Back When…

By Ralphine Major

It started with a simple question. But, Woodrow Luttrell went way beyond the answer, describing a way of life most of us have never known. He communicated with family by computer well into his nineties, providing a treasure-trove of memories about his early years. Woodrow passed away in 2014 at the age of 97, which makes the memories that he wrote about all the more precious. His family is allowing me to share some of his fascinating family history.

“When Dad and Mom married, they lived with our Grandma Tarver family for the first few years in the Tarver House on Roberts Road,” Woodrow wrote. Two of Woodrow’s sisters, Mildred Luttrell Mullins and Brownie Luttrell Pelton, were born in the Tarver house. “It burned after Doctor and Macel bought the farm,” he added. ‘Doctor and Macel’ caught my attention. They were names that I knew. Macel was Woodrow’s sister who was married to the only doctor in Corryton, Dr. A. D. Simmons. For most of us in the community, Dr. Simmons was our family doctor; and many of us went to school with the Simmons children. It is tempting to branch out into the Simmons’ story at this point because it is more familiar. But Woodrow’s great insight into the Luttrell family’s early years in Corryton is much too intriguing to bypass. The six Luttrell children included, in birth order, Mildred, Brownie, Woodrow, Macel, Houston, and Betty.

“Grandpa Tarver operated a country store on the northeast corner of Washington Pike and Roberts Road,” he wrote. “For a time Dad worked on the Tarver farm and/or ran the store. I have one ledger book of charge accounts made at the store. That must have been when Grandpa was a Squire or Justice of the Peace (an elected official) and had an office in Knoxville,” he continued.

Around 1915 the Luttrell family moved to Corryton to the little two-story house on the corner of Foster and Davis Roads, across from where Dr. Simmons had his office. Woodrow was born in that house on October 20, 1916. There was a small barn back of the house, along Foster Road, where his father kept Molly and Prince, the horses. That house is no longer there.

Later, about 1919, the Luttrell family moved to a rental house on Childs Road, located on acreage that was formerly part of the property once owned by Woodrow’s great-grandfather Tarver. The family’s rented house was right next to Little Flat Creek. “I well remember living there and how the walls were covered with old newspapers to try keeping warm,” Woodrow wrote. (Next week, the family moves to Luttrell House.)

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