Betty Jean Eubank (Burch)
August 31, 1928
daughter of William A. Eubank and
Bonnie Katherine Jones Eubank

by Iris Teta Eubank Wagner

 

My sister Betty Jean  entered her freshman year at Lincoln Memorial University in September, 1947.  This first  year she was with Oak Ridge High School friends, had a great time, and developed friendships that continue today. Though she enjoyed her second year, serving as Theta Sigma Chi sorority president, by the end of that school year in 1950, she was ready to move on to the world of work, and later to buy that first car, a two-tone blue '52 Ford sedan, which she generously let me drive to school on her car-pool off-days.    She later splurged big time and bought a white T-Bird convertible that she drove very fast.  

Work Career and Volunteer Projects
Betty Jean's  twenty-year association with Oak Ridge National Laboratory was first, as a secretary to Dr. Sam Beall,  director of the Reactor Division at ORNL, then, as his administrative assistant.   Betty quit career work in the mid-1970's, and was for several years a volunteer administrator with the Oak Ridge Chapter of Planned Parenthood.  She was an avid supporter and student of the Arts Center of Oak Ridge, and a founding member of the Art Center's auxiliary, the Arts Guild of Oak Ridge, whose focus it was to fund and support local artists and art education groups.  The guild's Annual Fund Raising Gala was for many years the social event of the fall season in Oak Ridge. 

Betty Jean was the wife of William Dean Burch from 1962 to 1997.  Burch was the director of ORNL's nuclear fuel re-cycling program at the time of his retirement in 1992.  Betty Jean and 'Bill' traveled to Europe and in this country to  favorite golf resorts.   Betty Jean also traveled in tour groups with friends for many years. 

First Portrait
This is Betty Jean's first  birthday portrait taken on August 31, 1929. She and her mother Bonnie  had come by train to join her father  William A. Eubank in Knoxville.  
 
Betty Jean's Eubank/Ware ancestors were  planters in 18th and 19th century Amherst County, Virginia, and from 1840 Hinds County, Mississippi.

William's father Livingston Mims Eubank and his first cousin, Richard F. Rivinac, son of Selina Eubank Rivinac and Peter Rivinac, had grown up together in Mississippi, and, by the late 1880's, had become business partners in a family construction company.

Livingston Mims's father, Richard Newman Eubank II had established an excavation and construction company in Jackson, Mississippi, prior to the Civil War.  The company  prepared and graded streets for new towns created by the railroad station stops between New Orleans and Jackson. 

William had worked with the construction company since 1923, the year after his second stint in the U.S. Navy ended. 

In March, 1930, Richard Rivinac died in Knoxville, and later that year his company failed. 

Aunt Nan Swagerty Maples
William's Aunt Nan Swagerty Maples was the first wife of Carl Maples, who had been an employee of the Swagerty & Eubank Lumber Mfg. Co., owned and operated by Betty Jean's great grandfather William R. Swagerty and grandfather Livingston Mims Eubank. The company was the largest logging operation regionally in  Sevier County, Tennessee, in the 1890's. 

Livingston Mims wanted to return to Mississippi where he had grown up.  Swagerty and Eubank began selling their land and logging rights about 1902, and completed  their final sale to the Little River Railway & Logging Company in 1904.

Carl Maples now lived  in Knoxville with his second wife Laura and he secured William a job in Knoxville at this tough time during Depression years.

Grand Aunt Hat Swagerty  and Mrs. Erwin's Boarding House
Betty Jean's great a
unt Hat Swagerty
lived and worked in Knoxville at this time.  She was a stenographer in the freight office of the Southern Railway Depot.  The depot and rail yard are still there in the Old City.  Aunt Hat lived in Mrs. Erwin's boarding house up on Vine Street, a brisk walk crossing Gay Street, and continuing up the steep hill.  Steep is right - I've walked it!   Bonnie and William with Betty Jean would dine with Aunt Hat and other guests on Sunday afternoons at  Mrs.  Erwin's long table, abundantly filled  with choices of meat and vegetables, fruit, and desserts, all for 25 cents a meal.
(right)
This picture of Betty Jean at age two was made in Knoxville at the time Bonnie and William spent their Sundays with Aunt Hat at Mrs. Erwin's. 

By late autumn of 1930, the economy had worsened.  The company William worked for in Knoxville was out of business.

Andrews, North Carolina
The Depression turned out to be a way back home for William, Bonnie, and Betty Jean.  Betty Jean's little brother William Mims  Eubank was born on a cold day, January 2, 1931. 

George, Betty Jean, and Mims  1934

A good warm fire was glowing at grandmother Eubank's cottage. Dr. Herbert was there, and grandmother's friends, Mr. and Mrs. Andrews, who lived a short distance away on Junaluska Road.  Betty Jean was staying with William's sister and husband, George and Trilby Hoblitzell in town. 
 

 
Grandmother Eubank's cottage, 1935.  Grandmother, Bonnie, Mims, little George running  toward William and the camera, and Betty Jean up front.

The cottage was built for Grandmother  Eubank by her son-in-law George B. Hoblitzell in 1927.  Grandmother's letters reveal her love for the place.  She taught a class of high school students French language at the time - she called her cottage mon reve, "my dream."

She and William were writers and both began writing and selling their stories and features to magazines and newspapers during the 1930's.  They were partners in everything intellectual and in matters of family. 

                                       Our House in Town

Our father's writing room was the upstairs room facing west (left).   Betty Jean's room was on the east side, and after I was born in 1938, until our move to the cottage in 1943, it was our room. The middle area of the second floor was our play room.

The Andrews school buildings were a short walk from our house in town. By the time Betty Jean entered her teen years, she was  active in social events of the school, the Presbyterian Church, and  the Girl Scouts.  Aunt Trilby gave her piano lessons, which she appreciated, but never really had a passion for.

Betty Jean never really liked living at the cottage.  It was too far away from  social life at the school and church.  When William decided the family would move to the "secret city" of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in 1945, Betty Jean did not want to leave her friends, but certainly wanted to move with the family.

Original Narrative and Website © Iris Teta Eubank Wagner 2015