Category: Local Information
A large force is now at work on the Morristown and Cumberland Gap railroad.
The track for sometime has been completed to the Holston river about five miles from Morristown. At this point a fine iron bridge is being erected and before many days will be completed.
At this end of the line from Corryton on the K C G & L railroad, the track has been laid two miles beyond the Lea Springs depot site and before many days the iron horse will be at Rutledge, the county seat of old Grainger, and from this point Bean’s Station, near Tate will soon be reached. In fact we are assured that the whole line will b completed and equipped within sixty days.
The people along the entire line are very much elated over the bright prospects and rapid progress. And the people of Knoxville will soon be in a position to go with ease and at pleasure to Lea Springs and Tate’s without change of cars. And this new and direct route to Morristown, through the beautiful valleys of Richland and Bean’s Station with the fine Clinch Mountain scenery will prove interesting and pleasing to the eye for a change.
When this important link is completed considerable travel will undoubtedly be secured from the Carolina’s via Cumberland Gap and Middlesborough to the west, also from the direct south in connection with the K C G & L railroad.
Knoxville Daily Journal – Tuesday, September 1, 1891
Transcribed by Robert McGinnis and used by permission.
The soon to be completed Morristown & Cumberland Gap railroad will provide a boom not only to the terminus at Morristown in Hamblen County, Tenn., but is small towns and hamlets along its route. The road will also provide a faster transportation to many of East Tennessee most famous watering holes.
Among the most prominent are those at Lea Spring in the lower end of Grainger county and Tate’s in the upper part of the county. The climate is exceedingly healthy and pleasant at all seasons of the year.
This important link after leaving Morristown crosses the Holston river at Shields Ferry about three and half miles from the city.
The first station or regular depot will be at the Woodson Taylor place, six miles distant and the next at Bean Station, one and half miles from Tates and ten from Morristown.
The third will undoubtedly be at the old Bowen farm, four and one half miles from Rutledge, the county seat.
The fourth at Joppa or Spring House, six miles south of Rutledge and the fifth at Lea Springs, which is about six miles above and halfway between Joppa and Carrolton, the termination of the road and only twenty-one miles from Knoxville and forty-four from Cumberland Gap.
The entire length of the M & C G R R from Morristown to Floyd or Carrolton, as it is now called, is forty miles and it is generally believed will be in running order early in the spring.
There is more behind this important railroad link that on may now suppose. And as a valuable auxiliary to Morristown and East Tennessee in general, it will play beyond a question of a doubt a most useful part.
Knoxville Daily Journal – Thursday, July 10, 1890
Transcribed by Robert McGinnis and used by permission.
Today marks a new era in the history of Grainger county. Dirt was broken for the Morristown and Cumberland Gap railroad which starts at Morristown and intersects with the Knoxville and Cumberland Gap and Louisville railroad at Luttrell.
Early this morning all the people of Grainger county gave up the plane and harvest field for one day, and with wives, children, old men and young, all came to Rutledge to spend a day in celebrating the event of so much importance to this county. There was by estimate at least five thousand people present from Grainger and surrounding counties.
After the lapse of about forty years, this country realizes her mistake in refusing to aid public enterprises. A proposition was submitted to Grainger county to take stock in the East Tennessee and Virginia railroad, now the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia railroad. The opposition to the subscription told the people that the road must go up the Bean Station valley and the result was the road was not built up this beautiful valley.
It was too late after they discovered their mistake. They resolved that if another opportunity presented itself they would not let it pass. The people of this county have seen with counties grow and prosper and they have seen towns flourish and hence the great demonstration of today…
The vast crowd moved to a place about one fourth of a mile east of Rutledge to a beautiful grove where a stand had been erected and the ladies of Rutledge had in a beautiful manner decorated it with flowers. After music by the band, Mr. Lon Shields, in a few appropriate remarks introduced W S Dickson, the handsome young mayor of Morristown, who came to congratulate the people on securing a road and who was not jealous of the prosperity of his mother county.
General J G Martin, president of the road was next introduced and he made a splendid speech. He said he had asked the people of Grainger county in good faith for its subscription and the same had been given and he now on his part was going in good faith, build the road, just as fast as men and money could, from Morristown on to Luttrell and other points….
After speaking was over the vast crowd repaired to spot in a field a sort distance away where the ground was to be broken. There was drawn in the line three of the oldest citizens of Grainger county, Absalom Miller, 89, Jimmy James, 85 and Absolom Manley, 80. They had been chosen to break the dirt. Promptly at 3 o’clock, with pick raised, Jimmy James, said this was the proudest day of his life, he had been raised in Grainger county and to be called on in his old days to break dirt for a railroad company, was reaping of the desire of his life and he had but one other desire and that was to ride on the railroad.
At the end of Mr. James’ remarks, with breathless silence, these three old veterans drove their picks into the earth and there went up a tremendous shout from the crowd. After the dirt was broken the picks were handed over to J L Mitchell, J P Grant and J F Biddle, who were forty years old and they dug the earth. After them came three young men, twenty-one years old, who represented the bone and sinew of the county. Then came three young boys, ten years old, who represented the rising generation.
Thus it was the pick, was handed from old age to young hands. As the young boys took the picks the band struck up a beautiful piece of music and the air was rent with cheers. Mothers waved their handkerchiefs and strong men their hats. The boys turned the picks over to the contractors, who went to moving dirt in earnest.
The contract for the road is let and under construction from here to Morristown and will be completed just as soon as it can. The heaviest work is on the Morristown end. The grade from here to Luttrell is easy. The work for this end of the road is not yet let, but will be in a short time. It is expected that within twelve months from now the trains will be running on the road.
Knoxville Daily Journal – Thursday, July 10, 1890
Transcribed by Robert McGinnis and used by permission.
The following table contains all post offices known to exist in present-day Grainger, Claiborne, and Union counties through 1971. Grainger County’s list contains 90, some appearing more than once under similar names. Claiborne County’s list contains 104, and Union County’s 68.
The list was compiled by Mike St. Clair. He relied on two sources:
- The first was the source for most of the entries. That is a list of post offices for all counties of the state at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, with the original source being records at National Archives of postmaster appointments between 1832 to 1971 (microfilms # M1131 and M841). These entries say “TSLA” in the source column. You can access that much larger list of over 6,000 post office names at the TSLA Web site.
- The second source is the United States Geologic Survey’s on-line GNIS system, and it accounted for 12 entries that are missing from the TSLA list. Those entries say “USGS” in the Source column. The USGS entries do not include any dates.
|Post Office Name||County||Year Opened||Year Closed||Info Source|
|Bald Point (historical)||Grainger||Is this Ball Point?||USGS|
|Been’s Station||Grainger||see Bean’s Station||TSLA|
|Blaine’s Cross Roads||Grainger||1826||1883||TSLA|
|Cheek’s Cross Road||Grainger||1846||1846||TSLA|
|Daisydell (historical)||Grainger||See Daisy Dell||USGS|
|May Spring (historical)||Grainger||USGS|
|Mineral Hill Spring||Grainger||1883||1883||TSLA|
|Powder Spring Gap||Grainger||1849||1895||TSLA|
|Turleys Mill (historical)||Grainger||Is this Turley’s Mills?||USGS|
|Big Barren Forge||Claiborne||1858||1866||TSLA|
|East Cumberland Gap||Claiborne||1891||1894||TSLA|
|Hartranft (historical)||Claiborne||Is this Hartrouft?||USGS|
|Head of Barren||Claiborne||1847||1901||TSLA|
|Little Barren||Claiborne||Is this the Union county PO?||USGS|
|Sandlick||Claiborne||See Sand Lick||USGS|
|Shawanee||Claiborne||Is this Shawnee?||USGS|
|Sheltons Ford (historical)||Claiborne||USGS|
|Speedwell Iron Works||Claiborne||1818||1824||TSLA|
|Sweet Gum Plains||Claiborne||1873||1874||TSLA|
|Woodson Cross Roads||Claiborne||1854||1866||TSLA|
|Loy’s Cross Roads||Union||1866||1894||TSLA|
|New Flat Creek||Union||1872||1894||TSLA|
|Warwick’s Cross Roads||Union||1866||1891||TSLA|
County seat, Rutledge, having 126 inhabitants. Other towns are, Tate Springs and Mineral Hill Springs, which are both noted summer resorts.
Navigable streams are the Holston and Clinch rivers, which afford water for flat boats. Besides these rivers there are a great number of creeks which furnish abundant water power.
The general surface of the county is made up of a number of flute-like valleys and ridges running from northeast to southwest.
The soil is generally good. There is great abundance of timber of many varieties, the oaks and pines predominating.
The mineral resources of Grainger county are undeveloped, though valuable minerals are believed to exist. The agricultural products are corn, wheat, oats and the various grasses, clover predominating among the grasses.
In the county there are a number of manufacturing establishments on a small scale.
The principal religious denominations are Methodists, Baptists and Dunkards.
County taxation on $100: for schools 15 cents; for roads, 15 cents; for county purposes, 30 cents; special tax to pay indebtedness, 25 cents.
Source: Hawkins, A. W., and Colton, Henry E., eds. Hand-book of Tennessee. Knoxville: Whig and Chronicle Steam Book and Job Printing Office (1882), pg. 92.
At Knoxville: September Term, 1858
- Constitutional Law. Town charters granted by the County Court. Const., art. 11, §7. Acts of 1849, ch. 17, and 1856, ch. 254. The act of 1849, ch. 17, authorizing the County Courts, upon certain conditions, to create town corporations, is a valid and constitutional enactment.
- Cases Cited. The State vs. Armstrong, 3 Sneed, 634.
This was an agreed case, submitted to the Circuit Court of Grainger, to test the validity of the charter of the town of Morristown, which was incorporated under the provisions of the act of 1849, ch. 17. The question arose upon a motion on behalf of the plaintiff to have certain real estate of the defendant condemned and sold for corporation taxes. At the August Term, 1858, Judge Turley disallowed the motion. The plaintiff appealed in error.
Heiskell and McFarland, for the plaintiff.
Shields, for the defendant.
Caruthers, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case seems mainly intended to test the validity of the incorporation of Morristown. There is an agreed case presenting the facts.
The question is made upon a motion to sell the land of defendant for the satisfaction of the tax assessed by the corporate authorities under the charter. The corporation was organized under the general act, for the incorporation of towns, of 1849, ch. 17. It is not controverted but that the proceedings in this case were in strict conformity to the provisions of that act, and the question is as to its constitutionality.
This statute establishes a general and complete system of municipal government for towns, cities, and villages, and provides, in the 9th section, the mode by which the inhabitants of any particular town may adopt and organize under it. They shall apply by petition, to the County Court setting forth their desire to avail themselves of its privileges, with a description by metes and bounds of the limits of their town, which shall be spread upon the minutes of the Court, and registered in the register’s office.
The objection taken is, that the power to grant charters of incorporation is vested alone in the Legislature, and cannot be delegated to the Courts, or any other authority. The clause in the Constitution on this subject, is the proviso to the 7th sec. of the 11th art., in these words: “the Legislature shall have power to grant such charters of incorporation as they may deem expedient for the public good.” This affirmative communication of this power to the Legislature operates as a negative upon its exercise by the Courts, or its delegation to any other authority.
But then the question arises, has it been delegated by this act? We think very clearly not. The doubt upon this subject has, as it seems, grown out of a misconception of the case of The State vs. Armstrong, 3 Sneed, 634. That case was correctly decided beyond all question. It was upon the act of 1856, ch. 254, by which the full and broad power to create corporations was given to the Circuit Courts, and was, therefore, held to be in violation of the Constitution.
Not so in this act. It gives the County Court no power on the subject but to record the petition for the benefit of a perfect and complete charter, and designates the boundaries to which it is to apply — that is, to prescribe the corporate limits of their town. It cannot add to or diminish the powers, privileges, and immunities granted, nor make the least change of any kind in the charter. The legislative will is fully declared in the act, and nothing is left to the Court but to locate and apply it to any community who may petition for it, and bring themselves within its provisions.
This is very different from the act of 1856, by which the extent and character of the powers given, and the particular objects of the corporation were to be fixed by the Court, or rather, in effect, the wishes and desires of the applicants in this respect ratified by the Court. That was [as palpably in conflict with the Constitution, as this is in conformity to it. There is no discordance between this decision and that; the cases are entirely different.
The object of the Legislature was to save the great waste of time and money consumed in the making and printing separate acts for the incorporation of the thousand towns and villages that might and would spring up in this growing and prosperous State; and we may suppose that the importance, so far as practicable, of producing uniformity in the municipal powers and privileges of the citizens and corporate authorities of all the towns had its influence upon them. This would certainly be desirable, and is a strong consideration in favor of the policy of the act.
This act is nothing different in principle, in reference to this objection, than what is called the "free banking law"; and the constitutionality of that act has not, that we are aware, ever been questioned. If one is not obnoxious to the objection, the other is not. That was a single complete charter of incorporation that might be adopted by a thousand companies, and constitute them bodies corporate and politic for the purpose of banking, upon a compliance with its provisions. This was to be done by application to certain State officers, and the performance of the specified conditions.
Then, we hold, that the mayor and aldermen of Morristown had a right to exercise all the powers and to enjoy the privileges conferred by the act of 1849, among which was the power claimed in this case.
We therefore reverse the judgment of the Circuit Court, and sustain the motion of the plaintiffs.
Head, John W., comp. Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Tennessee During the Year 1858 [to 1859], Volume 1. Nashville: J. O. Griffith & Co., Printers (1860), pp. 24-27.
Populated Places that appear on topographic maps in the United States are listed in an online database maintained by the federal government’s United States Geological Survey and the U. S. Board on Geographic Names.
This entity is usually referred to as USGS. The database is called the Geographic Names Information System, or GNIS. Many genealogists use it frequently to find places, identify the county location, and determine the coordinates.
The following table contains all populated places in the GNIS identified as being within Grainger County. Places that no longer exist are identified with “(historical).”
The table also includes the latitude and longitude and name of the 7.5′ USGS topographical quadrangle map on which the place is shown. The place names in this table are clickable, taking you to the full entry in the GNIS database. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of all communities and locales in the county. It is simply the government’s mapping system’s list. Click here to search GNIS for other topographical features or locations.
|Place Name||Latitude||Longitude||USGS 7.5′ Map|
|Ambro (historical)||361539N||0833917W||Powder Springs|
|Ashby (historical)||361734N||0834054W||Powder Springs|
|Bald Point||362440N||0832139W||Swan Island|
|Bean Station||362037N||0831703W||Bean Station|
|Beeler Mill||361927N||0833718W||Dutch Valley|
|Big Q Estates||361600N||0832511W||Avondale|
|Clear Springs (historical)||361729N||0833534W||Dutch Valley|
|Clinch River (historical)||362141N||0833256W||Dutch Valley|
|Elm Springs||362010N||0833603W||Dutch Valley|
|Holston (historical)||361607N||0831705W||Bean Station|
|Lake Forest Estates||361522N||0832505W||Avondale|
|Liberty Hill||361903N||0833652W||Dutch Valley|
|Mary Chapel||361807N||0832128W||Bean Station|
|May Springs (historical)||361228N||0832745W||Talbott|
|Meadow Branch||362125N||0831653W||Bean Station|
|Noeton (historical)||361758N||0832000W||Bean Station|
|Oakman (historical)||362056N||0833338W||Dutch Valley|
|Powder Springs||361513N||0834011W||Powder Springs|
|Puncheon Camp||361853N||0833221W||Dutch Valley|
|Rocky Summit (historical)||361720N||0831823W||Bean Station|
|Tate Springs||362024N||0832045W||Bean Station|
|Turley Mills (historical)||361548N||0832505W||Avondale|
|Williams Springs||362014N||0833444W||Dutch Valley|
|Wyatt Village||361920N||0831656W||Bean Station|
|Bean Station Division (historical)||362003N||0831931W||1276||Bean Station|
|Blaine Division (historical)||361519N||0833043W||1434||Dutch Valley|
|Rutledge Division (historical)||361014N||0833920W||1417||Luttrell|
|Thorn Hill Division (historical)||362239N||0832457W||1489||Howard Quarter|
|Washburn Division (historical)||361837N||0833634W||1220||Dutch Valley|
|City of Bean Station||362019N||0831712W||1119||Bean Station|
|City of Blaine||360857N||0834144W||974||Luttrell|
|Commissioner District 1||361503N||0833110W||1335||Dutch Valley|
|Commissioner District 2||361801N||0832552W||1112||Avondale|
|Commissioner District 3||361038N||0833735W||1332||Luttrell|
|Commissioner District 4||361851N||0833540W||1306||Dutch Valley|
|Commissioner District 5||361845N||0831958W||1122||Bean Station|
|State of Tennessee||354501N||0861501W||1066||Dillton|
|Town of Rutledge||361649N||0833111W||1001||Dutch Valley|
Communities / Locales
|Black Fox||361910N||0834027W||1050||Powder Springs|
|Buffalo Springs State Hatchery||361235N||0833345W||1125||Joppa|
|Civilian Conservation Camp Number 27 (historical)||362237N||0832650W||1086||Howard Quarter|
|Civilian Conservation Corps Camp Number 8 (historical)||361240N||0833355W||1112||Joppa|
|Coffman Camp||362056N||0833109W||1043||Dutch Valley|
|Combs Cattle Farm||361306N||0833020W||1394||Joppa|
|Fennel Store (historical)||360958N||0833700W||1070||Joppa|
|Finley Store (historical)||361300N||0833524W||1339||Joppa|
|German Creek Cabin Area||361731N||0832106W||1148||Bean Station|
|German Creek Dock||361815N||0832052W||1083||Bean Station|
|Grainger County Farm (historical)||361332N||0833205W||1115||Joppa|
|Henry Crossing||361606N||0833301W||961||Dutch Valley|
|Leffew Store (historical)||362350N||0832009W||1280||Swan Island|
|May Springs Campground||361255N||0832735W||1132||Talbott|
|Miller Store (historical)||361226N||0833711W||1358||Joppa|
|Roach Store (historical)||361140N||0833710W||1191||Joppa|
|Shirley Crossing||361538N||0833401W||971||Dutch Valley|
|Stones Mill (historical)||360846N||0833944W||889||Luttrell|
|Wa-Ni Boat Dock||361328N||0832650W||1076||Talbott|
General Nature of the County
Grainger County is in the northeastern part of Tennessee. It is bordered on the north by Claiborne and Hancock Counties, on the south by Hamblen and Jefferson Counties, on the east by Hawkins County, and on the west by Knox and Union Counties. The U. S. Department of Economic and Community Development estimated the population of Grainger County to be 17,400 in 1988.
The county is irregular in shape, measuring about 28 miles from northeast to southwest and about 12
miles from north to south. It has 193,700 acres, which consists of 181,500 acres of land and 12,200 acres of water. The county is divided roughly into the northern and southern parts by Clinch Mountain and the Poor Valley Knobs, which extend across the county from northeast to southwest.
The county is in the Southern Appalachian Ridges and Valleys major land resource area. The soils in this
area formed under forest vegetation and are dominantly light in color. The soils in the Clinch Mountain and Poor Valley Knobs area are shallow to deep over sandstone or shale bedrock. The soils in the rest of the county are shallow to very deep, dominantly over limestone or shale bedrock.
The area that is now known as Grainger County, between the Clinch and Holston Rivers, was originally
inhabited by the Cherokee Indians. It was settled by whites about 1785. The first settlements were south of Clinch Mountain, at Bean Station in the Richland Valley, and north of Clinch Mountain, at the head of
Flat Creek. These settlers were largely Scotch-Irish and German.
The North Carolina Legislature established Grainger County on April 22, 1796 (Holt and others, 1976). The county originally included parts of present-day Claiborne, Hamblen, Campbell, Union, and Hawkins Counties. From 1801 to 1870, Grainger County was reduced in size to its present borders. In 1801, the county seat was established at Rutledge, in the central part of the county, and the first courthouse was erected. Bean Station, at the eastern edge of the county, bordering Hawkins County, is growing as more
people move into the Cherokee Lake communities nearby.
Grainger County has an abundant supply of limestone. Numerous limestone quarries that provide gravel and lime products are throughout the county.
The county has a good supply of fresh water. Streams that flow throughout the year are common. There are two large areas of impounded water — Cherokee and Norris Lakes.
Industry in Grainger County employs more than 1,800 people. The major enterprises in the county
include textile, furniture, and mobile home manufacturing; trailer making; and metal working.
The housing industry has expanded slightly in recent years, keeping pace with a growing population
in some parts of the county. Residential subdivisions are becoming more common all over the county. Most of the residential units are single-family dwellings, but a few multiple-family residential complexes have been built.
U.S. Highways 11W and 25E and State Highway 92 merge in Grainger County, providing ready access to
the surrounding counties and to the cities of Knoxville and Morristown. Rutledge is 30 miles from access to Interstate 40. Grainger County has a good network of local roads and streets. Several roads in remote parts of the county are unpaved. Several motor freight companies located in nearby cities serve the county.
The airport nearest to Rutledge is in Morristown. It is a medium-intensity municipal airport. The nearest
commercial air service is provided by Knoxville’s McGhee-Tyson Airport.
