New Victory is located on Conklin Road in the 5th Civil District of Washington County. The community consists mainly of farmland, with several housing subdivisions, and has a population of about 250 people. A small stream, known as Woodruff Branch, flows through the area and empties into Keplinger Branch.
The area that would later become New Victory attracted several families during the early 1780’s. Much of the land comprising the present community was originally owned by Samuel Weaver. In 1786, Weaver sold 300 acres of this land to John Slinger, Sr. Other landowners in this area during the 1780’s were Christopher Brunk and William Cloyd. In 1787, a road leading from Jonesborough to Sevier’s Ford (the site of the present Conklin community) was laid out through the center of the community; this road was heavily traveled for many years. Today, Conklin road follows the route of this original road.
By the early 1800’s, many more families had settled in the community, including Bayless, Kyker (Keicher), Harmon, Ingle, Stormer, and Million. By the 1830’s and 1840’s, other families settled here, including Dykes, Spradling, Ball, Slemons, Loyd, Keplinger, Williams, Moore, and Woodruff. During this period, the community was served by John Spradling, cooper (barrel-maker) and John Ingle, blacksmith. As time passed, many more craftsmen came into the community, but the majority of the residents were engaged in farming.
In the late 1800’s, a school was built on land given by George W. Sprinkle (1822 – 1917). Mr. Sprinkle called the new school “New Victory”; the name caught on fast and has remained as the name of the community. His will read that if the school should close, the land was to be given to the Baptist and Methodist churches for parking or cemeteries. The Methodist church made a cemetery and parking lot. The Baptist church already had a large cemetery, so it chose a parking lot.
The community has had several other names; one of these was “Duck Pond,” so called because of a low area between the school and the Methodist church that retained water and where ducks could almost always be found swimming. Later, Davey Renfro (1863 – 1951), a resident of long standing who liked to give everything a nickname, called the community “Shake Rag.” Some people still refer to the community as “Shake Rag.”
The New Victory Baptist Church was organized in 1901 by Reverend A. J. Watkins, W. P. Colley, J. Wilcox, Reverend J. B. Chase, Dr. W. Smith and H. Bayless. The first building, a wooden structure that stood across the road from the present church, was constructed on land that is now part of the cemetery. The present brick church building was erected in 1940. The first minister was the Reverend J. H. Moore (1845 – 1918); he is buried in the church cemetery.
The Methodist church is a wooden structure and is the original building erected about 1903.
Union Grove Church, built in the late 1800’s, was a one-room, wooden building that also served as a school for the black residents. The building was demolished about 1935. A cemetery is located at the Union Grove site and is still in use; surnames of persons buried there include Gillespie, Murray, Bayless, Russell, Greenlee, Johnson, Allison, Hale, and Birdwell.
For a number of years, Emory Lloyd operated a blacksmith shop located just across the road from the Methodist church. Another blacksmith shop and a planer mill, located on what is now L. C. McKee Road, were both operated by Bernie Kyker (1869 – 1949).
Families living in New Victory in the early to mid-1900’s included William Sliger, Cort Ferguson, Bernie Kyker, Allen Kyker, Ed Loyd, “Dutch” Sliger, Ebb Salts, Andy Slonaker, John Woodruff, Davey Renfro, Clarence Miller, Oscar Miller, John Miller, Joe Walker, Ike Bailey, Keen Bacon, Elmer Barron, Charlie Sprinkle, Nannie Cloyd, David Miller, Barton Cloyd, Fred Cloyd, Jesse Dykes, L. F. Cain, Paul Dykes, Gordon Dykes, George Cain, Horace Payne, and many others.
On the location where Bernie Kyker ran the blacksmith shop, Cort Ferguson built a general merchandise store, operating it for a number of years. Mr. Ferguson sold the store to John Kyker, who eventually sold it to Bernie Arrowood. The building is still standing, but not presently in use. George and Effie Cain operated a store in the community for several years. At present (1988), Swift’s Grocery and Gas is the only store in operation.
Harrison Salts (1844 – 1913) was remembered as an outstanding citizen because of his eagerness to help the needy or just to say a kind word when people’s morale was at low ebb.
The New Victory community produced a professional baseball player, Jimmy Constable. He played eleven years of professional baseball, two of them in the major leagues with the Giants, Indians, Braves and Senators. He now lives in Jonesborough.
The community’s entertainment centered around the churches and school; homemade ice cream suppers and cake walks were very popular gatherings. – contributed by Lawrence Miller and Nell Fox