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Grainger County Basics

Cherokee Lake, near Bean Statiion Photo credit: Alex Leung  Some rights reserved, photo cropped to fit space


The settlement of what is now Grainger County was begun about 1785,along the valley south of Clinch Mountain, and at the head of Flat Creek. Among the first settlers were some who had resided a few years in what is still Hawkins County. One of the most prominent of the pioneers was Col. James Ore, who located at the place afterward known as Oresville, about one mile east of Bean Station, near the close of the last century. Previous to his location there, he had carried on a store at Knoxville for a short time. He was the commander of an expedition against the Lower Cherokees in 1794, and effectually put an end to aggressions from those savages.

Bean's Station, located at the crossing of the great thoroughfares leading from Kentucky to the south, and from Virginia and North Carolina to the west, was one of the best known places in Tennessee, for more than half a century prior to the advent of railroads. It was settled by George Bean, Sr., who, as early as 1792, advertised in the Knoxville Gazette, that he had opened a goldsmiths and jeweler's shop at that place, and that he was also prepared to make and repair guns. He had two sons, George and Jesse. In 1800 Robert Gordon was licensed to keep an ordinary at Bean's Station, as was also James Byrne in 1804. The hotel, however, which became an institution of the place, and gave it much of its celebrity, was established in 1813 by Thomas Whiteside. It became a famous stopping place for travelers and for drovers taking their stock from Kentucky to the Southern markets. A race course was subsequently laid out in the vicinity, and the village became a business point of considerable importance. Among the merchants who did business there were John Shields, Knight & Shields, Samuel & Milton Shields and Lofferty & Whiteside. Of the other early settlers in this portion of the county may be mentioned the Senters, Hendersons, Crabtrees, Taylors and Johnstons. Farther down the valley toward Rutledge were the Bassetts, Lebons and Moores; Ethelred Willims, the father of William Williams and James Williams, the latter of whom became minister from the United States to Turkey, settled at Rocky Springs and started a store there. Robert Long located on the Holston River, where his grandson now lives. Bowen and Abraham McConnell, the father of Hon. Thomas McConnell, of Chattanooga, settled about five miles east of Rutledge.

Below Rutledge were Thomas McBrown, Frederick Mayers, John Bunch and David Tate.

Still lower down in the county were Abner Lowe, Jerry Jarnagin and William Clayton.

Flat Creek may be mentioned Samuel Dodson, John Aker, David Watson, Martin Cleveland and the Dyers. Settlements were early made in the vicinity of Blair's Cross Roads, and a station known as Haley's Station was built three miles from that place on Richland Creek.

The first church in the county was established by the Baptists, at the mouth of Richland, in 1788. The names of the first members could not be ascertained, but the delegates to the association in 1794 were James Randolph, George Holmark and Garrett Winahan.

The first Methodist Church organized was doubtless County Line Church, so called from its situation on the line between Hawkins and Grainger Counties. Among its earliest   members were Martin Stubblefield, John McAnally, Rice Moore, Amasa Howell, Henry

Brown, Edward Rice, Charles McAnally and Basil Guess, some of whom lived in Hawkins County. The church was organized about 1794, and was frequently visited by Bishop Asbury. The Presbyterians were never very strong in this county, and no congregations were formed at a very early date.

The act creating Grainger County was passed on April 22, 1796. The boundaries fixed were as follows: "Beginning on the main road leading from Bull's Gap to Hayne's Iron Works, on Mosey Creek, at the house of ' Felps ' Read; running a direct course to the Kentucky road on the north side of Holston River; thence north fifty degrees west to the Virginia line; thence west with said line to a point northwest of the end of Clinch Mountain; thence in a direct course to the end of Clinch Mountain; thence with the ridge that divides the waters of Richland and Flat Creeks to Holstftn River at the upper end of the first bluff above Boyles' old place; thence up the meander of the river to the mouth of Panther Creek; thence up said creek to the head spring thereof near the house of John Evans; thence along the main wagon road to its beginning." By reference to a map it is seen that the county embraced the greater portion of its present territory, and also considerable portions of Claiborne, Campbell, Union and Hawkins Counties. The county court was organized on June 13, 1796, at the house of Benjamin McCarty, who lived about two miles below Rutledge. The magistrates present were Thomas Henderson, Elijah Chisum, James Blair, John Estes, Phelps Read, Benjamin McCarty, James Moore, John Bowen, John Kidwell, John Sims, William Thompson and Maj. Lea, who, after presenting their commissions from Gov. Sevier and taking the oath of office, elected the following officers: Ambrose Yancey, clerk of the court; Martin Ashburn, sheriff; Phelps Read, register; John Estes, ranger, and James Moore, coroner.

The constables appointed were Reuben White, William Smith, Samuel Cox, John Russell, John Rhea, Elias Davis and John Hibbert.

