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- [Announcer] "Tennessee Crossroads" is made possible in part by. - [Phil] I'm Tennessee Tech President, Phil Oldham. Here in Cookeville, Tennessee's college town, we are bold, fearless, confident, and kind. Tech prepares students for careers by making everyone's experience personal. We call that living wings up. Learn more at tntech.edu. - [Voiceover] Averitt's Tennessee roots run deep. They've been delivering logistics solutions here for over 50 years. And though Averitt's reach now circles the globe, the volunteer state will always be home. More at averitt.com. - [Voiceover] Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways. Discover Tennessee's adventure, cuisine, history, and more made in Tennessee experiences showcased among these 16 driving trails. More at TNTrailsAndByways.com. - This time on "Tennessee Crossroads," we travel to Lynnville to sample some old time fried pies. Then explore the historic homes of Castalian Springs. We'll take a unique farm tour in Springfield and wind up at Ike's Amish Depot in Ethridge. Hi everybody, I'm Joe Elmore. Welcome again to "Tennessee Crossroads." If you grew up in the South, there's a pretty good chance you've enjoyed a fried pie. A true southern dessert from the past. Well, recently, Laura Faber traveled to Giles County and met a couple making fried pies the delicious, good old fashioned way. - About 60 miles south of Nashville sits the quaint little town of Lynnville, Tennessee in Giles County. 59 homes and businesses sit on the historic register here. We came to town today to check out one business that's making some history of its own by frying up pies. Think fruit filling or other sweetness wrapped in dough, similar to a pie crust, and deep fried. Add a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream and you've got a bowl full of nostalgia. Lynnville Fried Pies has been serving up sweetness since 2014. Chuck and Patty Nicks are the owners. Okay, so who's the baker? Were any of you bakers? - No. - Like Chuck, were you a secret baker in your life in California? - No. Never, never. - And he still isn't. - It really started about the building. It was Grandma's Market. - And we redid it. - And we tore everything out of the place and redid everything. And then we stood back and looked at it and said, "That was pretty good." - "And now what are we gonna do?" - "What are we gonna do with it now?" - [Laura] Chuck is originally from Tennessee and remembers eating fried pies as a boy. Patty, who is from California, had never heard of them before. - A fried pie is definitely a southern delicacy or a southern dessert, I should say. And like Chuck says, he remembers being a kid and buying a fried pie and sticking it in his pocket and carrying it around all day. And so it got squished and, but they ate 'em anyway. So we like to sell them fresh and it's also sometimes called a hand pie. And they're about so big and they're made from a circle and they're closed and crimped in with a filling inside. And it's a pastry dough. When we fry it, the pastry is like, I mean it's a pie pastry, and it puffs up and it is flaky and it has a flavored filling inside. And we have nine flavors that we make. - [Chuck] These are all fruit flavors. - [Patty] They're fruit flavors, they're all sweet. - [Laura] Everything here at the Lynnville Fried Pie Company is homemade, the dough and the fillings. Chuck and Patty sell nine different flavors. - [Employee] The dough is very important. - [Laura] 650 to 800 pies are made every day. They are built in stages, cut into circles first, then filled. - [Employee] Each filling has a different amount of scoop in it. - [Laura] The perfect crimped edges come from a hand cranked machine. Then they are carefully fried to a golden brown. - We need to let those cool a little bit before we put 'em up front. - [Laura] I read a lot online about the flaky crust. You can't tell me everything about that, can you? - No. - Can't tell you anything about that. - [Laura] It's a secret that you're protecting. - Yes. - How you get these crusts so flaky. - Mm-hmm, it is a secret because we have a lot of people who come in and request and wanna know if we use this or we use that, we, you know, it's the secret sauce, so . We do protect that. - [Laura] Customers come from all over. Many are tourists, lots are regulars, like their son Evan and grandson Caleb, like Slim and Bonnie Marler. - [Slim] I'm having a cherry fried pie. - And is that your favorite? - Cherry is my favorite. - [Laura] And what is it about it that makes it so great? - The taste is phenomenal and it reminds me of my aunt's. My aunt used to make these homemade and she has complimented them phenomenally 'cause she said they're better than the ones that she's