Echoes from the Hilltop Testimonials


“Lovely and lyrical, Echoes from the Hilltop tells the story of an extraordinary woman, a bygone time, and acts of generosity that created a legacy that lives on today. If we can’t find a Margaret Henry in our lives, we would do well to emulate her passion, study her methods, and become that person ourselves. Echoes from the Hilltop shows us how.

            “Paula Cox Bowers has pieced together letters, stories, testimonials, historical facts, and evocative photographs from a time when one extraordinary woman created a legacy of caring as colorful and unique as a quilt one might find in a mountain cabin in East Tennessee. Echoes from the Hilltop reminds us that having the opportunity to get an education is a rare prize, the potential of young people should always be valued, and the betterment of the world is a goal we can reach.

            “Prepare to be charmed and inspired by the indomitable Margaret Henry as she seeks talented students from the hills and hollows of East Tennessee, shamelessly pursues support for them from all over the United States, and creates a legacy of empowerment fueled by her passion for Maryville College.”

—Mary Donnet Johnson, author, playwright, and board member, Tennessee Arts Commission


Echoes from the Hilltop is a wonderful book. All Maryville alumni and friends would benefit from learning how hard people like Margaret Henry worked to make the gift of a Maryville education possible. Ms. Henry had a deep love for her fellow mountaineers. Her writing demonstrated a beautiful lyricism and a personal commitment to each correspondent. Ms. Henry and others like her should not be forgotten.”

—Chad Berry, historian of Appalachia and former faculty member, Maryville College (1995–2006)


Echoes from the Hilltop is a must-read for anyone who is associated with Maryville College. The story of Margaret Henry not only provides inspiration but illustrates Maryville College’s institutional mission and how generous support from donors is translated into student success. As Miss Henry wrote regarding her gratitude for each donation, ‘It cannot be reckoned in mere dollars and cents, for when it builds into a life, it will become immortal.’

            “Miss Henry once dedicated a bronze tablet commemorating the work of President Peter Mason Bartlett and other important figures at Maryville College. Her words on that occasion are fitting, with only slight modification, to summarize the appropriate response to her work: ‘Then, too, the younger generation who knew [her] not need to know that [she] laid foundations on which others could build more easily.’ As one who has been privileged to build upon those foundations, I am forever grateful for Miss Henry’s work, and I am grateful to Paula Cox Bowers for ensuring that her story continues to be celebrated as an inspiration and a challenge.”

—Dr. Tom Bogart, President, Maryville College


Echoes from the Hilltop is a welcome addition to the history of Maryville College. Ms. Bowers introduces her readers to Margaret Eliza Henry, a truly remarkable woman who played a critical role during a pivotal time in the life of the college. Extensive excerpts from Ms. Henry’s correspondence bring to life her tireless efforts to raise money to fund scholarships that allowed students from Southern Appalachia to attend Maryville College. Margaret Henry’s life is a testament to her deep devotion to Maryville College, the mountains in which she was born and raised, and the people who lived in them.”

—Paul Threadgill, Professor of Biology, Maryville College


“Margaret Henry’s fundraising work on behalf of deserving students in the Great Smoky Mountains has left us with an intimate record of life in Southern Appalachia. Her letters to donors in the north reveal often-overlooked details of private lives in the mountains. Her intercessions on behalf of these mountain people may have helped to prepare them for the changes that were hurtling their way. Not only has Paula Cox Bowers written a biography of a compassionate champion of education, her judicious selection of Henry’s correspondence adds another layer to our understanding of this region at a time of monumental change.”

—Michael Aday, Librarian-Archivist, Great Smoky Mountains National Park


“As a development professional and native Maryvillian, I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Margaret Henry and the communities she served. Her depictions of the college, the mountains, and the mountain people are vivid, loving, and hopeful. Though times and communication have changed drastically, so much remains the same. Maryville College is still dedicated to the education and advancement of its students and ever grateful for the example and hard work of Margaret Henry.”

—Suzy Booker, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Maryville College


Echoes from the Hilltop is a carefully researched work and a worthy tribute to Margaret Henry’s love and devotion in obtaining hundreds of scholarships for Southern Appalachian students.”

—Dr. Shirley Carr Clowney, historian and community activist


“In Echoes from the Hilltop, Paula Cox Bowers introduces readers to the unforgettable Margaret Henry, whose indomitable spirit enriched the lives of hundreds of students from the mountains and—through them—thousands of others.”

