History of Sullivan County, Tennessee that relates to the time William Wallace lived there
Sullivan County lies on the Virginia border immediately west of Johnson County from which it is separated by Holston Mountain. The surface of the county is undulating, and the soil generally good. The principal valleys are Denton, Holston Cook, and Beaver Creek. The largest stream is the Holston River, which traverses the eastern portion of the county, flowing in a southwesterly course until it reaches the Washington County line where it is joined by the Watauga. It then runs in a northwesterly direction to its confluence with the North Fork at Kingsport. Its chief tributaries are Sinking Creek, Beaver Creek, Fall Creek, Kendrick Creek, Muddy Creek, and Reedy Creek...The fort on the Holston River opposite the upper end of Long Island...was built by a regiment of British troops under Col. Bird, in the autumn of 1758, and was occupied by them during the following winter. At this time a few settlers located in the vicinity, but they were soon compelled to retire east of the Kanawha. During the next ten years, many hunting and exploring expedition parties traversed the Holston Valley, but no permanent settlements were made as low down as the present Tennessee line, until late in 1768 or early in 1769. On November 5, 1768, a treaty of cession was made at Fort Stanwix, NY, with the Six Nations, by the terms of which, they and their descendants relinquished all rights and title to the lands north and east of the Tennessee and Holston Rivers. On October 14 of the same year, a treaty was made at Hard Labour, in South Carolina, with the Cherokees, who also claimed the territory. By this treaty, the boundary lines of the Cherokee hunting grounds were fixed...These two treaties afforded an opportunity for the expansion of the settlements which had been made on the Holston in Virginia. The Colonists who had been waiting upon the frontiers longing to plunge into the wilderness to locate claims, or to take possession of grants already surveyed, lost no time in doing so. Haywood relates that early in 1769, Gilbert Christian, William Anderson, John Sawyers, and four others entered upon an exploring expedition down the Holston. They penetrated as low down as Big Creek in Hawkins County, where they met a large party of Indians and were forced to retreat. They turned about and went back up the river ten or fifteen miles, concluded to return home. About twenty miles above the North Fork they found upon their return a cabin on every spot where the range was good, and where only six weeks before nothing was to be seen but a howling wilderness. When they passed by before on their outward destination they found no settlers on the Holston, save three families on the head springs of that river.
Prior to 1779, the portion of what is now Sullivan County north of the Holston was believed to be in Virginia, and the first grants were issued by that State. The earliest one of which there is any record was issued to Edmund Pendleton in 1766, for 3,000 acres of land on Reedy Creek...At the foot of Eden Ridge (originally Heaton Ridge) on the east side was built a fort known as Heaton's Fort. It was erected by the settlers of Reedy Creek and Cook's Valley and was one of the first structures of the kind in the county. The Yancey Tavern, a famous house of entertainment, was built near this fort. Russell's fort stood on the Snapp's Ferry road, about six miles from Blountville. The first or one of the first mills in the county is said to have been by John Sharp, an Indian trader. It was a small tub-mill and stood on the spot occupied by the mill built a few years later by John Spurgeon at the mouth of Muddy Creek. As the majority of the first settlers of the county were Scotch-Irish the first religious organizations were Presbyterian, and it is said that as early as 1778 two churches had been constituted. There were Concord and Hopewell. Very little is known of them, except that Samuel Doak preached to them for two years preceding 1780. One of them is thought to have been the old "Weaver Church," between Bristol and Union, which, tradition says, was founded by Rev. Joseph Rhea, while on one of his trips to Tennessee. The oldest church of which there is [no] definite knowledge is New Bethel, which was organized in 1782 by Rev. Samuel Doak. James Gregg, Sr, John Allison, and Francis Hedge, Sr, are supposed to have been the first ruling elders.
Sullivan County was the second county formed in what is now Tennessee and included all the part of Washington County lying north of a line formed by the ridge dividing the waters of the Watauga from those of the Holston, and extending from the termination of this ridge to the highest point of the Chimney Top Mountain. The act was passed in October 1779, and in February 1780, the county court was organized at the house of Moses Looney, at which time a commission was presented appointing as justices of the peace Isaac Shelby, David Looney, William Christie, John Dunham, William Wallace, and Samuel Smith. Isaac Shelby exhibited his commission dated November 19, 1779, appointing him Colonel Commandant of the county, and D. Looney of the same date appointing him Major. Ephraim Dunlap was appointed State's attorney, and John Adair, entry-taker. The court adjourned to meet at the house of James Hollis. As the records of this court were almost destroyed during the civil war, but little is now known concerning it. For a few years, the courts were held somewhat in what is now the western part of the county, at the Yancey Tavern, near Eaton's Station, or at the house of Mrs. Shar, near the mouth of Muddy Creek, and possibly at both places.
In 1786, Hawkins County having been erected, the Legislature of North Carolina passed an act to remove the sear of justice to a more central location and appointed Joseph Martin, James McNeil, John Duncan, Even Shelby, Samuel Smith, William King, and John Scott as commissioners to select a site for the county building. Meanwhile, the courts were ordered to be held at the house of Joseph Cole. For some cause, the seat of justice was not permanently located until 1792 when James Brigham conveyed thirty acres of land to John Anderson, George Maxwell, and Richard Gammon, commissioners appointed by the county court to erect a courthouse and jail. These commissioners seem also to have failed to do the duty assigned them, for, in the act of the territorial assembly establishing the town, passed in 1795, James Gaines, John Shelby, Jr., John Anderson, Jr., David Perry, Joseph Wallace, and George Rutledge were appointed to complete the courthouse. This was a hewed-log structure, which stood on a lot nearly opposite the present courthouse. The jail was built in the rear of this lot. Some time between 1825 and 1838 a brick courthouse was erected on the lot occupied by the present one, which was built about 1850. During the war, the latter with its contents was burned, but the walls sustained but little damage and it was rebuilt at a comparatively small cost...The second jail was built in the rear of the courthouse. It was superseded by the pre-set building about 1870. The first building on the site of the town is said to have been a dwelling erected by James Brigham on the north side of the street near the bridge. The first storehouse was built by Walter James, a prominent trader who located in the vicinity about 1785...The first church in Blountville was the Methodist Church, which was organized early in the century. At about the same time a two-story brick building, 40x30feet was erected for a house of worship...This building became a place of worship for all denominations that chose to use it, and later was used for school entertainments and political meetings...It stood on the north side of Main Street...The officers of Sullivan County so far as could be determined have been as follows: County Clerks - John Rhea, 1780-87; Matthew Rhea, 1787-1820. Sheriffs - Nathan Clark, 1780-85; Archibald Taylor, 1785-87; George Rutledge, 1787-92; William McCormick, 1792-94; John Scott, 1794-1796; Isaac Shelby, 1796-98; John Anderson, 1798-1800. Registers - William Wallace, 1780; Stephen Major, 1789; W. C. Anderson, 1790.
|Place||Sullivan County, Tennessee|
|Linked to||William Wallace (49889)|