History of Blount County Tennessee

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Blount County Tennessee lies between the Tennessee River and the great Smoky Mountain, and south of Knox County. It has an area of about 470 square miles, one-sixth of which is mountain land. It is abundantly supplied with water and water power. The principal stream is Little River, which receives the waters of Crooked Creek, Pistol Creek, Nails Creek and Ellejoy. In the southern and western portions of the county are Abram, Nine Mile, Six Mile, Four Mile, Baker and Boyd Creeks. The mineral resources are abundant. In addition to iron and marble. silver and gold are found in paying quantities. The settlement of Blount county was begun in 1785. The first fort or station was established by Robert McTeer. “It stood about one and one-half miles south of Eusebia Church. It soon became the nucleus of an excellent neighborhood of intelligent, worthy, and patriotic citizens, emigrants principally from the valley of Virginia, who brought with, and diffused around them, Republicanism. religion, intelligence and thrift.” Among those who located in the vicinity were the Bogles, McCroskeys, McCullochs, McGaugheys, McMurrays, Boyds, Cunninghams, Moores. Tiptons, Jeffries, Cusicks and others. Numerous other forts and stations were soon after established in various parts of the county. Among them were John Craig’s, situated on the present site of Maryville, near where the depot now is; David Craig’s, near Brick Mill; Houston’s about six miles south of Maryville; Kelly’s, near Rockford; Kirk’s, on Little River, a few miles above Kelly’s; Thomas‘, about three and one-half miles southeast of Maryville; Martin’s, at Sanderson’s Mill, on Nails Creek; Hunter’s, on Nine Mile Creek; Gamble’s, near where George Snyder now lives; Henry’s, on Little River; Calvin’s on Crooked Creek; Black’s at the head of Crooked Creek; Gillespie’s, south of Little River; and Ish’s, in the northwest part of the county, near the Tennessee River. For several years the settlement suffered severely from Indian depredations. The proximity of the mountains, which furnished safe hiding places for the savages, [Native Americans] made it necessary constantly to guard the frontier, and many times compelled the inhabitants to seek refuge in the strongest forts. It is said that on one occasion, in April, 1798, no less than 280 men, women and children were gathered together in Craig’s fort, and there remained for several days in the greatest discomfort. To detail the instances of Indian outrage and aggression and the heroism of the brave pioneers, in their acts of defense and retaliation, however, would require a volume, and as the more signal instances are detailed elsewhere they will not be repeated here. No section of Tennessee was settled by a more heroic, fearless and energetic people, and no county is richer in the splendid traditions and honorable achievements of its pioneers. The earliest settlers were mainly Scotch Presbyterians, and the first churches were organized by them. In 1786 Eusebia Church was organized in the McTeer neighborhood, it is thought, by Hezekiah Balch. A large log building was erected, and later a camp-ground was constructed near by. In 1792 or 1798 New Providence Church was organized in the vicinity of Craig’s fort, now Maryville, by Rev. Gideon Blackburn, who also established Baker’s Creek Church soon after. In 1796 the nucleus of a colony of Friends was formed near where Friendsville now is, by John Hackney, James Matthews. James Allen and John Walker. The next year William Griffith located in the vicinity of Unitia, and Thomas Jones and William and Daniel Durham on Cloyd’s Creek. The land in the vicinity of Louisville was obtained by Robert, John and James Gillespie under the act of the Legislature to promote the erection of iron works. They built a small furnace and forge, which they ceased to operate as soon as they obtained a title to the land.

The erection of small tub mills was begun with the earliest settlement of the country. The first is said to have been built near McTeer’s fort. After the organization of the county, in 1795 and 1796, permits to erect mills were granted to the following persons: John Craig, on Pistol Creek; John Walker, in Tuckaleechee Cave; Samuel Thompson, on Crooked Creek; Thomas Gibson, on Gallaher’s Creek, and James McNutt, on Pistol Creek.

The raising of cotton being an important industry in the early history of the county, a large number of cotton-gins were erected. Those in operation in 1802 were owned by Thomas Berry, James Scott, Samuel Houston, William Stanfield, William Lowry and Patrick Collins.

