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New and Updated Harrison Mayes Markers and Signs

Since I began documenting Henry Harrison Mayes work online, I knew I would rely on people who know more than I do and visited places I will never be able to visit.

I found that the people who conserved the most knowledge before internet posts on blogs or social media were a thing, were three women. Eleanor Dickinson, who documented the Mayes in the 70s and 80s and introduced his work into the Library of Congress, Catherine Mayes who wrote a book about her father-in-law in the 90s and Martha Carver who documented Mayes markers as a phenomenon along the Dixie Highway.

When I found out about Martha Carvers’ essay on Mayes, I tried to contact her and ask for permission to put her essay on this website. Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting a response from any of the organizations I wrote to. A few weeks ago I was on a flight to the US with in-flight-internet limited to Facebook Messenger and out of boredom I just tried a contact again that never answered. And I got a reply immediately and got connected with Martha Carver, historian and preservation manager at the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

She was so nice to allow me to use her essay on Mayes and even contribute photos, hints, and locations of a few missing puzzle pieces.

The With Signs Following Book Cover Cross

Author Joe York attributes the cross on the cover of his book to “near Etowah, TN”. I couldn’t locate the cross along the highway, so I thought it might be gone, or I was looking in the wrong place.

Martha Carver solved the puzzle and pointed out that the Ocoee, TN cross is the one that York put in his book. She even sent a photo from her visit in 2000 that is almost identical to York’s photo. Also thanks to Thomas McGuire who sent a few current pictures in December 2023 with the current condition of the cross.

The Speedwell, TN Cross

In Catherine Mayes book “A Coal Miner’s Simple Message” she describes the relocation of a cross from Middlesboro, KY to Speedwell, TN. I was able to narrow down the general area where it must have gone, but only found one of Mayes’ painted signs on a hill.

Well, I don’t know why I didn’t bother to look around the corner, but on Highway 63 there was the cross and a few other religious signs on display. Martha Carver sent me the location along with photos of the cross. And I’m so happy to finally add that to the map. I’ve seen it on Instagram before, but was unable to reach the people who posted it.

Tazewell, TN – New Hope

This is another one from Catherine Mayes’ book, described as Mayes’ last big piece that he and his son Clyde Mayes erected. It’s a 40 ft. large sign made of metal.

Martha Carver documented the sign in 2000, but wasn’t sure about its exact location. Thanks to the detailed description in the book and Google Street View historic photos, I was able to track it down in a 2014 record of the area. In 2016 the sign was gone, unfortunately. But again, another dot on the map!

Roadside Sign Tazewell, TN New Hope, 2000 by Martha Carver

Historic photos and snapshots are a great way to understand the time and space these markers existed in. I’m thankful for Martha Carvers contribution and I hope there are more to come. I’m not sure if there is a more complete map out there and more documentation. I hope so. I would love to see the large displays at airports one day. Apparently, Mayes installed a GET RIGHT WITH GOD display at the Little Rock, AR airport. It would be so cool to see pictures.

I’d love to hear from you. If that map helped you find markers, please send me pictures. If you know of former locations of Mayes markers. I’d love to document them as well.