Katherine Walkup was Vigorous Historian

Susan Harber, The Daily News Journal, October 29, 2016

Nina Katherine Haynes Walkup was an extraordinary local historian focusing on Smyrna, Tennessee and the surrounding area.

Nina Katherine Haynes Walkup was an extraordinary local historian focusing on Smyrna, Tennessee and the surrounding area.

Nina Katherine Haynes Walkup was an extraordinary historian and my friend in Smyrna.  She always had a smile and kind word for me.  Just weeks before her passing, Katherine contacted me inquiring on any new historical information I had on record of General Joseph Wheeler’s presence in Old Jefferson during the Civil War.  Her ancestral roots ran deeply through kinship dating to the early 19th century.  Several in the Haynes and Walkup lineage served in a long era of military service.  Katherine was fascinated by Rutherford County historical detail to the end of her life.

When I researched her biographical past, there were numerous civic articles and photographs at hand that exemplify her total devotion to the betterment of Smyrna.  I knew Katherine personally through Smyrna Church of Christ, where she served as secretary for eight years.  My definition of her persona would be one of elegance and an excitement for daily living.  I always addressed her in great respect as ‘Miss Katherine’.

Katherine was a direct descendant of John S. Haynes (1796-1852) of Rock Springs.  He wed Nancy Vannatta in 1816.  When she died in 1839, he married Ann Beam Snead in Rutherford County, and she bore two children.  John purchased large acreage on Rock Springs Branch and settled into a permanent home in the county.

George William Haynes, descendant of John, wed Mary Adelaide Battle in 1876 and lived on John’s original farm.  He maintained a store on Rock Springs Branch and ran a wagon delivery of goods.  His son Grady (1898-1962) was Katherine’s father.

Her grandmother Mary lived to age 92 and passed away at her beloved home on Waldron Road in 1949.  She was born June 9, 1857 to parents Martha and John Smith Battle.  Mary recalled the deafening sounds of the skirmishing troops in Nolensville during the Civil War.  Large numbers of men in uniform were gathered near her home preparing to march toward Stones River Battle in 1862.  Soldiers in the Confederate Army, in which her father John Battle served, were given protection in her family home.

After her birth in Kentucky, Katherine arrived by train to her lifelong home of Smyrna at two weeks old in 1927 with her parents Grady Haynes and Kate Crenshaw.  She grew up on the family farm in Rock Springs.  Her mother Kate was the daughter of Thomas and Mary Crenshaw of Smyrna, who are buried in Kentucky.  Originally from Christian County, Kentucky, Kate attended Peabody College and taught school in Nashville.  Kate wed Grady in 1926, after having met him at a family friend (Lonnie Williamson) home on Hazelwood Drive in Smyrna.

Katherine attended Rock Springs School and Smyrna High, where she graduated in 1945.  She attained a History and Education degree at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville (1948).  She taught a year at Clinton High in Anderson County, Tennessee and then attained her Masters in Library Sciences in 1950.  She worked from 1950-59 in a library in Knoxville and also at Veterans Hospital Libraries in Memphis and Murfreesboro.

In 1958, Katherine wed William Tompkins Walkup of Murfreesboro.  He was the son of Joe T. Thrift Walkup (of Scottish ancestry) and Anna Belle Stockard of Leanna.  The family was devoted to freedom for their country.  William’s father Joe Walkup was an Air Balloon Specialist in the first World War.  William Walkup was in World War II (1943-1946) in Hawaii.  William’s father and mother had attended school and church together since children and maintained embedded roots in the community.

William was a descendant of Captain James Alexander Walkup (1724-1798) of South Carolina.  James served in the Cavalry of the American Revolution.  His home was burned by General Charles Cornwallis in retaliation for his activities against the crown of England.  James’ son William Walkup and wife Hannah Orr arrived to Rutherford County in 1804.

William (1924-2003) grew up in both Salem and Barfield.  He worked with Murfreesboro Bank and Trust, while actively pursuant of volunteerism in local service clubs. H e was a partner and kindred spirit to Katherine in history.  They were charter members of the Rutherford Historical Society where William was an active Vice-President.

While visible in the Smyrna community with historical exploration, Katherine raised four children: Nina, Bill, Betsy and Joe.  Her daughter Nina Foutch remembers visiting cemeteries with her mom to identify graves while using chalk as a credential.  Katherine had one brother Will Haynes, who resided in Missouri working hard for decades, and is now retired in Smyrna.

As she raised her growing family, Katherine was ‘front and center’ in the community with altruism.  Both Mayor Knox Ridley and Katherine were instrumental in the opening of the original Smyrna Library in the 1960s.  She was on the board of directors for Linebaugh and Highland Rim Regional Libraries.  She also served on the Rutherford County Nursing Home Board, Smyrna Historic Zoning Commission, and Sam Davis Board of Trustees. She delighted in volunteer efforts with Sam Davis Home for many years.  Her personal papers now serve as a valuable resource within Smyrna Library.

Miss Katherine lived in an era of no Internet or email.  Her research was all handwritten and carefully studied within archived documentation.  She made Smyrna a better place to live as a woman of honor with a special wit and a true compassion for others. B orn in 1927, she was gently laid to rest in Evergreen Cemetery in 2013.  She approached her time on earth as a servant and fully carried through on a determined mission for goodwill.

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