Tag Archives: Col. R.K. Byrd

Roane County Firsts

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

In an article by Captain William Eblen McElwee (1835-1929) published in the Rockwood Times, in 1904, he lists many of the “firsts” in Roane County. Whether he was accurate in his listing, is up to debate as some of his articles are not historically accurate. But here they are:

  • The first coal used in Roane County was mined and used by Allison Howard in 1812.
  • The first coal shipped to market, by Capt. Wm. Jackson, 1830.
  • The first Catalan forge, with water blast, for making hammered iron, built by George Gorden, 1816.
  • First furnace, charcoal, cold blast, pig iron and castings; built by George Gorden and Mathew P. English in 1827.
  • First Gristmill, water power, built by Samuel Eblen, 1799.
  • First Sawmill, Steam power, Roughs [Ruoff] & Co., 1850.
  • First well-established newspaper, Kingston East Tennessean, N.A., and M.L. Patterson, 1852.
  • The first book is written in the county, “Arithmetic by Samuel Fowler.”
  • First bell-crowned silk hat, made by John Ashley and worn by John Eblen, 1812.
  • First sewing machine, a Remington, bought by Col. R.K. Byrd for $110 and presented to a lady friend.
  • First threshing machine, a “Taplac(?)” power, bought by Brown & McElwee, 1850.
  • First mowing machine, a wood bar, one wheel, McCormac, bought by Benjamin Huffine, 1857.

Originally Written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, April 2013.