ever made homemade. - So we came in and met Pat and Chuck and they're just so fresh and delicious. You just can't resist them. - [Laura] You're eating what flavor today? - Chocolate. - The Marler's own a bed and breakfast and gift these fried pies to guests. Everyone has their favorite. - [Patty] I love chocolate. I'm a chocolate person. And our chocolate pie is wonderful. Our filling is very rich and creamy and we make all of our fillings here in the store. And blackberry I think is wonderful. - I'm a Lemon fan. - Yeah, the lemon. Lemon is really good. - [Laura] What did I read your top three sellers are? - [Chuck] Apple, peach, and chocolate. - [Laura] Those are the top three. I'm interested in the coconut cream one. - [Phil] Oh yes, it's like a coconut cream pie and it has shaved coconut in it. All right. - All right, I want a chocolate fried pie. - Sweet wife? - For my sweet wife. You know, since you mentioned it, I feel guilty if I don't get her something. - That was my purpose. - I knew you were gonna put guilt on me. - [Laura] Chuck and Patty have had other careers before this one. They never would've guessed this would be their retirement job. With a staff that's like family, serving up a dish of deliciousness that happens to bring back happy memories for lots of people has been priceless. - [Patty] We do something that people don't, you know, it's unique, it's different for them, and everybody's happy, and when they leave, they're happy. So it gives you a good feeling. - Back to the old is forever new. Keeping something that has been around for a long time. And when customers come in and we get into a conversation, we'll say, if we come in second to grandma, we feel like we've won, and we put a smile on your face while you're doing it. - Thanks a lot, Laura. Back in 2020, a new nonprofit was formed in Sumner County to oversee three important landmarks. Historic Castalian Springs's mission is to preserve and perpetuate three unique home museums. Well, we paid them a visit to discover how each offers its own special glimpse into the past. - [Tanya] When we look at Cragfont, it is the kind of very pinnacle of wealth in this area. When we look at Wynnewood, this is both a family home and a business. So it's kind of different. And then Hawthorn is very much a middle class home. So what many people could have aspired to. - [Joe] Three unique sites, three compelling stories. One historic community, now called Historic Castalian Springs. Tanya Staggs serves as executive director. - There's a link there with the family but also all of these sites are very important to this community and the founding of this community. - The oldest of the historic home trio is Cragfont, completed in 1802 by owners James and Susan Winchester. Certainly one of the finest homes in Tennessee until the frontier moved further west. Much of the furniture was crafted in Baltimore by a nephew of Winchester's. He likely learned his craft from British artisans up east. It's a reminder that fine furnishings were obtainable even in the wild frontier, for a price. Wynnewood, completed in 1830, was once the largest log structure in the state of Tennessee. It was built by Alfred Wynne, who was a merchant, a local tobacco farmer, slave trader, and father of 14 kids. Oh, and along with his wife, an innkeeper. Almira Wynne was the daughter of Cragfont owner, James Winchester. The couple's resort inn was on a major thoroughfare coming into what was then the western frontier. It was also built to attract visitors to the so-called curative sulfur springs. This historic springhouse is a lasting reminder of a time when people came from several states to seek the cure. Catie Latham not only conducts tours here, she conducts ongoing research into this piece of architectural history. - It's open as a resort two separate times entirely. This first era is Summer 1830 till about the start of the Civil War. And that focus is really on the medicinal benefits of the sulfur water, those healing properties that it was thought to have. - [Joe] You have to wonder, how did the Wynnes manage to raise 14 kids here and still entertain a steady flow of inn guests? - [Catie] That's one of the things we're still figuring out about the building, is how they managed to operate as both a family home and a business at the same time. And it seems to change. We have evidence throughout the building of literal walls being moved and layouts changing. Since we have some rooms that we currently have set up as family, some as guests. And we try to just reflect both of those to the best that we can with what we know. - [Joe] The resort business was paused after the outbreak of the Civil War and it didn't restart again until 1899, when the remaining Wynne daughters leased it to an outside manager. 