Blount County was established by an act of the Territorial Assembly, passed July 11, 1795. The court of pleas and quarter sessions was organized on the second Monday in September, 1795, at the house of Abraham Weaver. The justices present were William Wallace, William Lowry, James Scott, Oliver Alexander, David Craig and George Ewing. William Wallace was chosen chairman. On the next day John Trimble, Thomas McCulloch and William Hamilton produced commissions from Gov. Blount and took their seats. John McKee qualified as clerk, Littlepage Sims, as sheriff; William Wallace, as register; Robert Rhea, as coroner; James Gaily, James Blair and Gray Sims, as constables. The next term of the court was held at the house of John Craig. The grand Jury empaneled consisted of James Tedford, foreman; Samuel McCulloch, Joseph McConnell, Samuel Hogg, John Alexander, John Cochran, James Kerr, Joseph McReynolds, James Gillespie, James Logan, John Huklin, James Cummings, John Rider, John Weatherspoon and Robert Wilson. The first indictment was found against Daniel Huff for assault.

The commissioners appointed to locate the county seat and superintend the erection of county buildings were William Wallace, Joseph Black, Samuel Glass, David Craig, John Trimble, Alexander Kelly and Samuel Henry. They selected fifty acres of land owned by John Craig, which was laid off into streets and lots, and in accordance with the legislative act named Maryville, in honor of Mary Grainger, the wife of Gov. William Blount. For some reason the commission failed to provide a suitable courthouse, and in 1799 Andrew Thompson, Barclay McGhee, William Lowry, John Cochran and John Woods were appointed to let the contract for such a building. These men also failed to complete the work, and in 1802 a new committee was appointed for that purpose. A log structure was at last completed, which was superseded about 1820 by a frame building. In April, 1838, Jesse Thompson, Andrew C. Montgomery, Henry Hannum, William Toole, Samuel Pride, Henry Hamill and James Trundle were appointed to superintend the erection of a new brick courthouse, which was completed the following year. This building was occupied until 1885, when it was destroyed by fire, and the present handsome brick structure erected at a cost of $12,000. The first jail was a log building and stood just back of the courthouse. About 1878 a new jail was completed upon the site of the present brick building, which was erected some time ago.

The circuit court for Blount County was organized February 5, 1810, by James Trimble, who appointed Robert Houston clerk. The chancery court was not organized until February 14, 1853, the business of this court having previously been transacted at Madisonville.

Among the first lawyers resident in the county were John Lowry, Samuel Glass, John Wilkinson, John Garner and Enoch Parsons. Glass was a member of the constitutional convention of 1796, and afterward was elected to the State Senate. John Lowry was the first attorney-general of Hamilton District, and one of the leading lawyers of his time. Enoch Parsons was a prominent attorney, but became more conspicuous through his candidacy for the office of governor, in 1819, against Joseph McMinn. He was defeated by a large majority, and soon after removed to Alabama. Among the lawyers of a later date were John S. McNutt, S. T. Bicknell (who represented the county in the Legislature for several yean), Joseph W. Lemons, J. H. Parsons, S. J. McReynolds (who served for two years as county judge), Jesse G. Wallace, W. D. McGinley and John E. Toole. Wallace began practice about 1845, and continued to reside at Maryville until the civil war. He then cast his lot with the Confederacy, and, at the close of hostilities, he removed to Franklin, Tennessee, where he still resides. Mr. Toole also entered the profession about 1845, and soon won a high reputation as an advocate. He was not a scholarly man, nor a well-read lawyer, but he won his position by indomitable energy and great tenacity of purpose. Upon the breaking out of the war he was made provost-marshal by the Confederate States Government, and after the Federal occupation of East Tennessee, he went South and never returned. W. D. McGinley continued to practice at Maryville until his death in 1881. He was an excellent advocate before a jury, but was somewhat too unsystematic to achieve the highest success in chancery practice. The present bar of Blount County is one of more than average ability. The members are as follows: C. T. Cates, Sr., S. P. Rowan, M. L. McConnell, Will A. McTeer, Thomas N. Brown, G. S. W. McCampbell, and C. T. Cates, Jr.

Maryville Tennessee

As has been stated, Maryville was laid out in 1795. The first merchants were John and Josiah Nichol, Lowry & Waugh and King & Montgomery. They were succeeded by James & Ignatius Wilson, James & William W. Berry, C. & J. H. Gillespie, J. J. Walker and Wallace & Jacobs. During the ten or fifteen years previous to the war the leading business men were Bicknell & Wallace, James M. Toole & Co., Coffin & Wilson, A. M. & J. G. Wallace, Brobson & Toole, William McTeer & Co., W. H. Andersen & Co. and J. C. Fagg & Co. Among other early settlers of Maryville were Samuel Love, a hatter and hotel-keeper; James Turk, a saddler; Samuel Houston, a blacksmith; — Caldwell, a tailor; Alexander McGhee and Edward Gaunt, physicians; Jesse Wallace and John Garner, hotel keepers; John Woods and John Montgomery, millers; and Gideon Blackburn, minister.

