CANCELED: Nancy’s Story at Telford Ruritan Club

Due to a health emergency, the performances of Nancy scheduled for this Saturday, June 25th at the Telford Ruritan Club have been canceled. We are sorry to share this news, and we apologize for the inconvenience this causes. Guests who bought tickets will be issued full refunds. Our plan is to reschedule this show for later in the year. As soon as we have that new date, we will let you know.


In 1820, Elihu Embree published his newspaper The Emancipator on Main Street, Jonesborough. The seven edition paper is the first publication dedicated solely to the cause of abolitionism. Embree passed away in December of 1820. Even though the paper was short-lived, The Emancipator had over 2,000 subscribers and its reach went all the way to Boston and Philadelphia. In spite of his abolitionist beliefs, Embree himself was an enslaver. Nancy was an enslaved woman owned by Elihu Embree, and her story will be shared at the Telford Ruritan Club on Saturday, June 25th in the original play entitled “Nancy.”


Written by Anne G’Fellers-Mason, Executive Director of the Heritage Alliance, “Nancy” follows a year in the woman’s life, from January 1820 when Elihu Embree wrote his will to January 1821 when his will was read before the Washington County court. In his will, Embree tried to free Nancy and her five children, but were his wishes carried out? What was Nancy feeling and thinking during this time? The play is based on primary research relying heavily on documents from the Washington County Archives. The role of Nancy will be performed by local actress Ubunibi-Afia Short. “Nancy” won an Award of Excellence from the Tennessee Association of Museums and has been performed twice in the region to sold-out crowds. Do not miss your chance to see this powerful performance.


“It is an honor to bring the show to the stage at the Telford Ruritan Club,” Mason says. “The Heritage Alliance is all about making connections with our community, and we are so glad we can do that through Nancy’s story. We have performed this play in the Sarah Sevier Memorial Chapel at the Embree House Historic Farm and on a stair landing at Harris Hall at Washington College Academy. Nancy’s story can be shared just about anywhere. This time, we’re taking to the stage in the old, school auditorium. ”


There will be two performances on June 25th at 2:00 pm and 6:30 pm. The show is a fundraiser for the Telford Ruritan Club and the Heritage Alliance. The show will be performed onstage in the old Telford School located at 101 Telford School Road. Tickets are $15.00 and can be purchased directly through the Town of Jonesborough’s ticketing system at or by calling the Jonesborough Visitor’s Center at 423.753.1010. Seating is limited to only 50 people per performance, so make sure you purchase your tickets in advance.


The Heritage Alliance is dedicated to the preservation of the architectural, historical, and cultural heritage of our region and to providing educational experiences related to history and heritage for a wide range of audiences. For more information, visit our website at or call our office at 423.753.9580.


The Telford Ruritan Club has been serving their community since 1961. They host a BBQ supper on the second Friday of every month. They support various organizations including Wreaths across America, Tilted Tavern Animal Sanctuary, and St. Jude’s Second Harvest Food Bank. They maintain a Little Lending Library, a Community Produce Stand, and a roadside food pantry box at their site.


History Trivia Is Back!

The Heritage Alliance’s riotously fun trivia night returns this summer with three in-person dates!


Join us at the Eureka Inn in Jonesborough on Friday, May 27th at 7:00 pm for general history-based trivia questions, friendly competition, and a ton of fun! We will be outside in the courtyard for this event. Go ahead and mark Friday, June 24th and Friday, July 22nd on your calendars, too. Those will be our other trivia dates, locations for those two dates is TBD.


Not a “history buff?” Don’t worry! Trivia questions cover a wide range of topics and categories and include something for everyone. Previous topics have included Odd Jobs, Pop Culture, Food & Drink, Sports, and more!


Teams (of up to six people) can register up until the evening of the event, which will kick off at 7:00 PM and last approximately two hours. We request that teams check in with the hosts prior to the event. Joe Spiker and Megan Cullen Tewell with the Heritage Alliance will host the event, tallying points and administering prizes to the winners. The event is family-friendly and open to all ages. Cost is $10.00 per team, although additional donations are appreciated.


You can sign your team up for trivia at The link to sign up for the event is at the top of the page. Like and follow the Heritage Alliance on Facebook for more information.



