Two former professors of Anthropology at UT give insight into Knoxville’s history

Charlie Faulkner and Timothy Baumann spoke Tuesday night about finding a Masonic watch fob and a tinkling cone which they believe once belonged to James White.


Faulkner, left, lecturing with Baumann, right

Charlie Faulkner, a retired Distinguished Professor of Humanities in UT’s Anthropology Department, was one of the two lecturers who spoke about James White and the archaeological site of White’s homestead.

Faulkner began the excavation at the original site where White’s log cabin fort once stood in current-day east Knoxville. According to Faulkner, this fort was one of first buildings in Knoxville.

Initially, the dig was part of a road development project for the Department of Transportation, which limited the amount of the site that could be excavated by Faulkner.

A Masonic watch fob was found at the dig. James White was a part of the Masons, and  Faulkner stated that he is “pretty much convinced” that this fob belonged to White.

A tinkling cone was also found on the excavation site, which was an ornament made of metal that Native Americans would attach to their clothing and weapons which made a “tinkling” sound when moved. Faulkner said that this find, “..indicated that Native Americans had visited White, there’s no question about that because he was known among his settler friends to be very,very friendly with the Indians.”

According to Faulkner, White actually died on the plantation where his fort stood, but not inside the fort itself. This structure was occupied for quite a period of time after his death in 1821, which caused overlap in the different features and artifacts found at the site.


Most of the dinnerware found on the site was of orange and green colors, which was common in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. According to Faulkner, a fragment of a Chinese porcelain plate was also found that indicated the wealth of those living in the home.


Faulkner displaying White site artifacts

Faulkner stated that the British were the largest distributors of dinnerware until the late 19th century. When speaking about the dinnerware found at the site he said, “They came all the way from the coast in here, they were setting the same kind of table here in Knoxville that they were setting in Charleston or any port city.”

Timothy Baumann, current Curator of Archaeology at McClung Museum and the other lecturer present, spoke about a few of the artifacts found on the site and how they showed evidence of the cultural diversity in historic Knoxville. “The buttons are British made, that coin is Spanish…and the one thing that’s not on here are actual French gun flints that were found here, so just thing about all the material culture interaction in early Knoxville that people had access to.”









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