The River of Time exhibit is built around seven historical figures who exemplify facets of the area’s history, from the Cherokee through the present day. Each of these figures puts a human face on a crucial aspect of our region’s history and culture — in keeping with the Museum Center’s mission to highlight “the adventures of its people.”.
Fallen Sky is a Cherokee who was born in 1758. He speaks to us in the year of 1836, at 78 years of age. Fallen Sky and his wife, Nakwisi, have a small farm in Red Hill Valley in southeastern Bradley County.
He is a wise old man, weathered with age, having spent most of his life working outside. His clothing is typical for Cherokee men of that time: broadfall trousers with buttons, a ribbon shirt with wide sleeves and a small tab collar, a tunic/vest made out of leather. Wearing a turban, Fallen Sky represents the Cherokee and early man, speaking eloquently about the “trouble” that has befallen his people during those years.
Its ultimate tragedy was the Trail of Tears in 1838, when the U.S. government relocated the Cherokee from their historic homeland. The head of that Trail was in Bradley County, as is the site of the last Cherokee council ground..
Walter Broomfield is a circuit-riding Methodist minister. He traveled on horseback around the Ocoee Region holding camp meetings and “preachin’ services.” He was born in 1800, and we meet him in 1840.
Walter wears a suit coat and vest and trousers of a dark woven fabric. He wears a shirt with a “disposable” collar and no tie. He probably has a beard and longish hair, since he traveled around so much. His face is rather stern, but his eyes are gentle. He is a tall and lanky man.
Walter represents the influence religion has had upon our area, as well as the determination ingrained in our early settlers. Even today, Cleveland hosts the headquarters of the Church of God and its primary institution of higher education, Lee University.
Lucy Ratcliffe is 11 years old in 1861. She has blondish-brown hair and blue eyes. She is a farm girl, growing up on a farm down near McDonald, and is used to fresh air and sunshine. She is the eldest of four children, two brothers and a baby sister.
The most important thing happening in Lucy’s life when we meet her is that her poppa is leaving to be a soldier in the Civil War.
Lucy represents the element of agriculture that has always played an important part in the development of our area, while she is witness to the deep divisions and conflicting emotions that split East Tennessee into Union and Confederate camps in the Civil War.
Otis Taylor is the first freightmaster at the railroad station. We meet him in 1910.
Otis is a short man, with a fringe of gray hair around his balding head. He has a friendly smile and twinkling eyes. He loves the railroad and his job as freightmaster. Otis wears a short cutaway coat with a contrasting vest and striped trousers. Naturally, his large pocket watch and chain are a part of his daily wear. He probably wears a railroad cap.
Otis represents the railroad and its impact on our region. Charleston and Cleveland were major depots on the main Southern Railroad line, and rail traffic and transportation in general are still crucial here.
Burl Owenby works on the line at one of the early stove foundries. Burl is medium tall with reddish hair and a ruddy complexion. Being born in 1910, Burl talks to us when he is 30 years old, 1940.
Burl wears a factory apron over dark trousers. Burl worked as a molder, an important job, vital to the success of a stove foundry.
Our area spawned such industry leaders as Magic Chef and Hardwick Stove — now part of the giant Maytag consumer products company. He also represents all of industry and how it has impacted Cleveland and Bradley County.
Sarah Scott is a schoolteacher at the College Hill School. Sarah is African-American and 50 years old in 1963, having been born in 1913.
Sarah is a tall and solid woman with an attractive face and very conservative clothes. Sarah also has a conservative, older hairstyle, and in many ways appears older than her 50 years. Sarah teaches English to the high school students, and is extremely well respected in the community.
Sarah’s place in our living history cast represents our African-American community, as well as the development of education.
Dewey Hooper is 27 years old in 1986, when we speak to him. He is young, attractive and physically strong.
He worked as a carpenter on the reconstruction of the flume line that runs above the Ocoee River, and now he works for TVA doing maintenance on the flume. Dewey is dressed in jeans and work boots, with a T-shirt or work shirt and hard had. Dewey probably has dark hair and suntanned skin, with honest, earnest eyes.
Dewey represents the rivers that surround our area, and the impact they have had on commerce and industry. His efforts also symbolize TVA’s historic influence and the continuing regional importance of the Ocoee, which was the site of the 1996 Olympic Games whitewater kayak and canoe events. ventures of its people.”