Upland Chronicles: Local DAR chapter honors early settler Spencer Clack

Jul. 27, 2013 @ 11:42 PM

With every charter member a direct descendent of Spencer Clack, it is not surprising that the first chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution organized in Sevier County was named in honor of the veteran who served as lieutenant in Revolutionary War, was a pioneer settler in Sevier County, and a member of the first Tennessee legislature, first as a representative and later as senator, from 1796 until his death in 1932.

The chapter was organized during a meeting held May 23, 1928 at the Central Hotel in Sevierville with 12 members. Helen McCown Maples was in the forefront of the formation of the chapter. Soliciting assistance from Mary Boyce Temple of Knoxville, the women collected the data required by the national organization which Miss Temple personally presented for confirmation in Washington.

All 12 members are descended from Spencer Clack through his daughters Rhoda, who married James Randles, or Catherine, who married the Rev. Elijah Rogers. The members: Mrs. Charles (Beulah) Pack, Mrs. Z.D. (Sallie) Massy, Mrs. Earl W. (Juanita) Paine, Mrs. Mack (Helen) Maples, Mrs. J. Robert (Sallie) Houk, Mrs. John (Ola) Hatcher, Mrs. Hugh (Rob) Blair, Miss Joy Bowers, Mrs. J. Ed (Rose) Emert, Mrs. William H. (Grace) Long, Mrs. Stanley (Annie) McMahan, and Mrs. Victor (Lela) Love.

Mrs. Pack was elected to serve as the first Regent and Mrs. Blair was selected as the recording secretary. Before the first year ended, Carrie Bryan McBee and Mrs. A.W. (Annie) Roberts joined the chapter.

The new chapter members were shocked and deeply saddened when Mary Boyce Temple died the following year. On May 16, 1929, Miss Temple, who was instrumental in the establishment of the Spencer Clack Chapter was found dead in the hallway beneath her telephone at her home in Knoxville.

The new chapter was immediately appointed custodian of the Isaac Thomas Monument, erected on the grounds of Murphy Collegiate Institute by the Nancy Ward Chapter at Chattanooga. However, the energetic group had another project in mind in which they immediately tackled.

They wanted to erect a monument as a memorial to Spencer Clack. Three years later, a gigantic quartz stone was placed on the Sevier County Courthouse lawn by the Spencer Clack Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution as a memorial to Lt. Clack.

Donated by the Great Smoky Mountains Commission and found high up in the mountains in what is known as Indian Gap, the stone was hauled down from its native resting place. Workers erected the big boulder where it now stands at quite an expense in time and money, as it took the better part of two days for eight men using large trucks to load and haul it to Sevierville.

Southern Bell Telephone Co. supplied its large derrick truck to hoist the five-ton stone in the air and place it in its final destination on the north side of the courthouse, supported by 10 tons of concrete. The quartz stone native to Sevier County is locally called flint; it is composed of silicon dioxide.

The marker was unveiled during a ceremony held at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 8, 1931. A large crowd gathered to hear remarks by Gen. E.E. Creswell, who gave a sketch of the life and services of Clack. A speech was delivered by Mrs. Joseph Acklen, state regent.

Another project in which the chapter became involved was the procurement of a statue of John Sevier as a companion to the statue of Andrew Jackson in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol.

The statue was a joint gift to the nation from the Tennessee General Assembly, the Tennessee DAR, and the Tennessee Federation of Women’s Clubs. The new statue was unveiled April 19, 1931.

Women who were descended from other Revolutionary War soldiers soon joined the chapter as well. By the time the Sevier statue and Clack monument were unveiled, the chapter membership had increased to 25.

In the early days of the organization, monthly meetings were held in the homes of members. Programs of a patriotic and historical nature were prepared and read, followed by a social hour. The chapter also awarded prizes to the schools in Sevierville for the best essays. The officers also attended state and national meetings.

The Spencer Clack Chapter has continued to serve the community throughout its 85-year history. The organization has recently evolved to include another chapter, Great Smokies, making them a larger chapter with a wider variety of experience through those members.

They meet every second Monday, September through May, at the King Family Library; with a social time beginning at 6:30 p.m. and the program and business at 7 p.m. Members in all age groups are active in community and DAR projects. Continuing the tradition, an educational program is presented at each meeting.

— Carroll McMahan is the special projects facilitator for the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce and serves as Sevier County Historian. The Upland Chronicles series celebrates the heritage and past of Sevier County. If you have suggestions for topics, would like to submit a column or have comments, contact Carroll McMahan at 453-6411 or email to cmcmahan@scoc.org; or Ron Rader at 604-9161 or email to ron@ronraderproperties.com.