Category: History

“Surviving History” — Highly Regarded Book on Harris Family of Bean Station

By , April 18, 2015

Mascaro Book CoverRenowned local historian Robert McGinnis highly recommends Marilyn Mascaro’s book about the family of B. Y. Harris.

Robert said he couldn’t put the book down, and that the research — especially the documentation — was excellent.  So, if you have ancestors in the Bean Station area, this may be of interest.

Click here to learn more about the book (link takes you to

Historic Joseph Cobb House

By , February 13, 2014

House Built in Grainger Six Years After County’s First Settlement

by C. C. Justus

Built only six years after the first settlement in Grainger county, a historic house is now one of the old landmarks in that section.  It was constructed of hewn logs and weatherboard by Joseph Cobb, whose wife was a niece of William Bean, said to have been the first white settler in Tennessee.

Joseph Cobb HouseThe mother of the present register of deeds, J. J. Brady, was born in this house seventy years ago, now it’s part of the burnaby condos for sale, you can get his house by contacting their agency.

Brady and Sheriff J. H. Whitehead, who now live in the house are among the few democrats who have held county offices in Grainger.

Two hundred yards from the house is a giant cedar tree, large enough in pioneer days to hide an Indian, who was shot out with a rifle.

The Beans owned the lands of the historic site.

[Click the image for a larger version.]

Source:  Unidentified newspaper clipping, dated 10 Feb 1924.  Submitted by James Cook.

Grainger County’s “Parents” and “Children”

By , February 11, 2014

The graphic image below shows the counties from which Grainger formed and the counties that formed from Grainger.

The origin of this graphic is unknown.  No copyright infringement is intended.  We would appreciate knowing the designer’s identity.

Click on the image to view a larger size.

Grainger County "Parent" and "Child" Counties

Grainger County Courthouse Fire in 1946

By , February 4, 2014

Grainger Court House Burns, Old Records Believed Safe

Valuable Papers Are in Vaults; Officials Confer Today on Steps for Rebuilding; Loss $200,000

Rutledge, Jan. 17 — Only the 42-year-old brick walls of the Grainger County court house were standing today.  Fire yesterday destroyed the entire interior, with loss estimated at $200,000.

Officials met this afternoon to consider what to do.  Steps will probably be taken to rebuild.  A special session of County Court will be called, probably next week.

Most Records Safe

Records in vaults were believed safe.  They were those of the county court clerk, register, Circuit Court clerk, clerk and master, and those of the trustee which were in a steel safe.  Other minor papers, in filing cabinets, burned.

W. I. Daniels [sic], county court clerk, today opened temporary offices at the Red Cross rooms.  He saved most of his records and furniture.

Trustee Arnold Roach is using the directors’ room of the Citizens Bank & Trust Co.

“We do not know the cause of the fire,” said Mr. Daniel today.  “It seemed to have started in the back of the building upstairs.  Some seem to think it might have started from a defective flue and others think it may have been wiring.  There had been a fire in an open grate.  The fire was going through the slate roof when it was seen and it was too late to do much.  We used a garden hose to play water on the vaults.

Morristown Sends Aid

“Firemen came from Morristown, but the fire had gained such headway there was not much the could do.”

The fire was discovered by a passing truck driver, who gave the alarm.

Among the records saved were those dating back to the establishment of the county in 1796.

This was the third court house of Grainger.  Court houses were building in 1801, 1848, and 1904.

Cost $200,000 to Replace

The building which burned cost $30,000, but replacement was figured at around $200,000.  It was an attractive two-story brick building, with 10 offices.

Court was not in session at the time of the fire.  Grainger County is a part of the Second Judicial District, of which Judge George R. Shepherd at Newport is judge.

Source:  Knoxville News-Sentinel, 17 Jan 1946, page 24

1801 Petition Regarding Courthouse

By , January 24, 2014

Petition 14-2-1801

Dated 29 October 1801

To the Tennessee General Assembly from Henry Howell, James Fears, William Millikin, and Michael Massingill

In 1797, they were appointed to purchase land and lay off a place for the erection of a court house, prison, and stocks in Grainger County.  They did so and contracted with Charles Smith to do the work, giving him their bond for $400.

The county received the properties and, for nearly two years, has used the building, for which it has paid only $100.

Smith brought suit, and the four were forced to pay the debt and court charges.  They now ask for a legislative act to refund their losses.

Source:  Abstract of the petition, published in the TN Genealogical Society‘s “Ansearchin'” News, Vol. 2, 1993, page 72.

Grainger County History DVD Available

By , January 26, 2012

DVD frontThe Grainger County Historical Society’s excellent DVD production, The Valley of Independence, is available for purchase.

While it deals primarily with Grainger County, several adjacent areas are discussed in conjunction with the Civil War and development in the region.

Order yours today by sending a check for $14.95 ($10 for DVD; $4.95 for priority shipping) to:

Grainger County Historical Society
PO Box 215
Rutledge, TN 37861

Historical Movie Preview December 2, 2011

By , November 28, 2011

The Grainger County Historical Society will debut its historical film, Valley of Independence, The History of Grainger County, on December 2 at 7 p.m. at the Old Rutledge High School auditorium.

Tickets are available for purchase at all branches of Citizens Bank & Trust Co. of Grainger County at a cost of $10 per ticket.

Attendees are asked to park at Rutledge Middle School by 6 p.m. and ride the shuttle bus to the Old Rutledge High School.

