Day 64 – East Tennessee Border Tour

Eastern Tennessee…(yesterday)

Since the dogs spent most of the afternoon and evening in VANilla out of the rain, our first stop this morning was at a local park in Elizabethton to stretch their legs on a mile walk along the Watauga River. Along with the walking trail, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area showcased the reconstructed Fort Watauga and related history.  Being the center of the Watauga Settlement, the first permanent settlement west of the 13 colonies, this area is considered significant in Tennessee history.  The organization of the Watauga Association (1772), the Transylvania Purchase (1775), the Siege of Fort Watauga (1776), and the Overmountain Muster (1780) all took place on these grounds.

The Watauga Association was established when the settlers here realized they hadn’t settled in Virginia and were living under the authority of the royal government and beyond the Indian Treaty line.  They formed their own government under the Watauga Compact, the first constitution west of the Appalachians.

The Transylvania Purchase, the largest private real estate deal in US history, was provided for in the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals.  A North Carolinian judge formed a company to purchase 20,000,000 acres from the Cherokees to found a new colony, Transylvania.  The Purchase opened most of Kentucky up for settlement.

The siege of Fort Watauga took place in 1776 when the Indians became concerned with the white settlers expansion and gave the Wataugans 20 days to leave their land or fight.  The Wataugans asked for more time and built a fort.  The Indians, enraged upon hearing of the fortification, planned a surprise attack on Wataugans; however, a Cherokee woman married to a white man warned of the attack so the Wataugans were able to flee their homes and take refuge in the fort.  After three hours of battle, the Indians settled down into a loose siege.

The Muster of the Overmountain occurred in 1780 when Britain’s Cornwallis attempted to invade North Carolina.  Cornwallis ordered Ferguson to protect his left flank.  Ferguson threatened the Wataugan leaders who ordered their militia to the Shoals.  1,100 men from Virginia and North Carolina marched over the Blue Ridge Mountains and joined additional militia units from both the Carolinas and Georgia.  The growing Patriot army chased Ferguson off and Cornwallis was forced to postpone his raid of North Carolina.  This Patriot victory was a turning point in the Revolutionary War.

After our visit to the Sycamore Shoals Historic Area, we revisited “The Mansion” built in 1775 just a few miles away.  The Mansion, built by John Carter, is the oldest frame house in Tennessee.  John Carter was elected the Chairman of the Watauga Association in May of 1772.

We left Elizabethton, took a driving tour through Jonesborough (Tennessee’s oldest town), and stopped at Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park.  After I spent another hour trouble shooting iPhone problems with Applecare and setting an appointment at the Apple Store in Knoxville (69 miles away) for the evening, I enjoyed the last of the sun walking the dogs around the park and visiting the site where Davy Crockett was born.  A reconstructed cabin as well as a monument honoring Crockett as a pioneer, patriot, soldier, explorer, trapper, state legislator, congressman, and martyr (at the Alamo) marked the area.

We continued a bit further south along Tennessee’s eastern border to Greenvilleand the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site.  The site includes two Johnson homes with 80% original furnishings as

Rare piano in Johnson’s home

well as Johnson’s tailor shop complete with his shears, thimble, and flatiron.  Johnson’s tailor shop became a gathering place to discuss politics.  Johnson served as the military governor of Tennessee when he freed the slaves and upon Abraham Lincoln’s assassination became President of the United States.

Not far from the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, a replica of the building that is believed to have been used at the capitol of the State of Franklin from 1785 to 1788.  Franklin was organized as a state by locals who were left without a government after North Carolina imparted its land west of the Appalachians to the Federal Government.  Franklin, never recognized by Congress, struggled as a state for less than five years before ultimately becoming part of Tennessee.

As I toured the area, the rain grew heavier, so I headed to Knoxville to get another phone.  The touch screen on my replacement phone was not always responsive, and I was left with a phone I couldn’t even unlock after an hour, a hard reset, and a restore.  Hopefully third time will be a charm!  While I wasn’t that pleased with having to take the detour to Knoxville, my return led me to a Walmart in Sevierville and a Mel’s Diner a few miles down the road in Pigeon Forge.  While this diner wasn’t connected with the show Alice, I couldn’t help but think of Flo and a few of her choice phrases:  “Kiss My Grits” and “When Pigs Fly”.  It was a pleasant reminder of my childhood days enjoying Alice.

Published by

Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

4 thoughts on “Day 64 – East Tennessee Border Tour

  1. love the pic of the BIG brick house and the white frame house but that white one needs some shutters to dress it up some & I know back in the day it would have had shutters for the heat, protection, and shelter from storms. You are such a plethora of information.

Leave a Reply