Explore the heritage of the families from Between The Rivers in the 2020 Land Between The Lakes Geocache Challenge. The annual Heritage Geocache Challenge is produced by the Heritage Program at Land Between the Lakes.

This year, there are two challenges. The first focuses on the African American heritage of Lyon County Between the Rivers. The second challenge begins in the fall and focus on the Bicentennial of Trigg County.

For the “Land Between the Lakes 2020 Heritage Geocache Challenge: African American Heritage of Between the Rivers”, there are 7 geocaches.  All are related to the African American Heritage of the area. The first 100 people to locate each geocache and collect a numbered aluminum tree tag from each cache, can turn them in at Golden Pond Visitor Center for a Challenge Coin. The commemorative coin for this event features Andrew Jackson Smith, a Civil War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient from Lyon County.

There are 7 geocache locations focusing on African American Heritage:

The “Little Chicago” Community

Little Chicago was a thriving African American neighborhood in Between The Rivers. Oral histories maintain that in the 1940s, the area had some gambling and bootlegging which reminded some of Chicago. The name “Little Chicago” stuck. Despite the nick-name, the community also had well-respected businesses, a church and a school that served the local African American Population. This geocache discusses the Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church, community leader Ewing Benberry, restaurant owner Mary Majors, and the community’s displacement by TVA.

Andrew Jackson Smith

This geocache commemorates the life of Andrew Jackson Smith. Smith was born into slavery, escaped, and joined the Union Army. Born Between the Rivers in 1843 to a slave name Susan, Smith was active with the Union Army from 1861 until 1865.  He saw action at the battle of Shiloh in Tennessee and the Battle of Honey Hill in South Carolina. After the war, Smith returned home to Lyon County, worked in farming and real-estate, and married Amanda Young, a daughter of John Young Jr.

This geocache discusses the life of Andrew Jackson Smith and his family, the Medal of Honor he received.

The Henderson Chapel School

Henderson Chapel was one of three schools for African American children in Lyon County between the rivers; Henderson Chapel, Young’s Grove, and Oakland. The Chapel is named for the Henderson family, a local African American family. This geocache briefly discusses the Henderson family’s arrival in the area, nearby families, and African American teacher William Henderson.

The Center Furnace Community

Center Furnace was a thriving iron industry community from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s. The town had a store, stables, and blacksmith, as well as a boarding house, churches, schools, neighborhoods. Center Furnace also had a large African American community that provided the majority of the labor for the furnace industry. This geocache discusses the African American community, the substantial Hillman family slave holdings, and life after emancipation.

The John Young Property

This location is the oldest known farmstead on the plat of land once owned by John Young Sr., an early white settler along the Tennessee River. In 1810, Young was living in Caldwell County with a white wife and 4 white sons. Around 1820, John Young Sr. may have also had an African American son named Joseph Young.

In 1836, John young Sr. and John Young Jr. made an agreement that if John Young Jr. cared for John Young Sr. till the end of his life, John Young Jr. would inherit the estate. Upon John Young Sr.’s death in 1841. John Young Sr. freed his adult female slave named Jenny, but her three young mixed-race daughters (Malinda, Phyllis, and Margaret Jane) were deeded to John Young Jr. and may have been his children. In 1850, John Young Jr., Jenny, and their family are living in a mixed-race household with both free and enslaved family members.

This geocache discusses the Young family, the lives of the African American children, and the map of the John Young property.

The Young’s Grove Community

Young’s Grove originated as a community of African American families headed by Joseph Young (the son of John Young Sr.). By the early 1900s, Young’s Grove was operating both a church and a school for the local African American population. In 1921, the Trustees of Young’s Grove Free Will Baptist Church traded an acre of land with the Allison family and moved their church building closer to the community, (see if you can locate the nearby church and school marker-posts). In 1940 and 1941, all of the land in the Young’s Grove community was acquired by the Tennessee Valley Authority. This geocache discusses the Young’s Grove community and its relationship to the nearby cemeteries.

Eddy Bend: The McRacken Property

Hugh McRacken was a white farmer and a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives. He submitted petitions for the creation of Calloway and Graves counties in 1822. McRacken and his family lived on this plot of land on the Cumberland River when he died in 1843. Hugh McRacken never legally married, but he did live with an enslaved woman, Millie McRacken, and their children. All the McRackens were freed after Hugh’s death. This geocache discusses the lives of the McRacken family members.

Heritage

This is the fifth year of the Heritage Geocache Challenge at the Land Between the Lakes. Learn about the families that once lived between the rivers. In each watertight box is a laminated and folded card with information about the site you are visiting. Learn about the people who once lived in the area we now call the Land Between the Lakes!

Respect the cultural and environmental resources of the National Recreation Area. If you pack it in, please pack it out. Please don’t remove or disturb cultural items that might have been there for decades. These offer clues to the way people lived and used the landscape in the past.

Links and Resources

If you’re interested in participating in the 2020 Heritage Geocache Challenge, visit www.geocaching.com and find “LBL Heritage”.

Links to the individual geocaches:

https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC8JYNM_little-chicago

https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC8JZH8_andrew-jackson-smith

https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC8JYWY_john-young-property

https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC8JYT1_henderson-chapel-school

https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC8JZGN_youngs-grove-community

https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC8JYTY_the-center-furnace-community

https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC8JYR1_eddy-bend

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