Grainger County In Days Gone By By Thomas RoachDec. 27, 1962
The John Hammer house located on Highway 92 in Grainger County is one of the most interesting landmarks in East Tennessee.This house was built in the early 1800s by John Hammer who married a Miss Callison.The Callison estate was comprised of several hundred acres of which John Hammer became the owner of a larger portion of the land after his marriage to Miss Callison.
The house was built of logs and covered with clapboards.This is a two story structure and the second story was used as the slave quarters.The house stands very close to the highway but due to a screen of large boxwoods in front of the house it goes unnoticed by most motorist.A central chimney was built into the house to afford heat in the kitchen and living quarters.The fireplaces are very large and are of the type found in the early American home.
This house was often referred to by the older people as the “bee house”.Mr. Hammer bored holes in the side of the house in a portion of the second floor where beehives were kept, and as the bees gathered nectar from the blooms on the nearby hillsides they would fly directly to the beehives located in the attic of the house.The bees were kept in the house as late as 1915 at the time Mr. Newt Morgan owned the house.It was an unusual sight for the passerby to see the bees entering the attic of the house through the bored holes in the top of the structure.Different sources give different reasons why bees were kept in the house.Some say the bees were put in the house during the Civil War to protect the honey from Union soldiers that were expected to raid the house for food.While others say it was only a means of offering the bees protection from the weather and to it was convenient to the household to have honey nearby as it was used by the early pioneers more frequently than by people today as sugar was very difficult to acquire and too honey was used for cough syrups and home remedies for colds.
The family cemetery is located on a hill overlooking the house.This place too I found very interesting.As I walked through the cemetery mid century old grave markers covered with moss, the vegetation cloaked in its wintery brown, the snowflakes as they drifted down from the sky above and came to rest on the tombs to further progress the age of decay, I suddenly felt that I was an intruder.At the instant I stooped down to pick up an overturned headstone, a rabbit that had found refuge in a clump of grass near the stone, leaped past me and scared the wits out of me.
The grave markers read: John A. Hammer, born March 22, 1834, died March 3, 1902.This was the son of the John A. Hammer that built the house.---John Callison born July 8, 1811, died Sept. 28, 1855.This was a relative of the wife of John A. Hammer. ---J. S. Greenlee, born Aug. 17th , 1824, died June 12th, 1898.---Martha Morgan, born Nov. 23, 1832, died September 30, 1901.
A bed that was once owned by the John Hammer family was given to Mrs. Hall Waller, a descendant of the Callison family.The bed is the corded type and shows expert workmanship.
I wish to thank Mrs. Clarence Morgan, who now lives in the Hammer’s House, for letting me browse through the old house, Mrs. Auma Hammer for some valuable information concerning the Hammer family, and also Mrs. Hall Waller with whom I had an informative fireside chat concerning the early pioneer families of Tennessee.