This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Historical Commission. For more information on the Chester Inn Museum, History Happy Hour, or the Heritage Alliance please call our office at 423.753.9580 or the Chester Inn Museum at 423.753.4580.  You can also contact the organization via email at  Additional information about the Heritage Alliance and its mission can be found online at Be sure to follow the Chester Inn and Heritage Alliance Facebook pages for updates about events at the Chester Inn and other Heritage Alliance programs.

Homeschool Days at Oak Hill School

The Heritage Alliance is excited to offer two homeschool days at the historic Oak Hill School on May 16th and May 23rd. The award winning Oak Hill School Heritage Education program is the only experiential learning program of its type in this region, and homeschool students are encouraged to come and experience history with the Heritage Alliance in Tennessee’s Oldest Town.


Oak Hill School was built in 1886 to serve the community of Knob Creek. The building served local residents until it was closed in the 1950s. The school building was moved the seven miles from Knob Creek to Jonesborough and placed in its current location behind the Visitors Center. Today, Oak Hill School invites students to come for a day-long experience and enroll in school in 1893. Reading, writing, arithmetic, history, geography – even the pledge of allegiance – are all as they were prior to the turn of the last century.



School will last from 9:00am – 2:00pm on Monday, May 16th and May 23rd. This program is limited to 26 students, grades 1st – 12th, so sign up now!


May 16th is FULL. We still have space available on May 23rd.


Registration form for May 23rd is available here. The cost is $5.00 per student for the day at Oak Hill School. Students must register in advance. We cannot accept registration the day of the event. This event has a minimum registration of 12 students in order for it to take place.


Meet Josh Dacey, Site Manager for Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum

I grew up in a small mountain town at the foot of Blue Ridge. Tryon has no real claim to fame, other than being the birthplace of Nina Simone. The ancient movie theater and lone grocery store offered little in the way of entertainment. I spent most of my childhood tramping through the woods chasing dinosaurs or vanquishing  monsters, kept safe by my magic armor. When my gallant services were not required or it was pouring rain, comic books took me to other worlds filled with heroes and adventure. We were not a sports family. My parents were fierce advocates of the written word. My sister and I anxiously awaited our weekly trips to the library.The mesmerizing stacks containing thousands of books tantalized our young minds with endless possibilities. The smell is what I remember the most. Not musty. Not dusty. Old. I guess I have always been attracted to old things and old stories.

The first history book I stumbled across was, like many Southern historians, about the Civil War. I devoured everything I could find about the war. My parents and sister tolerated being dragged to reenactments on the weekends, despite the deafening cannon blasts that my dad swears are the reason he has to wear hearing aids. When I was 13 my grandfather agreed to a two week sojourn to visit every battlefield and fort as far north as Pennsylvania. Rambling around in his 25ft RV with his 31 pound cat, I was beyond the words in the books. I was there. The very sites of conflict and hardship. I developed an odd habit on that trip. My hand went into every stony crevice on every battlefield. It wasn’t an impulse so much as an obsession. I was searching, driven by the book I had just finished about a VMI cadet who fell at New Market called Ghost Cadet. Before the boy died he hid his pocket watch in a pile of stones.  Set in modern times, the story’s protagonist finds the watch and begins to see the specter of the fallen boy. So, to thirteen year old Joshua, I was going to find a watch and have lengthy discussions with a ghost. A perfectly normal thought  for a teenager of course. It was on that trip that I realized my purpose in life. To work at one of these places.

The only subject that mattered to me in school from that point forward was history. It was my major in both undergraduate and graduate school, although it did take a turn my freshman year. That year I discovered the world of museum studies and public history. This led to a four year internship in the Special Collections and Archives at UNC Asheville. Honing my skills as a curator and exhibition designer, by the time I graduated, UNC Greensborough’s Museum Studies Master’s degree was in my sights. Joining a cohort of nine other history fanatics, we worked tirelessly, not only learning the academic skills but the personal skills of connecting with individuals and a community. The vital connections that are required to share an individual or a community’s story with the world. Our crowning achievement at the end of those two years was a panel in the traveling “States of Incarceration” exhibition. The first and only exhibition to document the myriad problems with the U.S. prison system.

