Tag Archives: Kingston

Main Streets in Roane County Cities Still Used

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

In Roane County, all the main streets in the history of these cities are still being used. In Kingston, Race Street was part of the roads going west which included the Great Road and Stagecoach Road. It is the legend that the road got its name from horse races but there is no documentation of that. In Rockwood, Rockwood Avenue (also known as Rockwood Street) led to the Roane Iron Company furnaces for which Rockwood was created. In Harriman, Roane Street is the main street in and around which the city grew. In Oliver Springs, it is Main Street, for which buildings such as the Seinknecht building still exist.

Originally Written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, June 2016.

Sam Houston

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

It had always been legend that Sam Houston clerked and lived in Kingston at the beginning of the War of 1812. In 1878, Willoughby Williams (1798-1882) wrote an article about Sam Houston, which was published in the Nashville American. It includes a section about Houston’s time in Kingston. Willoughby Williams’ mother, who is referred to in the article, was Nancy (Glasgow) Williams, who later married Joseph McMinn, a Tennessee governor and for whom McMinn County is named. Here is part of his article:

“My earliest recollections of Gen. Houston date back to 1811 at Kingston, Roane County Tenn. He was a clerk at the time of Mr. Sheffy. My mother, in her widowhood, was living about three miles from Kingston. I was thirteen years of age, and Mr. Houston five years my senior. The line of the Cherokee country was about three miles south of Kingston, the Tennessee river being the boundary. The Indian trade being much valued, his services were highly appreciated from the fact that he spoke with fluency the Cherokee language. He was especially kind to me, and much of my time was spent in his company. He remained in the capacity of clerk until after the declaration of the war in 1812. At that time the United States were recruiting troops at Kingston for the war. Lieut. Wm. Arnold, of the Thirty-ninth regiment of Regulars, was sent to Kingston on recruiting service. The whole population had caught the war fever and intense interest prevailed. The manner of enlisting at that day was to parade the streets with drum and fife, with a sergeant in command. Silver dollars were placed on the head of the drum as a token of enlistment, the volunteer stepped up and took a silver dollar, which was his bounty; he was then forthwith marched to the barracks and uninformed. “

“The late Robert H. McEwen, of this city, cousin of Gen. Houston, and myself were standing together on the streets and saw Houston take his silver dollar in the year 1813. He was taken immediately to the barracks and dressed in uniform and appointed the same day as Sergeant. Soon after this Lieut. Arnold had received thirty-nine soldiers, and was ordered to send them forth to join the troops, marching to the Creek war, under the command of Col. John Williams, of Knoxville, who commanded this regiment of regulars in person at the battle of Horse Shoe, and afterward became a distinguished Senator in Congress from Tennessee. Soon after Houston left Kingston, his friends applied to President Madison for his promotion, who commissioned him as Ensign. The commission was promptly sent and reached him before the battle of Horse Shoe. At the battle, he mounted the Indian defense with colors in hand and was wounded by a barbed arrow in the thigh. A soldier, whom he ordered to extract it by main force, made several ineffectual attempts, and only succeeded under a threat by Houston to kill him unless he pulled it out. He was carried back, suffering intensely from the wound which had been lacerated. His indomitable will led him immediately back into the fight when he was soon wounded by two balls in the shoulder. His intrepid spirit displayed on this occasion won him the lasting regard of Gen. Jackson. Disabled from further service, he was sent back to Kingston with the sick and wounded. Robert H. McEwen and I met him some distance from Kingston, on a litter supported by horses. He was greatly emaciated, suffering at the same time from his wounds and the measles. We took him to the house of his relative, ‘Squire John McEwen, brother of R.H. McEwen, where he remained from some time, and from thence he went to the house of his mother, in Blount County.“

Recently, documents have been found in the Roane County Archives that show records witnessed and signed by Sam Houston on notes to Nichol and Shaifer, which were merchants in Kingston. It is probably that the “Mr. Sheffy” that Williams referred to is Mr. Shaifer.