20 summer cottages were built on a hill behind the inn with one still remaining. There was even a dance pavilion and bowling alley. Then in 1914, the Wynne's closed the inn and focused on farming. The state of Tennessee bought it in 1970. - [Catie] We have some pieces in here that are original to this house specifically. A lot of the books here behind me are original to Wynnewood. The parlor table right here and the mirror and the fire back are original to both Cragfont as well as Wynnewood. Almira Winchester-Wynne actually inherits those and brings them here. And then some pieces are just period and not original to this house. - [Joe] Catie says visitors' reactions vary. However, surprise is a word often heard. - It's not what they're expecting when you pull up and see a giant log building. And so it's really amazing to see people kind of learn and put these pieces together. We talk about resort, we talk about slavery, we talk about the family, it's just such a complicated building and we just always hope that people come away from this learning something about that. - [Joe] By the way, a ferocious tornado tore through Wynnewood in 2008, leaving behind structural damage and old fallen trees. Fortunately, after a lot of work and expense, the grounds and buildings are now intact. Down the road sits the third historic home of the trio, Hawthorn Hill. It's a brick federal house, distinctive in more ways than one. - [Tanya] It's preserved but not restored. So it's not gonna fall in, it's taken care of. But when you go inside, you're really seeing the original finishes. It's almost like going into an abandoned home that's sort of frozen in time. We don't have it furnished. So it's very different than your traditional historic house museum experience. - [Joe] Here's an interesting fact. It's original owner, Dr. Humphrey Bate, was leader of the Possum Hunters and starred on the Grand Ole Opry. - He was born there, supposedly taught to play harmonica by a formerly enslaved man. - [Joe] While Hawthorn is only open to visitors one Saturday a month, guided tours of Cragfont and Wynnewood are available from Thursday through Sunday. If you go, you'll be transported into the lives of the Winchesters, the Wynnes, and others who shared a fascinating history here, creating stories that are still being uncovered. - We're finding all kinds of things about the sites. And so uncovering that history and being able to share it with the public is really the most exciting thing. - There's nothing like being out in the country. Fresh air, wide open spaces, rabbit circles. Confused a little bit? Well, you won't be for long. Once Miranda Cohen explains things on this one of a kind farm tour over in Springfield. - [Jennifer] In the old days, I mean if you think about, you know, the 1800s, it's like, you didn't just go to town and get whatever you wanted. - [Miranda] Jennifer Davis is down on the farm and right at home. - I'm a certified first Tennesseean, which means my family's been in Tennessee since before Tennessee was a state. Farming has been part of our family's tradition for a long time. So there's a pond over on the Brookshire's farm and then there's a pond here. And then you go across Walls Road and there's another pond and then it drops off to the river. - [Miranda] Eight generations to be exact. And when she says her family tree is rooted in Robertson County, she means it. - Thomas Kilgore is the founder of Cross Plains and he is my fifth great-grandfather on both sides of my family tree, which can make for some interesting stories depending on how you wanna spin that. - [Miranda] Davis has seen lots of changes in farming over the years, and when things got tough, she did what farmers do. She dusted off her boots and created her own business, one that would introduce the rustic and real part of Tennessee to people from around the world. - [Jennifer] But I thought for me it would be important to be able to save or at least put it in a package so that people could understand or remember what it feels like or how it's important to live in rural Tennessee. So Rabbit Circle Farm Tours started about three years ago. - [Miranda] Because rabbits tend to run in a complete circle, Rabbit Circle Farm Tours will take you on a back roads agro venture, making stops in Adams, or Linda, Cross Plains, and lots of others. - [Jennifer] Right now we're meeting in Springfield on the square and then we get in my truck and we go for a ride through the country. I'm physically your personal guide to the country. And we go and stop depending on the season at different farms, depending on where the work's happening. And then we meet people along the way. - [Miranda] Rabbit Circle Farm Tours go rain or shine, they stop at various locations along the way, and is never the same