At this term permission was given to erect the following grist and saw mills: To Nichols T. Perkins, on Chamberlain, now known as Stiffey Creek; William Thompson, on Buffalo Creek, and William Stone near the mouth of Richland Creek. The first grand jury was empaneled at the next term of the court, which was held at John Bunch's, and was composed of the following men: William Stone, foreman; John Bunch, William Bussell, John Gilmore, Jeremiah Chamberlain, John Horner, James Snort, John Bristoe, David Hailey, Henry Howell, Alexander Blair, Isaiah Medkiff and George Smith.

The location of the seat of justice caused considerable difficulty, and was not permanently settled until 1801. The first commissioners appointed to fix upon a site were David Hailey, Maj. Lea, Benjamin McCarty, Bartley Marshall and James Blair. Jr. who failed to agree upon a point. A second commission was appointed, with a like result. Meanwhile the court was held at various places: John Bunch's, Martin Asburns', Mitchell's Spring, and occasionally at some place on the north side of Clinch Mountain.

On the third Monday in August in 1798, the court adjourned for five hours to meet at the house of Mrs. Jacob Cobb, opposite to John Bullard, on the south bank of the Clinch, where they met at the appointed time, but immediately adjourned to Joshua Wombles. /font>

TThe court continued its itinerancy until 1801, when, a portion of the county having been stricken off to form Claiborne County, a site was at last decided upon. The commissioners who located it were William Noll, Robert Patterson, William Clay, Phelps Read, William Hawkins, John Evans (of Panther Creek) and Ethan Davis. The town as first laid off consisted of twenty-two and three-fourth acres of land purchased of Thomas McBroom and Daniel Clayton. It was named Rutledge in honor of Gen. George Ratledge, of Sullivan County, the successor of John Sevier as brigadier-general.

The first courthouse in the town was completed in1801. It stood just in front of the present building, and was erected by Francis Mayberry. It was occupied until 18—, when it was purchased by members of the Presbyterian Church. It is still standing, and  is used by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church as a house of worship. The first jail was built by Jonathan Williams, and stood immediately in the rear of the courthouse. In 1822 Benjamin Craighead, Thomas McBroom and Jacob Kline were appointed to superintend the building of a new jail. The present county buildings were erected in the forties. The commissioners to superintend the erection of the jail were Thomas McBroom, Joseph Clark, Samuel Bunch and William E. Cocke appointed in 1845.

Those for the courthouse were Parrott Godwin, B. F. McFarland and James S. Talbot, appointed in January, 1846. The latter building was not completed, however, until about two years later.

The circuit court for Grainger County was organized on April 10, 1810, by William Cocke, judge" of the First Judicial Circuit. The first attorneys admitted to practice in this court were Samuel Powell and W. R. Cole. The chancery court was organized by judge Thomas L. Williams on June 19, 1848.

One of the first resident attorneys was Gen. John Cocke, the son of Gen. William Cocke of Hawkins County. He was a successful advocate, and one suited to the time in which he lived. For many years he had an office in Rutledge; it stood on the main street of the town, just east of Brewer's hotel, and was but recently removed. Gen. Cocke was distinguished during his life both in military and civil affairs, and proved himself the worthy son of a worthy sire. He was a member of the first General Assembly, and continued to serve in one or the other houses of that body at nearly every session until he entered Congress in 1819. There he remained for eight successive years. After retiring from that body, he once more entered the Legislature, and to his influence and prompt action, while a member of the State Senate in 184344, was due the establishment of the Deaf and Dumb school at Knoxville. His military services are mentioned in another chapter of this work. Sterling Cocke, the brother of Gen. Cocke, was a resident of Hawkins County, and served for many years as attorney-general. He was the father of William M. Cocke, at one time a prominent citizen of Rutledge. The latter entered the legal profession, and soon distinguished himself as an eloquent speaker. In1845,he was chosen to represent his district in the XXX Congress, and two years later was re-elected. Among other attorneys of prominence who have resided in the county was judge T. W. Turley, who died recently at Franklin, Tenn. He began practice some time in the forties, and in 1856 was elected a judge of the circuit court to succeed Robert H. Hynds. Of the present bar, James T. Shields is the oldest member, having been engaged in active practice for over forty years. The remaining attorneys of the county at the present time are John K. Shields, G. McHenderson, J. N. Goldman, A. S. Tate, R. C. Sampson and I. L. Moore.

Rutledge, as before stated, was established in 1801, five years after the organization of the county. Its population has never been large, and in this respect, perhaps, no other village in the State has remained so nearly stationary for so long a time. In1830, the population was given as 150, and in 1880 it was126./font>

AAt the former date the place is described as having one school, one church, three stores, two taverns, two hatters, two blacksmiths, one saddler and two tanners. The first merchants were doubtless Carrick, Montgomery & Co., who were licensed to sell goods there in1803.