Early Maryville Tennessee Newspapers

The first newspaper in Maryville was the Intelligencer, established in 1887 by F. A. Parham. The next year, Montgomery McTeer began the publication of a bi-monthly paper devoted to agricultural arts and domestic economy. It was known as the American Journal of Productive Industry. During the same year the Temperance Banner was established. As its name implies, it was devoted to the cause of temperance. None of these papers was published but for a short time. In November, 1853, the Blount County Advocate was founded by W. P. Collins, and, in May, 1855, James E. Swan began the publication of the East Tennessean. The newspapers published since the war have been the Maryville Republican, begun in October, 1867, by R. C. Tucker; the Soldier’s Gazette, established in December, 1869, by M. L. McConnell; the Blount County Standard, established in December, 1877; the Maryville Index, the publication of which was begun in 1878 by J. A. Silsby; the Blount County Democrat, established in May, 1879, by R. N. Hood; the Maryville Watchman, established in March, 1882, by Will A. McTeer; the East Tennessee News published by J. T. Andersen & Co; the Maryville Times, published since 1884 by A. J. Neff & Son; and To Day’s News, recently established by the News Publishing Company.

Early Maryville Tennessee Schools

As an educational center Maryville has long been prominent. In 1806 the Legislature, under the act establishing county academies, appointed Gideon Blackburn, John Montgomery, John Lowry (merchant), Joseph B. Lapsley and Andrew Kennedy trustees for Porter Academy in Blount County, to whom were afterward added James Gillespie, Jr., John Lowry (attorney), James Houston, Sr., Alexander McGhee, James Turk and Thomas Henderson. In 1818 provision was made for a female department, and a separate board of trustees were appointed for it. The first schools in Maryville were taught in a log building, standing near the Spring in the western part of town. Among the teachers were P. Smith and Rev. Mr. Moore, a Methodist minister. About 1819 or 1820 a log building, which was afterward weather-boarded, was erected on a lot in front of the present college grounds. It was occupied by the academy for many years. Since the war the institution has been removed to a place near the old Logan Chapel campground, about seven miles northeast of Maryville.

Maryville College

Maryville College is one of the oldest and most highly esteemed educational institutions in Tennessee. It was founded by Rev. Isaac Anderson, who, near the beginning of the present century, came with his father’s family from Virginia, and located in Knox County. He entered the ministry, and soon became known as an eloquent and effective speaker and a bold and original thinker. He was a Presbyterian, and adopted the peculiar doctrines known as “Hopkinsianism,” which led to the division of the church into the old and new school. Recognizing the need of this section for a greater number of educated ministers in 1819 he presented to the Synod of Tennessee, then in session at Maryville, a plan for the organization of a theological school, which was adopted, and the institution was established as the Southern and Western Theological Seminary, a name that it bore until 1842, when it was incorporated by the Legislature as Maryville College. Dr. Anderson became the first president, and continued, in that position until his death January 28, 1857. He was succeeded by Rev. John J. Robinson. The following year the control of the institution was transferred to the United Synod of the Presbyterians in the United States of America, on condition that the property revert to the Synod of Tennessee should the United Synod cease to exist.

In forty years, from 1819 to 1861, the institution educated and trained 150 men for the gospel ministry, while of the several hundred alumni sent out very many entered the other learned professions, and not a few of them attained to eminence and distinction. The endowment fund gathered little by little, through all those years, amounted to only $16,000. During the war the work of the college was suspended for five years; the faculty was broken up; the library was badly damaged; the college buildings were destroyed; two-thirds of the endowment funds were lost; in short the college was in ruins, not worth in funds and real estate more than $7,000. Under these circumstances some of the best and oldest friends of the college thought it dead to live no more. But the Synod of Tennessee met in the fall of 1865, and resumed organic relations with the old General Assembly, and feeling that it could not hold its ground and extend its influence without Maryville College, it was resolved to revive it. The only professor remaining, G. S. W. Crawford, was ordered to reopen the college for instruction as soon as practicable. This was done on the 5th of September, 1866, with an attendance of thirteen students. In less than three years two more professors were added to the faculty, and there was a large increase of students. New grounds and new buildings became a necessity, and to secure them an appeal was made to the friends of Christian learning in the North with the following results: A beautiful campus of 250 acres, a professor’s house costing $3,000, a college building costing $23,000 and two handsome dormitories costing $12,000 each. An endowment fund soon became a necessity, and in 1880 Prof. T. J. Lamar Was appointed as an agent to secure one if possible. In this he was successful, and by December 31, 1883, $100,000 had been raised – $30,000 came from New York City and Brooklyn, $30,000 from Pittsburgh, $25,000 from Dayton, Ohio, $10,000 from Auburn. N. Y., and $5,000 from East Tennessee.

