History

Before white men came

Before white men came to the area now known as Tennessee the Cherokee and Chickasaw tribes lived in the east and west. The Shawnee tribes resided in the middle region. The Shawnee tribes used the lands in the East Tennessee area for their hunting grounds.

In the time that the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Shawnee tribes were established in the Tennessee area the Natchez Indians lived in the lower Mississippi Valley, and the Yuchi Indians settled the areas that are now South Carolina and Georgia. The Creek tribes lived in the areas that are now Georgia, Alabama, and northern Florida. A few Creek settlements reached as far north as the Tennessee area. In the early 1700?s the powerful Cherokee Indians pushed the Creek tribes out of the Tennessee region. The Natchez Indians were driven from their lower Mississippi home by the French in the early eighteenth century. They retreated into the Tennessee area at this time. Being scattered they were absorbed into various other tribes. In the eighteenth century the British forced the Yuchi Indians out of South Carolina and Georgia. The Yuchi went to live with the Creek Indians. Some Yuchi moved into the Tennessee area at this time. Some experts think the Yuchi lived in Tennessee before this, but the records are confused. The Cherokee Indians were the most powerful of all these groups. Historians record some fifty to eighty Cherokee towns in the southern Appalachian Mountains with a population of perhaps as much as 22,000. This powerful group forced all the other tribes out of the East Tennessee area in the eighteenth century and lived in this area until they themselves were forced out in the nineteenth century by the United States Army, i. e. ?The Trail of Tears?. Although any of the tribes mentioned earlier may have lived in the area that is now Johnson County the tribes that were most likely to have settled before being forced out by the Cherokee were the Creek, Yuchi, and Shawnee. As the Cherokee Nation became powerful in the eighteenth century they forced the other tribes to leave the area. The Cherokee were the Indian tribe that white men encountered when they explored this region. The Cherokee signed treaties establishing land boundaries between the white men and Indians. The Cherokee used the region that is now Johnson County mainly for hunting grounds although evidence exists that the area was also used as burial grounds. In 1954 a cave was discovered while workmen were blasting at the Maymead Quarry. Fifty skeletons as well as beads and ornaments were found. Artifacts found here dated back approximately 1000 years. Another burial site was found in 1990 in the Cherokee National Forest near Watauga Lake. The skeleton remains dated as far back as 800 to 900 AD and were from a pre Cherokee people. This burial site was named the Lake Hole Mortuary Cave. The cave also contained 6,029 bead and pottery fragments. Arrowheads, pottery, ax heads, and skeleton remains have been discovered throughout the county, but mostly in Shady Valley and near the Roan Creek areas.

The Cherokee
Habitat
The Cherokee lived in the mountains and valleys of the southern Appalachian Mountains. They moved into the area which is now present day North and South Carolina, Tennessee, northern Georgia, and Alabama.

Homes
The Cherokee lived in villages along the riverbanks. Each village had a council house. A council house was a large, circular, windowless building often built on a mound. The walls were made of saplings woven together then plastered with mud. The Cherokee lived in a large, rectangular wood house in the summer. In the winter the family moved to a smaller round, windowless house. They made benches for their homes.

Dress
The women made clothing from deerskins and plants that were woven into material. The women wore short skirts. The men wore breechcloths, leggings, and moccasins. The men liked to paint and tattoo their bodies. During the winter the Indians wore capes for warmth. These were made from rabbit fur or turkey feathers. The capes were tied over the left shoulder. The clothing was decorated with dyed porcupine quills. The Cherokee also wore jewelry made of bones and teeth.

Food
The Cherokee had one large garden in which they grew beans, corn, squash, pumpkins, and sunflowers. They also had small individual gardens. The women tended the gardens after the men cleared the fields and helped plant the crops. The men provided the meat for their families. They used traps, bows and arrows, blowguns, and darts to help kill game. Deer was the most important animal the men hunted. They also hunted for bear.

