History of the Tennessee State Society

The Tennessee State Society held its organizing ceremony on March 8, 1932, in the Gold Room of the Hotel Patten, Chattanooga, Tennessee, with thirteen accepted charter members and applications for an additional 20 members. Edith Brown Stone (Mrs. William Franklin) served as Organizing State Regent. Other charter officers were First Vice-Regent, Mrs. Willis Hitzing; Second Vice-Regent, Mrs. Albert S. Bowen, Sr.; Third Vice-Regent, Mrs. John 1). Howley ; Recording Secretary, Mts. Frederick W. Kelsey; Corresponding Secretary, Mrs. George P. Willbanks ; Treasurer, Miss Bessie W. Magill ; Registrar, Mrs. J. Culpepper Brooks; Historian, Mrs. Arthur P. Sibold ; and Chaplain, Mrs. Nettie Stoops Brown. Mrs. Frances Brown Chase of Atlanta, Georgia, Vice President, Southern Section, was given the title of Honorary State Regent for life "in appreciation of her untiring and generous cooperation in making the Tennessee Society a reality."

It would be nearly 20 years later before Chattanooga Chapter was organized on October 2, 1950, by Mrs. Stone followed by Jamestown Chapter in Memphis, organized on October 6, 1950; and Knoxville Chapter organized April 12, 1954. The most recent chapter to be organized was Prudence Hall Chapter, organized on February 22, 1984.

In 1972, Esther M. Pearce presented the Tennessee State Society with a gavel (shown above) to be used at State meetings. As you can see, it is made of oak. The plaque fastened to it reads: Presented Tennessee Society NSDAC by Esther M. Pearce 1958 wood from Col. Jacob Brown Treaty Oak 1772. Esther lived in Jonesboro, Tennessee, and was a direct descendant of Col. Jacob Brown.

Jacob Brown (1736-1785), trader, store owner, smithy, and soldier, was the founder of the Nolichucky settlement that united with Watauga in 1775. Three years earlier, in 1772, under “a great oak tree at his Sycamore Shoals house,” Brown met with Oconostota and other Indian chiefs to conclude a lease of land treaty. For an unknown amount of money, Brown secured a similar lease, or treaty, from the Indians of a large section of the Nolichucky valley on both sides of the river. The tree became known as a “treaty oak.” Read more about Brown in Max Dixon’s The Wataugans: First Free and Independent Community on the Continent.