This past Sunday, this country celebrated our independence on July 4, 2021. It turned 245 years old on that date. This is young for a country.
Frederick Emert fought for our freedom from the British during the Revolutionary War. He was my great grandfather some six or seven times removed on my father’s side.
After the war, he settled his family in what is now in Sevier County in East Tennessee. It is in a beautiful location bordered by the Middle Fork of the Little Pigeon River. An ancient church and cemetery there is the burial place of Grandpa Frederick, his wife Barbara, and many of their family members.
A covered bridge that spans the Little Pigeon River was built in Frederick’s honor at Emert’s Cove. The bridge was restored a few years ago with a plaque honoring Frederick. It gives me a feeling of pride to know that one of my relatives played a part in helping our country gain its freedom.
The old Emert homeplace was not too far from Emert’s Cove. No, it was not built by Frederick, but an Emert built it and it would be around 200 years old if it was still standing.
Back in the late 1980s or early ’90s, the state of Tennessee decided to build a road to Pigeon Forge and wanted the land where the old home place stood. It was torn down, but a road was never built. Another house stands there now.
It hurt my heart when that happened. Many of my happiest days of childhood were spent in that old house when my dad had his vacation leave while in the Air Force.
I loved sitting around my Grandma Emert’s old Warm Morning wood stove in her parlor as Daddy and his brothers and maybe a sister or two would pull out their instruments and get a spontaneous concert going.
They were a talented bunch. Daddy and my Uncle Otha played guitars, Uncle Glenn played a mandolin, Uncle Vic provided his rich, strong voice, and others played fiddles, auto harps and such. I loved the music.
Some songs were lively tunes like “Carry Me Back to the Mountains” or “Wild Wood Flower.” Many of the really old tunes were tragic tales of lost loves and even murder. “Knoxville Girl” comes to mind. It was about some girl who was murdered and her body was left by the Tennessee River — if I remember correctly.
I remember one particular singer my mother thought was the worst singer she’d ever heard. She could not understand how anyone bought any of his music, but he was popular. I was little, but I remember his name, Ernest Tubb.
The song I can remember him singing is “I’m Walking the Floor Over You.” Whenever he came on the radio Daddy would turn up the volume and Mama would groan while Daddy laughed. I have to admit that I agree with my mother. He couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.
I loved Tennessee Ernie Ford. My parents took my sister and me to the Tennessee State Fair one time when Daddy was on recruiting duty in Knoxville. This was the first time I ever heard Ford sing. Even as a little kid, I loved his deep, rich voice. If I recall, he was singing to a dancing refrigerator. Go figure.
He became quite popular and guest starred on several television shows way back when, like “I Love Lucy.” His Christmas album was my favorite and a favorite song was “Some Children See Him.” Thinking back on the words to this song, it had to do with how children saw the baby Jesus. He was not white in some children’s eyes, but brown or dark. This was quite modern in those days. It made me mindful of different cultures and beliefs. And he was right.
As I grew older, my music tastes changed. I was a Beatles fan for years and still love their music, but in my heart, the ancient music of the mountains will always fill my soul, even Ernest Tubb’s.
Frederick Emert, our Revolutionary War soldier makes Independence Day all the more special. His legacy lives on in our Emert family history.