Customs
Corn Festivals
The Cherokee people had a great respect for nature. They asked the spirits of the sun, moon, starts, plants, animals, and elements to help them. Several festivals were held each year to celebrate planting and harvesting corn. During these festivals the people painted their faces white to represent happiness.

Lacrosse
Lacrosse was a sport played by the Chickasaws, Cherokees, and Creek tribes. The game was played in two teams with 60 players on each team. Two sticks were held by each player to catch and throw a ball. Each stick had a small thong basket at one end. No player was allowed to touch the thong leather lacrosse ball, except with the stick or basket. The object of the game was to score points by scooping up the ball in the basket and sending it through a pair of goal posts. The first team to score twenty goals was the winner.

Crafts/Tools/Weapons
The Cherokee women wove mats and baskets. The women also planted, tended, and harvested the crops. They cooked, made clothing and pottery, and gathered nuts. The men made tools and weapons. The also built canoes.
The men made tools and weapons. Weapons included tomahawks and blowguns. The hunters used blowguns for small game and birds. They built canoes and house frames and roofs.


The Forming of Johnson County

Johnson County in its early history was part of the colony of North Carolina in what was called the Cherokee Territory. It later became part of the Wayne District of North Carolina. The Wayne District included the land from what is now from Boone, North Carolina to Greeneville, Tennessee. In 1776 it became part of Washington County which was organized at Jonesborough. Washington County was under North Carolina rule. This area was renamed Washington County in honor of George Washington.

After the American Revolution in the late 1700?s many ex-soldiers were given land grants in the area that is now East Tennessee as reward for fighting for independence from England. The population of the area grew greatly because of this.

The State of Franklin
In 1784 the settlers declared their freedom from North Carolina. The counties of Sullivan, Washington, Greene, and Davidson broke away to form a new state. They named this new state, which included what is now Johnson County, Franklin after Benjamin Franklin.

The people elected John Sevier as the ?President? of the new state. Unfortunately there was trouble between Franklin and North Carolina. John Tipton carried out a court judgment to take the property of Governor John Sevier, including his slaves. Sevier put together an army of 150 men. He fought Col. George Maxwell?s and Tipton?s men. Sevier?s band was arrested along with two of Sevier?s sons.

Sevier kept fight Indian settlements in what is now western Tennessee. When Sevier returned to Franklin he was captured for treason. Sevier escaped at his trial through a second story window onto a waiting horse. He was later pardoned and released in 1788.

North Carolina refused to recognize Franklin?s independence and the state collapsed in 1788. North Carolina gained back control of the area at this time. Sevier was elected senator in North Carolina. The State of Franklin existed for only four years. Later the area merged with the new state of Tennessee.

Tennessee
Congress appointed William Blount as Territorial Governor. In 1794 the population of the territory had grown to 77,000. At this point it was eligible to apply for statehood. Blount and William were the first representatives to Continental Congress. On June 1, 1796 Tennessee was admitted as the 16th state. George Washington was President at this time. John Sevier became the first Governor of the new state of Tennessee. Sullivan and Greene Counties were organized for this area. In 1796 Carter County split from Washington County.

Johnson County
One of the early settlers of this region was Thomas Johnson. He married Fannie Scott of Russell County, Virginia. Fannie was captured by the Cherokee Indians and taken 300 miles from her home. She escaped and returned home through the wilderness forest. Fannie died in 1796, 39 years before Johnson County was created.

In 1796 Tennessee became a recognized state. At this time Johnson County was a part of Carter County. In 1820 the people from what is now Johnson County began a petition to build a courthouse in the center of the county. The people in Elizabethton started their own petition to leave the county seat in Elizabethton. The state legislature listened to the people from Elizabethton. In 1829 the people from Johnson County petitioned again for a more centrally located courthouse. The petition stated that people from the area that is now Johnson County had to travel 30 to 50 miles crossing the Doe River eight times and passing over steep mountains to reach the courthouse. The state legislature ruled against the petition. A movement was made to create a new county apart from Carter County.

