Jerry Summers: Brickell Ridge – Homicide Burial Floor?
A 2009 novel by Rozetta Mowery titled Tragedy in Tin Can Holler tells many refrigeration businesses about a family who grew up in an area of McMinn County, Tennessee.
It also has many chapters on numerous subplots about people and incidents, each of which in their own way can contribute to some other terrible events involving murder, rape, incest, theft and almost all illegal and immoral acts in society.
Ms. Mowery’s brave story reveals many family skeletons in the saga that most people would rather hide in a closet.
Her compelling story since its publication in 2009 has been retold many times on public forums and has become an outspoken advocate of victims of domestic violence and child abuse.
From the captivating 12 reviews on the front of the book to the contents of the appendix on 14 pages of photos and documents, it’s a narrative story.
“Tin Can Holler” is the title of the book, but this article will focus more on the rural area known as Brickell Ridge in Meigs County and whether there are multiple victims of murders in its mountainous and wooded areas in buried in a deep hole.
However, Tin Can Holler should also be identified for historical purposes. Located in the Layman Hill section of Athens, Tennessee in McMinn County, it got its name “because of the tin cans that had been thrown and dumped there many years earlier.”
Rosetta Mowery said, “When it rains heavily, tin cans would pop out of the ground. Tin Can Holler was known as the poorest part of Athens. “
In the 1960s, the City of Athens received a federal grant to clean up Tin Can Holler and move residents to other areas of Athens as part of an urban development plan to build low-income housing. In 2000, the Athens Housing Authority owned all of the land and rented apartments to low-income residents and retirees. This status will remain in place in 2020.
Brickell Ridge was divided into several acres of wooded areas near the county seat of Decatur in Meigs County. Many are still undeveloped and provided an excellent opportunity to bury the bodies of alleged murder victims of Grace Victoria Sims, the grandmother of Rosetta Mowery.
This article will look at her life as a criminal as her granddaughter revealed in her book, and corroborative circumstantial evidence from an independent witness from 2009, strongly suggesting that Brickell Ridge may still contain evidence of unknown violence and death.
Grace Sims was born on Brickell Ridge on September 21, 1886 and lived a life of crime that shocks the conscience. Her father, Tire Sims, sexually abused her, molding her into a vicious and evil woman with a hateful disposition and demeanor as she blossomed into a young woman.
Her life as a criminal included violating United States postal laws, using the postal system to promote a system of defrauding others, writing letters to numerous companies in Tennessee and Alabama, and ordering checks through advertisements in Progressive Farmer magazine as tempting gave up personal inquiries. As a result. She was convicted and sentenced to 18 months to serve in Jefferson City, Missouri Federal Prison.
When she was released from prison in 1921, her crime wave continued and her career as a criminal is vividly described in Rozetta Mowery’s book and, if applicable, clearly established as a serial killer of 12 males.
Her first murder allegedly happened when Grace became pregnant and killed her first child by placing his body in a giant meat grinder that she kept in the barn to process pork and then fed the body parts to the pigs.
Grace killed her second baby when her son Seig was six years old, and she let him hold the baby underwater until the child drowned. Then she disposed of the body by carrying it to Brickell Ridge behind Grace’s farm and tossing it into a deep, dark hole.
This incident would forever damage Seig’s psyche as he would later be accused of murdering his wife, Eliza, who was Rozetta’s mother.
After her career as a prostitute ended around the age of 45, she began corresponding with men searching newspapers across the country for mail order brides.
If she invited them to visit, she cooked an arsenic-fortified meal for the victims, and if they didn’t die from the poison, she stabbed or stabbed them with her kitchen knife.
She had purchased the 412 acre land on Brickell Ridge that once belonged to her grandfather, George Washington Sims, and enlisted the services of a mentally and incompetent distant cousin named Cleve. Grace and Cleve took the bodies to their barn and chopped off their heads. Then she tossed her skulls into several pits dug in the property where she buried pig carcasses and skulls and covered them with lye to keep the odor down.
Another method of disposing of the mutilated bodies would be to put them in a large wheelbarrow that she and Cleve would push up the steep hill called Brickell Ridge behind their barn.
When they reached the top of the ridge, the bodies were dumped into a deep, dark, bottomless pit.
The hole is a natural formation and was also used by other people in the area to throw away their animal carcasses. Grace reportedly told her son, who was playing on the ridge, to stay away from the hole. She should have buried bodies elsewhere on her property as well.
As bizarre as it may seem, Grace killed 12 men whom she had lured to her farm with her personal promotions in order to rob and murder them.
Potential victim number 13 escaped her and due to suspicious neighbors who saw strange men arrive at the farm but were never seen, she changed her methods of bringing her potential victims to the farm.
Grace changed the ads to promise mail order brides that she would provide if they sent her money for travel expenses. Although five men agreed to the agreement, she failed to rob it and those who escaped reported their activities to law enforcement agencies. The FBI and the United States Marshals would eventually arrest her and accuse her of violating US Postal Laws. She was sentenced to five years at the Federal Industrial Institution for Women in Alderson, West Virginia.
She would die in her home on June 19, 1939. She was never charged with any of the 12 murders.
The above summary on his face seems incredible.
On May 17, 2009, at the second premiere of Rozetta’s documentary by Mark Vasconcell of Big Bask Productions about her book at the Five Points Museum in Cleveland, Tennessee, a surprising visitor may have provided some supportive clues as to the authenticity of the stories about the Grave hole supposedly holding bodies on Brickell’s Ridge.
Rozetta was approached by an 83-year-old gentleman who identified himself as a Kentucky Colonel, Claude T. Wallace, who allegedly grew up in Tin Can Holler. He was a World War II veteran deserving a purple heart and a Christian and licensed Baptist minister.
Mr. Wallace shared a story when he was 10 years old and lived at the Holler.
He and his friends were driven to Brickell Ridge by a man named Kilgrin Morris to pick blackberries. He warned them of a deep hole in the ground that wasn’t safe and also admonished them to stay away from “the old man (Tyler H. Sims) and the woman (Grace Sims)” because if they catch you, then you are trouble inside. “
The youthful curiosity didn’t deter the boys and they immediately went to the side of the ridge that Kilgrin had warned them about.
When they got to a forest area, they became anxious because the ground was covered with bones and they called it “Elephants Burial Ground”.
At a short distance they saw the deep hole described above, which was surrounded by honeysuckle vines and ivy.
They threw several stones into the dark, low crevasse, but never heard the sound of water splashing on the ground.
After several unsuccessful attempts with more stones, the boys ran down the hill to pick blackberries.
Mr. Wallace says they never returned to Brickell Ridge and couldn’t remember the exact location because of their young age, but his story adds another element of intrigue to the whole story.
The developing subdivisions on the ridge might one day give up its secret secret and the location of the deep hole and perhaps even its contents.
If so, the advent of modern law enforcement technology could possibly finally answer the questions that Rozetta Mowery and other descendants and relatives still have that may fill in the undisclosed and undisclosed facts raised in “Tragedy in Tin Can Holler” Has.
Most of the family members of this era have died or aged, but the mystery remains!
Perhaps McMinn and Meigs County’s law enforcement officers have “cold cases” departments that could review the wooded subdivision to see if the bottomless pit actually exists and if there are human remains?
* * *
(If you have additional information on an article by Mr. Summers, or if you have any suggestions or ideas about a future historical piece from the Chattanooga area, please contact Mr. Summers at [email protected])