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:

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