Muriel Millar Clark Spoden

Muriel Millar Clark Spoden


Muriel, also known as Mimi, spent the first four years of her life in Birmingham, Alabama with her parents, William and Bess Clark, and her older brother Billy Jr. When Bill Sr. was promoted by the Chicago Pneumatic Tool Co., the family moved to Knoxville permanently. Muriel graduated from Knoxville High School and attended the National Business College and the American Institute of Banking. She worked for several organizations, including the TVA, but none of these positions were associated with the historical research to which she would eventually dedicate her life.

Muriel growing up in Knoxville

Muriel & Hal's Courtship





In the spring of 1941, Muriel met Hal Spoden when they both volunteered for the same Jr. League Follies event. Volunteer work brought them together and would be a hallmark of their future life together. Several months later, when Hal went overseas with Pan American Airways-Africa Ltd. in support of FDR’s Lend-Lease Act, the friendship became a long-distance romance for 16 months. When Hal returned in December of 1942, the couple married on December 30, 1942 at Knoxville’s St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Hal continued his work with Pan American and Muriel traveled with him to British Columbia and Alaska. While Hal served in the Navy Reserves, the couple lived in California, where Muriel gave birth to their first daughter, Diane Muriel, in 1946. For a time after the war, Hal worked for an engineering firm in Knoxville before the couple settled in Kingsport, Sullivan County, Tennessee. Their second child, Micajah Clark, was born there in 1955.

Muriel was a founding member of the Netherland Inn Association (NIA), a group whose research and fundraising efforts since 1968 have brought about the restoration of the Inn and Bank Barn, several historical cabins, a detached kitchen house, and the surrounding landscape. Muriel spent many hours studying court documents, researching archival records, and transcribing gravestones and historic ledgers. She performed countless hours of research into the genealogy of the original Inn and Boatyard owners and occupants, including correspondence with dozens of their descendants. Her work has lead to the erection of several historical markers, the publication of an award-winning “Historical Map of the Long Island of the Holston,” and to numerous books and articles. Among these titles are Historic Sites of Sullivan County, Early Years on Bays Mountain, Kingsport Heritage, The Early Years 1700-1900, The Ancestors and Descendants of Richard Netherland, Esq. and The Netherland Inn Chronicles.

Outside of her work for the NIA, Muriel also served as secretary for the executive committee of the Tennessee American Revolution Bicentennial Commission and as chairman of the Sullivan County Bicentennial commission. She was an active member of several local historical associations as well as a member of the Long Island Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Muriel died in April of 1999.