The thought was that a person on horseback should be able to travel to the county seat and be back on the same day before dark. In 1835 Joseph Powell introduced the idea of a separate county to the senate. It would be named Johnson County after Thomas Johnson, one of its oldest settlers. Several amendments were added to the bill changing the name. Three senators meet to work out the differences. Finally everyone agreed to name the new county Johnson County. The county seat would be named Taylorsville, in honor of James P. Taylor. William Gott, Robert Reeve, and James O?Brian were appointed to purchase between 10 to 100 acres for the town. The house of the late Thomas Johnson was used as the courthouse until one could be built. Governor Newton Cannon signed the bill and Johnson County was formed in 1836. Johnson had died earlier in 1835 before the creation of this new county.

Early Settlements

By 1820 the area which is now called Butler was populous and new businesses began to move in. One of the first businessmen to come was Zeke Smith, who built a grist mill on the bank of Roan Creek. A community grew around the mill was named Smith?s Mill.

By 1840 the town of Taylorsville had grown to approximately 150 people. Johnson County?s population in 1850 was 2,658. Settlements were established in Doe, Laurel, Roan Creek, and Shady Valley by this time.

Unlike most mills that are fueled by water pressure of a creek or river the mill at Silver Lake is is powered by a spring. The spring is located between two small mountains. An earthen dam was built causing a lake to form. The Silver Lake Mill was built by Alexander Doran and later purchased by Nat Wills. The original mill burned down and the present one was rebuilt at the same site

The Pioneers


In 1673 the first white men entered the region that is now Johnson County with eight Indian guides. These white men named James Needham and Gabriel Arthur were sent by Abraham Wood to establish a trading post with the Cherokee Indians. To reach this area Needham and Arthur traveled the well-worn Indian trail through a gap in the mountains between what is now Zionville, North Carolina and Trade, Tennessee.

In 1749 the British Parliament sent a survey party to establish the boundary lines between the colonies of North Carolina and Virginia. The leader of the survey party was Peter Jefferson, father of President Thomas Jefferson. Peter Jefferson traveled as far west as Steep Creek which is now called Laurel Creek on the top of Pond Mountain. He wrote in his journal that he would go no farther since, ?this is as far in the wilderness as any white man will ever go.?

In 1761 Daniel Boone came through the area that is now Johnson County. He wrote in his diary that he met Mr. Honeycutt. Honeycutt was a long hunter and and an Indian trader. Honeycutt built a cabin in 1769 near Roan Creek. Boone also met Andrew Greer and Julius Dugger. They were long hunters as well. John Rogers is given credit for building the first cabin in the Gentry's Creek area. These men are the first white men to settle in the area that is now Johnson County.

In 1770 John Honeycutt was visited by James Robertson, later know as the Father of Tennessee. Robertson lived in the area that is now Johnson County for one year to raise crops. He was on his way to the newly established Watauga Settlement near what is now Elizabethton, Tennessee.

In the early 1770's Joseph Gentry move to the area. He opened an iron ore business on Roan Creek. His neighbors were Jesse, John, and Josiah Hoskins settled in the area just two years after Andrew Greer and Julius Dugger.

In the mid 1770's a settlement was established in the area called "The Trade Gap". This area was a swapping ground for Indians and fur traders. It was located on an old buffalo trail between Snake and Rich Mountains. This was the easiest route through

the mountains to the West. The settlement became a community and a stopping point for travelers. Trade is the oldest community in Tennessee. After 1771 more and more settlers began to move into what is now East Tennessee looking for affordable land. At this time Johnson County was part of the North Carolina Colony, which went all the way to the Mississippi River. By 1970 the Trade community had grown. You could find a country store, post office, blacksmith shop and several log cabins

. By 1778 the area that is now Johnson County had a population of around 150. Some of the leading citizens included the following:

George and Samuel Heatherby
Thomas, John, and Charles Acher
Richard and Benjamin Wilson near Roan Creek
Leonard Shoun (which Shoun's Crossroads is named.) Note: father of 20 children
John and David Wagner
David and Michael Slimp
Daniel Baker and John Vaught (owners of a mill and still-house)
John and Henry Grimes
John Higgins
By 1794 enough settlers had come to the area that is now Johnson County to establish a church. The church was called the Roan Creek Church of Christ. The church was located at the foot of Rainbow Mountain between where Mountain City and Shouns are now. The church began with a membership of 65. Its name was changed several times. It moved to Mountain City in 1843. This church is now the First Baptist Church of Mountain City. One of the first communities was Wards Forge. It was named after Major John Ward who fought in the War of 1812. He went into the iron ore business. In 1882 the community was named Laurel Bloomery by Joseph H. Grace

Tom Dula

In July of 1866 a man came up to Lt. Col. James W. M. Grayson?s home near Trade, Tennessee. He had come from Wilkes County. The man told Col. Grayson that his name was Tom Hall. He wanted to work on Grayson?s farm to earn money for a new pair of boots. His were falling apart. Grayson put Tom to work as a hired hand. After he worked long enough to earn the new pair of boots which was about a week Tom took off.About July 10 just a few hours after Tom left Grayson?s home the authories from Wilkes County came to Grayson?s looking for a man named Tom Dula. Grayson knew from the description they were looking for his hired man who had called himself Tom Hall. Dula was accused of the murder of Laura Foster. She had died on June 18. Grayson said he would help the posse find Dula. Grayson rode with the posse to Taylorsville (now Mountain City) to get the sheriff. The sheriff was in Shady Valley some miles away. Grayson decided to keep looking for Dula without the help of an official.

The posse found Tom Dula nine miles west of Taylorsville at a place called Pandora.

Tom was sitting on a rock in the creek soaking his feet because his new boots had rubbed blisters. Grayson dismounted and picked up a rock. He told Tom he was under arrest. Grayson didn?t have to remove his gun during the arrest. It wasn?t until the members of the posse wanted to hang Tom, that Grayson took out his gun. Grayson told the posse that he wanted Tom to get a fair trial. Grayson took Tom back to his farm in Trade. He put Tom in the barn and had his son W. F. Grayson who was a young boy at the time guard Tom during the night. The next day Grayson put Tom on a horse. He tied his hands and tied his feet underneath the belly of the horse. They headed to Wilkes County.

The trial took place in 1868 in Statesville. Tom was found guilty. On May 1, 1869 Tom was hanged in Statesville, North Carolina. Tom?s casket was placed on a wagon for Tom to stand on during the hanging. He was given a chance to say some last words. Tom said, ?I want everybody to know that I did not harm a single hair on that fair lady?s head.?
Two Markers mark the grave of Tom Dula
Lt. Col. James W. M. Grayson was buried in the graveyard at the Zionville Baptist Church. This is in North Carolina just before you reach the Tennessee state line.

Gillam Bannon Grayson, Col. Grayson nephew from Laurel Bloomery, along with Henry Whittier went to Memphis to record the Ballad of Tom Dooley for Victor Records on October 1, 1929. It became popular in the late 1950s when the Kingston Trio re-released the song.This ballad tells the story.

Chorus
Hang down your head Tom Dooley Hang down your head and cry Hang down your head Tom Dooley Poor boy you?re bound to die.
I met her on the mountain And there I tuck her life; I met her on the mountain And stobbed her with my knife
Chorus
Hang down your head Tom Dooley Hang down your head and cry Hang down your head Tom Dooley Poor boy you?re bound to die.
This time tomorrer Reckon where I?ll be?- If it hadn? -a been for Grayson I?d be-a been in Tennessee.
Chorus
Hang down your head Tom Dooley Hang down your head and cry Hang down your head Tom Dooley Poor boy you?re bound to die.
This time tomorrer Reckon where I?ll be?- In some lonesome valley A-hangin? on a white oak tree.
Chorus
Hang down your head Tom Dooley Hang down your head and cry Hang down your head Tom Dooley Poor boy you?re bound to die.

