The four lanes of Highway 11-E roll past one of the area's oldest communities in Greene County. The small town now known as Mosheim can trace its roots back to an early group of settlers who moved here in 1800.
"Mosheim is a sleepy little community with around 2,000 people. That is the way we like it here," said resident Earl Fletcher. "The locals here are always correcting outsiders on how to pronounce the name. I think 'Mo-Sheem' is the most common mispronunciation. It is actually pronounced 'Moss-Hime.' Mosheim is German and it has that 'heim' sound."
Fletcher has long had a passion for history and now serves as Executive Director of the Nathanael Greene Museum in Greeneville. While he was not born in Mosheim, he was always attracted to the community.
"I was born around Tusculum and moved all over during my time in the Navy," said Fletcher. "I eventually bought a house down here because I like Mosheim. I don't know why, I just liked Mosheim."
After Fletcher moved to the small town, he made a surprising discovery regarding family ties to the community.
"I started studying the genealogy and I found out every one of my ancestors in a direct line of descent is buried right here in the Blue Springs Cemetery. My fourth great grandfather and grandmother who moved here in 1805 are buried here. Their son, my third great grandfather is here. My great great grandfather, great grandfather, and on down the line," said Fletcher. "This was home. I came home and didn't know it."
Fletcher's relatives were part of host of Lutherans who settled in this area around 1800.
"I call it the 'great German influx.' The German families started moving in and they formed a congregation and built a church where the cemetery is today. A couple of the churches burned and the third building on the property is still here today. They built this church in 1893 and I believe it is the oldest public building in Mosheim."
The early settlers of the town did not refer to the area as Mosheim until 1872. It was previously known as Blue Springs.
"We have a huge spring downtown next to town hall. The spring pool reflected the blue sky and they called it Blue Springs," said Fletcher. "It stayed that way through the Civil War. They fought 'The Battle of Blue Springs' here during the Civil War and General Burnside is said to have used one of the old houses that is still downtown as his headquarters. If you want to look up anything about this town during the Civil War, you have to look up Blue Springs."
In 1872 a new name sprang up at the school in town.
"We had a college here. The Lutheran movement came in and bought out the college and changed the name to Mosheim's Institute. They named after Johann Lorenz Von Mosheim, the famous German theologian. Because of the college that was here, the name gradually drifted from Blue Springs to Mosheim. Finally the government in 1872 made it official and changed the name to Mosheim."
Like his ancestors, today the fertile hills and cool springs in Mosheim have the sound of home for Fletcher.
"It has that sentimental value because my family was born and raised here for several generations. There is a lot of history here. These old cemetery markers, this old church building, and some of the homes on Main Street are all very historic."
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