Contributed by Ruby (Mrs. Niles) Wheelock
At the request of a number of brethren and sisters living in the vicinity of Keebler’s Meeting House, a presbytery was called to meet in 1850 for the purpose of organizing a church at that place. The presbytery consisted of Elders Jesse Riggs, William Keen and Martin Kitzmiller; as they were all of one accord, they called the church Harmony Baptist. Land for the church was given by Enos Kincheloe, William Bovelle Chase, and M.E. Chase.
The following families were located in the growing Harmony community: Cox, Sherfey, Deakins, Chase, Tunnell, Hale, Hunt, Kinchelow, Bacon, Brown, and Hulse. Other early settlers included the Ferguson, Fulkerson, Murray, Carey, Wheelock, Jackson, Boyer and Watkins families.
The community has had three grocery stores. The first was owned by Shade Murray, who has a son, John, living in Kingsport. Another grocery was owned by George Bacon and sold to John Deakins, but later bought back by George Bacon. George Bacon married Minnie Hunt and had three children. John Deakins married Amanda Hunt and had one daughter, Lelia Kate, who still lives in Harmony. The store that is still standing was built by J.H. Cox and Monroe Fulkerson, in 1909; the men worked for fifty cents per day in building it. Known as Harmony Grocery, it has since been converted into a restaurant. At one time, a post office was located in this building.
Harmony has three cemeteries; the Harmony Baptist, the Bacon-Kinchelow, and the Colored. Mr. P.B. Boyer states the J.W. Sherfey’s heirs donated a plot of ground to Harmony Baptist church for a burial ground in April 1923; G.W. Tunnell moved that the plot be accepted by the church. In 1977, more land was added by Don Boyer, whose father owned the Sherfey farm. P.B. Boyer married Achsah Sherfey; their chirdren were Don, Mac, Lake, Ruth and Jo. In 1987, one-half acre was purchased from Mrs. Lucy Anderson and deeded to the church.
The Bacon-Kincheloe cemetery was started in 1853. The first grave marker was for John Kincheloe who married Sarah Keebler; they had eleven children. The cemetery for black people is located on the C.L. Mitchell farm; there are no grave markers of any kind to show names or dates of death.
There is one flour mill, called the Kincheloe Mill, which was built in 1902 by S.K. Kincheloe; he married Emmaline Mitchell, and they had eleven children. A story is told that a man came to the mill for flour, but had no money with which to pay for it. The miller turned him away but he went down the road singing, “The Lord will provide.” The miller called the man back and gave him the flour.
The Harmony community also had two schools – Harmony and Mitchell Springs. Mitchell Springs was built in 1894 on an acre of ground given by David Mitchell. The school had only one room, which later was divided. There were shelves for lunch boxes and for the bucket containing water and a dipper from which everyone drank. The Mitchell Springs school building is still standing, and has been improved and painted by J.D. Mitchell and his wife, Alta, who now use it for storage purposes. The school closed in 1939.
The Harmony School, built in 1939, is closer to the center of Harmony community. It is a more modern, brick building, with four rooms, indoor plumbing, and equipment for serving hot lunches. After Washington County schools were consolidated, the building was no longer used for a school; it is still being used as a community center and a voting place. Throughout the summer months, teams from different communities play softball on the school grounds.