Johnson County and the Civil War

Unfortunately in 1861 the Civil War began and Johnson County with the rest of the nation was in tumult. East Tennessee was historically a primarily Republican area and most men here sided with the Union. The vote in Johnson County was 787 to 111 against secession. Many families split and neighbors became enemies over this issue. Johnson County sent a company to unite with the 13th Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry which fought for the Union. The Confederate army had sent troops into East Tennessee to control the people. The loyal Union men were forced to slip by these Confederate troops into Kentucky to join the Union army. Although there were no major battles fought in Johnson County, there were conflicts which resulted in some fighting. After the war was over many men were able to return home and settle their differences with their neighbors. This was true with the Coffey Brothers in the Smith?s Mill area. However, other men were unable to reestablish their businesses. Major Joseph Wagner owned a hardware store and was a wealthy citizen. After he voted Republican his store was boycotted. Wagner left Johnson County after the war and left his home behind.

The Story Behind the Name

Johnson County
Johnson County was created in 1836 from a part of Carter County. It was formed because of the distance and difficulty of traveling to Elizabethton, the county seat of Carter County. The county was named for Thomas Johnson who was one of the earliest settlers in the area. Johnson came to Doe Valley from Virginia. Johnson died in 1835, one year before his dream of a new county would come true. Johnson?s home site was the meeting place where the first court of Johnson County was organized. Thomas Johnson?s son was a member of that court.

Taylorsville then Mountain City
The new county seat of Johnson County was named Taylorsville after Col. James P. Taylor who was a leading citizen of Carter County. In 1885 the name Taylorsville was changed to Mountain City. The name change was a suggestion of Roderick Random Butler because the town was located in one of the highest valleys in Tennessee.

Butler In 1820 a community began to grow along the banks of Roan Creek. The community was named Smith?s Mill after one of the first businessmen to come to the area. Roderick Random Butler was one of the leading citizens of the Smith?s Mill community. After the Civil War the community decided to rename their town to honor Col. Butler. Col. Butler later moved to Taylorsville and built a large home which is known to the locals as The Butler Mansion. Roderick Random Butler served in the state legislature for 24 years and was a member of the U. S. Congress for ten years. Butler died in 1902 and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery.

Trade In the 1700?s Indians, trappers, and settlers meet to trade in an area in which three wilderness trails and an old buffalo trail came together. The old buffalo trail, which is now Highway 421, ran between Snake and Rich Mountains and was the easiest route for travelers going west through the area. By 1790 a community began to grow on the trading grounds. The community, simply known as Trade, had a country store, post office, a blacksmith shop, and a number of log cabins.

Sink Mountain is a marvel of nature. It is located beside Highway 67 in Doe Valley. As you travel down Highway 67 from Mountain City to Butler you will notice a pointed mountain that stands above the others. As you continue driving down the highway you can imagine the mountain growing to immense proportions. Instead the mountain appears to be sinking. This is due to the way the highway is laid out between the mountains and not that the mountain is actually sinking.

Roan Creek In 1769 Daniel Boone left the Yadkin in Wilkes County, North Carolina going to Kentucky. He followed the Watauga River to a beautiful stream. It was then that he noticed his roan horse was limping. Boone, knowing that his horse could not make the long journey, left him behind in the peaceful valley beside the beautiful stream. Two years later Boone was returning to his home in the Yadkin when his horse recognized him. The two were tearfully reunited. Boone was surprised to see that not only had his limping horse healed, but the horse was fat and healthy as well. The roan horse carried Boone to his home in the Yadkin. The beautiful stream by which Boone left his horse is today called Roan Creek after Boone?s horse.

Watauga River The Cherokee Indians were the tribe the white men encountered when they first explored the area that is now Johnson County. Because of this several places in the county are named for them or from Cherokee words. The Cherokee National Forest is one example. The word Cherokee means ?The Principle People?. Watauga River is a Cherokee word meaning ?the place where they drank?.

Maymead and Neva C. Keener Mount was a railroad construction engineer who was laying track for the Southern Railway through Johnson County. He meet and fell in love with a Johnson County girl named May Brown. He decided to name two railroad stops for May. The first he named May?s Mead(meadow), later shortened to Maymead. May loved the beautiful meadow in which the railroad ran. The second stop Mount named for Miss Brown?s two aunts. One aunt was named Nanny and the other Eva. Mount combined the two names, Nanny and Eva, to form the new word Neva.

Doeville Doeville is a small community in the Doe Valley. It was named for the large herds of doe that used to roam the area. A story is told that once when Daniel Boone was traveling through the valley he killed a doe.

Laurel Bloomery and Forge Creek The area that is now known as Laurel Bloomery was first settled by James Keys, Charles Anderson, and Lewis Wills. Wills established an iron works in 1797. Later Luther Warden built the first mill pond. It was by this pond that he smelted iron in big bloomers. This along with the thick thickets of laurel bushes gave Laurel Bloomery its name. Another mine was located on Woods Hill. Near the mouth of the creek was a large forge. This creek became known as Forge Creek and the community by the creek was simply known as Forge.

Shady Valley Shady Valley is a twelve square mile valley. It is completely surrounded by Iron, Holston, and Cross Mountains. Beaverdam Creek runs through the center of the valley. The first settlers came to the area in the late 1700?s. They called it Shady Valley because the land was completely covered with trees that shut out the light of the sun.

Shouns Leonard and his wife Barbara Schelmp Shoun moved to Johnson County in 1792. They opened a county store. Mr. and Mrs. Shouns had eighteen children. All of their children married and had children of their own except one. The area in which they lived became known as Shouns Crossroads. Later the name was shortened to Shouns

Crackers Neck A side show visited Johnson County. It set up it attractions near the community of Neva. At the side show a wrestler was challenging the local farmers to a match. One farm boy took up the challenge. It was during this match that the farm boy cracked the wrestlers neck. Locals began referring to the area as the place where the farm boy broke the wrestler?s neck. In time this was shortened to Crackers Neck.

Snake Mountain Snake Mountain has the highest elevation of any other place in Johnson County at 5574 feet above sea level. It is located in the Stone Mountain Range at the North Carolina-Tennessee state line. Snake Mountain received its name because the top of the mountain is humped like the shape of a snake.

Nick the Hermit

Nick was born on December 26, 1851. By the time Nick was just three years old both his mother, Mary Heaton Grindstaff, and his father, Issac Grindstaff, died. Nick and his three siblings were left orphans. Nick lived with relatives until he was 21 years old. He was an active member of the Baptist church. At age 21 Nick's parents? farm was divided into fourths for the children. Nick built a house on his fourth and began to farm the land. After five years of farming Nick sold his farm to E. S. Jordon and decided to go west.

Nick was robbed of everything he owned. He went to Benjamin Wilson in Missouri for help. Benjamin had moved to Missouri from Carter County. Benjamin sent Nick back home. After Nick return he lived with Mr. Jordan. He refused to stay with any of his relatives. After a while Nick decided to live on Iron Mountain. He went to the highest peak where Johnson and Carter Counties dividing line are and built a hut of logs and boards. Nick lived in this hut for more than 30 years. Nick stayed busy clearing land, building fences, and raising a garden. He gathered roots and herbs and traded them for supplies.

Nick defended himself with a barlow knife, an ax, and a hickory stick. Although Nick isolated himself and looked rugged from the many layers of old clothes and the long hair he wore, no one was afraid of him because of his kindness.

On July 21, 1923 Baxter McEwen went by to check on Nick. He found him dead on the bunk in his hut. His faithful dog had been keeping watch over his master's dead body for the past three or four days. The dog had to be tied before men could carry out Nick?s body for burial. Nick was buried on the mountain peak where he lived the last 30 years of his life. A gravestone was erected so passersby would remember Nick. Today the Appalachian Trail passes by the area. The Cherokee National Forest maintains the monument that marks Nick's burial site.