In winter, the average temperature is 38 degrees F, and the average daily minimum temperature is 27
degrees. The lowest temperature on record, which occurred at Jefferson City on January 21, 1985, is -26
degrees. In summer, the average temperature is 75 degrees and the average daily maximum temperature is 87 degrees. The highest recorded temperature, which occurred on August 21, 1983, is 102 degrees.
The total annual precipitation is 39.65 inches. Of this, about 21 inches, or more than 50 percent, usually
falls in April through September. The growing season for most crops falls within this period. In 2 years out of 10, the rainfall in April through September is less than 18 inches. The heaviest 1-day rainfall during the period of record was 4.82 inches at Jefferson City on May 7, 1984. Thunderstorms occur on about 47 days each year.
The average seasonal snowfall is about 10.4 inches. The greatest snow depth at any one time during the period of record was 7 inches. On the average, 1 day of the year has at least 1 inch of snow on the ground.
The average relative humidity in midafternoon is about 60 percent. Humidity is higher at night, and the
average at dawn is about 85 percent. The sun shines 65 percent of the time possible in summer and 45
percent in winter. The prevailing wind is from the northeast. Average windspeed is highest, 9 miles per
hour, in spring.
R. B. Bundren is called variations of rhyming names — “Blueford,” “Booth,” “Bluff,” “Bluth,” and Bruce” — by diverse sources. Most people living today (1997) who knew, or knew of, R. B. Bundren, describe him as a “mean man, one of the meanest that ever lived in Grainger County.” The Knoxville Journal newspaper’s account of Bundren’s death describes him as having a “hot temper” and “long considered a bad man.”
However, the newspaper reports that Bundren was simultaneously a rich man; charitable; a staunch supporter of education; and progressive, advocating good schools, good roads, and the development of Grainger County and Tennessee. Bundren counted many men of regional and statewide influence among his associates. Robert Love Taylor, a well-known Tennessee Governor who also served in the U.S. House and Senate, was Bundren’s friend and a visitor to his home.
John Crozier was an Irish immigrant who migrated to Knoxville and established a large, ennobled, and influential family there before 1800. On 14 August 1846, John Crozier’s grandson, John Harvard, was born. After serving in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, John Harvard Crozier followed his father into the practice of law. However, unlike other members of his family, John H. Crozier did not hold a distinguished position, amass great wealth, or have a strong impact on Knoxville. Instead, John H. Crozier relocated to a new home near Morristown, where he all but abandoned the law in favor of his avocation, mechanical engineering.
John H. Crozier held numerous patents, probably the most noteworthy of which was for the “forceful navigation of air.” Before his death, Crozier flew a rudimentary aircraft off the side of Clinch Mountain in Grainger County. Older Grainger County residents convey the legend they heard as children: “Had he lived, Crozier would have beat the Wright Brothers to their fame.” Loved and respected among his family, friends, and colleagues, John H. Crozier died, unexpectedly, just weeks before his fifty-fifth birthday.
On 03 July 1901, R. B. Bundren murdered John H. Crozier. This single event set in motion a four-year feud that culminated in a legendary tragedy, remembered by elder Grainger Countians as “The Battle of Thorn Hill.”
Apparently, R. B. Bundren owed money to a widow, whose name is not now remembered. The widow sued Bundren, using John H. Crozier as her attorney. Having won a judgment against Bundren, Crozier held a sale of one of Bundren’s assets, some lumber located at Condry. Following the sale, Crozier assisted the purchaser, Will Holland, in measuring and dividing the lumber. R. B. Bundren arrived at the scene and ordered the men to stop. Holland and Bundren argued as Crozier, fearing an incident between the two men, sat quietly on a log. Looking up from his seat, Crozier was surprised to see Bundren aiming a pistol at him. As Bundren fired three shots at him, Crozier attempted to hide among the lumber piles. Bundren fired two shots at Holland and then left the scene.
Crozier headed for the Condry post office. Bundren returned to his home, 3½ miles away, and got a Winchester rifle. He started toward Condry’s post office, not realizing Crozier had done likewise. Bundren arrived first. As Crozier approached, Bundren said, “There is Crozier. I will finish him now.”
Crozier spoke to Bundren for the first time in the entire episode: “Don’t shoot. You have the advantage. I am not armed.” Bundren’s reply was two rounds of rifle fire into Crozier’s body. R. B. Bundren was sentenced to life imprisonment; however, he was pardoned after serving only about 10 years.
During the altercation at the lumber yard in Condry, Bundren fired two shots at Will Holland. Holland ran into the woods, found his horse, and escaped. Local legend holds that, upon being convicted and sent to prison, R. B. Bundren gave instructions to his son, also named Will, to “finish off” Will Holland. Will Holland had understandably bitter feelings toward the Bundrens after having been shot at by R. B. at the lumber sale.
The Holland-Bundren feud lasted four years, almost to the day. In June, 1905, the entire Thorn Hill community was “in a fever of excitement,” fearing something was about to happen. On Sunday, 11 June, the men began drinking and vowing hatred for each other. Family members begged the Holland brothers not to go to their shop the next day. The climax came about one o’clock p.m. on Monday, 12 June 1905, at a blacksmith shop owned by brothers John and Will Holland in Thorn Hill.
Herbert Jones*, one of Grainger County’s noted historians, recalls hearing the story that Will Bundren and his hired hand, Clint Walker, began “riding hard, hollering, and shooting into the air” several miles away from the blacksmith shop. A newspaper account reports that Bundren and Walker began “drinking and shooting frequently along the road” on their way to Idol earlier Monday morning. Area residents were drawn to the Hollands’ blacksmith shop by all the gun shots and commotion. (*Herbert Jones’ mother was first married to Will Holland.)
On arriving at Thorn Hill, Bundren and Walker apparently shot into the Hollands’ shop before entering it. Only a few words were said before all four men began firing. Bundren and Walker ran out of the shop and crossed the creek, where they turned and renewed their fire on the Hollands. The Hollands ran out of their shop and continued shooting. Apparently, only one eye-witness observed the entire tragedy on the scene. He said the Hollands used Winchester rifles, which they kept in their shop, while Bundren and Walker used .38 and .45 calibre pistols.
Local accounts say fifty rounds were fired. The newspaper reports that the actual number of shots fired was not determined, but the men kept up “a perfect volley” until the Hollands fell dead, almost simultaneously, near their shop. Across the creek, Walker received a bullet in the jaw and one that tore through his body. Walker fell, but he did not die immediately. The newspaper reports that, because Walker’s wounds would not permit him to be moved, he lay in the blacksmith shop for hours until his death. One of the Holland brothers’ sisters wanted to shoot Walker “to put him out of his misery,” but no one would do it. The newspaper did not follow up on Walker’s death or report on his family. This is likely because Walker was “colored,” and such lack of detail on black citizens was standard for most newspapers at the turn of the 20th Century.
After the Hollands and Walker fell, Will Bundren mounted his horse and rode about 30 yards to a house, where he dismounted and died about an hour later. Local reports at the time were that Bundren was “literally shot to pieces.”
Will Holland, age 35, was a deputy sheriff. John Holland was about 25 and recently pardoned from the penitentiary, where he had been sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment for killing Bud Haynes. John Holland went to Virginia, where he married and started a family, using the name “Pink” Collins. No one in Grainger County knew of his other life. The Hollands were their parents’ only sons. The newspaper report states “there are none to continue the bloody feud.”
Tragedy followed R. B. Bundren even further. By 1918, Bundren had been pardoned for murdering John H. Crozier. He had returned to Grainger County and married Mrs. Kate Quillen. In late November, 1918, the Bundrens began arguing about the best time to kill hogs. He believed it was cold enough; she wanted to wait. R. B. prevailed. Their argument renewed when Kate gave some of the meat to neighbors. R. B. slapped his wife and her married daughter, Mrs. Parkey*. Following this altercation, Kate Bundren left Washburn, went to Knoxville, and retained an attorney to institute divorce proceedings and attach all or part of her husband’s property. As seen from the lumber incident, attaching R. B. Bundren’s assets usually ended fatally. [*Callie B. Parkey of Sneedville was the informant on Kate's death certificate. She was the wife of Herbert F. Parkey.]
On 23 November 1918, Kate Bundren returned to Washburn and went to her home, presumably to pick up her belongings. She met R. B. there, and their argument ended with R. B. Bundren’s shooting his wife with a Winchester rifle. Some accounts say that Kate ran into the yard, shouting for her son’s assistance, after she was shot. A few minutes later, Kate’s teenage son, Monroe Quillen*, ran into the house, firing a pistol, while R. B. Bundren returned the fire. Other accounts say that all three were involved in the tragic quarrel; R. B., who was shooting at Quillen, accidentally shot Kate. Quillen was arrested, but Squire Dave Idol, the local Justice of the Peace, dismissed the charges against Quillen. Legend says that Bundren’s sons tried later to poison Monroe Quillen. [Kate Bundren's first husband was Logan Quillen.]
