Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia

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Omer Addington

A Preserver Of Our Heritage

     Through his many historical articles appearing over the past several years, many Scott Countians have come to recognize Omer Addington as among the foremost chroniclers of our county's heritage.

     Yet more than a mere spectator, he has also played a vital part in that heritage as a teacher and administrator in the county public school system.

     Born near Snowflake on Aug. 7, 1915, Addington recalls his first sojourn into the county's educational system ... as a student in a one-room schoolhouse' at Mineral Hill. Furnished with hand made seats of yellow poplar with a blackboard of the same wood painted black, this school was not destined for lengthy service. It folded after six months, which was the duration of a regular term in those days.

     After Mineral Hill expired, he studied at Greenwood School, a two-room institution, and finally to Midway, where he ultimately graduated. His education proceeded smoothly in between, save for a brief "sabbatical" during his eighth-grade year.

     Profoundly wizened by the onset of adolescence, the young Omer decided he'd "had enough of education." Despite the fact that his father strongly believed in education, notwithstanding that his older brothers had been college-bound, he was resolute. When he made his bold announcement to his father however, Omer was surprised at his father's ready consent.

    Appearances would prove deceiving, however.

     "When I told my father I planned to quit school he didn't yell or fuss at all like I expected him to. He just said he guessed I was old enough to make a man's decision ... and old enough to do a man's work," he said with a smile.

     And his father "worked him like a mule" clearing a densely overgrown field of locust. sassafras and briars. It was long hard work which occupied him through the spring and summer. When his father told him of plans to purchase more such overgrown land, Omer decided that a mind, indeed, was a terrible thing to waste.

     "When September rolled around I was more than ready to go back to school...my father sure made a believer out of me!" he exclaimed.

      After graduating from Midway, ,he took work in a Kingsport hosiery mill, a job which he "detested". He changed occupations several times, working variously at the Kingsport Press, the Meade and Mason-Dixon. Finally he decided that factory-type work was not his best suit.

     He then enrolled at ETSU.

     After studying for two years he obtained a Tennessee teaching certificate. Teaching during the regular school year, he returned to college each summer until he achieved his chosen degree ... a double major in Biology and Social Studies.

     In Tennessee he rose from the teaching ranks to the administrative, serving as a principal in a Sullivan County elementary school for two year. He returned to Scott County as principal of Shoemaker School, a position which he held for four years. Finding greener financial pastures elsewhere, he then worked two years for an investment company. When the Scott County School Board sought him out once again, this time with a more lucrative settlement, he returned to the field of education once and for all, until his retirement in 1979.

     Loathe to remain inactive, Addington took retirement as an opportunity to ply his hand at historical research, a field he had developed a growing interest in over the years.

     His current status as president of the Southwest Virginia Historical Society attests to his prowess as an amateur historian. His chief concern, he said, is the history of Scott County proper.

     He noted that the historical period from the county's early territorial beginnings up to the Civil War is the most fascinating, yet most elusive period of Scott history. His extensive research, including the analysis of documents in college libraries, archives and Clerk's office records has amply demonstrated the need to verify historical assumptions ... even those long taken for granted.

     Many things which have been passed down through the years by word of mouth, he said, have been by peoples with an informal education that I was challenged to learn more on facts not held up under the hard light of extensive research.

     Once a transmitter of gathered knowledge to the young people of Scott County. he now plays a significant role in accumulating new knowledge which can be passed on to future generations. His work serves not only to enrich Scott Counties knowledge of their past, but is also a contribution to the ever-gathering body of knowledge about our Commonwealth. and our nation.

     We at the Star salute Omer Addington for playing his part in preserving the spirit of our heritage.

 

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