Butler was located on the Watauga River at the forks of Roan Creek in the western edge of Johnson County. After America?s Civil War the town began to grow. In 1900 the railroad came bringing additional people to the area. By 1939 Butler had 600 residents. The townspeople had experience floods in 1867, 1886, 1901, 1902, 1916, and 1924. In 1940 a tropical hurricane caused 15 inches of rain to fall. Elizabethton counted losses at $308,500. Then homes were carried away and 147 others were flooded. In 1941 President Roosevelt signed a bill to initiate the Tennessee Valley Authority. Part of this bill was construction of dams along the major rivers in Tennessee to help control flooding which had caused major damage to the area in the part. The Watauga Dam was a part of this Tennessee Valley Authority project. In order to construct this dam one hundred families had to be removed from their homes in and around the Butler area. On April 3, 1947 Rev. M. H. Carder, pastor of the Cobbs Creek Baptist Church, called a meeting at the Butler schoolhouse. At the meeting he announced that they had acquired option to buy the I. W. McQueen farm at the edge of the site of the new reservoir. Carder proposed this farm to be the site for a new town and everyone was excited at this prospect. Planning for the town soon began. The new Butler-Cobbs Creek Land Corporation with Preacher Carder as president bought 208 acres of the McQueen farm. The new town was called Carderview? in honor of Rev. M. H. Carder. Twenty percent of the residents displaced from Butler moved to this area. A 200 acre tract of land adjoining Carderview had been developed by the Bowers Brother Land Company of Elizabethton. This area became known as ?New Butler? and is today the town of Butler. Many others moved to this area. When the project was completed a total of 761 families were removed. Timber was cleared from 1663 acres, 54.9 miles of roads and highways were built, three bridges were built, 66 miles of utility lines were constructed, and 1281 graves were removed. In the town of Butler approximately 500 to 600 residents had to move. Also lost were a post office, the Masonic lodge, elementary and high schools, three grocery stores, two furniture stores, two hardware stores, one drug store, two restaurants, three gas stations, two barber shops, one shoe shop, and two physicians and one dentist offices. A celebration is held the second Sunday weekend in August to remember the old town of Butler. This celebration is called Old Butler Days. At the festival you may find music, games, exhibits, and food.

The Twentieth Century

The first newspaper written in Johnson County was the TaylorsvilleReporter. It was established in 1874 by W.J. Keys. Later the paper wasrenamed The Tomahawk.In 1885 the town Taylorsville was renamed Mountain City. This changetook place when Roderick Random Butler who served in the 13th TennesseeCavalry convinced the people of the town to change the name.


The first railroad, built by the Virginia and Southwestern Railroad
in 1899, ran from Elizabethton to Butler. 1900 the railroad finally came to Johnson County. The ETWNC(Tweetsie) Railroad which served as a shipper from Butler to Hampton hadbeen the closest railroad before this. The V&SW Railroad originally planned mainly to carry iron ore out of upper East Tennessee became a major means to transport farm and timber products. Several logging operations came to the area creating a thriving railroad related business.In 1907 the Pea Vine Railroad traveled through Laurel on its way fromDamascus to Mountain City. This railroad also ran to Forge Creek.In just a few years a large portion of Johnson County had been overlogged. At this time many private land owners began selling their land to theUnited States government to form the Cherokee National Forest.
Other landowners turned to agriculture to make a living. The railroad was being usedless and less. After flooding destroyed large portions of the railroad track in 1940 the track was not replaced and the railroad no longer traveled throughthe county.From 1935 to 1950 Johnson County was a leading producer of greenbeans. In the early 1950s it was called the Bean Capital of the World?.Mechanical pickers ended the success of the crop in Johnson County.Mechanical pickers were cheaper than hand picking so farmers stopped raising bean crops. Today the largest agricultural product is our county istobacco.Since 1966 many industries have moved into and out of Johnson County.Today approximately 2300 people are employed by various industries in thecounty.In 1992 Johnson County had a population of 15,209 and Mountain City?spopulation was 2,252. The population per square mile in 1992 was 51.


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