Museum Collection

Painting of General Cary Fletcher Spence by Clifton J. Long (after Lloyd Branson), probably early 1920s

Spence was a graduate of Grant University (Athens, TN) attended the University of Tennessee, and was engaged in various business interests. Joining the Spanish-American War in 1898, he was appointed by President McKinley as the first lieutenant and regimental adjutant of the Sixth Volunteer Infantry. Returning to Knoxville, he was president of the Spence Trunk and Leather Company and the Island Home Park Company and was appointed postmaster of Knoxville by President Taft.

He was colonel of the Third Tennessee National Guards, a regiment designated in WWI as the 117th Inf. of the 30th Div., and commanded the regiment in Belgium and France. Afterwards, he was president of the Spence Shoe Co. and became a brigadier-general in 1922, assigned to the 81st Div. Headquarters in Knoxville.

The Museum Collection of the East Tennessee Historical Society consists of more than 13,000 artifacts and provides a foundation for fulfilling ETHS's mission to preserve, interpret, and promote the history of East Tennessee's 35 counties. The Museum Collection is primarily comprised of objects of material culture that were either made or used in the region or somehow illustrate East Tennessee life and experience in a significant way. A concerted effort is made to represent people of varied backgrounds and from many time periods through the collection.

Particular strengths of the Museum Collection include:

  • Decorative arts, especially furniture and paintings;
  • Textiles, especially quilts; and
  • Civil War items, both from Union and Confederate armies, representing the "divided loyalties" so predominate in East Tennessee.

ETHS is indebted to all of the individuals who have donated to the Museum Collection, either by entrusting the Museum with the perpetual care of artifacts or by supporting the acquisition of important East Tennessee pieces through financial contributions. Such gifts are truly for future East Tennesseans, as ETHS remains committed to building a lasting research holding that represents East Tennessee's collective past.

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Made from a Branch of a Tree at John Sevier's Grave in Alabama

“John Sevier died September 24th, 1815.”