Dedication of three state historical markers relating to African American history in Town of Marion will be dedicated at 12 noon. More details to follow.
Here are the texts of the three markers:
Mount Pleasant Methodist Church
African Americans, exercising newfound autonomy after the Civil War, withdrew from white-led congregations and established new churches, including Mount Pleasant Methodist Church in Marion ca. 1871. After sharing a frame sanctuary with a local Baptist congregation, Mount Pleasant erected a new brick sanctuary here in 1914. Black brickmasons constructed the building in the Gothic Revival and Romanesque Revival styles. The church became a cultural center for the African American community, hosting musical performances, lectures, and meetings of the local branch of the NAACP and other organizations. Mount Pleasant closed in 2002.
“The Crying Tree”
Sarah Elizabeth “Sallie” Adams (1841-1913) was about five years old when she and her family were sold at a slave auction outside the Smyth County Courthouse. Thomas Thurman, whose house stood near here, bought Sallie to be a body servant for his sickly wife. A slave owner from Lynchburg purchased Sallie’s mother, whom she never saw again, and her siblings. In later years, Sallie told her children that, when possible, she would slip out of Thurman’s house and cry next to a white oak tree in the yard. She would sometimes hug the tree and tell it about her burdens and sorrows, and it became her friend and confidant. That tree ultimately became known in the community as “The Crying Tree.”
Carnegie High School
The Rev. Amos Carnegie came to Marion by 1927 as pastor of Mount Pleasant Methodist Church. Finding the town’s school for African Americans “hardly fit for a stable,” he organized a campaign for a new building. When the school board delayed, Carnegie raised money from the black community and secured a grant from the Julius Rosenwald Fund, which supported more than 5,000 schools for black students across the South. The four-teacher building, constructed by black craftsmen who donated their labor, opened in 1931 and closed in 1965, when local schools were desegregated. Katherine Johnson, who later made crucial contributions to the U.S. space program at NASA, taught here for several years.