tour twice. The excursions are interactive, including picking fresh vegetables, flowers, fruits, and often meeting up with farmers themselves. - To have a fresh pear and for the guy who's so passionate about growing these trees to explain the different horticulture practices, how often do you get a fresh piece of fruit or a fresh vegetable just out of, you know, with the dirt still on it. - Today she is showcasing Shade Tree Orchard, 110 acres of apple trees, peach trees, strawberries, honeybees, and much more. So are these trees, are these apple trees? - So these are actually peach trees. - Okay. - So these are peach trees and then you have apple trees and then back here they've got some blueberry bushes. - So during the season, people actually come and pick peaches off these trees. - Well, they don't usually pick peaches, they don't let 'em pick peaches, but they do let 'em come pick apples. - [Miranda] So they can pick apples- - Uh huh. - Fresh apples right off these trees. - Uh huh. - [Miranda] And a general store that features local homemade products, including their famous apple cider. - [Jennifer] It's as simple and as pure as you can get it. - Well, they grow 'em locally. Of course we wanna support the local farmer. And of course, I grew up here in Robertson County, so this is local for us. And they're good people and they're good to do business with, they've always got good stuff, they've got fantastic apple cider. - We're making apple butter, so I kind of mix 'em up a little bit, to have tart and sweet. - [Miranda] And the local tour always includes an authentic farm to table lunch. - [Jennifer] We always go to a couple places for lunch because, you know, like where the farmers eat or where the construction folks eat. Just the local, local spot. No Yelp reviews. This is a traditional tobacco barn - [Miranda] A gifted storyteller, Davis is glad to show off one of Robertson County's most famous exports, black fire tobacco. - I always try to take folks to a tobacco farm and go and visit a tobacco barn. I mean, as you were riding out here, I'm sure, you see tobacco barns everywhere, and most people have no idea what's on the inside of those tobacco barns. It's just like, "Why do we have these big red barns in middle Tennessee?" Here, they literally build a fire in the floor of the barn out of sawdust and slabs and they smoke it. It's basically like a big barbecue grill. Every year, farmers that live here have put their tobacco on these sticks and hung it in these trees, and I find they're almost spirit sticks or something. - Sure. - Because when you get to the tobacco barns and you see these sticks, it's like, literally their blood, sweat, and tears and all of their cash crop has hung on these sticks in these barns. You can't learn how to fire tobacco from a YouTube video. If your granddaddy didn't teach you how to do it, you don't know how to do it. Which is for me, one of the cultural things, it's like it's going away quickly because, you know, once it's gone, it's gone. - [Miranda] Davis has traveled the world, and just like the rabbit, has come full circle back to her family homestead, and through her agritourism business, she hopes to share with others the unique culture and crops that put Tennessee on the map and share the true importance of living off the land she so dearly loves. - [Jennifer] Farming's what literally feeds all of us. And we don't survive without farms. For me, home is not necessarily about a place but about a place in your heart. - Thank you, Miranda. It boggles the mind when you think about how much our world has changed just in the last few decades. But now, you can get just about anything you want delivered right to your front door. Not long ago, especially out in the country, you considered yourself lucky to have a general store nearby. Gretchen Bates discovered such a place down in the town of Ethridge. - [Anna] We're kind of a curiosity shop. We have a lot of those pieces that maybe their grandparents might have had in their homes. I mean, it just kind of triggers that memory. It's a very comfortable feeling. - [Gretchen] A comfortable feeling. That perfectly describes the sensation upon entering Ike's Amish Depot. Stepping back to a simpler time when this was an isolated country farmhouse and the home of Anna Goolsby's grandparents. - My grandparents, they moved here in the late '30s, back before we had the highway and we had all of these other stores. People would stop by for water and supplies on their way to wherever they were going. And they said, "Why not just make it a storefront?" And so my grandfather got together with his wife's brothers, put a storefront on the building, kind of finished it out, got some stock for it, and they turned it into a general store. And that's was about 