Monument sails into Town plaza

Adm. Farragut marker’s new home dedicated June 8

He was home when Native Americans attacked the family cabin.

“Elizabeth Shine Farragut told her children, including young James [later known as David], to hide when the Cherokee came calling at their home at Stoney Point off Northshore Drive in Concord” in the early 1800s, said local Admiral Farragut expert Lou LaMarche.

She had to fight the attack off without the help of her husband, Jorge Farragut, who may have been at work in the armory in Knoxville. The family lived there until James was 6 years old, when Jorge took a military assignment in Louisiana.

To honor Adm. James David Glasgow Farragut, a Civil War hero and first admiral, vice admiral and rear admiral of the United States Navy, a monument stood more than 110 years at his first home at Lowe’s Ferry, now known as Stoney Point, on the banks of the Tennessee River “to recognize the birthplace of Admiral Farragut,” Town Mayor Ralph McGill said during a special ceremony Thursday evening, June 8.

The 3.5-ton marble monument was commissioned by Bonny Kate Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, on May 15, 1900.

In recent years Lylan Fitzgerald assumed legal possession of the monument, owning the Stoney Point property where it was erected, before donating it to the Town named for the admiral. The donation was made official Aug. 11, 2016.

Fitzgerald joined McGill, Vice Mayor Ron Pinchok and Aldermen Ron Williams, Louise Povlin and Bob Markli, former Town Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche; various Farrgut Municipal Planning Commissioners, Town administrator David Smoak and John Schoonmaker, Fifth District Knox County Commissioner among about 40 on hand to dedicate the monument at its new home, in Farragut Memorial Plaza next to Town Hall off Municipal Drive, Thursday.

McGill’s earlier remark was part of a brief address before the unveiling.

“This is a special Day,” McGill said. “... We would like to introduce and thank Lylan Fitzgerald who generously donated the monument to the Town.”

“I’m just glad it found a good home and I’m sure it will be taken care of here,” Fitzgerald said after the ceremony.

“All of us are really excited to have the monument here,” said Julia Barham, Farragut Museum director. “We love our Admiral Farragut collection and love the Memorial Plaza. I, as well as the museum committee, think the monument is just the perfect addition to the plaza.”

LaMarche said the marker was installed "with great fanfare” in 1900 where Jorge Farragut had, more than a century earlier, owned 640 acres along the Tennessee River banks at Lowe’s Ferry. Government leaders and dignitaries, including special invited speaker, Adm. George Dewey, floated down the Tennessee River for the festivities.

Decades later a boy named John Fitzgerald, who would become Lylan Fitzgerald’s husband, worked on that same land as a farmhand. As an adult in the early 1970s, he purchased the property that included the marker, Lyland Fitzgerald said.

“We weren’t married then,” she added. “I didn’t know him then.”

After John Fitzgerald’s death, Lylan developed the property, choosing the name “Stoney Point Farm” after the name Jorge Farragut bestowed on the site. Houses were built between her house on the point and Northshore Drive.

Fitzgerald said the property went through several hands before John Fitzgerald bought it from Harvey Fowler’s estate.

In 2011 the stone was reported missing. Over the years Lylan Fitzgerald never claimed, on the record, to know anything about the monument’s disappearance, but admitted, through her attorney Carole Worthington, to having the ability to get it back leading up to the donation.

“We really owe a debt of appreciation to our staff who got it over here and spruced it up,” McGill said in specific reference to Bud McKelvey, Town Public Works director, and his staff who were responsible for moving and placing the monument into Farragut Memorial Plaza.