September 13, 2021

VISITING MISS MAUDE AT BEERSHEBA

No one ever loved a place more than Miss Maude Hunter loved the little community of Beersheba Springs on the Cumberland Plateau!  She had dreams of dying on the mountain—maybe even getting picked up from there like Elijah by a chariot of fire.

She lived in an apartment in Nashville and worked. Every summer she would take young people from church to put on a Vacation Bible School at the Beersheba Church of Christ. Tom was one of those Nashville kids—and he caught Miss Maude’s passion for Beersheba.

Many well-to-do families from Nashville and Chattanooga owned summer homes on the mountain—some had been in their family for generations.  And there was a community of year-round residents, many of whom struggled to make a living.  

Maude became friends with Edna Davenport from McMinnville, who had renovated or built several log homes in Beersheba.  With her help, Maude finally was able to buy a small cabin just down the street from the church.  She spent weekends and most of the summer there, planning to come permanently after she retired.

This photo was taken one fall weekend in 1968 when she invited us to bring baby Heather to spend some time with her.  Tom had gotten the crazy idea that we should buy a summer place at Beersheba, too.

Her place was cozy and cluttered. She built a fire in the fireplace and made us feel at home. She cooked up some fried chicken and cornbread, and brewed strong coffee in a little percolator on the stove. Her specialty was bacon crackers—wrap a piece of bacon around saltine crackers and bake them in a 250 degree oven for about two hours.  So crisp and delicious—still a family favorite appetizer!

The next day we met Edna Davenport and within a few months, we had our own log home at Beersheba. Miss Maude’s love for this beautiful spot was irresistible.  The photo of the church there is from a book on Beersheba history.  I think they changed the name of the road in front of her house to Hunter’s Mill Road in her honor.  Even a statue of her wouldn’t be too much!

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