Since I grew up in the East Brainerd area and went to Tyner with classmates who lived there, I forwarded the recent article "Memories of East Brainerd" to them. I am a genealogy and local history buff and enjoyed both the article and the responses from classmates. I was particularly amazed by the response of George Sewell below. I knew of the Walkers on Bonny Oaks Drive and the Walkers associated with the bird sanctuary, but I never connected the two or knew about the original "farm road" which became Gunbarrel Road.
Also below is a response from Commissioner Larry Henry, a '66 Tyner grad:
Classmates of '65, '66 & '67,
I received several interesting replies and further memories after posting the "Memories of East Brainerd" article from Chattanoogan.com. Since the responses would have been viewed by each class separately, I thought all of you would be interested in the collection of replies:
From George Sewell ('66):
After reading the part about Gunbarrel Road, I wanted to take everyone back even further. The Elise Chapman Wildlife Sanctuary, before becoming a wildlife sanctuary, was the farm of William T. Walker, who moved there with his family in the 1890s from Hawkins County Tennessee. Walker family history says that he persuaded Mary Walker, the widow of his brother John Walker, to move her family from Hawkins County to Hamilton County, which she did in the 1910s. She bought a farm in Silverdale situated along what is now Bonny Oaks Drive. Family history also says that the two Walker families cut the road bed for Gunbarrel Road to make it easier for them to go from one farm to the other and that this explains why Gunbarrel Road is so straight. I don't know if this bit of family lore can be documented or supported. Mary Walker's descendents sold the last of the family farm almost exactly 100 years after she moved there, and it now is the site of the Silverdale Baptist Church football field, parking lots and missionary's house.
From Larry Henry ('66):
That is the E. Brainerd I remember.. You could ride a bike down the middle of E. Brainerd Rd. after 6pm and never worry about cars. I would ride my horse down E. Brainerd to the shopping center quite often. Now I worry about when the State will begin and finish the 5 lane road out E. Brainerd Rd. to Ooltewah-RInggold or (Rabbit Valley Rd as I remember it). Never would have thought this 35-40 )yrs. ago
From Tiny Tucker Autry ('67):
I was raised in Ryall Springs....remember Brown's Service Station, owned by Rembert Brown, his daughters went to Westview Elem and Tyner as well, Elaine was in my class but she was so smart she skipped a grade I think it was the sixth....so she graduated in '66...Wonderful people.....and also Ryall Springs Grocery store owned by the McDonalds I believe, I could check on that by talking to my brother, Richard, he, like you, has alot of archives...We grew up in Westview Presb Church and the cub scouts building was behind our church. My brothers were scouts..and they played baseball, my dad coached at times...now Richard would be the one to check on all of that....also the gas station at Fuller Rd owned by Mr. Hale, he was a rather large man I remember, nice to all the kids, but always sitting in one of those chairs with wheels...rolled around....now that really is a long time I was in the second grade...we moved from the Brainerd area to what my dad wanted to live in the country against my moms wishes, but we kids sure had fun..My dad was raised in La. on a farm with the cattle, chickens, fresh eggs etc., and my mom was a city girl.....funny...glad took us to Ryall Springs area, we had a great church and school and minister, Rev. Galloway, his son was ahead of us in school but was a killer basketball player you might remember him Joe Galloway.....we had a great childhood living out there, we also had the choice of going to Tyner or Ooltewah at that time and visited both schools and all of us on the side of Ryall Springs chose Tyner, at that time Ooltewah didn't have a great name..well I am sure there is more I could add but for now absorb this. Now we were all just making ends meet with all the kids everybody had, but you know I never thought about not having money, it wasn't a real focus then, just family and church.....
From Terry Hull Deloney ('65):
I feel like I have stepped into a time machine! Can so much time have passed and so much have changed? My three childhood homes were in this area, and the first, which is mentioned here, was the Vance House---my very first (rented) home. As noted here, it still stands---the hub of East Brainerd.
From Roni Eaves Blankenship ('67):
I enjoyed the article, although I remember East Brainerd a little differently than does this author. As you know I lived in Engelton Heights from 1950 until I graduated from Tyner in 1967. I didn't see a number of the older stores mentioned that I well remember even before the time of the Piggly Wiggly. Where did this writer live?
From Brenda Mack McFarlin ('66):
Such wonderful memories of how it use to be. I'm glad to know the Bird Sanctuary is still there. It was always such a treat to go there and picnic. Is the swinging bridge still there? My brother Bob used to try and bounce me off it!!