Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lt. Levi Sherman Morehouse


A lady from New York passing through Madisonville stopped by Donna's CafĂ© for a nice meal, and afterwards a leisurely stroll on the Courthouse lawn, where she noticed a familiar name on our World War I monument.  She stepped into the Archives and asked, “Why is my great-uncle’s name on the WWI monument for Monroe County? He was born and raised in Fulton, New York.”

An investigation into records revealed that Levi Sherman Morehouse was indeed born and raised in Volney, Oswego County, New York by his parents, Alfred Fremont and Elvira Blakeman Morehouse. Levi lost his mother in 1909 while he was in his fourth year of high school.  He entered St. Lawrence University’s School of Agriculture in 1910, graduating in 1912. Three years after his mother’s death Levi’s father married Lena Babcock, who embraced her husband’s children as her own. Lena was a relative of the Babcocks who owned a huge lumber business in the mountainous area of Monroe County, TN during the early 1900s. When Levi’s father died in 1914, Lena’s brother, Clarence Babcock, who lived in Knoxville, TN, and who was also very close to the Morehouse children, asked Levi to come to Tellico Plains, TN and oversee a huge farm that he owned there. Levi consented, and thus became a citizen of Monroe County, TN. He joined the Tennessee National Guard, Company M, 3rd Infantry, and spent some time in Texas. He returned to Monroe County, but at the outbreak of World War I, the 3rd Tennessee Infantry was called into Federal Service in July of 1917. A letter written to his family in New York tells the story of his departure from Tellico Plains: 

"Dear Ones at Home:

Friday morning, about 11:30, the train pulled out of Tellico Plains, bearing her soldier boys away. Everyone in Tellico was at the Station. The mills closed, also the schools, to turn out and pay a last tribute to the youth of Monroe County. The crowd looked almost mute. Good-byes were said very quietly, with little demonstration or sign of emotion, but you could feel it in the air. There were many wet eyes, but the tears were not allowed to flow. Yet everyone was determined that the boys should leave amid cheers and shouts of encouragement. Finally, when all was ready, a great hush fell on the crowds, tense with pent-up emotion. Then as the train slowly moved out, the air was rent with cheers and shouts, hats flew in the air and handkerchiefs floated on the breeze. Thus we left those who will always be dear to the memory of Fighting M Company to wend their way slowly back home, some to break down and weep now that the boys were out of sight, and others to begin the long, long watch for the return of husband, sweetheart, or brother. For life would be barren indeed, were it not for the hope that someday the hero will return. “
Tellico Depot 2014
On May 8th, 1918, Morehouse’s Company set sail overseas, serving in France and Belgium. On October 7th, 1918, Lt. Levi Sherman Morehouse was killed in action at Fraicourt Farm, one mile northeast of Brancourt, France, by a “whiz-bang” or a three-inch shell, which exploded ten feet in front of him.

A letter to Clarence Babcock dated October 15th, 1918, detailed the death of Lt. Morehouse:

 “….Corporal Hall, whose home is in Madisonville, was the last man in the Company to see Lt. Morehouse alive. He placed this Corporal in a hole for protection and went to have a consultation with some other officers of the 117th Infantry. He did not return…..He must have been killed instantly and did not suffer. His body was not mutilated; a small piece of shrapnel had pierced his heart… Your Friend, R. B. Cable, 1st Sgt. Commanding Company M.”
He was survived by his sister, Cora Morehouse Wilcox, and a brother, Carl Elihu Morehouse, both of New York.
St. Lawrence Unveristy in the World War, 1917-1918: A Memorial
Somme Memorial Cemetery
Bony, France
1st Lt. Levi Sherman Morehouse

Findagrave Memorial:
Learn more about all our WWI fallen heroes by visiting the Monument Memorial at
Each individual story can be read by clicking on their name.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Happy Top Was Among Early Quaker Schools in the County

One of the earliest schools established in Monroe County, TN by the Quakers was in 1874 when Tallassee, or Happy Top School was opened in the Mount Pleasant area of the Chilhowee Mountains. 

The Society of Friends ministry in Eastern Tennessee began in 1870 when a young doctor from North Carolina set up practice in Blount County. 

As Dr. Jeptha D. Garner traveled the rural areas of Blount and Monroe Counties in Tennessee and Graham County in North Carolina, he was deeply moved by the physical, spiritual, and educational needs of the communities.  He saw the poverty that the lack of education brought, and sent out a call for help from his fellow Quakers, who responded graciously to his request. 

Schools and churches were established in communities such as Hopewell Springs, Union Hall, Tallassee (Happy Top), Grassy Flats, Chestnut Valley and Roger's Chapel (now Rafter Friends Church).

Teachers came in from established Quaker communities to assist.  Dr. Garner set up a school at Friendsville in Blount County for the purpose of teaching these educators how to teach in rural areas.  Teachers would be handicapped by a lack of supplies and had to learn to teach with only meager means.

Garner many times used his own money to buy supplies.  There was a tuition at the Quaker Schools, but it was deliberately kept very low to make it easily affordable.  For those who couldn't afford the cost, Garner paid the tuition out of his personal funds to keep "those who are less fortunate from being in want of a good education."  It is said that Dr. Garner personally taught nearly 3,000 people to read and write.

Happy Top was laid down by the Quakers in 1888, when it was then used as a county school and later as a Baptist Church.

During revivals the people would get happy and their shouts could be heard throughout the valley.  Thus, the little Church and former school became known as "Happy Top". 

The Quakers continued to establish churches in the 1900s throughout the rural communities of Monroe County, including Oak Grove on Ball Play, Farr's Chapel, and Maynard's Chapel (later known as Three Points Quaker Church). 

The grave listing for the Happy Top Cemetery can be found on findagrave at: