Goodspeed's History of Unicoi County 1897
UNICOI COUNTY lies almost
wholly in the Unaka Mountain belt, on the border North Carolina,
immediately south of Washington County. It has an area of about 480
square miles, of which only a comparatively small proportion is adapted
to cultivation. Greasy Cove and Lime Stone Cove, however, are among the
most beautiful an fertile spots in the State.
Its mineral and timber resources are exceedingly abundant. The iron ores
embrace both the red and brown hematites and the speculum. Manganese is
also found in large quantities. These resources when developed will
render Unicoi one of the wealthiest counties of East Tennessee. The
principal streams in the county are the Nolichucky River which traverses
it in a northerly direction, and the two tributaries of this stream the
North Indian and South Indian Creeks.
The first settlers of this county located in Greasy Cove not long after
the first settlement was made on the Nolichucky. The first to enter the
cove were James Acton, Jonathan Webb, Robert Hampton, George Martin,
Richard Deakins and -- Judd, and a little later came Baxter Davis, Enoch
Job(e), Jesse Brown, Pheleg and William Tilson. William Lewis located on
the upper part of Indian Creek, where in a short time his wife and seven
children were killed by the Indians. One of his sons escaped, and a
daughter taken prisoner was afterward ransomed for a gun. Among the
earliest settlers in Lime Stone Cove were Richard C. Garland, whose six
sons, David, Gertredge [Guthridge], Elisha, William, Stephen and
Ezekiel, all located in the vicinity. Edward Banks, Richard Colyer,
John Chambers a Henry Grindstaff also settled in this cove. About
1785 a Baptist Church was organized and at the formation of the Holston
Association. It was represented by Richard Deakins and James Anton
who, with Robert Hampton and their families, constituted the church.
After 1791 the name of the church disappears from the minutes of the
association and it was doubtless disbanded.
The next Baptist Church established was the Indian Creek by Jonathan
Mulkey, Uriah Hunt and Reese Bayless, June 29, 1822, near the present
site of Erwin. The original members were John Edwards, William S. Erwin,
John Rose, Thomas Edwards, Joseph Longmire, Nancy McGinsey, Polly Rose,
Elizabeth Brown, Hannah Longmire, Jemima and Diana Job, Elizabeth, Mary
and Lucy Edwards, Rachel and Ella Tilson, Hannah Black. B. Odom,
Elizabeth Webb, Ginsey Brown, Jesse Brown, Abel Edwards, William
Odom, James and Elizabeth Williams, Peleg Tilson, Margaret Carroll,
Rachel Ambrose, Barbara Wright, Hugh Harris, Jesse Bayless, Rebecca
Deakin, William McGinsey, John Peterson. Abraham and Mary Adle, Stephen
and Nancy McLaughlin, Enoch Job and Jacob McLaughlin. The pastors of
this church have been as follows: Reese Bayless, 1822-53; J. B. Stone,
1853-54 also 1859-60, and 1865; William A. Keen, 1856; J. W. Hooper,
1857-59; J. H. Hyder, 1867-72; H. W. Gilbert, 1874; J. H. Moon, 1874430,
and since 1883; A. J. F. Hyder, 1880- 83. In 1842 a church was
constituted at Flag Pond, with John, James, Elizabeth and Riley Keith,
Washington, Ellis, James, Ruth and Barbara Higgins, John and Jennette
Tilson, John Stroud, Jacob C. Sanes, Henry Hensley, Alfred Murray,
Leodica Carter, Nancy O. Murray, Biddy Stroud and Eleanor Justice. Later
Shallow Ford Church was constituted with Nancy Parks, James Brown,
Elizabeth Brown, William and Rebecca Ferguson, Samuel May, William S.
Erwin, Katharine Erwin, Nancy Lawrence, Emeline Gillis and James and
The other Baptist Churches in the county at the present time are Coffee
Ridge and Paul's Gap. There is also a General Baptist, and a
Christian congregation in the county.
The first Methodist Church was organized near the center of Limestone
Cove, where a small log house was erected, some seventy-five years ago.
As a result of this church, a large part of the inhabitants of the
northern part of the country are adherents of the Methodist Church. The
churches in the county at the present time are Ervin, Jones Chapel
Limestone Cove, Patton's Chapel and Anderson's Schoolhouse, at nearly
all of which places services are held by both branches of the church.
The act establishing Unicoi County. was approved March 23, 1875. The
commissioners appointed to organize it were Thomas J. Wright, David
Bell, R. N. Norris, J. V. Johnson, C. R. Blair, William Mclnturff. J. B.
Sams, W. E. Tilson and F. E. Hannum. An election to vote upon the
organization of the new county, was fixed for July 22, 1875, but a bill
of injunction filed by William Phillips and others delayed it until
October 21, 1875. The election was then held with the following result:
Carter, fraction 119 votes for and twenty-three against, and the
Washington fraction 228 for and forty against. John Wolf, Jesse B.
Erwin, Joseph Tucker, E. Burchfield and David Bell, were then appointed
to lay off the county into ten civil districts, and in November the
election for county officers was held with the following results: L. A.
White, circuit clerk; J. B. Erwin. county clerk; John Mclnturff,
sheriff; Nelson McLaughlin, trustee, and Samuel Wright, register.
On January 3,1876, the county court was organized at the Old Baptist
Church, on North Indian Creek. The magistrates who were present and
qualified were Henry McKinneys, D. T. O'Brien, M. C. Burchfield,
Alexander McInturff, James M. Norris, R. L. Rowe, J. M. Anderson, G
Garland, William Mclnturff, Baptist McNabb, J. S. Yader, William Parks,
Alexander Masters, B. B. Hensley, G. F. Tompkins, Isaac W. Gilbert, B.
W. Woodward and A. E. Briggs. The court continued to meet at the church
until after the erection of the present brick courthouse, in the summer
of 1876. This building has since been occupied, but is not fully
completed at the present time. In April, 1878, a contract for building a
frame jail was let to John K. Miller, but he failed to complete it. It
has since been finished. however, sufficiently to make it a safe place
for the keeping of prisoners.
The commissioners who organized the county seat, located at the place
long known as Longmire post office. The land in the vicinity was entered
by Joseph Longmire, who divided his estate between his sons, John and
Charles; the latter was a merchant and postmaster for many years. The
town was laid off in 1876 upon thirty acres of belonging to D. I. N.
Ervin, who donated one-half of the lots to the county, and reserved the
remainder for his own use. A donation of five acres by William Love, and
two acres by G. Garland, was also made to the county. The name of the
town was at first Vanderbilt, but the Legislature of 1879 changed it to
Ervin, in honor of D. J. N. Ervin. The post office department, however,
made a mistake in changing the name, and it has since been called Erwin.
The first merchants of the town were J. P. S. and William Ryburn, who
were selling goods when the town was laid off; C. T. Bowers & B. K.
Campbell, C. H. Baker, John K. Miller and J. P. McNabb. The business
interests are now represented by J. F. Toney, & Co., W. C. Emmert, L. W.
White, W. F. Brown, C. L. Phillips, general stores, and L. D. Scott,
grocery; the physicians are H. C. Banner and J. P.S. Ryburn, and the
attorneys, W. C. Emmert and R. W. H. Gilbert. In April, 1887.
The Erwin Unakean was established by R. R. Emmert and W. B. Clark.
It is a very small three-column folio, but is an enterprising and
The only other village in the county is Flag Pond situated in the
southern part of the county. It has a flourishing school known as
Flag Pond Academy and three stores owned by J. B. Sams & Co., W. F.
Guinn and L. Gentry respectively.
The officers of the county since its organization as follows:
Clerks- County Court: J. B. Erwin,
1875-78; H. C. Banner, 1886.
Clerks -Circuit Court: L. A.
White, 1875-78; J. F. Toney, 1872-82; L. A. White,
1882-86; R.R. Emmert, 1886.
Clerks and Masters: G. C. Bowman,
1878-82; John K. Miller, 1882-85; W. B. Tilson, 1885.
Sheriffs: John McInturff, 1875-78;
J. P. McNabb, 1878-80; William Mclnturff, 1880-86; L. R.
McLaughlin, 1875-76; W. W. Bailey, 1876-50; M. F. Booth,
1880-86; S. J. Watts, 1886.