The first house of entertainment licensed was that of Michael Coons or Countz, who was also a blacksmith. In 1806 Frederick Mayers opened a tavern in the house now occupied by Maj. Sawyers, and at about the same time Joshua Hickey erected a building on the southwest corner of the public square, where he also kept a public house for several years. Among the first hatters were Daniel Cardwell and Hugh Jones. Subsequent merchants were John Brown, Benjamin Craighead, later Craighead Massingale, Hugh Houston, Rice & McFarland, A. P. & D. Green, William T. Tate & Co., Warham, Easley & Co- and Jarnagin & Bros. The above firms were all engaged in business prior to the war. Those of the present time are J. M. Lowe, J. G. Brown and John Clark. Among the early physicians were Dr. William E. Cocke, JohnW. Lyde, and later, J. C. Legg. Those of the present are Joseph Huff master and J. H. Campbell.

But two journalistic enterprises have ever been attempted in Rutledge. In 1883, the Enterprise was established by J. N. Hodge, but it proved of short duration, and in April, 1887, the EastTennessee Eagle, an excellent Republican paper, was started by G. M. Williams and G. T. Norris.

The date of the organization of the Methodist Church in Rutledge could not be ascertained, but it was probably early in the history of the town. The Presbyterian Church was organized about 1833, but the congregation was without a house of worship until 1846, when the old courthouse was purchased for that purpose. Since the war a comfortable frame house has been erected. /font>

The county academy, known as Madison Academy, was put into operation about 1842. The first building, which was burned two or three years ago, stood on a bluff south of the town. In 1885 a new two-story frame building was erected upon a lot just east of town.

The following have been the officers of Grainger County since its organization:

County court clerks—Ambrose Yancey, 1796-1808; John F. Jack, 1808-10; Sterling

Cocke, 1810-13; John Cocke, 1813-36; Edward Tate, 1836-52; James C. Clark, 1852-56; J.

K. McAnally, 1856-60; Robert P. Moore, 1860 ; M. Goldman, 1865-72; P. M. Senter,

1872-78;J. S. Doyal, 1882; J. N. Goldman, 1882-86; D. T. Dodson, 1886.

Clerks of the circuit court—John F. Jack, 1810-24; W'illiam E. Cocke, 182440; Will-

iam M. Cocke, 184045; W. L. Lathim, 1845-54; P. M. Senter, 1854-58; W. L. Lathim, 1858-76; Allen S. Tate, 1876-78; George M. Greenlee, 1878-86; W. H. Cadle, 1886.

Clerks and masters—C. C. Smith, 1848-77; G. H. Grove, 1877—.

Sheriffs—Martin Ashburn, 1796-1800; Robert Young, 1800-04; John Lea, 1804-06; James

Conn, 1806-12; Charles McAnally,1812-21; Samuel Bunch, 1821-36; Robert Lloyd, 1836-38;

Elisha Thomason, 183842; Robert Lloyd, 184244; A. P. Green, 184446; Elisha Thomason, 184648; L. M. Ellis, 1848-54; John Kinder, 1854-56; Auderson Donaldson, 1856-58; John F. Noe, 1858-68; Chesley Morgan, 1868-72; C. J. Morgan, 1872-74; S. J. Jones, 1874-76; C. J. Morgan, 1876-78; A. L. Mauly, 1878-80; Jerry Jarnagin, 1880-84; 8. P. Greenlee, 1884—.

Trustees—Ambrose Young, 1796-98; Thomas Henderson, 1798-1804; Noah Jarnagin,

1804-06; Charles McAnally, 1806-12; George Moody, 1812-20; Noah Jarnagin, 1820-22;

John Harris, 1822-28; James Kennon, 1828-32; D. C. Carmichael, 1832-34; James Lacey,

183440; Isaac Daniel, 184044; Henry M. Moody, 184448; James G. Walker, 1848-54;

Samuel Layne, 1854-56; James H. Peck, 1856-58; Jarvis James, 1858-62; J.G.Walker,

1862-66; Henry Kitts, 1866-70; J. B. Jones, 1870-72; James Bunch, 1872-74; J. A. Cun-

ningham, 1874-76; George M. Greenlee, 1876-78; J. J. Alexander, 1878-84; J. T. Justus,


Registers—Phelps Read, 1796-1806; Samuel Perry, 1806-12; Joshua Hickey, 1812-33;

William M. Moody, 183344; Henry M. Moody, 1844-52; Isaac M. Lowe, 1852-56; Samuel

R. Culver, 1856 ; Henry Shepard, 1865-74; J. S. Doyal, 1874-78; John G. Walker,

11878-82; J. C. Clark, 1882-86; G. T. Norris, 1866

Grainger County Photos