—Millie Sieber, storyteller and alumna, Class of 1958


“If you believe that education changes lives, you will revel in the story of Margaret Henry. Her efforts transformed the lives of many Appalachian adolescents. Her story is a lasting legacy of community service and a tribute to the impact Maryville College has had for nearly two hundred years.”

—Sarah DeYoung, retired administrator, University of Tennessee


Echoes from the Hilltop bears witness to altruism that spans generations. Paula Cox Bowers has salvaged an inspiration that was almost lost to history, and she unveils Margaret Henry’s character with a nuanced appreciation for Maryville College’s spirit, one that showcases how a single life can help so many more. This book will encourage its readers to follow Isaac Anderson’s model of doing good on the largest possible scale. Bowers shows how Margaret Henry succeeded in doing so, and without the desire for recognition or authority. Henry planted a seed of kindness that has continued to grow and bloom for a century.”

—Sherilyn Smith, writer


“Paula Cox Bowers has done a masterful job of compiling a fascinating account of the life and work of Margaret Henry. While Henry’s story is part of Maryville College’s history, it also serves as inspiration for its future. Margaret Henry is yet another figure in a long, grand line of servants who helped the college to, in the words of its founder, ‘do good on the largest possible scale.’”

—Emily Anderson, Senior Minister, New Providence Presbyterian
Church, and member, Maryville College Board of Directors


“For two hundred years, Maryville College has dedicated itself to helping young people, and scholarship secretary Margaret Henry is a big part of the how and why. This story of her life and times is told in countless fifty-dollar increments translated into educational opportunities for girls and boys from the Great Smoky Mountains.”

—Joan Worley, former Director, Lamar Memorial Library, Maryville College (1984–94)


“If you’d like to learn more about the people of Southern Appalachia and the history of Maryville College, you’ll want to read this book and peruse the letters of Margaret Eliza Henry, who traveled up north for months at a time between 1903 and 1916, mostly alone, to raise funds for scholarships. I applaud Paula Cox Bowers for discovering Margaret’s letters in the college archives and sharing this remarkable story of love and commitment.”

—Ellie Morrow, retired Vice President for Advancement, Maryville College


“In Echoes from the Hilltop, Paula Cox Bowers uses abundant correspondence from Miss Margaret Henry to paint a picture of a woman whose earnest passion for educating Appalachian youths is still bearing fruit today. Miss Henry’s time at Maryville College as a student, dormitory matron, teacher, and finally scholarship secretary was a crucial period for the college. This book creates a vivid picture of the educational needs of the area and of the donors who supplied those needs through Miss Henry’s untiring schedule of travel, speaking, and correspondence.”

—Brennan LeQuire, Reference Librarian, Blount County Public Library


“Everything about Echoes from the Hilltop is first rate. It is beautifully written, well-organized, well-documented, and interesting.

            “This book is a treasure for anyone associated with Maryville College, past or present, and the work that has been put into compiling all this information is a priceless gift from Paula Cox Bowers to the college and to all who read this book in the future.

            “For other readers who are not familiar with the Great Smoky Mountains or Maryville College, Echoes from the Hilltop is an interesting look at an earlier time and a woman who dedicated her life to God and to raising money to educate worthy young people, including many from the remote mountain area who had had no formal education before entering Maryville College.”

—Jorgine Brause, author


“A delightful book! Echoes from the Hilltop shows the tremendous amount of work spent sorting the many letters written by Margaret Henry to promote scholarships at Maryville College and encourage prospective students.

            “Paula Cox Bowers recounts how Margaret E. Henry worked with Maryville College for thirteen years and became a gifted spokeswoman who made it possible for many mountain children to gain a college education. She was certainly a heroine of the southern mountaineers and of Maryville College.”

—William B. Miller, retired Assistant Superintendent, Blount County Schools


“Reading Echoes from the Hilltop reinforced my pride in my college. Margaret Henry was a strong woman, and Maryville College was secure enough to promote a woman in a man’s world.”

—Elizabeth Walton Blackburn, alumna, Class of 1958


“This book illustrates that Margaret Eliza Henry was much more than a scholarship secretary for Maryville College. She was a youth advocate, social worker, teacher, community organizer, public speaker, and stewardship manager, just to name a few roles she played. When she promoted students to prospective donors, she worked to secure the needs of the whole person long before holistic was a buzzword. This book shows the commitment Margaret Henry had to the college and, more importantly, her commitment to advancing the people of the Southern Appalachians. She exemplified the words of Maryville College’s founder, Isaac Anderson: ‘Do good on the largest possible scale.’”

