Rare footage of Hampton from 1941 appears at Tipton-Haynes Historic Site

Nostalgia is not just for the young adults coming out of college who remember the days of Nokia flip phones and pitchfork-shaped Nintendo controllers. For the older generation, five minutes of old film roll is enough to invoke memories of a past era.

Rare footage of the Hampton area from the 1940s found its way to Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site in Johnson City Thursday evening, as community member Rusty Melton presented the recent discovery to those interested.

The footage, between five and six minutes long, showed random scenes from the Carter County area, and Melton told both the stories behind the scenes as well as the story behind how he acquired it.

“The footage was shot by Samuel Jack Hyder,” Melton said.

Hyder lived in Carter County and is the resident Milligan College’s Hyder House is named after. He taught at Milligan for roughly 50 years after graduating in 1916. He died in 1976.

“I got a call from a man from Rome, Georgia, who found the footage from the collection of Nick Hyder,” Melton said.

This Hyder was born in Elizabethton, and he went on to become one of Georgia’s most celebrated football coaches, ending up in the Hall of Fame. When he died in 1996, family members found the footage mixed in with old football photos and film. They saw a school bus in the footage with “Carter County Schools” on the side, and did not recognize it. Their later research led them to Carter County in Tennessee.

A few years later, Melton got the phone call and worked out a purchase for the footage. A few days ago, a higher quality version of the footage appeared on Facebook, which was the version Melton showed the audience Thursday.

As soon as the footage started playing, the entire room was filled with the buzz of conversation.

“It was enjoyable seeing the smiles on people’s faces,” Melton said.

Many onlookers saw friends or family members in the footage. One person even saw the midwife who helped birth him. Another saw footage of the house he grew up in decades before.

“People have stuff of significant value, but a lot of things are found in garbage cans,” he said. “History belongs to no one and everyone.”

As an unannounced bonus, Melton showcased a Universal Studios short they found about the Tweetsie train, titled the Tennessee Tweetsie. The short would have played before the feature film at movie theaters. Specifically, it featured Engine #11.

For the people who were excited to see the film, Melton said this kind of experience is for everyone.

“I do not want to forget where we came from,” he said.

Melton also announced they found a sister canister of old footage in the same way they found this footage and said they are currently working on restoring it. He said they might have results within the next few weeks.

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