On April 15, BrayBree’s co-founder and publisher Kevin McCann had the opportunity to meet Terry Barkley, author of our latest book The Gentle Scholar - The Forgotten Story of John M. Webb and the Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, and Margaret Britton Vaughn, the Poet Laureate of Tennessee, who wrote the foreword for the book.
We met in the village of Bell Buckle, Tennessee, fifty-two miles southeast of Nashville, where John Webb and his older brother William “Sawney” Webb established the Webb School in 1886. After lunch at the Bell Buckle Cafe, we met with Raymond S. Broadhead, head of The Webb School, and Rita Mitchell, the school’s Director of Communications. Terry presented Mr. Broadhead with the first copy of his book and a photograph was taken in front of the historic bell from the Culleoka Institute, where the Webb brothers taught in Culleoka, Tennessee before coming to Bell Buckle. Plans were made for Terry and Maggi to sign copies of The Gentle Scholar during The Webb School’s Reunion Weekend April 24-25. We are grateful to Mr. Broadhead for his enthusiasm and support for the book.
Throughout the day, Terry offered a guided tour of Bell Buckle and the sites in town and on the school’s campus pertaining to the life and academic career of John Webb. Among them were the sites of The Senior Room building where he taught for thirty years, the former library building named for him, his home, the original Junior Room building where his brother Sawney taught, and their final resting places in Hazel Cemetery.
In this photo, Terry points to the unmarked graves of John, his wife Lily, and their son Hazel (for whom the cemetery is named) beside the marked graves of Sawney and his family. As Terry discusses in his book, John believed that even a tombstone bearing one’s name was a vain gesture before God and chose not to have one for his child or himself. When his wife Lily died thirteen years later, she honored his belief and had no headstone.
The day ended with ice cream cones at the Bluebird Antiques Ice Cream Parlor and a great conversation with the owner about John Webb and the history of the Webb School.
Thank you so much to Terry and Maggi for their kindness and hospitality!