—Angela Miller, Director of Alumni Affairs and Stewardship, Maryville College


“Regrettably, Margaret Henry is not as well known in Maryville’s history as Isaac Anderson, Samuel Tyndale Wilson, and Kin Takahashi. Through Paula Cox Bowers’s masterful job of presenting her correspondence, Margaret Henry is brought to life as a Maryville College heroine who implemented the vision of Isaac Anderson to offer a college education to those on the frontier, who impacted hundreds of students’ lives during her time as scholarship secretary, and who has impacted thousands of students’ lives by starting the Maryville Fund. This wonderful bicentennial must-read is a reminder of Maryville College’s mission and a tribute to a forgotten hero.”

—Dan Greaser, alumnus and retired member, Maryville College Board of Directors


Echoes from the Hilltop is, quite simply, one of the finest local history books I have read. As Paula Cox Bowers tells the fascinating story of the remarkable Margaret Eliza Henry, she also captures the old East Tennessee mountain culture; brings to life many of the students Henry helped, people otherwise long lost to time; and contributes a significant chapter to the written history of Maryville College—fitting as the college approaches its bicentennial. This is a wonderful book that I will read again and again.”

—David Duggan, Blount County Circuit Judge


“The portrait of Margaret Henry that emerges from her letters is that of a selfless, sacrificing woman who loved the mountains and mountain people to the depths of her soul. The many excerpts from her letters describing Maryville students and mountain people reveal Henry as a woman of great stature. Maryville College was indeed blessed by the talents and character of Margaret Henry.

            “Echoes from the Hilltop is well organized and well written. The pictures throughout add a rich visual dimension to the history. The images of Margaret’s typewritten letters at the end of each chapter are powerful symbols of her tireless efforts and her literary talents. Echoes from the Hilltop is a book that brings honor to Maryville College and to the life of Margaret Henry.”

—Laura Derr, author and teacher


“Margaret Henry was a very dedicated educator and made many sacrifices to get children scholarships to Maryville College. Thanks to Paula Cox Bowers, Echoes from the Hilltop will contribute to local history research and remind us how important education is in any era.”

—Myrtle James, Regent, Mary Blount Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution


“The scholarship work Margaret Henry started over a hundred years ago has grown substantially. The fruit that has grown from the seeds planted by Margaret demonstrates the profound impact she had on Maryville College, and the college’s continued commitment to providing deserving students with an exemplary education, and the dedication of the alumni to pay forward the gift of education.”

—Diana Canacaris, Director of Major Gifts, Maryville College


“Few books provide such timely historical perspective as this well-written, extensively documented story. Here, a dynamic, strong, Christian woman, Miss Margaret Henry of Tennessee, speaks of her inspired early twentieth-century academic outreach, her financial travels on behalf of Maryville College and her many challenges and successes. Henry speaks to us because for a decade, Polly Cox Bowers has unlocked and studied Miss Henry’s massive archival letter collection. She has skillfully crafted an autobiography within a biography. Well done!”

—Rosemary Lee Potter, EdD, teacher, author, and alumna, Class of 1960


Echoes from the Hilltop is clearly a labor of love. Paula Cox Bowers’s work is as beautiful as it is educational and inspirational. All Maryville students should read this book and learn more about the history of their alma mater. It should be required reading!”

—Stacey Jo Loughran, middle school principal


“In Echoes from the Hilltop, Paula Cox Bowers reminds us that the story of a place is made up of the interwoven stories of individual people. Through her careful editing of Miss Margaret Henry’s correspondence, we meet the students, staff, faculty, families, and philanthropists whose lives combined to create the Maryville College of the early twentieth century. In addition to paying tribute to Miss Henry, this volume adds richness to the published history of Maryville College, illuminates the college’s role in regional history, illustrates the role of women in philanthropy in the progressive era, and highlights the importance of primary sources in telling our history.”

—Angela Myatt Quick, Library Director, Maryville College


“Margaret Henry had the understanding and courage to live unselfishly for others. What a teacher of compassion, love, and empathy! I wish I could be half the woman she was. Paula Cox Bowers has enriched the Maryville community by telling Margaret Henry’s story and giving us a blueprint for how to live.”

—Joy Bishop, community leader