The faculty of the college consists of a president, six professors and three assistant teachers.

In 1850 the East Tennessee Masonic Female Institute was organized and put into operation in the brick building now occupied by the public schools. The trustees were Samuel Pride, S. T. Bicknell, J. M. Toole, J. W. Davis, B. D. Brobson, J. E. Toole, J. A. McKamy and George Brown. Fielding Pope was elected president, and Mary S. Towne, Mary J. Love and M. J. Cates assistants. The institution was conducted under the auspices of the Masonic fraternity until the beginning of the civil war, but was not reorganized after its close.

About 1878 a normal school, designed for the training of destitute students from the mountain districts, was established by Dr. J. D. Garner. In 1878 the property known as the Dr. Pride residence was purchased with funds furnished by a few wealthy friends of Philadelphia. who became members of the board of trustees, and the school was conducted under the direction of Dr. Garner until 1884, when a new board obtained control of the property under a three-year’s lease. The original design of the institution has been abandoned, and it is now conducted as a sort of preparatory or intermediate school. In 1871 W. P. Hastings, a member of the Society of Friends, organized a school for freedmen, in the old Zion Church; it was composed of a motley crowd of children and adults desirous of learning to read. The accommodations of the school were very inadequate, and Mr. Yardly Warner, working under the auspices of the Indiana yearly meeting, began the soliciting funds to aid in the erection of a suitable building. In this he was successful, the work was begun in 1872, and the building ready for occupancy on January 1, 1874. The institution has since been conducted as a training school for colored teachers, and has been one of the most successful schools of the kind in the State. It has an average attendance of about 175. The property is valued at over $20,000, and an endowment fund of $25,000 has been provided for the aid of students. Since 1878 it has been under the care of the New England yearly meeting, but Mr. Hastings has continued as president.

Early Maryville Tennessee Churches

Maryville is equally as well supplied with churches as with schools. As is stated elsewhere, the Presbyterians had organized a church before the town was established. They held services in a log house until about 1812, when a substantial stone building was erected. It was occupied until about 1855, when the present brick church was built. A Methodist church was organized near the beginning of the present century, and for many years occupied a house situated just north of the town. The present building occupied by the Methodist Episcopal Church South, was built some time in the fifties. After the close of the war the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church erected a house of worship, and in 1872 the Friends completed a similar work. Recently the Baptists have also erected a church.

In — the Knoxville & Augusta Railroad was completed to Maryville, which has since been its southern terminus. It has added greatly to the growth and importance of the town, which is now one of the most prosperous in the State. The manufacturing establishments consist of two woolen-mills, operated by W. T. Parham, Hannah & Son, respectively; grist-mills, by Elijah Walker, Hackney & Chapman and W. T. Parham; saw mills, by J. L. Hackney & Son and D. Jones; sash and blind factories by Boyd & Huff, Stetler and B. F. Willard, and a machine shop by Cowan & Summers. The mercantile interests are represented by the following firms. Conning & Jones, A. K. Harper, L. J. Magill and Cooper & Bittle, dry goods; William Newby, William Sharp. G. A. Toole, Watkins & Davis, G. B. Ross and V. Cummings & Bro., groceries; O. D. Lloyd, groceries and hardware; J. A. Greer & Co., hardware and implements; C. Pflanze and George A. Brown, furniture; Tedford & Lowe, drugs; W. A. Walker, books and stationery, and R. S. Cathcart, harness.

In 1882 the Farmer’s Bank was incorporated with R. N. Hood as president, and Joseph Burger as cashier. In 1885 it was succeeded by the Bank of Maryville, with a capital stock of $50,000. The officers are P. M. Bartlett, president; W. T. Parham, vice president and Joseph Burger, cashier. Maryville was incorporated by an act of the General Assembly, passed January 7, 1850. The first mayor was Samuel Pride, and the aldermen, J. C. Fagg, William McTeer, J. E. Toole, S. T. Bicknell, Andrew McClain and R. L. Cates. After the passage of the “Four Mile” law the charter was surrendered, and the town is not incorporated.

The principal villages of the county are Friendsville, Louisville and Rockford.

