Graphic by Kerry Messer
topic this week is My Hometown. For me that’s Kenton, Tennessee. A place most folks have never heard of and there’s a reason for that – it was small in the beginning and it remains so today. Kenton’s claim to fame is the Home of the White Squirrel. There are approximately four or so other places around the Country that boast White Squirrels but the City Fathers assert Kenton had them first!
A Book entitled Kenton: Folklore and Fact written in 1972 by Dorotha O. Norton is my source for Kenton’s origin. I was not privileged to be one of Mrs. Dorotha’s English students but my brothers were – they labeled her tough but they loved her. When Mrs. Dorotha moved on to the position of Assistant Professor of English at University of Tennessee at Martin, Mrs. Bonnie Ruth took her place – she was tough too; as well as loved and appreciated. I still remember those book reports with visual aids!
It is said that Mr. Mack Alphin back in well that date is not certain but it was a good while ago probably in the 1800s, discovered these unusual squirrels, nurtured a pair of them and they flourished. They became a delight and a nuisance and remain so to this day. As I said, they are Kenton’s claim to fame as evidence by this sign.
Per Mrs. Dorotha’s book Kenton’s official survey may have been plotted between the years of 1851 and early 1857. Official records date Kenton’s Post Office as being established May 27, 1852.
Let me quote here from Kenton: Folklore and Fact: “Never will a day in the town’s history hold more importance for its citizens than that day of the first train in 1857. It was a day of real celebration, and most of the people of the surrounding area came to see that “wonder”. As a part of the day’s festivities, everybody was offered a free ride from the depot in Kenton to The Old Mill and back — a round trip of about four miles!”
Kenton remains a rural place. My Brother, my Sister-in-law, their daughter and grandson still reside in Kenton and I am looking forward to a visit Home for Thanksgiving again this year. It’s a quiet place, for the most part. People love genuinely and have plenty of stories tell over a good cup of coffee or a Dr. Pepper if you prefer.