"Tanasi [Arts and Heritage Center] is a place where Tennessee Mountain Traditions connect today with yesterday. Welcome to Tanasi, a gathering place. Music, dance, food, fun, and artful fancy interpret the Tanasi experience waiting to be enjoyed in the 40,000 square foot building that will showcase the fine arts, crafts, and cultural heritage of Tennessee's Appalachian Mountains. The Center will be nestled into the mountainside located at exit 32 on I-26 in the town of Unicoi. It will be a shining showcase for Tennessee Arts and goods, and an example of excellence in preserving the green environment...."
-- quoted from brochure explaining purpose of and membership in Tanasi, snailmail: c/o Town of Unicoi, P. O. Box 39, Unicoi TN 37692
"John H. Carnes was the fifth child and oldest son of Hubbard and Dicie Robertson Carnes' nine surviving children. John was born on July 26, 1833.... While 403 slaves were listed in the 1850 Sevier County census, there were no slaves or farm laborers on Hubbard's farm.... John H. and his brother James Lafayette married daughters of Emanuel and Catharine Bird Fox.... The 1860 census listed John as a tanner with a personal worth of $235 and no land value.... When John was 29, he and his three younger brothers Harvy D., Perry B., and James Lafayette rode off to fight with the Union army.... The four Carnes brothers enlisted on October 16, 1862 in Sevier County as volunteers in the Union Army (Co. K, 2 TN Cav.). The brothers mustered in at Murfreesboro on January 26, 1863.... His relatives who also fought in the war included his uncle John Robertson, two cousins Caleb and Cleason Robertson, and two brothers-in-law, Amos Clark (husband of John's older sister Tressa) and Thomas Walker.... Harvy and Perry were fatally wounded at Murfreesboro and are buried in the Stones River National Cemetery.... At the 1886 Grand Army of the Republic Encampment in San Francisco, the aging Union veterans at the national convention were reminded 'that no part of the country was more devoted in its loyalty than East Tennessee. For instance, the county of Sevier, which sent into the Union army more men than it had voters, match that if you can in any part of the loyal North!'... The 1910 census listed John as a farmer who occupation was 'odd jobs.' He now farmed 45 acres that he owned free and clear. Even though he was 76, he reported being out of work for only six weeks in 1909. His hearing was still good, but he reported having sight in only one eye, which might have been war related.... John and Catharine were married 32 years until his death at age 81 on February 26, 1915.... During his lifetime, John H. Carnes knew the joys of family life, the struggle of hard work, and the destruction and devastation of our bloody Civil War. After enduring the misery of marching in war, he then saw one son volunteer for the Spanish-American War and the beginning of the first Great World War with his sons registering for the draft. He buried both his parents, his loving [first] wife Mary, two children, two brothers, and five sisters.... During his boyhood the local Cherokee Indians were forced to march away on the 1838 Trail of Tears. In John's younger years the rugged mountains sheltered Sevier County from outside influence. Livestock and flour were listed in the 1830 census as the principal exports.... It must have been a wonder to John that during his adult life, while he was providing for his family from the soil of his Sevier County farm, three Presidents were assassinated, the Wright brothers flew, the great earthquake shook San Francisco, Chicago burned, Peary reached the North Pole, Blackjack Pershing chased Pancho Villa deep into Mexico, the Wild West was tamed, the Titanic sank, and Babe Ruth debuted with the Red Sox. Perhaps John H. felt a sense of satisfaction to see the Union he fought for, and that his two brothers gave their lives to preserve, add 12 more states after the war ended which completed the jigsaw map of the contiguous United States.... Despite the miles, their [dispersed] families remained close through the blood ties that bound their mountain kin together with love and heritage."
-- Brenda Carnes in Smoky Mountain Historical Society Journal and Newsletter, Spring 2009
"Announcement of a $50,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation for planning a 'Green Building' as part of the Tanasi Regional Heritage Center is welcome news. The center, to be located off Interstate 26 in Unicoi County, will contain a number of 'green' features such as use of daylight to cut energy costs, vegetative roofs and rainwater capture to be used for irrigation and landscaping. Unicoi Town Mayor Johnny Lynch said this month, 'This grant is a spark plug. It will come in very handy at this point in time. It's an important step for our Tanasi steering committee. In my opinion, this will be the catalyst that will get things started. It's given us a lift to work harder toward the success of this Tanasi (project).' The proposed $20 million cultural center, local craft outlet, heritage complex and restaurant will 'connect the present with the past. We will emphasize history and the people of Tennessee -- the way they really are,' Lynch said. 'Tanasi' is a Native American word for Tennessee.... 'This is the gateway. Our site will say Welcome (to Tennessee),... We will be referring people to other sites throughout the whole region. We are going to help each other.' The heritage center is expected to be an economic stimulus for Northeast Tennessee when completed. The tourist money generated should attract development and increased business activity throughout the region, according to the Mayor, justifying public investment in the project.... Lych commented that Tanasi would promote events like storytelling and Jonesborough as the state's oldest town.... We want to make this area (Northeast Tennessee) a destination, Lynch said. 'We plan to have a variety of arts and crafts at the center, and music groups on a periodic basis.'..."
-- editorial, Herald & Tribune, 10/20/09