After graduation, I worked several years for North Carolina’s Historic Sites Commission, creating programs and community engagement at the birthplace of a former governor. After meeting my wife, New Hampshire became our next destination. During my time with NC Historic Sites I developed a passion for historic farming methods, heirloom vegetables, and 19th century foodways. We found 12 acres and an 1882 farm house just outside Hanover. Farming itch scratched and after four years of brutal winters, my teaching contract at Dartmouth College was over. We packed up and returned south. Over the convening months, we bounced around as nomads until I landed a gig with the National Park Service at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. A season of interpretation and hiking everyday restored a part of me that had gone dormant in the frigid New Hampshire cold. We also realized the South was truly our home. It is where our families live. It is where our history lives.



When I am not at the Chester Inn, I am usually gardening, cooking groovy vegan grub, writing, practicing my longbow skills, or brewing beer. Yes, I am still an avid bookworm and love comics. Our three dogs keep me on my toes and in shape as I chase them around the yard constantly. Being puppies, they usually evade my attempts to tucker them out. The opportunity to join the Heritage Alliance family is certainly a highlight in my career. The constant support and unending encouragement, not to mention nerdy banter, are what makes this a joyful job. I hope to serve you all and the Jonesborough Community for years to come.

SRS Paranormal Investigation at Chester Inn State Historic Site

The haunted and historic Chester Inn State Historic Site will be opened to the public for two nights of paranormal investigations on May 7th and 14th. The S.R.S Paranormal team will guide the hunt as they use their investigative equipment and teach the public the methods of their profession. The night will begin at 6pm and end around 11pm. There will be a limit of 20 participants that must be 12 years or older. Please email to register as slots will fill quickly. Cost is $25 per participant. Chester Inn is a Tennessee Historical Commission State-Owned Historic Site.

Picnicking with History on May 21st at Embree House Historic Farm

Get close with local history on Saturday, May 21st as the Heritage Alliance hosts “Picnicking with History” at the Embree House Historic Farm in Telford. This event will include a tour of three, historic homes and a chance to have a picnic lunch on the grounds. Tickets include the tour, a special, period appropriate tasty treat at each of the houses, and a boxed, picnic lunch from Main Street Café.

The tour will start at the Embree House. Built in the 1790s by Seth Smith, this stone house was the childhood home of Elihu Embree, publisher and editor of The Emancipator, the first periodical in the world dedicated solely to the cause of abolitionism. Guests will have a chance to tour the original great room in the house as well as the enslaved quarters in the lower level where the enslaved people worked and lived. From there, guests will have a chance to tour portions of the Wassom House, an 1820’s brick home that is currently being restored. The tour will conclude at the Kyker House, a 1950’s home. It’s not every day that you get a chance to tour three different homes from three different centuries. The Embree House and the Wassom House are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Kyker House received a Preservation Award from the Heritage Alliance.


The site as a whole is managed by Patrick Stern and is used for agrotourism. The event will conclude with a picnic lunch at the Embree House on the grounds where the Indigenous Peoples once lived and a Civil War battle was fought in 1863. Please note that these are historic houses and they include stairs, uneven ground, and tight spaces. During lunch, guests will have a chance to explore the grounds at the Embree House. Good walking shoes are required for this event.


There are four tour and lunch slots available on May 21st at 11:30 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:30 pm, and 4:00 pm. There are only 20 tickets available per slot, so make sure you book your tickets fast. The cost is $30.00 per person. This event is a unique fundraiser for the Heritage Alliance and the proceeds will help keep our museums free to the public. You can purchase tickets online through the Town of Jonesborough’s ticketing system at You can also call the Visitor’s Center at 423.753.1010.


History Happy Hour is Back In-Person at the Chester Inn Museum on April 21st

History Happy Hour is IN-PERSON and back at the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum on Thursday, April 21st at 6:30 pm!

Join us as we welcome back Dr. Ashley Rattner from Tusculum University. She’ll be sharing the fascinating history of “Shaker Dance at P.T. Barnum’s American Museum.” The program will begin at 6:30 pm and participants can join in-person or stream live on the Chester Inn Museum’s Facebook page at that time. The event will take place in the Chester Inn’s board room, located in the back addition of the building. The program is free and open to the public!


Based on a color lithograph of ca. 1826 by Anthony Imbert, entitled Shakers near Lebanon, via NYPL


History Happy Hour takes place on the third Thursday of the month through November at 6:30 pm. The full schedule for the year is available at and on the Chester Inn Museum’s Facebook page.  Put the dates on your calendar, because you never know what you’re going to learn at History Happy Hour. This program offers insightful history to the public, fosters a collaborative relationship with various individuals and organizations, and increases the role of the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum as a community meeting place.

