Mildred Emmeline (Bowman) Beene was born June 10, 1905, and passed away on January 14, 2008, at the age of 102. She is laid to rest in the Pleasant View Cemetery in Graysville, TN. In July of 1983, Mildred Beene recounted her memories of Graysville. Below is a word for word account of her memories.
Graysville resident Mildred Bowman Beene was born and grew up in the small town located six miles south of Dayton.
“Graysville used to be quiet a town” Mrs. Beene said. We had the Durham Coal Company near here. They had several mines working, a commissary, a school and everything. It was a little community all by itself up on the hill.
“Graysville, during the first two decades of this century, was actually three communities in one, Mrs. Beene said.
The mining community was called Montague. There was Graysville, where Mrs. Beene grew up, and a community in the northern portion of Graysville called Advent Town, because it was settled and populated by members of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
We had several stores, a hotel, a large brick school and several churches. The Methodist Church in Graysville was built in 1885 and still used, although it has been remodeled over the years, of course.
Mrs. Beene said people in Montague, Graysville and Advent Town visited and did business within the three communities.
“Of course, I went to school in Graysville. The children in Montague went to school there and some children from Graysville went to Montague School. The Adventists had their own school, although I did have a teacher or two that belonged to that church.”
Life was easy and simple, Mrs. Beene said. There was work for everyone, and Graysville and her sister communities prospered.
We even had a railroad depot here. If you wanted to go to Dayton for shopping or something, you went on what we called the ‘dinky track.’ There was an ‘up train’ and a ‘down train’ from Graysville to Dayton every day. You went up to Dayton in the morning and did your shopping, and then caught the train back in the afternoon.
Graysville had a bank which later became part of Dayton Bank & Trust, doctors, a drugstore, a post office, and other businesses.
In the 1920’s, the Durham Coal Company closed the mines and pulled out of Graysville. “It was a terrible blow when it left,” Mrs. Beene said. Later, the Graysville Hosiery Mill opened and employed some of the residents. “Mostly women,” Mrs. Beene said.
“Then the hosiery mill moved to Dayton,” she said. Now people work at the Driset Mill here. They make infantwear and employ mostly women. Most people work in Chattanooga or Dayton or other places. Were really a residential community now.
Looking back to her girlhood, Mrs. Beene remembers the old Graysville.
“For entertainment, we mostly went to church and hoped our fellows would be there to take us home. You would see the girls and boys out front watching for a certain boy or girl to arrive.
“There was a big Fourth of July picnic every year and baseball games. We had parties in our home,” Mrs. Beene said. “And on Sunday afternoon, we walked up to the depot to see who got on and off the train.”
“It was nice growing up in Graysville,” she said.
Posted with permission from the publisher of the Herald News in Dayton. Original publish date was Wednesday, July 27, 1983, in the “Remember When” section.
Lee SteenhuisMay 6, 2021 at 1:08 pm
My grandfather Dayton Benham, who grew up on Hiwassee Island (near Dayton) left the island for Scottsboro, Al when TVA came along. In Scottsboro, he started the hosiery mill, Benham mill which made underwear. It employed mostly women.
Frashier JamesMay 6, 2021 at 6:25 pm
My cousin, I think Grand Mother.