Oct 5 2009
02:18 pm
By: WhitesCreek

By Ray Collett

Hello Readers, The column last week about Dr. Tom Phillips sure sparked a lot of interest and a sackful of emails. I think this week, I will follow up on Dr. Tom Phillips' father who was quite a person also. We will save the emails about Dr. Tom Phillips for maybe next week. Here is little about M. H. Phillips...Hope you enjoy.

M.H. Phillips was born in Gower, South Wales, near Swansea in 1858. He had been in blast furnace work with an uncle, but the business declined because ore in the country was depleted, so in 1883 he joined some friends who were sending back glowing accounts of conditions in Pennsylvania. Shortly after arriving in America, he sent back for his wife and three-month old son, Thomas, and the little family settled in the Quaker state. Soon the company for which Mr. Phillips worked, established new plants in Alabama and sent him there.
When the Cleveland panic struck, the new plants closed and Mr. Phillips received an offer from the Roane Iron Company, then under the direction of Mr. Chamberlain, with Willard Warner as general superintendent. Mr. Phillips became furnace superintendent and for then next 36 years operated the furnaces until they were blown out in 1930.
When the Tennessee Products Corporation re-opened the local furnace on July 26, 1941, Mr. Phillips was accorded the honor of lightening the fires.
Mr. Phillips made two visits back to his native land, the last when he was 80 years of age. Among his many cousins was Daniel Phillips, who was a noted singer and was called the "nightingale" of his village, Aberkenfig. He won many prizes in the Estedfrd, the musical festival at Cardiff, Wales, one of which is the "Title for sight singing." Mr. Phillips explained that the Welsh are great singers and to win this "title" is quite an honor.
On Mr. Phillips' last visit to Wales, he had hoped to attend this festival, but illness in the family connection prevented it. Dr. Thomas Phillips accompanied his father on this trip abroad and was called to attend the sick relative.
Mr. Phillips lived atop the hill on the Mitchell Addition, in a house of concrete blocks, the neares approach to the stone houses of Wales he could build at the time. "I had never seen a wooden house in my life until I came to America," he said. "I wanted a house like I'd been used to in my boyhood, and the nearest I could come to it was this concrete structure."
The magnificent view of the valley and the mountain in the background was highlighted by the glow of the furnace which for so long was a vital part of Mr. Phillips' life, and he could look down on the town which he served as school commissioner and as a fine and helpful, though unassuming citizen.
Mr. Phillips was justly proud that he was largely instrumental in building the Kingston Avenue Methodist Church and that for so many years he was a teacher in the Sunday School.. My Phillips said once, "When the church was finished, we all planted a tree on the grounds. My tree, the large maple on the right, is still living, but most of the other trees and the planters are gone."
Mr. Phillips' ambition was to live to celebrate his 100th birthday, which he did. He underwent a mayor operation at the age of 89 from which he recovered nicely. He then remained in good health and a very keen mind until his death which came in 1959 at the age of 100 years and six months.
Just another column about one of Rockwood's prominent citizens who was so important in Rockwood's history. So many of them have been forgotten and really need to be remembered....
Until next week.......Ray

My books, "Rockwood Memories" Volumes One and Two, can be found at "Shacks" Restaurant, "Yonder Hollow" "O'Those Were The Days Antiques", Gail Score's "Western Apparel" and David Webb's "Rocky Top General Store". Or just call me at (865) 354-7680.....Ray

These are so enjoyable! Thanks


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