Northeast Tennessee has many historic sites, days and events and the local people focus a lot on keeping old time traditions alive. The spring season brings many of those days and events; people come from all over to participate and spectate. One of the most fun events is “Wooly Day” at Rocky Mount Living History Museum. This day gives anyone the chance to explore the early spring activities of the settlers in what was once the Southwest Territories.
Rocky Mount Museum is centered around the Cobb-Massengill House in Piney Flats. The story beings when William Cobb brought his family from North Carolina and built the two-story log structure in 1770. During the Revolution Cobb helped to supply the Overmountain Men with gunpowder, horses, blankets and food on their way to the Battle of King’s Mountain.
In 1790 the land Cobb settled became known as the Southwest Territory, originally a westward extension of North Carolina. Cobb mostly kept himself above local politics, which made his house an ideal place to house the Governor of the Southwest Territory William Blount. Blount lived with the Cobbs for two years making Rocky Mount the first territorial Capital of the Southwest Territory, which became the state of Tennessee in 1796.
Rocky Mount stayed in the family, passed down through generations. In 1962 a member of the family decided the house should be a museum to the memory of early region settlers. Today the museum includes the original house, springhouse, barn, orchard and gardens. Wooly Day is Rocky Mount’s biggest spring event. This year it will be held, Saturday April 11th, and will include many old time activities.
The main attraction on Wooly Day is the flock of Cotswold Sheep and newborn lambs. Visitors will have the chance to see and even help shear the adult ewes and rams to remove their winter wool, using 18th century techniques and hand shears. Once the wool is off the sheep, you guessed it, will be washed, dried, picked and carded to straighten the fibers. Then it will be spun into yarn and woven.
Cotswold Sheep were developed between 1780 and 1829 in Cotswold, England. They were imported into the United States almost immediately. The breed was originally used for its ability to produce long clips of wool. The demand for purebred Cotswold sheep declined in the mid 20th century, making them a rare breed today. There has recently been a resurgence of interest by wool crafters. This spring haircut is their only one of the year.
Visitors will be able to see the process from sheep to yarn first hand and may even purchase some if the materials made with the yarn. There will be many other old time activities throughout the day as well, such as candle making, gardening, dyeing and fireside cooking. Tours of the Cobb house will be available. So show the kids how people in the older days used to live, or come learn yourself. To learn more about this event, please visit Rocky Mount’s Website at rockymountmuseum.com. There is no better place than Northeast Tennessee for rich tradition.