This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Historical Commission.

Chester Inn Museum Opens for 2022 Season with New Exhibit

The Chester Inn State Historic Site & Museum kicked off its 2022 season on March 4th. The museum is currently on its spring hours and is open Monday and Friday-Saturday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Hours will expand for the summer on Wednesday, May 4th.


The Chester Inn is excited to partner with the Cedar Grove Foundation again in 2022. Our newest exhibit shares more stories from the Cedar Grove Community, which was founded by formerly enslaved and free African Americans in Elizabethton, Tennessee. The stories in this exhibit focus on three churches in Elizabethton that are important to the Black community, members of the community who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and the Douglas School. Did you know one of the Tuskegee Airmen lived in Elizabethton for a time? Come and see the exhibit and learn more about Lt. Dempsey Morgan, Brown’s Chapel AME Zion Church, and so much more.



“We always enjoy providing museum space for the Cedar Grove Foundation,” says Heritage Alliance Executive Director Anne Mason. “They have so many wonderful artifacts to share and so many wonderful stories to tell. Their Director Jacey Augustus is always bringing us something new. The exhibit keeps growing because we keep learning as we go.” The current exhibit will be on display through the first of July, so make sure you stop by and check it out. There is no admission price for the Chester Inn Museum, but there is a suggested $2 donation per visitor. Keep up to date with the museum by following the Chester Inn on Facebook and YouTube!


Town tours are also back in full swing. Jonesborough’s Historic Strolling Tour is available every Saturday at 1:00 pm. Tickets are only $5.00. The tour leaves from the Chester Inn and costumed guides share the history of Tennessee’s Oldest Town and the people who called it home.


The Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Historical Commission.

Heritage Alliance Awarded SHARP Grant from Humanities Tennessee

The Heritage Alliance is honored to be selected as a recent recipient of a Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP) grant, made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities. SHARP grants are part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and the stipends support and uplift humanities organizations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to this program, Humanities Tennessee, located in Nashville, was able to provide almost $950,000 to over 90 entities across the state. The Heritage Alliance is one of forty entities to receive a SHARP grant in the East Tennessee division.




The Heritage Alliance qualified for the grant as a nonprofit organization with a primary mission of public humanities education. Opened in 2001, the Heritage Alliance manages several historic sites and museums throughout Jonesborough, as well as offers historical and educational programs, exhibits, town and cemetery tours, and school group experiences. “We are grateful that Humanities Tennessee acknowledges the relevance and merit of our work, and we are eager to use these grant funds to continue our mission of historical education and preservation in our region,” says Anne G’Fellers-Mason, Executive Director of the Heritage Alliance. Grant funds will be used to develop future organizational plans and respond to some of the challenges created by the pandemic.


Learn more about the SHARP grant, as well as the Heritage Alliance’s programs and historic sites/museums, at and like the organization on Facebook or Instagram for more information.


Exhibit Opening Celebration for Railroad Pop Culture Exhibit at the Chuckey Depot Museum

All aboard! Next stop, the railroad in pop culture! The Chuckey Depot Museum in Jonesborough will host a reception for its newest exhibit “Good Morning, America, How Are Ya?: Railroad Americana, A Pop Culture Phenomenon” on Saturday, March 5th from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm. The railroad has been a part of American history, culture, and society since the mid-1800s. It has worked its way into books, music, toys, clothes, movies, art, and much more.


The exhibit includes pop culture artifacts from multiple decades. How have toy trains changed through the years? How many movie plots are focused on trains? What does a train lover take their lunch to school in? A train themed lunch box, of course, complete with matching spoon and fork. See all these items and much more on display in the museum. Come out between 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm on March 5th to view the new exhibit, enjoy railroad songs performed by local musician Scott Wild, and listen to a story from railroad historian Gary Price. The Chuckey Depot Museum is free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated.


You can visit the museum in person on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. The Railroad Americana exhibit will be on display at the museum through August of 2022. For more information on the exhibit or the Chuckey Depot Museum, visit, follow the Chuckey Depot on Facebook, or call the Visitor’s Center at 423-753-1010.