Friday, October 12, 2012

Madisonville Tennessee - History and Politics

As I’ve previously mentioned, Laurie and I have been using the county by county listing of places and structures listed in the National Register of Historic Places, as a blueprint of sorts to explore the areas around us here in East Tennessee.
On a recent drive, two of the NRHP locations that we ‘found’ were in Madisonville, the county seat for Monroe County Tennessee.
This is the Monroe County Courthouse in downtown Madisonville.  This structure was built in 1892 but it is at least the 4th courthouse for Monroe County.  The first county courthouse was built in the early 1820’s.  It caught fire and was burned down only to be replaced by a second structure that was torched during the Civil War.  A third courthouse was built in 1868 but I haven’t been able to learn what happened to it…
Here's a brighter and clearer photo of this impressive courthouse, albeit a Christmas Season photo.  I 'borrowed' this picture from 

Four war memorials have been erected around the outside of the courthouse.  The first one is a Civil War Memorial.  It commemorates those military units in which county residents served…both for the Union and the Confederacy.  The second memorial is for those who fought and died in World War I…22 names are listed.  The World War II memorial lists about 100 names.  The memorial for Korea and Vietnam lists 12 and 15 instances of the supreme sacrifice by the county’s soldiers, sailors and airmen. 
This is a view of the back and one side of the Cooke – Kefauver House in Madisonville.  There can be no doubt that Carey Estes Kefauver is the most famous person to come from Monroe County…specifically from Madisonville.

Who was Estes Kefauver?  He was a member of the US House of Representatives for 10 years… Then he was elected to the Senate, serving Tennessee in that role about 14 years…dying in office.  The Senator ran for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President…in both 1952 and 1956.  In 1956, he was on the unsuccessful Democratic ticket as Adlai Stevenson’s Vice Presidential running mate.  They were defeated by Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.  
The Cooke – Kefauver House was built in 1846.  It’s still impressive today and I can’t imagine how strongly it must have seized the passerby’s attention in its early days!  It’s a sign of the times but sadly enough this house is now ‘hidden’ behind a Wal-Mart… I also 'borrowed' this photo from,_Madisonville,_TN.jpg.

The city of Madisonville was founded as the county seat back in the early 1820’s.  The town was created from land donated by local residents…Robert Snodgrass and John Henderson.  It was initially named Tellico...after the long term Cherokee village of the same name.  It was renamed Madisonville to honor President James Madison.
As a measure of his importance during his time in office, Estes Kefauver was on the cover of Time Magazine at least 3 times.  He rose to fame as the Chairman of the Special Senate Committee on Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce.  This committee became better known as the Kefauver Committee.  Coming along during the 'new era of television', Kefauver held public hearings in 14 cities across the USA…naming names and calling witnesses.  Mob bosses and local politicians were forced to testify.  It was sensational!

Kefauver also headed the Anti-trust & Monopoly Sub-Committee and in addition, he held hearings on indecent publication and pornography… He considered the pin-ups of the day as indecent.  He held many independent and unpopular political views that, combined with his reputation as a maverick with a penchant for sanctimony, earned him so much enmity even from other Senators, that one Democratic insider felt compelled to dub him "the most hated man in Congress."  This fact eventually contributed to his failure to gain the 1960 nomination for President on the Democratic ticket.  Instead, John F. Kennedy was nominated and the rest is history…
Carey Estes Kefauver is buried in the Cooke – Kefauver Family Cemetery near his former home in Madisonville Tennessee.  He had been born near Madisonville and he had graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

In 1952, Kefauver won 12 of the 15 Democratic primaries that were held that year.  He only lost 3 primaries to local favorite sons, but these were the days when the party bosses decided who ran for office and who didn’t.  Estes Kefauver garnered over 3.1 million primary votes…whereas Adlai Stevenson from Illinois had only received a total of 78,000 votes.  Stevenson got the nomination… 
For an expanded summary of Estes Kefauver’s life and his accomplishments, just go to  He served the country in a time when backroom deals were made but also when compromise was possible and both sides worked together and they sometimes actually managed to accomplish some business for “We the People…”
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave     


  1. David what nice place and buildings! Have a nice and lovely weekend!!xo

  2. Dear David. Very interesting history. Thank you for that. Blessings to you and Laurie for a nice weekend. Catherine