Josephine Stone Breeding

Copyright (2002) * All rights reserved
J.C. (Jim) Tumblin, OD, DOS
3604 Kesterwood Drive, East
Knoxville, Tennessee 37918-2557
(865) 687-1948

Fountain Citians Who Made A Difference

Josephine Stone Breeding


Photographic Archives, Knoxville News-Sentinel

Fortunately, Fountain City seems to have more than its share of writers. Among its feature writers and poets who brought enlightenment and pleasure to her readers was Josephine Stone Breeding.

Josephine Stone was born on July 8, 1904 in Tazewell, Tennessee, the second of three children of Lee Daniel and Sarah Augusta (Brown) Stone. She attended Tazewell Elementary school and graduated from Claiborne County High School in 1922 and attended the University of Tennessee (1).

A handsome dental student at the University of Louisville College of Dentistry, Louisville, Kentucky, Fred C. Breeding, "pinned" Josephine with his fraternity pin early in his years at dental school. The young couple married on June 1, 1922, in the Tazewell Methodist Church before he finished his fourth year. The young doctor opened his office in the Doctorís Building in Knoxville, where he would practice dentistry for 43 years (1923-1966). They soon acquired their home on Rose Avenue (Adair Gardens) where they resided for 35 years. Their son, William R. Breeding (CHS 1948) was born in 1930. He also became a prominent Knoxville dentist like his father.

Breeding Home (Adair Gardens)

Mrs. Breeding began writing in childhood but became more serious in her craft in 1934. Her first love was poetry and for a while she carried a notebook with her to record verses as they came to her. By 1940 she had branched into short story and feature story writing and even won honorable mention in a Knoxville League of American Pen Women for a drama she wrote. She was also an excellent musician and soprano soloist and often entertained at club programs. From 1945 to 1947 she taught music in the Knoxville City Schools.

In 1940 Mrs. Breeding was elected president of the Knoxville League of American Pen Women. Later she became president of the Tennessee League of American Pen Women and still later 2nd vice-president of the national organization. She attracted national attention in 1938 when she was radio chairman for the Pen Women and arranged a weekly program featuring some of the work of members of the League, including poetry, drama and short stories. The program won an award from the national League for the best radio presentations in the nation that year. Whoís Who In America honored her in its 1956-57 edition and for the next fifteen years. She was also in Whoís Who of American Women in the 1958-59 edition. As a long-time member of the International Platform Association, she was comfortable conducting the Southern Regional Conference of Poets that met one year in Gatlinburg. She was also a member of Ossoli Circle and the Daughters of the American Revolution (2).

Many of Mrs. Breedingís feature stories were written for the various North Knoxville weekly papers, including the Fountain Citizen and the Halls Shopper. She also wrote a series for the Knoxville News-Sentinel about the families who were displaced from their homes in preparation for impounding the waters behind Norris Dam. When she was in her 80s she wrote a bi-monthly column for the Knoxville Journal. Her wide-ranging knowledge allowed her to write about various local people, including Nannie Lee Hicks, Fountain City historian, and of many historic places in East Tennessee.

Her sonnets had been published in the Presbyterian Book of Daily Devotions and used in many church bulletins and magazines over several years. In 1988 a woman from San Francisco, having seen some of them, wrote and asked if they were published in booklet form. They had not been published and, after an exchange of letters, the lady confirmed her offer to have them made into a booklet. Breeding went through her scrapbooks and selected some of her more serious works. The woman had them published and sent them to relatives across the country. The book of poems, Way Faring, was published in 1988. One particularly moving poem from the book was written for her son (3).


Lad of mine, with toil and care,

Iíve cleared for you a path out there

That you might reach the thoroughfare,

Lad of mine.

Through weeds and thorns and underbrush

Iíve heard the singing of the thrush

Iíve felt the dawn and twilights hush

Lad of mine.

Go hasten on, nor wait for me.

Iíll rest beneath this wide-branched tree

Go! Live the dreams Iíve dreamed for thee

Lad of mine.

When dangers come, if clouds appear,

Be strong, be brave, thereís naught to fear

My spirit will always be near

Lad of mine.

His mother was always supportive of her sonís school, serving as an officer in the Smithwood School P-TA while he was there. She also supported her husbandís professional activities and was particularly proud that he served as president of the Second District Dental Society.

Josephine Stone Breeding passed away at Asbury Acres, Maryville, Tennessee on March 10, 1995. Her husband had died in 1984 after 62 years of marriage. They are interred in Irish Memorial Gardens, Tazewell, Tennessee. She was among the Fountain City authors and columnists who made a real difference in the lives of others in her community (4).

In her book Mrs. Breeding wrote a prayer suitable to quote in her memory:


Your voice, dear God, in sun and wind and sea

Is certain, firm--a voice no power can change;

O may we fear it not, nor deem it strange,

Knowing the inner voice speaks tenderly.

Your image, God, all people long to see,

But seeing not, grant we may feel you near,

And as we live for others may we hear

Your words of love, "Ye did it unto Me."

Our paths may ofttimes rugged be and steep,

But give us faith and courage; keep us strong

To aid the weary, comfort those who weep,

And with them, listen for the freshetís song.

Give us each day; forgive us when we sin;

We ask these things in Jesusí name. Amen.

d-bredng.doc (8/9/02, 8/28/02)


1.  Correspondence with William R. Breeding, DDS, August 7, 2002. Her brothers were Thomas E. and Lee Dan Stone, both connected with the banking industry in Claiborne County.

2.  Whoís Who of American Women, 1958-1959; Whoís Who in America, 1956-1957; N. L. Hicks, A History of Knox County Communities; Vertical File (Breeding), McClung Historical Collection, Knoxville, Tennessee, Undated; "IPA Provides Quite a Platform," Knoxville News-Sentinel, August 9, 1965.

3.  Joanna Engle, "Poet find rewards in inspiring others," Knoxville Journal, January 4, 1989; Josephine Breeding, Sonnets and Other Poems, Prioleau  (San Francisco, 1988).

4.  "Fred C. Breeding, Dentist for Many Years, Dies at 88," Knoxville News-Sentinel, January 4, 1984; "Memorial: Josephine Stone Breeding," Knoxville News-Sentinel, March 12, 1995.

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