Limon Bacon, Sr., was born on November 25, 1905, in Concord, Tennessee. He was the son of William Andrew Bacon and Mary (Neal) Bacon.
In 1920 the family was living on Canton Hollow Road in a home that they owned. Limon's father and older brother, Harold, were both employed as railroad workers. His mother, Mary, was a housewife. Limon had a baby sister, Willie, who was almost four years old. They lived next door to Mrs. Fannie Trent and her three grown sons. Mrs. Trent is also buried at Pleasant Forest.
In 1940, Limon Bacon, Sr., is living with his wife, Jeanette and his two sons, and with Jeanette's mother and father, Sam and Nina Cruikshank, on Concord Road. Names are misspelled in the 1940 census. Limon Bacon is listed as Lyman Bakker, and the Cruikshanks are listed by the name Crookshank. Mr. Bacon had been working in a Lime Plant and had a yearly salary of $700.
Mr. Limon Bacon was an unforgettable presence in the lives of many schoolchildren. For years he drove the school bus at Old Concord School, and tolerated no nonsense on his bus. Read this wonderful account of a little known part of area history:
Except in people’s keen memories, Old Concord School hasn’t existed since autumn 1965. That’s when Knox County schools were desegregated, and Concord School’s remaining sixth-graders all were transferred to what then was Farragut Elementary School.
But to visit Farragut Town Hall Sunday, Feb. 25, one might never have known the school was just a memory. From Concord, what’s now Farragut, Bluegrass and much of Knox County, former Concord School pupils and their descendants converged.
On their annual pilgrimage, the alumni enjoyed refreshments, viewed Black History Month exhibits at the Farragut Folklife Museum and revived recollections of the old school that long stood near 713 Loop Road. School organizers in 1894 were Mrs. Moses McNutt, then a Pleasant Grove Sunday school teacher, and Laura Ensign, daughter of a Northern carpetbagger who moved to Concord and became its postwar postmaster. The first Concord School, a one-room frame building, burned but was replaced in 1939 by a more substantial two-room brick. Its cafeteria served hot meals to about 40 pupils who attended first- through eighth-grades. Once they graduated, they were bused east to Austin High School, then designated for African-American students only.
Alumni at the recent gathering included Lee Varner, 70, and Hughie Moulden, 64, who reminisced about their daily 40-mile bus trips, back when veteran driver Limon Bacon Sr. collected Concord students from communities distant as Cedar Bluff, Bearden — even East Knoxville. The Varners then lived on the Lee Sterchi farm about where Arby’s now stands off Cedar Bluff Road. Moulden and Varner well recalled how Bacon tolerated no mischief on his route. To ride, they said, pupils in winter arose before dawn — then spent an hour or longer on the bus, jolting over bad roads much of the way. “Kids now think they have long bus rides,” Varner grinned.
“Don’t think we had any freeways back then,” Moulden said. To while away the time, pupils visited, snoozed or prepared for the day’s lessons. “We started way before daylight,” Varner said. “First, we had to walk down to Kingston Pike to catch the bus.”
Bacon kept a close eye on young passengers as he drove them through Happy Home, Bluegrass, Lyon’s View and the Brickyard community (Bearden), east to Austin High School, which later would merge with East High. Moulden said the bus trip was so long, passengers often counted different makes of automobiles, just to pass the time between home and school. Poor roads slowed their commute. Cedar Bluff then was a gravel road.
Moulden remembered Sadie Bryant as a Concord teacher, along with Mildred Tipton later. Others recalled Ms. Rather and Ms. Hunt as Concord teachers. Both men recalled the school stood near Concord AME Zion Church, just off Loop Road, which was named for the Concord Fair’s race track, active 1895-1918. The Rev. Ed Miller was the church’s pastor, Varner said.
By then, Concord School already had quite a history. When it opened in April 1894 with a $50 annual budget, its mission was to educate children of ex-slaves, freed after the Civil War. Other Concord teachers included Lizzie Bradford, Aurelia Horton and Will Hardin. Concord teachers earned a magnanimous $20 a month.
Concord, as Tennessee’s first “free school,” had two teachers until 1956, when Knox County schools limited its classes to sixth-graders. Bradford taught there, Jeanette Bacon recalled, when she was a first-grader in 1912. Minnette Rathers said Concord School alumni had stayed in touch, largely through churches and because of reunions held each second Saturday in August at Carl Cowan Park.
At Sunday’s event, Ruby Fletcher, 84, who lived in a Bluegrass community area known as Snakey, found one bittersweet memory. Among posted obituaries of prominent blacks with Concord ties, she found that of her mother, Josephine Valentine “Josie” Moulden, who died May 14, 1999, at age 100.
Reaching age 100, Fletcher said, meant her mother had lived “a good, full life.”
As had the old Concord School.