[R. Bruce Bundren's death certificate indicates he was born 25 Mar 1843 in Claiborne County, TN, the son of Peter and Ruth (Bean) Bundren. He died 23 Nov 1918 in Grainger County from "gun shot by step-son -- purposely." Bundren was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Knoxville. Kate Bundren's death certificate states she was born 19 Oct 1869 in Hancock County, TN, the daughter of Jesse and Rachel (Hopkins) Ramsey. Kate died "by gun shot -- by husband -- purposely." She was buried at the Ramsey Graveyard in Sneedville.]
The Battle of Thorn Hill may not have been a great military campaign, but it was an exciting event in the history of Grainger County “north of the mountain.”
Because of the sad state into which Grainger County’s historic public records have fallen, full, contemporaneous details of the “battle” and the events leading up to it may have been lost. This writer has relied upon reports in the Knoxville Journal and memories of elder Grainger Countians to prepare this essay.
Written by: Billie R. McNamara from newspaper articles, scrapbook clippings, and interviews.
Sweetwater Telephone (Monroe Co., TN), Thursday, March 7, 1907 — transcribed by Caleb Tefeteller:
Feud of Long Standing Ends — Robert Bruce Bundren, one of the principals in the Holland-Bundren feud of Grainger County pardoned by Gov. Cox on Dec. 6, on condition that he would never return to the scene of the trouble, has returned there, and is now living at his home at Lone Mountain. Furthermore, the feud which had beginnings in reconstruction days and in its course has cost directly or indirectly six lives, is at an end and the Bundrens have been invited to pay a visit to the Holland home.
The information comes from Bruce Bundren himself in the shape of a letter written from Lone Mountain, Feb. 5th.
“I am back at my old home,” writes the rugged, old man, “in one mile of where I enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1862*, and where I have lived ever since the 15th day of June, 1865, except the four years and two months I wore the stripes in the State prison. I have spent a good poor man’s fortune, and killed two men since the war to keep from being driven out of my native State and today I am sitting at my old fireside where I have lived ever since the war. It is snowing today and I have a big, hot, wood fire, and my good and faithful old wife now in her 65th year and me 68 years old, sitting in one corner and her in the other, as happy as any two pigeons that ever dwelt together.” [*Sgt. Reuben B. Bundren, Co. C, 12th Tenn. Cav., captured 5 Dec 1863 at Philadelphia, TN. He was held prisoner of war at Louisville, KY, and transferred 24 Dec 1863 to Rock Island, IL. A Pvt. William Bluford Bundren, age 19, enlisted in Co. B, 12th (Day's) Battalion Cavalry on 27 Aug 1862 in Hawkins Co., TN. Their records are combined in Civil War databases.]
“I met my old antagonist, Reuben Holland, who has given me so much trouble, and who is the father of the boys who bushwhacked my son on the 12th day of June 1905, and the old man came up to me with his hand out and grasped me by the hand, with tears in his eyes, and said he wanted to be friendly and pledge his honor that he would never harm me anymore. He is 79 years old, and I gave him my hand and told him I would freely forgive him and for him to repent of his sins and meet me in Heaven, and the old man wept and bid me good bye and invited me and wife to visit him. So I think my long struggle for forty-four years contending for a white man’s government and white supremacy is at an end. God help it be so.”
“Us old Johnnies up here,” he concludes “don’t believe we have but one more little battle to make and that is to help land Ed Carmack in for President in 1908 and Benton McMillin in the United States Senate, and we are going to make ‘Our Bob’ stay at home next time and send our ‘Ham Patterson’ up there to his place.”
The 1880 Census of District 11, Grainger County, contains the following household:
|Martha J. Bundren||Dau||12||Tennessee|
|James A. Bundren||Son||10||Tennessee|
|John B. Bundren||Son||6||Tennessee|
|Ada D. Bundren||Dau||4||Tennessee|
|Gip T. Bundren||Son||2||Tennessee|
|William S. Bundren||Son||1 month||Tennessee|
|Mirret Orlander (probably Orlander Merritt)||Laborer||23||Tennessee|