published Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Rhea County's Old Washington community will mark bicentennial in October

In October, the Rhea County Historical and Genealogical Society in Dayton, Tenn., will commemorate the bicentennial of the Old Washington community with a 5-foot granite marker. The marker is show among various other memorials at Dayton Monument Inc.
Photo by Kimberly McMillian
In October, the Rhea County Historical and Genealogical Society in Dayton, Tenn., will commemorate the bicentennial of the Old Washington community with a 5-foot granite marker. The marker is show among various other memorials at Dayton Monument Inc. Photo by Kimberly McMillian

IF YOU GO


What: Planning meeting

When: April 14 at 10 a.m.

Where: Old Washington Baptist Church off Highway 30

For more information: email Tom Davis at tsdavis@volstate.net.

DAYTON, Tenn. -- Charlie Carney's eyes misted and his voice softened as he recalled childhood memories of the former Old Washington community off state Highway 30 here.

"That's why I was there all my life," said Carney, who works at a nearby convenience center.

His recollections, spanning more than 70 years, involved a once-thriving community that once boasted seven merchants, two grocery stores and five taverns. After railroad construction in Smith's Crossroads, now Dayton, the bustling town slipped away into memory.

Today, growing neighborhoods, Sullivan's Market, the Old Washington Baptist Church and the David Campbell Memorial Park make up the quiet community. In October it will mark its 200th anniversary as the first county seat of Rhea County with festivities and a 5-foot granite marker.

On Tuesday, Tom Davis, chairman of the Rhea County Historical and Genealogical Society, said board members had approved the $1,850 purchase of the granite marker from Dayton Monuments Inc. He said society members will vote on whether to use the society's money for the marker or to find funding elsewhere.

The scroll-top marker will have a placard or the engraved words "Town of Washington, TN, Est. 1812, First County Seat of Rhea County" on its front, he said.

Davis, also a correspondent for the Times Free Press, said the October festivities will feature displays of "old-time" crafts. Group members discussed using sorghum- and soap-making and log-hewing activities to highlight the festivities.

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