July 22, 2021

FIRST DAY ISSUE STAMPS AT NIOTA

Niota is a tiny town just a few miles up the road from Athens. It was always best known as the home of the Springbrook Country Club with the area’s premier golf course and swimming pool. My brother Monte was a key member and golfing was his passion. And in later years, Jerry and Marilyn were members and loved playing golf there. 

 Niota gained national attention when its entire local government was made up of women!  They claimed it was the only town in America completely (and officially) run by women. Perhaps they had elected a few men by the time this photo was made. The old town depot had been converted into City Hall and also contained the town post office.

After Jerry and Marilyn’s beautiful daughter Kim died from breast cancer, they worked tirelessly for research and early diagnosis.  When the US Postal Service planned a Breast Cancer Awareness stamp, the Niota postmaster (who of course was a woman) requested that Niota be a site for the first day issue in honor of Kim.  She got the necessary approval and I drove over to join in the festivities.  Area media coverage was excellent and Jerry and Marilyn were presented a large replica of the stamp. One of Kim’s UT doctors (also a woman) spoke and announced a new research foundation named for Kim. It seemed a perfect way to remember Kim.

While there, I browsed around the post office and was delighted to see that a year or so earlier they had another first day issue stamp in Niota.  That one was in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment which gave women the vote. Why would that stamp be introduced in little Niota?  Because that was the home of Harry T. Burn, the young Tennessee representative who cast the tie-breaking vote for ratification.  That made Tennessee the required 36th state to ratify and the amendment finally became law.

Seeing that stamp reminded me of my family connection to Harry T. Burn, and there began my ongoing fascination with learning more details about this historic story.  This photo shows me with the grandkids in 2016 at the historic marker for Burn, next to the Niota cemetery where he was buried. 

Niota has some fascinating stories!  That’s what happens when women can vote and when they are elected.  

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