Congratulations to our 2023 Allardt Pumpkin Festival King and Queen –Jim and Martha Wiley!
Both native Fentress Countians, the Wileys chose many years ago to make Allardt their home, settling here after college to raise their children amid family and friends.
Their family roots in Fentress County extend back multiple generations. Their grandchildren are the 6th generation to live in Allardt, descendents of the original Gernt families who settled here in the 1800s. Jim is the son of Edward and Carmen Wiley and the grandson of Hugo and Mae Gernt, all of Allardt. His paternal grandparents were Edward Norris Wiley Jr. and Henrietta.
Martha's clan was here in the Fentress County area in the 1700s, and many relatives were soldiers in the Revolutionary War. She is the daughter of Houston and Kathleen Beaty and the granddaughter of D.O. and Ellen Beaty and George and Jane Smith, all of Fentress County.
Jim and Martha were married in 1968 while they were both students at Austin Peay University in Clarksville. Both worked while attending college. They managed a trailer park, and Jim signed on with a welding company in 1972. He learned a trade in addition to receiving his degree in biology with a concentration in botany.
Martha taught school and helped with the integration of schools in the Clarksville - Montgomery County School system. She was accepted in their community and became friends with many teachers and parents. It was a wonderful experience, she says, that taught her so much about different cultures and communities.
The birth of their first son Travis in 1975 made them realize they wanted to return to Fentress County to raise their son among friends and family. When the opportunity arose, Jim applied for the welding job at York Institute and became the first welding instructor in the new vocational building. He enjoyed his job and his students and remained at York Institute for 32 years.
Both Jim and Martha minored in music during their university studies. Martha taught art and music in schools for several years until daughter Sarah was born in 1977. Their second son Seth came along in 1980.
When son Travis entered kindergarten, Martha started teaching at Allardt School and remained until 1988 when she was elected Fentress County Superintendent of Schools. Later she was hired by the Tennessee Department of Education and worked in that position for 15 years until she retired.
Jim and Martha are grandparents of seven. Four boys – Craig, Seth Roberts, Keith, and Spencer. And three granddaughters – Charlie, Quin, and Lanna Mae.
Jim has served as local TEA president at YAI as well as on various TEA and State Skills USA committees. He has been a member of Skills USA National Education Team and a 16-year member of the Technical Committee for Precision Machining at their National Conference in Kansas City.
Martha is organist and works with children’s music programs at the Methodist Church. She is president of the Fentress County Historical Society and charter member of the Coyote Path Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution. Currently she does genealogy research and is working to restore her grandparents’ 1800s era home on the square in Jamestown.
The pumpkin festival honors Jim and Martha Wiley today for their citizenship and community service and for their contributions to and positive impact on education in Fentress County.
And we honor the past generations Jim and Martha represent, the early settlers, the founders, of our county and our communities, those who through service and sacrifice laid a solid foundation for the way of life we enjoy in this area today.
PHOTO CREDIT - CINDY SMITH