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Surgoinsville residents celebrate 200 years as a 'Riverfront' town

September 12th, 2015 7:10 pm by Jeff Bobo

Surgoinsville residents celebrate 200 years as a 'Riverfront' town

Melvin Surguine, saluting, and his son Jim, were special guests during Saturday's Surgoinsville bicentennial celebration as descendants of town founder James Surguine. Melvin, a veteran also participated in the flag retirement ceremony. photo by Jeff Bobo

SURGOINSVILLE — Descendants of Surgoinsville founder Major James Surguine were the guests of honor Saturday as the town celebrated its bicentennial beside the Holston River that brought the first European settlers there two centuries ago.

Marvin Surguine, his son James Surguine, and another descendant Brian Surguine attended the annual Surgoinsville Riverfront Festival Friday and Saturday — which also doubled a bicentennial celebration.

Marvin and James, who reside in Laurel, Md., were the co-grand marshals of the parade Friday evening.

During a recognition ceremony Saturday afternoon Marvin and James both received a “key to the city.”

Surgoinsville Mayor Merrell Graham said residents should be proud of the town’s long history and heritage.

“In the late 1700s a gentleman by the name of James Surguine purchased the property that is now Surgoinsville,” Graham said during Saturday’s ceremony. “Of course, it was named after him. In 1815 it was chartered as a town. This year, since it’s our bicentennial, we located some grandsons, and some family members of Major James Surguine.”

The plaque presented to Marvin and James Suirgine by the mayor states, “Awarded in special recognition of the town of Surgoinsville’s founding father James Surgine for his vision and imagination of which we are the humble beneficiaries today. We are deeply grateful for the participation of descendant (Melvin and James Surguine) at our bicentennial celebration, and proudly present to you the ceremonial key to the town of Surgoinsville.”

Upon Receiving his plaque Melvin Surguine stated, “I just want to thank you for showing real Southern hospitality.”

Jim Surguin said, “I just want to say you made this very special. This is a lifetime memory for our family and we want to thank you very much.

Brian Surguine said, “Everyone has been extremely warm and friendly and hospitable, and we’re very grateful.”

There were several other recognitions during the ceremony. Vice Mayor Joe McLain gave a presentation honoring the Sandidge Blacksmith Shop for 100 years of continuous operation in Surgoinsville.

Will Sandidge opened his blacksmith shop in Surginsville in May of 1915, and it continues to operate today. His sons Jim and Bill Sandidge grew up in the blacksmith shop.

Jim Sandidge received an engineering degree and worked for a large bridge building corporation, but he also continued to work in the blacksmith shop, and still operates the shop to this day. Jim Sandidge was unable to attend the ceremony Saturday, and McLain said a plaque will be delivered to him.

“It is truly an elite group of people who have been in continuous business for more than 100 years,” McLain said.

McLain also read a proclamation from Gov. Bill Haslam honoring Surgoinsville for its Bicentennial; as well as a proclamation from the city of Laurel, Md. where the Surguine family resides, honoring Surgoinsville for its 200th anniversary.

Local pastor and school board member Tecky Hicks read a proclamation from the Tennessee House of Representatives honoring the town and its citizens as they commemorate this significant historic milestone in their existence.

Congressman Phil Roe and his local representative Bill Snodgrass were also in attendance, and Roe participated in the portion of the ceremony honoring veterans, as well as participating in the flag retirement ceremony conducted by the local Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.

Every veteran in attendance, including Roe and Melvin Surguine, were honored for their military service, and each participated in the flag retirement ceremony.

The day long festival included live entertainment, food, crafts, inflatable attractions for children to play on, and car and tractor show, horseshoe tournament, and concluded with a large fireworks display.

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