published Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Old Washington bicentennial connects generations

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    The monument to Maj. David Campbell, a veteran of the War of 1812, is one of the historic gravesites at the Old Washington Park in Rhea County, Tenn. Plans call for restoration and commemorative markers at the site. Photo by Kimberly McMillian
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IF YOU GO

What: Old Washington Bicentennial Celebration

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today; dedication at 2 p.m.

Where: David Campbell Memorial Park, off Highway 30

Admission: Free

DAYTON, Tenn. — Former and current residents of the Old Washington community will showcase the once-thriving gateway to the Tennessee River today at its bicentennial celebration.

Rusty Revis, pastor at the Old Washington Baptist Church, said the community where he spent his childhood "was a blessing ... everybody knew one another" and he felt it was a privilege when he was asked to serve the church there.

The area now boasts growing neighborhoods, Sullivan's Market and the David Campbell Memorial Park. Historical landmarks also highlight the community's charm and gravesites tie it to current Rhea County residents.

The Washington Ferry, a National Historic landmark, was established in 1807 and shut down in the 1990s after construction of the Highway 30 bridge connecting Rhea and Meigs counties.

"The town of Washington was chosen because of its location to the Tennessee River," said Becky Tucker, bicentennial event coordinator.

The ferry transported Union and Confederate troops during the Civil War and Cherokee Indians during the Trail of Tears removal.

Tucker said the bicentennial will feature information about the ferry from the former operator's daughter, Eva Goebel. She also said Donnie Ross, a fourth-generation grandson of Cherokee Chief John Ross, had notified her of his plan to attend.

The celebration also will feature information about the Old Washington Elementary School, which closed in 1981, and its predecessors, former principal Carrie Lee Maddux said.

Tucker said "roving participants" would roam through the crowd, portraying children of the early settlers and the Rhea Spartans, a group of women who made up the Civil War's only female cavalry company.

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