William Seward.  Seward was attacked but survived, while Johnson’s assigned assailant lost his nerve at the last minute and did not go after Johnson.

This is a closeup of the portrait of Andrew Johnson.  I couldn't figure out how to straighten it out... Like most successful politicians (Presidents and many large company CEO's as well), Johnson had a large ego and he could be very obstinate.  He wasn’t big on compromise either…  Today, President Johnson remains a controversial figure.  There has been a debate over the results and impact of his presidency as well as his leadership role ever since he stepped down from office and Ulysses Grant took on the role.

His impeachment was nominally based on his firing of his Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton.  Congress didn’t like Johnson and to spite him they’d passed a law stating that the President couldn’t fire members of his cabinet once they were approved by the Senate.  When he fired Stanton anyway, (who was a Lincoln appointee), he already had such bad relations with Congress that they moved to impeach him.   It is important to note that while Andrew Johnson was impeached, in the end, like President Clinton, he wasn’t convicted. (He only missed being convicted by one vote!) 

To explain this situation further, I’d have to write a book and this blog posting is already long enough.  For a brief summary of Andrew Johnson’s life, his successes and his travails, go to or  Suffice it to say, politics after the Civil War was even more divisive and mean spirited than it is currently…

This is Eliza Johnson's bedroom.  Due to her consumption, she slept in this early model recliner to help her breathe.  In those days, recliners were only meant for invalids... 

This is a guest bedroom... Almost all of the furniture is original.  Only the lighting, a few of the chairs, the wallpaper and the drapes have been replaced.

Margaret Johnson Patterson Bartlett, the closest surviving descendant of President Andrew Johnson and a key figure in the establishment of the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, died in 1992 just before her 89th birthday. Funeral services were held at the homestead, the last home of her great-grandfather, where she was born, reared and married, and where she lived much of her adult life.  She didn't move out and turn the house over to the Park Service until 1956.  

Mrs. Bartlett provided many of the original artifacts and when she moved out of the house, she left the original furnishings behind.  Margaret served as hostess at the Andrew Johnson Homestead from 1942 until her retirement in 1974.  This was a unique role as a direct descendant of the president actually welcomed visitors into the home where she’d been born and lived in… Even after her retirement, Mrs. Bartlett continued as a retiree volunteer to serve at the Homestead until October 9, 1976.  Our guide told us that she had learned many of the stories and knowledge about the family, the slaves and the house itself directly from Andrew Johnson’s granddaughter.

This was Andrew's Johnson Jr.'s bedroom.  It was set up with a separate entrance on the second floor of the house…so he could come and go as he pleased.

Unfortunately, none of the Andrew and Eliza’s sons produced any heirs.  Charles, a surgeon during the Civil War, fell from his horse in 1863 and died.  Robert died of consumption in 1869, only a short time after the family returned from Washington. The youngest son, Andrew Jr, was the only son who married but he and his wife didn’t have any children.  He died only 4 years after his parents passed away…

This is the kitchen at the Johnson Homestead.  It’s located under the house on one end and all food had to be carried outdoors and up the stairs to the porch, then into the dining room.  Fortunately, the porch is extensive and very wide providing shade in the summer and some shelter from the elements in the winter. 

Eliza, Andrew’s wife, actually outlived him by 4 months.  This was despite the fact that she’d suffered from consumption for many, many years.  All descendants of Andrew and Eliza are from the daughter’s families.  Mary died in 1883 but Martha lived until 1901.  Martha had served as the hostess for her father at the White House due to her mother’s illnesses.  

I could keep writing but it’s time to move on… If you’d like to learn more about the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greeneville Tennessee, you can go to

Just click on any of the photos if you’d like to enlarge them...

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Local Favorite for Breakfast

We needed to drive over to Maryville Tennessee to visit the AAA office, look at travel materials and pick up an assortment of up-to-date maps and travel books.  We decided that we’d leave early enough in the morning that we could stop somewhere new for breakfast…

Gracie’s is a bit out of our way, even when we have to head over to Maryville.  Never-the-less, I’d heard about this local restaurant ever since we moved to East Tennessee and I decided it was time to give it a try…

Gracie’s is an unassuming place located in Maryville Tennessee, literally just across the street from the city of Alcoa.  Alcoa is home to a large Alcoa Aluminum plant.  Given its location, I’m sure that many of Gracie’s fans/customers either work at Alcoa or have retired from Alcoa.

  • ·        The Aluminum Company of America built a big plant just outside of Maryville Tennessee. (In North Maryville) It was the biggest provider of aluminum in the South.  The area needed housing for workers, so Alcoa built many houses. The area eventually turned into a city.  The wife of Alcoa hydro engineer James Rickey came up with the name “Alcoa” as an acronym for Aluminum Company of America.  The name Alcoa was created specifically to name the town Alcoa Tennessee.  The town was founded in 1919.  Over time, the name Alcoa was unofficially used to reference the company as well, including the first employee-created credit union in the state.. The Aluminum Company of America officially changed its name to Alcoa, Inc. in 1999.

  • ·        To learn more about the controversial beginnings of the city of Alcoa and its early “relationship” with its neighbor, Maryville, just go to 

The interior of Gracie’s Restaurant is just what one would expect in a local diner or corner restaurant.  It was clean, the décor is straightforward and it was well maintained… It was late in the morning when we arrived, so business was relatively light.

The wooden tables have ads for local businesses literally imbedded on the surface and then the top was coated and sealed with an epoxy resin.  I’m sure that the ads helped pay for the furniture and the tables are easy to keep clean.  I did wonder how many of the businesses whose ads are displayed are still in business…

This artistic rendering of the exterior of Gracie’s is embedded in the center of all of the tables in the restaurant…

Laurie ordered her favorite breakfast…two eggs over easy with bacon (3 strips) and crispy hashbrown potatoes.  The eggs were just right, the bacon was very nice and the hashbrowns were cooked to order! 

Laurie was asked if she wanted toast or biscuits with her breakfast… She decided on a biscuit and she was stunned when the waitress brought her 2 biscuits and white pepper gravy!  The biscuits were very good and Laurie also liked the pepper gravy.  I was particularly pleased with the price…only $5.99 for Laurie’s breakfast!

My breakfast was fairly similar…opting for the same egg and hashbrown preparation, but choosing rye toast over the biscuits.  My breakfast meat of choice came on another plate…

This behemoth hunk of meat slathered with white pepper gravy is Gracie’s version of chicken fried steak.  I estimate that this meat patty weighed in a 7 or 8 oz.  It is not what I would normally title as a chicken fried steak…although it is fried.  I couldn’t place what it tasted like but it was lighter in texture and flavor than what I would normally expect.  While it was OK…and the portion was huge…I would prefer the more standard version. The cost of my breakfast was only $7.19!   Oh, I almost forgot to mention…the cook misread the order and I was also served 2 biscuits and the white pepper gravy.  Yikes…enough food for an extra person..!

To sum it up…Gracie’s serves good food with good service at very reasonable prices in clean and pleasant surroundings.  If only Gracie’s had Tabasco on hand for her customers!  Oh well, we will return and I’ll bring my own Tabasco…

Gracie’s is located at 766 Lincoln Road in Maryville Tennessee.  This restaurant is open from 7 AM to 8 PM Monday through Saturday.  Phone: 865-984-7117.  Gracie’s can be found on Facebook at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave