SmithDRay Blog
Wednesday, 8 August 2018
Pellissippi and Clinch RIver

Periodically the origin of the word Pellissippi and the name for the Clinch River that flows along the east, south and west border of Oak Ridge comes to my attention. Here are two documents where I researched those two things some years ago: 

 Pellissippi

The origin and meaning of the word “Pellissippi” is a subject that has occupied my research periodically since the 1970’s.  In the mid-1970’s Cub Scout Pack 220 was formed in Oak Ridge, TN.  I was honored to be the first Cubmaster and continued in that capacity for the next 16 years.  Cub Scout Pack 220 was in the Pellissippi District of the Great Smoky Mountain Council, Boy Scouts of America.  My first interest in the word “Pellissippi” came from this connection and I wrote to the National Geographic Society, The Museum of the American Indian in New York and The American Association for State and Local History asking for information.

In May of 1976, The Oak Ridger’s “Ask Inky” column contained a question regarding the origin of the word “Pellissippi.”  Pellissippi was commonly known to have been on early maps as the name for the river currently known as the Clinch River. This question also came at about the time the Pellissippi Parkway was being developed and was also in the name of Camp Pellissippi, a Boy Scout Camp in north Anderson County.   As I was already involved in researching the origin of the word, I provided the following answer that was published on May 31, 1976 in the Oak Ridger’s Ask Inky column:

“The Cherokee have no ‘P’ sound in their syllabary.  The Choctaw Indian Agency says the work is not Choctaw.  National Geographic published an article on Thomas Jefferson where he used ‘Pelisipia’ as a suggested place name for use in the western lands.  George R. Stewart in ‘Names on the Land’ says these place names of Jefferson’s were Greek, Latin, Iroquoian, Algonquian and patriotic in origin.

“The Museum of the American Indian states that in the Smithsonian Institute Bureau of American Ethnology a ‘Circular of Information Regarding Indian Proper Names,’ 1926, says on page five that ‘Sipsis’ meant ‘little river’ or ‘brook.’  ‘American Place Names’ by George R. Stewart gives the following for Mississippi – the ‘Algonquian – Mesipi – big river.’  The museum concludes that the word seems to be ‘Pelli’ or ‘Peli’ with ‘river’ or ‘brook.’

Periodically over the past several years, the same question has been raised…”What is the origin and meaning of the word – Pellissippi?”  No one has presented any research to definitively answer the question and I have found no better answer than my original research in the 1970’s.

D. Ray Smith

July 12, 2004

 


Pellissippi or Clinch River

Information taken from Dr. Thomas Walker’s 1750 Journal and notes 

In my research to locate the origin of the name “Clinch” River, I have found the following reference, which seems to confirm that the Clinch River is named for a Long Hunter named “Clinch” who evidently was in the area prior to 1750 when Dr. Thomas Walker made his travels. 

The following is quoted from Walker’s Journal:

April 9th, We travelled to a river, which I suppose to be that which the Hunters call Clinches River from one Clinch a Hunter, who first found it. (23) we marked several Beeches on the East Side. we could not find a ford Shallow eneugh to carry our Baggage over on our Horses. Ambrose Powell Forded over on one horse and we drove the others after him. We then made a raft and carried over one load of Baggage, but when the raft was brought back, it was so heavy that it would not carry anything more dry.

April 10th. we waded and carried the remainder of our Baggage on our shoulders at two turns over the River, which is about one hundred and thirty yards wide, we went on about five miles and Camped on a Small Branch.

The following are the notes on the above section of Walker’s Journal:

23 The 1751- Fry-Jefferson map lists this river as the "Pelesippi or Clinches River," and Williams identifies the location as "Clinch River, crossed near Sneedville, the county seat of Hancock County, Tenn." Summers describes the Clinch as "A tributary of the Tenn. running paralell with the Clinch Mountain, rising in Tazewell and Bland Cos. Va. and interlocking with the Bluestone River and Wolf Creek, tributaries of New River."

Both Williams and Summers comment on the fact that Haywood's Civil History of Tennessee mistakenly states that the Clinch wasn't so named until 1761, Haywood having ascribed its naming to a tradition that the river was named by a party of hunters: "They named Clinch River and Clinch Mountain from the following circumstance. An Irishman was one of the company; in crossing the river he fell from the raft into it, and cried out clinch me, clinch me; meaning lay hold of me. The rest of the company unused to the phrase amused themselves at the expense of the Irishman and called the river Clinch."

Williams adds that "Notwithstanding the fact that Walker describes the river as being one hundred and thirty yards wide at the place of crossing, Justin Winsor has him crossing "to the head of Clinch River and entering Cumberland Gap." The Mississippi Basin, 277," and Summers notes that Walker's "correct nomenclature of the River indicates that he had received information concerning the route travelled from Stalnaker or other source."

Compiled by David Ray Smith

9/13/03



Posted by smithdray at 11:37 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 8 August 2018 11:41 AM EDT
Friday, 2 February 2018
Photos placed in "Through the Looking Glass"

I have placed for sale a framed photo of the Elza Railroad Bridge in fall on consignment at Through the Looking Glass in Jackson Square, Oak Ridge, TN.

 

 


I have also placed just the matted photograph there as well: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


There is also a matted photograph of the August 2016 solar eclipse:

 


Posted by smithdray at 10:57 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 2 February 2018 11:02 PM EST
Sunday, 22 November 2015
Manhattan Project National Historical Park

 

 

 

On Tuesday, November 10, 2015, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park was established in Washington, DC, at the Memorandum of Agreement Signing Ceremony held in the Department of Interior building on Constitution Avenue! I was proud to be there and to wear a bow tie in honor and memory of Bill Wilcox, Oak Ridge Historian, who worked so hard for years to preserve the history of Oak Ridge. He would have been so proud to see the nation's 409th new National Park established in Oak Ridge, TN, Hanford, WA, and Los Alamos, NM. 

I was also privileged to be selected as one of 20 people to meet for two days in a Scholar's Forum to determine the main themes for the interpretation of the new park.
Here is are links to photographs made while in DC:  



Here is a link to the full set of photo albums on Picasa and there are a couple other albums of images made while in DC:

 


Posted by smithdray at 12:30 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 22 November 2015 12:31 AM EST
Some of my Favorites - Photoshow


 

 

At the request of the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge I created a 40 image Photoshow that was presented there for a three month period. It was then requested to be presented in the Oak Ridge Public Library for two months.

Here is a link to the photographs included in the Photoshow: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname=109845787057992130059&target=ALBUM&id=6186013459815943841&authkey=Gv1sRgCIid84e4qIIX&feat=emai

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Posted by smithdray at 12:13 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 22 November 2015 12:24 AM EST
Saturday, 21 February 2015
2014 Historically Speaking

 

Available for purchase: 2014 Historically Speaking 

2014 Historically Speaking is the ninth annual volume of historical articles published in The Oak Ridger newspaper. Like others in this series, the weekly stories vary from purely historical stories such as "CONTACT Care Line of East Tennessee, an Oak Ridge icon of trained listeners" to stories such as "35 years of rowing highlights in Oak Ridge" Both of these tell stories about different aspects of Oak Ridge life. There is a story about Tim Myrick, an extraordinary man who lived the last year of his life dedicated to helping others while battling "The Beast" (Cancer). Stories of Oak Ridge history here include some of my favorites. I was pleased to capture these details of Oak Ridge history and am glad to bring them to you in this annual book form.