County Line Community

By , July 1, 2011

by James Cook

County Line is a very, very old community that I believe dates back to the late 1770’s. We just cannot prove that yet.

This community was located at the extreme eastern edge of Grainger at the county line with Hawkins. The community was at the crossroads of the road to Noeton, which ran from Hawkins County on the east to Holston River on the west at Noeton. This road to Noeton crossed a road that ran from the Old Stage Road [Lee Highway/11-W] south through this community and on to Holston River and Morristown. County Line community was situated mainly in the area of this crossroads.

Before TVA took the land, County Line was a small, thriving community. It included County Line Church, which was multi-denominational, including all Christian faiths. This church is documented back to 1792; but, again, I believe it’s much older.

The first minutes book is dated 1792 – 1816 and is in the possession of a Matthew Davis. He approached the East Tennessee Historical Society about microfilming the book and his transcriptions of the minutes. This was completed and published in 2007 by ETHS in their tri-annual publication, Tennessee Ancestors. The second minutes book (1817 – 1841) is missing at this time.

The last 2 books, covering 1842 – 1941, were donated to the Grainger County Archives by Carole and Dr. Robert Overholt of Knoxville. Stevvi Cook has transcribed both of the books (1842-1941).

The last church secretary was Edith Stubblefield Odom, who is Carole’s grandmother. The church was disbanded on November 9, 1941, and they "began tearing the church away" on November 17, 1941.

In addition to the church, there were a couple of stores, a grist mill and possibly a small dairy. The church cemetery is located across a creek that ran down the valley, which was not taken by TVA, and includes approximately 100+ graves, most of which are only marked with field stones or not at all. We’ve been cleaning out trash, clearing brush and trees, fencing and mowing the cemetery for 6 years now.

Older people who lived in this area have told me that there was an older church building east and between the crossroads and Hawkins County along with a cemetery. Others say there were several graves but few marked. One grave marker is shown on the land acquisition map by TVA. This community is clearly defined on this map.

County Line is still shown on some modern maps.

An Introduction to Grainger County

By , June 20, 2011

First settlement of Grainger County was begun about 1785, along the valley south of Clinch Mountain, at the head of Flat Creek. Some of the first settlers were some who had resided originally in what is still Hawkins county. A prominent pioneer, James Ore, located at a place known as Oresville, about one mile east of Bean Station, near the close of the 18th century.

The act creating Grainger County was passed on April 22, 1796, and the boundaries were described 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 course to the Kentucky road on the north side of Holston River, then north fifty degrees west to the Virginia line, then west with said line to a point northwest of the end of Clinch Mountain, and to a ridge dividing Richland and Flat Creeks to Holston River at the upper end of the first bluff above Boyles’ old place, then up the course of the river to the mouth of Panther Creek to near the houme of John Evans."

The county court was organized on June 13, 1796 at the home of Benjamin McCarty, who lived approximately two miles below Rutledge. The magistrates present at this first court were Thomas Henderson, Elijah Chisum, James Blair, John Estes, Phelps Read, Benjamin McCarty, James Moore, John Bowen, John Kidwell, John Sims, William Thompson and Major Lea. This group elected the following officers:

  • Ambrose Yancey, Clerk of the Court
  • Martin Ashburn, Sheriff
  • Phelps Read, Register
  • John Estes, Ranger
  • James Moore, Coroner

The Constables appointed were:

  • Reuben White
  • William Smith
  • Samuel Cox
  • John Russell
  • John Rhea
  • Elizs Davis
  • John Hibbert

The location of the seat of justice caused much difficulty, and was not permanently settled until 1801, in Rutledge. Meanwhile the court was held at various places: John Bunch’s, Martin Asburns’, Mitchell’s Spring, and occasionally at a place on the north side of Clinch Mountain. The first courthouse was completed in 1801, near the site of the present courthouse, and was erected by Francis Mayberry.

In 1830 the population of Rutledge was given as 150, and it was made up of one school, one church, three stores, two taverns, two hatters, two blacksmiths, one saddler, and two tanners.

The county academy, known as Madison Academy, was in operation about 1842, and the first building stood on a bluff south of the town. In 1865, a new two-story frame building was erected on a lot just east of the town.

Early Newspapers of Grainger County

There were only two 19th Century newspapers established in Rutledge:

  • The Enterprise, established by J.N. Hodge in 1883.
  • The East Tennessee Eagle, a Republican paper started by G.M. Williams and G.T. Norris, in April, 1887.

This information was prepared by Betty Allen in 1997. All rights reserved.

The Scotch-Irish in America

By , June 14, 2011

The Scotch-Irish in America: Proceedings of the Scotch-Irish Congress

GoogleBooks and the Internet Archive have made the proceedings of the annual meetings of the Scotch-Irish Congress from 1889-1901 available in full, viewable and downloadable free. What a treasure!

1889 Google Books Internet Archive / Internet Archive Alternate
1890 Google Books Internet Archive / Internet Archive Alternate
1891 Google Books Internet Archive / Internet Archive Alternate
1892 Google Books Internet Archive / Internet Archive Alternate
1893 Google Books Internet Archive / Internet Archive Alternate
1894 Google Books Internet Archive / Internet Archive Alternate
1895 Google Books Internet Archive / Internet Archive Alternate
1896   Internet Archive / Internet Archive Alternate
1897 Google Books  

No meetings

1900 Google Books Internet Archive / Internet Archive Alternate
1901 Google Books Internet Archive / Internet Archive Alternate

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