Sam Houston

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, April 2016.

Mary Love

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

March is Women’s History Month and we recognize a Roane Countian who made her mark in history. The story of Mary Love (1823-1887) occurs during the Civil War. We know about brother against brother, but what is not often discussed is a sister against brother and her family. That is the story of Mary Love. Mary and her family lived in a house that was located on the main road from Knoxville to Kingston on what is now called Lawnville Road. Her brother, Josiah T. Love was a surgeon in the Confederate army. Even though her family was confederate she carried a dispatch to the Union forces at Knoxville. The following is a report to the Senate of the United States, dated Jan 13, 1873, that was submitted in the following words: “The Committee on Claims, to whom was referred the memorial of the Miss Mary Love, having considered the same, make the following report: During the siege of Knoxville, in November 1863, General Grant desired to send an important dispatch from his headquarters, at Chattanooga, to General Burnside, at Knoxville, through the investing lines of the Confederate forces under General Longstreet. This dispatch was sent to Colonel Robert K. Byrd, commanding at Kingston, Tennessee, with orders from General Grant to get it to General Burnside ‘at any cost and at all hazards.’ Colonel Byrd caused five copies of said dispatch to be made and sent them in different directions. One Charles Francis lost his life in the attempt to get through the confederate lines with one of them. No one of them reached General Burnside except the one of which Miss Love was the bearer. Miss Love was a loyal woman, but she had a brother in the Confederate service and was less exposed to suspicion by the Confederate guards for that reason. She was promised by Colonel Byrd that she should be well paid for her services and the peril she encountered. She traveled alone some twelve miles, but at dark, she procured the Rev. Thomas P. Carter to accompany her, and they passed through the Confederate forces to Louisville, Tennessee, which place they reached about midnight, making thirty-three miles traveled by the complainant. At Louisville, she caused the dispatch to be sewed into the vest of a lad, one John T. Brown, about 13 years of age and sent him successfully to Knoxville, where he delivered the dispatch to General Burnside. It was of a very important character, and probably saved the forces of General Burnside from surrender and East Tennessee to the Union Army. Your committee reports a bill for paying Miss Love the sum of $2,000.” She received the $2,000 in payment for her services to the Union. She is buried in the Love family cemetery off of Lawnville Road with the rest of her family.

General Burnside

General Longstreet

General Grant

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, March 2016.

What Happened to Second St in Kingston?

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

If you travel east through Kingston on Race Street, you will notice the signs that show a First Street, a Third Street, a Fourth Street and a Fifth Street, but no sign indicating a Second Street. The 1811 plat of Kingston shows all five streets. However, the road that was originally named Second Street became known as Kentucky Street because the road led to Kentucky and through the years the name was changed. Other name changes were King Street to Cumberland Street and Lovely Street too?

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, June 2015.

Burt’s Hair Reviver

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

There are two bottles in the collection of The Roane County Heritage Commission that are embossed “Burt’s Hair Reviver, Harriman, Tenn.” An advertisement in the Harriman Industrial Supplement of “The Harriman Record” in 1902, states that the product “Invigorates the Hair, Restores its Natural Color, Cures Dandruff, Prevents Falling Out, Cures Eczema and all diseases of the scalp.” On the box, it also says that it “contains no poison, not a dye” and “the only non-poisonous, clean, healthy preparation for restoring Gray or Faded Hair to its life-like original color and beauty and promoting the growth of young hair.” The product was sold by Friend H. (F.H.) Burt who had come to Harriman from West Virginia before 1900. He was born in New York, and the 1900 Roane Census lists him as a real estate agent living on Cumberland Street. Like most products of those days, it probably contained alcohol. It is interesting to note that about 10 years earlier, Emma Burt, the wife of F.H. Burt, sent letters to the saloons in stating that they are “not to sell, give, furnish or procure for my said husband, who is a habitual drunkard, any intoxicating liquors, whether spirituous, vinous, malt or mixed liquor or liquors.” So, did F.H. Burt stop drinking or did he find a different way to get alcohol by drinking his hair reviver?