Friendsville Tennessee

Friendsville, as its name indicates. is a village settled principally by the Friends. It is built upon land formerly owned by Thomas Hackney, and the first flouring-mill in the county is said to have been erected there by Thomas and John Hackney. It is still in operation, and owned by William R. and Elias Jones and James F. Beals. The first store was opened by David Morgan, who, in 1855, established the Friendsville Academy. This has been an educational institute of considerable note, and in 1880 it was incorporated.

Louisville Tennessee

Louisville is situated on the Tennessee River, and in the palmiest days of steamboat navigation was a place of much importance. One of the first merchants, if not the first, was Nathaniel Cox, who was in business previous to 1822. Wilson & Saffle began selling goods at a little later date. The firms engaged in business in 1850 were Foster & Pearce, George S. Gilbert & Son, Cox & Bro., Steel, Eagleton & Co. and John Everett. L. C. Houk, the present congressman from the Second District, was also a resident of the town at that time. Although the town has lost much of its old-time importance since the introduction of railroad traffic, it is still a flourishing village.

Rockford Tennessee

Rockford is situated on the Knoxville & Augusta Railroad and on Little River. It is a small village which grew up around a cotton factory established there about 1840.

Blount County TN Officials

The following persons have filled official positions in Blount County:


Littlepage Sims, 1795-96, Joseph Colville, 1796-1800; William Burk, 1800-02; Joseph Colv1lle, 1802-04; William Lackey, 1804-06; Samuel Cowan, 1806-14; David Russell, 1814-16; Charles Donahoo, 1816-20; William Wallace, 1820-42; Calvin D. Anderson, 1842-48; James M. Henry, 1848-54; Campbell Gillespie, 1854-58; W. L. Hutton, 1858-62; William H. Finley, 1862-64; Moses Gamble, 1864-66; M. L. McConnell, 1866-68; John D. Alexander, 1868-72; J. P. Edmondson, 1872-76; R. P. McReynolds, 1876-78; A. M. Rule, 1878-82; M. H. Edmondson, 1882.

Clerks of the county court

John McKee, 1795-96; James Houston, 1796-1818; Jacob F. Foute 1818-33; Nathaniel Reagan, 1833-40; Jeremiah Kennon, 1840-44; William Lowry, 1844-48; Robert A. Tedford, 1848-53; Spencer Henry, 1853-54; J. C. McCoy, 1854-62; W. L. Dearing, 1862-66; R. C. Tucker, 1866-71; T. D. Edington, 1871-72; J. A. Greer, 1872-79; Benjamin Cunningham, 1879.

Clerks of the circuit court

Robert Houston, 1810-14; Jesse Beene, 1814-20; Azariah Shelton, 1820-22; D. D. Foute, 1822-36; A. Henry, 1836-40; D. D. Foute, 1840-48; William A. Walker. 1848-62; James A. Houston, 1862-64; Montgomery McTeer, 1864-68; Will A. McTeer, 1868-78; W. C. Chumlea, 1878.


William Wallace, 1795-99; J. Wallace, 1799-1820; Andrew Thompson, James M. Anderson, 1836-40; Andrew McClain, 1840- –; Ralph E. Tedford. 1864-68; T. F. Wallace. 1868-74; J. C. Hutton 1874-78; J. N. Badgett, 1878.


John McKee, 179S-96; David Eagleton, 1796-1802; John Lowry (merchant), 1802-16: Samuel Love, 1816-20; Jesse Thompson, 1820-36; R. L. Cates, 1836-46; William McTeer, 1846-52; R. E. Telford, 1852-58; D. N. Broyles, 1858-62; F. M. Hood, 1862-66; Eli Nunn, 1866-72; Daniel Broyles, 1872-74; J. W. Eakin, 1874-78; J. A. Goddard, 1878-86; A. M. Rule, 1886.

Clerks and Masters

Samuel Pride, 1853-62; William A. Walker, 1862-64; William Pickens, 1864-67; Elias Goddard, 1867-83; J. A. Greer, 1883; J. T. Gamble, 1883-85; J. A. Greer, 1885.


History of Tennessee from the Earliest Time to the Present: Together with an Historical and a Biographical Sketch of from Twenty-Five to Thirty Counties of East Tennessee. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1887.

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2 thoughts on “History of Blount County Tennessee”

  1. I am a direct descendent of Littlepage Sims, 1st Sheriff of Blount County and I would appreciate it if someone could tell me where the historical marker has been moved to. It was formerly on Hunt Road. Thank you

  2. I have wondered why so many of my ancestors moved away from Blount County around the 1820’s. Was there an earthquake reported during that time period? Does anyone know or have knowledge of the George Wolf/Susan Martin families?

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