Warren County resident Wayne Wolford can check one item off his bucket list. After 17 years of in-depth research, he has published his first book “Through Wolf’s Eyes.”
The book is a collection of historical facts and pictures related to Black American history in Warren County.
“This is one thing that was on my bucket list,” said Wolford. “I wanted to get this published and get the history out in the community, in the library and in the schools. When someone looks, they will have a reference to go to.”
Research, although unknowingly, began when Wolford wanted to place a monument at Rocket Park to commemorate the McMinnville Rockets and began looking into the team members.
“I started gathering information about those individuals,” said Wolford. “Some went into service. Others went to college. After researching those individuals, I thought let’s just see what’s going on as far as history is concerned.”
Wolford started compiling information pertaining to life in Warren County for its other black residents, including individuals involved in The Black Foxes, the American Legion, Young Men United, Black History Club, Bernard High School, Corinth School, Hiwassee School, etc.
“My interest just kept growing and growing,” said Wolford. “I wanted to know more about the baseball teams, veterans, and all the other things people have accomplished. While checking into history, I went to Nashville to look into the state archives.”
After delving deep into Warren County history, Wolford says he was shocked to find nothing pertaining to Warren County’s Black Americans in the state archives.
“I found that kind of weird,” he said. “Then, we took a trip to Washington, D.C. just one month before 9/11. While we were there, we saw some of the historical things at the Library of Congress. My wife pointed out a map of the South that had little dots and each little dot represented 2,000 slaves.”
The map depicts the distribution of slaves and free slaves in the South.
“In the middle of all these dots was one pink dot, which represented free slaves,” said Wolford. “There was one dot in the midst of an area coated with dots. That sparked my interest, so my research continued. The more I looked, the more I found.”
A desire for knowledge spread into a longing to share what he found with others. Wolford says one book was not enough for the amount of information he has accumulated.
“There is a reference section in the book that lists the individuals I found information about,” he said. “If I have more information that I couldn’t put in the book, I made a note of it. People can call me up and I would be willing to share the information with them.”
For instance, he has collected pictures and stories about individuals that could not be published due to available space. The stories came from hundreds of personal interviews with elderly individuals who lived in the era which Wolford was researching.
Wolford also researched service records of individuals. Due to the private information in them, such as Social Security numbers, the records were not included in the book.
The book’s title “Through Wolf’s Eyes” was selected due to Wolford’s nickname being an abbreviation.
“I got the nickname Wolf a long time ago,” said Wolford. “This is a book of what I’ve seen, so this book is through my eyes.”
Wolford became a resident of Warren County in 1958 after his grandmother wanted to return to her roots in McMinnville. He attended Bernard, Pleasant Hill and Central High. Joining the Army in July 1975, he served his country for 20 years.
Since 1975, Wolford has worn many hats in Warren County including being a cosmetologist, farmer, historian, substitute teacher, American Legion Commander, Young Men United spokesman, coach, Red Cross volunteer, advisor to the Black History Club, and member of Warren County Drug Task Force Alliance, just to name a few.
His book is available online at Amazon.com, can be downloaded onto Kindle, or purchased by calling Wolford at 668-9180. Book signings will be scheduled in April.