Osborne and Armstrong Families
Both local families who went on to national recognition
from Shirley Kitts Davis '62
The Osbornes and the Armstrongs were perhaps the two most musical families
to ever live in La Follette.
Willie Osborne had a band that reportedly played once on the Johnny Carson
Show! They lived across the tracks above La Follette in an African American
community populated by many Blast Furnace workers who had saved enough
money to move into their own homes and out of the company-owned shanties
on "Furnace Hill," i.e. Linden Park.
Clara Osborne, Willie's widow, has become part of the Louie Bluie family in
recent years sharing in the celebration of Howard Armstrong. I thought some
of the List Members might find the following link interesting. It's an amazing
tribute to an amazing La Follette Man. Please give it a look. It's very Positive!!!
Willie Osborne Foundation
"One Person Can Make a Difference!" ..indeed. Be sure to click on the link to
hear Willie's music. Mrs. Osborne has expressed an interest in helping to
preserve the Longhollow Cemetery where many Osborne relatives are buried. Next
Tue. (Feb. 26), State officials w/ the TN National Heritage group will be in the area to examine and assess the site. This is very important history for La Follette because the City of La Follette was created by two principal things: (1) the mind and determination of Harvey La Follette; and (2), the back-breaking work of many forgotten African American families who migrated here for the opportunity to better themselves in the labor of building a new, Industrial town on the flats of Big Creek Gap.
Willie's sister Elsie married Howard Armstrong's brother, the Rev. Rowland
Armstrong. Elsie was known as an excellent & passionate singer in La Follette
performing, by request, at many local funerals. She performed a very memorable
duet with Howard in the award-winning film "Louie Bluie" singing an old gospel
song, "When He Calls Me (I Will Answer)" accompanied by sister Mary on piano.