Ellen Grigsby Boring: An orphan’s legacy

Mona B. SmithFarragut, Our Town Stories

It could be said that if it wasn’t for Divine Providence, the well-known Boring family of the Concord/Farragut community would not be here today. And because of that providence, Ellen Grigsby Boring (1852-1920) is considered by the family as being the progenitress of their lineage.


Around the year 1852, Ellen’s mother and father, names unknown, were traveling through Concord in a covered wagon when they became sick with the yellow fever. After having stopped to camp for the night at the Russell spring, they succumbed to the sickness leaving behind a small baby girl. When the baby was discovered the next day, a good soul took her to a member of the Lenoir family for safekeeping until they could find a home for her.

Nathaniel B. Grigsby (1805-1883) and his wife, Temperance (1813-1887), learned of the child and asked to take her for adoption. So then, the girl that was orphaned became Ellen Fleming Grigsby who would later become Mrs. Joseph Albert Boring (1844-1911), and together they raised eight sons and a daughter.

Annie Temperance Boring Smith

Looking as the proverbial rose among thorns, their beautiful daughter, Annie Temperance Boring, is outstanding in the family picture. Annie was the very first Farragut High School graduate in the year of 1904 and was the only member in her class. It should not be overlooked that many young women at that time did not graduate from high school, and this was a great accomplishment for her and her parents. Annie later married Spencer R. Smith and they owned a farm that was eventually sold to become part of the residential area of Fox Den.

At least five of the Boring children attended the new Farragut High School. Joseph Jr. and William were on the school’s first football team in 1905.

Many future generations of the Borings have been staunch members of the community and are very much loved. A few names come to mind that readers will recognize from recent years: Judy Boring Solomon, home economics teacher at Farragut High School; Thelma Boring Johnson, second grade teacher at Farragut Elementary; Grace Boring Guinn, fourth grade teacher at Farragut Elementary; Kathlyn Boring Davis, owner of Concord Dry Cleaners; Robert E. Boring, member of Knox County school board and Criminal Court clerk; Evelyn Boring Bondurant, active community worker; and Ben Albert Boring, owner of the Rolling Store in the Concord community and well-known salesman with Knoxville Wholesale Furniture and trainer of American Saddlebred horses.

To list surnames associated with the Boring family would sound like the “begets” from the book of Genesis: Smith, Hackney, Pelot, Duisen, Davis, Johnson, Solomon, Cruse, Roberts, Guinn, Bondurant, Henry, Ball, Hughes, Hartsook and Cottrell. If one knows someone with these names in association with the Concord/Farragut community, the chances are that their family tree touches the Boring tree, either by marriage or kin.

This wonderful family and their ancestors have to thank the unknown, caring soul that discovered the tiny orphaned baby and saw to it that she was well cared for. And a grateful thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Grigsby for being the loving parents to Ellen Fleming Grigsby. And lastly, our thank you is to Kelly Davis Duisen and husband Richard for their personal recollections of the family narrative and Benna Kay Boring Hughes for providing a transcript of an interview with her grandmother, Hallie Hackney Boring (1894-1986), that related this amazing story. Thank you for sharing with us the rich history of the Borings so that it can be preserved along with other important Concord Farragut histories.

Mona Isbell Smith is a retired computer systems analyst who enjoys freelancing.

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