New Acquisitions & Donations

Each quarter the Tennessee State Museum receives numerous donations for the museum collection. Several objects are also acquired for the collection. Here are a few recent examples:

Signed 1819 Musical Secretary from Greene County​

A cherry secretary by John C. Burgner (1797-1863), who made furniture as well as musical instruments, was recently acquired at auction for the museum’s furniture collection. There is a zither (a stringed instrument like an autoharp), attached to the underside of the case top, which sounds a chord when the top drawer is extended, strummed by a quill set into the back of the drawer. Signed early Tennessee furniture is extremely rare. This piece has a label which reads, “Made by J. C. Burgner for William Paton, September the 8  1819.” The secretary is highly decorative with curly maple and various burl veneers. Two “secret” drawers in the interior are opened with hidden levers disguised as moldings. John Burgner and his brothers, Jacob, Henry, Christian, and Daniel made furniture primarily in the Horse Creek Community in Greene County from 1817 until 1902. 

 

Popcorn Sutton Moonshine Still ​

One of the most famous moonshiners of all time was Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, who operated out of Cocke County, Tennessee, and Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Sutton, who produced thousands of gallons of “shine,” became something of a folk hero prior to his arrest by federal agents and his conviction in federal court in Greeneville, Tennessee. He committed suicide just three days before he was to report to prison. The still, owned by Sutton in 2008, and was probably used as a showpiece, was confiscated by law enforcement officials. It was recently transferred to the museum’s collection and was on public view as part of the Tennessee Highway Patrol exhibition.

 

Trail of Tears Letter​

A rare and important historical letter written and signed by President Martin Van Buren with instructions for the removal of the Cherokees from southeastern states was purchased by the museum staff at auction in June. This removal later became known as the “Trail of Tears.”

The letter was addressed to Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott on April 11, 1838, and instructed Scott to negotiate with Indian groups opposed to removal if it would prevent bloodshed and expedite the voluntary emigration of the Indian nation. Van Buren made $300,000 available to Scott to pay the Cherokees as “the only object in view is to make that removal more satisfactory to them.”

There was no additional agreement made by Scott as federal troops and state militias forcibly removed the Cherokee from their homes in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia and moved them to federal forts. They were not permitted to take any of their belongings with them and did not have sufficiently warm clothing and blankets. While in the forts, many became ill from disease which spread in such close quarters.  

People died there or while traveling to the new lands in Oklahoma. It is estimated that at least 4,000 people died of the 15,000 who were moved in 1838 and 1839.  The letter will be displayed with an exhibit, scheduled for 2016, about the Indian Removal Act of 1830.





tn4me

Tennessee State Museum
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1120

FREE ADMISSION

Open: Tuesday - Saturday:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

(615) 741-2692
TOLL-FREE: 800-407-4324
museuminfo@tnmuseum.org

 

 

 





tn4me

Tennessee State Museum
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1120

FREE ADMISSION

Open: Tuesday - Saturday:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

(615) 741-2692
TOLL-FREE: 800-407-4324
museuminfo@tnmuseum.org