Focus on Famous Area Women

Dora Farmer Web

Museum Corner a Weekly Advocate Feature

Knox Historical Museum to Focus on Famous Area Women

By Dora Sue Oxendine Farmer

Knox County holds many firsts especially in the area of accomplishments of numerous local women.  This series of articles will focus on several contemporary women from Knox County who have gone above and beyond the definition of remarkable.  This particular article will focus on two highly creative and innovative women who did something for the elementary students of Knox County that no one had ever done before. 


In 1989, Jakalyn Jackson and Linda Oxendine shared a common dream of creating and writing a Knox County history book for children.The book project was inspired after Linda invited Jakalyn and David Helton, a former student of Linda’s, to come to her classroom, and share the contents of an old truck filled with artifacts from Knox County’s past.  In 1989, Jakalyn had written an educational plan entitled, “Knox Historical Museum Educational Outreach Program,” which had received a first place honor from the Historical Confederation of Kentucky.  This project offered a hands-on approach where children actually got to hold cannon balls, arrowheads and to try buttoning up an old timey pair of shoes.  Both Jakalyn and Linda were even more motivated to write the book, after hearing the children’s questions and seeing their excited reactions and genuine interest in every item.

The following information was taken from an article published in the Mountain Advocate.  During a meeting of the Knox County Kentucky Bicentennial Committee, the group selected the final project to be submitted for a grant to help the county celebrate Kentucky’s 200th birthday. The 12 member committee voted to accept the nearly completed “History for Knox County, Kentucky” written primarily for school children by Linda Oxendine and Jakalyn Jackson.  The book took four years to finish. At its completion, copies were distributed to fourth grade classrooms and to all of the elementary school libraries in Knox County in time for the 200th Bicentennial Event.

The 171 page book contains 24 chapters with contributions from 25 different authors.  Beginning with a chapter on Native American history, the book’s chapters on Dr. Thomas Walker, Daniel Boone and early settlers comprise the first section of the book. Important people from the area are included as well as the origins of community names. Several oral histories as well as chapters on logging and growing up in a coal camp contain very detailed information on the lives of Knox County’s citizens. 

Jakalyn is the co-author of five books about Knox County.  She co-authored three books on Knox County cemeteries.  Another book she co-authored was The Jones Family History Book.  She also assisted with Looking Back Part II with Michael Mills and the Knox Historical Society.   Jakalyn has written numerous articles relating to Knox County’s history many of which have appeared in the Advocate and The Knox Countian, the publication of the Knox Historical Museum.  Jakalyn is active in many clubs, historical organizations and genealogical societies.

Linda, a strong supporter of innovative child centered teaching and child initiated learning, was featured in a front page article by Nancy Herndon in The Christian Science Monitor on December 7, 1987.  Five years later, Linda and her classroom were the focus of a 1992, Appalshop Production, Hands on: a Year in an Eastern Kentucky Classroom.  The film followed Linda and her 24 second graders for a year. A year later in October, 1993, she received the Union College Alumni Educators Hall of Fame Award.  A month later, November 1993, Linda was presented the Campbell’s Soup Portrait of a Teacher Award. 

Now that Linda and Jakalyn are retired, they still continue to record history.  They have both served as contributing writers and editors for the six volumes of stories that they have collected detailing the lives of members of the Oxendine and Jackson families. 

This is the last story in this series for the summer.  However, stories on more outstanding women of Knox County will return in September.  During July and August, be sure to look for the Knox Historical Museum Corner which will feature rare unpublished pictures from our county’s past.