Admirals vs. Angels?

Drummer’s mother chose Bearden High nickname in 1947; also chose Angels

Gas was 15 cents a gallon, Harry S. Truman was president and Mary Lynn had an idea.

Actually, Mary Lynn had two ideas 70 years ago in 1947 — both for a contest at Bearden High School.

That year class officers were tasked with choosing a mascot, her son, Joe Drummer, said recently.

Mary Lynn, treasurer of the senior class and a member of the girls’ basketball team, entered her suggestions: the Angels and the Bulldogs.

Years later, Mary Lynn Davis Drummer often talked about that contest with her sons, Joe, longtime college pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Knoxville, and David, who works at Gerdau Steel Company. Unfortunately, Mary Lynn passed away in 1996, just one year short of the 50th anniversary of naming the mascot.

“I remember that she told me that there was a contest to name the Bearden mascot,” Joe Drummer said. “They chose Bulldogs. She won the contest.”

Drummer said his mom attended BHS when it was housed in the current Bearden Elementary School building.

“Bearden has a big history for me,” he said, “Because one, my mom named the Bulldogs.

“I was a Young Life leader for Bearden from ’78 to ’80 while I was in college, and all three of my daughters went to Bearden. When I was at the school one time for one of my daughters, I looked in the history case and there was my mom on the steps of the old high school.”

According to the school’s website, Bearden High School was founded in 1939. The name originates from Marcus De LaFayette Bearden [1830-1885] who served for the Union Army in the Civil War. Bearden also served as Knoxville’s mayor and as a state legislator.

What is now Bearden began as a small community that developed around a fortified house, probably located near the modern junction of Kingston Pike and Northshore Drive, according to Tennessee Center for Transportation Research.

The community was initially known as “Erin,” presumably after the large number of Irish settlers that inhabited the area.

In 1792, Knoxville surveyor Charles McClung surveyed the “Kingston Road” — the forerunner of the modern Kingston Pike— which was built to connect Knoxville with Campbell’s Station (modern Farragut). This brought increased settlement to western Knox County, states the Knoxville Metropolitan Planning Commission history.

According to the book “Standard History of Knoxville,” and the East Tennessee Historical Society, during the late-18th century, due to “Indian” attacks, the Bearden area was one of the more hostile areas in Knox County.

The area’s earliest settler, James Miller, allegedly was murdered shortly after his arrival in the early 1790s.

In September 1793, near the end of the Cherokee–American wars, a large Chickamauga Cherokee and Creek contingent attacked and destroyed Cavet’s Station, which stood near Bearden, and massacred 12 of the station’s 13 inhabitants.

Even after Native American hostilities had ceased, the Bearden area remained a dangerous place. In the early 1800s, the stretch of the Kingston Road west of Bearden had been nicknamed “Murderers’ Hollow.”