Posted by smithdray at 2:02 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 21 February 2015 2:12 AM EST
Saturday, 3 January 2015
2013 Historically Speaking

Published at: Lulu.com/SmithDRay

 

 Available for purchase at: 2013 Historically Speaking 

2013 Historically Speaking is the eighth annual volume of historical articles published in The Oak Ridger newspaper. Like others in this series, the weekly stories vary from purely historical event stories such as "The Graphite Reactor, Isotopes and a new element" to human interest stories such as ""Coach Gaddis and the 'Penny Lady.'" Both of these tell stories about different aspects of Oak Ridge life. There are stories of Lester Fox and his buses, Lee Russell's identification of the purpose of the "Y chromosome" to the history of Oak Ridge as seen by Bobby Copeland, one of the many people in Oak Ridge who are international experts. Bobby is an expert on "B Westerns!" Stories of Oak Ridge include the latest book to be published on Oak Ridge, "The Girls of Atomic City," by Denise Kiernan. There is a series on the history of Wheat from Sarah Littleton's perspective. I was pleased to capture these details of Oak Ridge history and am glad to bring them to you in this annual book form.

 

Ray Smith 


Posted by smithdray at 12:53 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 21 February 2015 2:15 AM EST
2011 Historically Speaking

Published at: Lulu.com/SmithDRay



 

 

 2011 Historically Speaking is the sixth annual volume of historical articles published in The Oak Ridger newspaper. Like others in this series, the weekly stories vary from purely historical event stories such as "The Forgotten Detachment" to human interest stories such as "He did what he was supposed to." Both of these tell stories about Bill Sergeant. There are stories of Biologist Alexander Hollaender's Sunday hikes, Peggy Heddleson's unique banners and the history of ORTEC, one of the many start up companies in Oak Ridge. Stories of Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning and the Guest House are also included. I was pleased to capture these details of Oak Ridge history and am glad to bring them to you in this annual book form.

 

Ray Smith 


Posted by smithdray at 12:42 AM EST
2010 Historically Speaking

 Published at: Lulu.com/SmithDRay  

 


 

  

 

 

2010 Historically Speaking is the fifth annual volume of historical articles published in The Oak Ridger newspaper. Like others in this series, the weekly stories vary from purely historical events to human interest stories. The Oak Ridge Country Club, The Emory Valley Center and the Children's Museum of Oak Ridge are featured stories. Finally the history of the Greenways in Oak Ridge is also featured as is a tribute to Fred Heddleson, artist extraordinaire. I was pleased to capture these details of Oak Ridge history and am glad to bring them to you in this annual book form. 

Ray Smith


Posted by smithdray at 12:31 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 3 January 2015 12:44 AM EST
Friday, 28 November 2014
2009 Historically Speaking
Topic: books

Just published 2009 Historically Speaking the fourth annual publication of newspaper columns first published in The Oak Ridger.

The book is available in hardback and as an ebook at 

Lulu.com/SmithDRay.

 

 


 

2009 Historically Speaking is the fourth annual volume of historical articles published in The Oak Ridger newspaper. Like others in this series, the weekly stories vary from purely historical events to human interest stories such as the "Two Brothers - A World War II Story" that tells of the struggles these brothers had during the war. One of the series of articles included is the amazing story of the "Oak Ridge Bombers" a semi-professional baseball team from Oak Ridge that existed from the time of the Manhattan Project into the 1960's. This was a proud group of African American men! The history of R & R Properties is included and Rick Chinn wrote the Foreword for the book. The history and some of the unusual events held at the University of Tennessee's Arboretum is included. Finally the history of the Comparative Animal Research Laboratory is also featured. I was pleased to capture these details of Oak Ridge history and am glad to bring them to you in this annual book form.

 

Ray Smith 

 


Posted by smithdray at 10:38 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 3 January 2015 12:48 AM EST
Monday, 1 September 2014
Yosemite National Park - July 2014
Mood:  a-ok

These two images were printed by my friend, Bill Brumley, framed by the Appalachian Frame Shop in Oak Ridge, TN, and hang in our living room!   

 


 

See more photos of Yosemite National Park at: 

https://picasaweb.google.com/109845787057992130059/20140728YosemiteNationalPark?noredirect=1

Ray

 


Posted by smithdray at 2:32 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 1 September 2014 2:50 PM EDT

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