Burt’s Hair Reviver, Harriman, Tenn, U.S.A.

Originally Written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, February 2015.

Guido and Hindo – The German Police Dogs

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Thomas L. Brown (1866- 1931) was one of the best known (notorious?) Roane County “characters” of his time. He was superintendent of the Roane Iron Company’s Chamberlain ore mines, south of the Tennessee River. Besides owning two ferries that operated in Roane County, he also was the owner of a steamboat that operated between Knoxville and Kingston. In today’s terms, he would be a multimillionaire. In a time when very few people in Roane County owned automobiles much less seen them, Tom Brown could be seen driving with his German police dogs, Guido and Hindo, riding with him. When he died in 1931, he left a trust of $1,500 in his will to take care of his two dogs. Today, $1,500 would be about $23,000. Tom Brown is buried in the Bethel-Kingston Cemetery in an unmarked grave. It is not known when Guido or Hindo died or where they are buried.

Originally Written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, September 2014.

Women’s History Month

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Women’s History Month, recognized in March, is to honor those ladies who have made great contributions to our history. In the 1800s and early 1900s, all of the Roane County officials were male. The first female to hold an elected office was Dora C. Blye who became the Register of Deeds in 1922. Next was Mrs. Pearl Billings who became the trustee in 1945. Clara (Mrs. Josh) Fulks became the Circuit/Criminal Clerk in 1947. Mrs. Aetna Davis became the Election Registrar in 1950. Betty Till was first Property Assessor in 1976. The first female Clerk and Master were Marietta Roberts who started in 1977. Miss Lucy Smith was appointed Roane County school superintendent in 1891. Among the cities, Ruby Luckey became the first female mayor when she became mayor of Kingston in the 1980s. The first female county commissioner was Una Coffman who was elected in 1990 and retired in 2006. She was the Chairman of the County Commission from 1996 to her retirement. She has also officiated 506 marriages to this date. Since then Nadine Jackson and Carolyn Granger have served on the commission. We are so fortunate to have so many women pioneers who have served and continue to serve Roane County. “Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively; unless you can choose a challenge instead of competence.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Originally Written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, April 2014.

How Kingston Was Named

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Kingston became a town before Roane County became a county. It was created by an act of the Tennessee State Legislature on 23 Oct 1799. It is about the eighth oldest city in Tennessee. It is named after Robert King who gave the land for the creation of the city. When Roane County was created in 1801, as Kingston was the only town in the county, it became the county seat.

In 1807, Kingston became state capital for one day. This was to fulfill the requirements of a treaty with the Indians in which the land around Fort Southwest Point was ceded to the State. The State Legislature met at the home of James Gordon which was located on the corner of Race and Third Street across from the current courthouse. The Roane County Court made many improvements to the house in order that it would be adequate for the state legislature to meet. Unfortunately, after meeting in Kingston for one day, the state legislature voted to return to Knoxville, the former state capital. It is interesting to note that in 1844, Kingston was considered again for the state capital. The Senate voted for Kingston while the House voted for Murfreesboro. As a compromise, Nashville was chosen as the permanent state capital.

Throughout its history, Kingston has had many ups and downs. When the river was king, steamboats traveled from Kingston to Knoxville and Chattanooga. Also, many of the roads leading west passed through Kingston. However, when the railroads became a major part of transportation, the river declined. At least two times in the 1870s and 1880s, the citizens voted to dissolve the city. Rockwood and Harriman had surpassed the importance of Kingston. One of the main reasons that Kingston survived where other towns have disappeared is that Kingston was still the county seat. In the 1890s there was a move to make Harriman the county seat as it was difficult to get to Kingston because of the rivers. At that time the only way to get across was through ferries. In dry weather, one could also ford across the Clinch River. County Court then decided to build a bridge that connected to the other side. With the coming of Oak Ridge and T.V.A., Kingston became a bedroom community. The coming of Interstate 40 also created more traffic in Kingston.

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