Victoria in Tennessee

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This is the Bethel Church in Victoria, Tennessee, located off Old Highway 28.

The image above is taken from this Flickr page, which lists this comment from Tim Holloway in 2013:

A man named John Frater built this church for the community of coal miners and farmers. Because coal mining was such a huge industry in the area, an English company bought up mines in the area, and the church bell was donated by Queen Victoria of England. Because of her generosity, the community was renamed Victoria in her honor.

The bell of this church, the one reportedly donated by Queen Victoria, is in the Whitwell Coal Miner’s Museum, I believe.

Is it true? There is indeed a strong connection between this area and England. From the Tennessee Encyclopedia entry on Marion County:

In 1877 James Bowron and associates from England brought sufficient capital into the valley to develop the iron and coal industries. Coal mines opened in Whitwell; coke ovens operated in Victoria; iron ore came from Inman; and smelters dominated South Pittsburg. “

James Bowron obituary in NYT:

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His papers are held at the University of Alabama:  “A substantial collection of papers and materials relating to James Bowron, one of the 19th century iron and mining pioneers in the Deep South. It includes Bowron’s 1632-page, unpublished autobiography, as well as his daily journals, letters, and pictures.”

In the autobiography (Vol. 1, p. 15), he indicates he was born at Stockton-at-Tees.  This story is developing …

About Uncomely and Broken

I am a classicist in Sewanee, Tennessee.
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