1942, whenever that happened, and whenever my father inherited it, after he came back from the Vietnam War, he decided to kind of reinvigorate that feeling. - [Gretchen] Anna's father turned it into a museum of sorts, a testament to life in the '30s and '40s. - [Anna] One thing you'll notice is, of course, all the signage. My dad, he collects signs and he thinks it's a perfect representation of what was important at the time, what people were marketing, what people really looked for. And so we have a lot of beautiful signage. One thing to note is that everything in the store is either the 1950s or older. So nothing in here is after 1950. And we actually still have our 48 star flag up there as kind of a memento from that early time when it first started as a store. - [Gretchen] If the memorabilia isn't enough to tempt you, how about another popular period piece, the soda fountain? - [Anna] This is actually a 1930s soda pop station. So everything in here still functions like it used to. The same kind of ice cream you would've had back then. You can either get a scoop of it or you can make it into a root beer float or have a nice little milkshake. - I like the milkshakes, I get ice cream cones a lot. Mostly chocolate. - And you said chocolate, right? - [Gretchen] Yes ma'am. Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry. Heck, I'll have one of everything. But the Depot can do more than satisfy your sweet tooth. They have real stick to your ribs food. You probably shouldn't ask for a salad. - I like to come here and get a fried bologna sandwich or a hamburger. - [Gretchen] Fried bologna! Now you're talking. - So all of the food that we serve here, just like all of the antiques that we have, just like all of the services we offer, it's like, again, you're back in the 1940s. We have burgers and chips and things like that. Just simple food that'll fill you up and get you ready to go on your way. - [Gretchen] On your way to explore places of interest and people of interest. I mean, there's a reason it's called Ike's Amish Depot. - [Anna] A lot of our customers come just to enjoy the Amish community. You can visit their homes, you can see them make the bread, you can go to their fruit stands and talk with them and learn more about their lifestyle. It's just interesting to have that. It shows that special part of Lawrence County. You know, we have these people here that do have that lifestyle that represents what Lawrence County used to be. We didn't used to have electricity. We used to go a lot slower. We didn't have our fast cars, we didn't have a highway. And people like that do get left behind as we modernize and it's important for us to make sure we have resources in place for these people. - [Gretchen] Neighbor helping neighbor. That's the comfortable feeling you get at the Depot. - The main reason that it was open was to support the community. And that's still the main focus of this store today is to support the community we care so much about and to support the state that we love so much. And so not only can you come by here and get a fun little tchotchke for your friends, you can buy something that was manufactured just down the road. We carry things that were built and manufactured here in Tennessee and it's a sense of pride for our family to not only be a part of just the Lawrenceburg community, but to be a part of the community of this state. - Well, that's gonna have to do it for this edition of "Tennessee Crossroads." Thanks for joining us. Say, don't forget about our website Tennesseecrossroads.org. And while you're there, why don't you check into that PBS Video App, where you can get our shows and many others, anytime, anywhere. Oh, and don't forget to join us next time. - [Announcer] "Tennessee Crossroads" is made possible in part by. - [Phil] I'm Tennessee Tech President, Phil Oldham. Here in Cookeville, Tennessee's college town, we are bold, fearless, confident, and kind. Tech prepares students for careers by making everyone's experience personal. We call that living wings up. Learn more at tntech.edu. - [Voiceover] Averitt's Tennessee roots run deep. They've been delivering logistics solutions here for over 50 years. And though Averitt's reach now circles the globe, the volunteer state will always be home. More at averitt.com. - [Voiceover] Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways. Discover Tennessee's adventure, cuisine, history, and more made in Tennessee experiences showcased among these 16 driving trails. More at TNTrailsAndByways.com.
July 27, 2023
Season 37 | Episode 04
Laura Faber finds old fashioned goodness in Giles County. Joe Elmore digs up the history of Castalian Springs. Miranda Cohen takes a special farm tour in Springfield. And Gretchen Bates heads to the general store in Ethridge.