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Where the Sun First Rises in Tennessee & Tennessee History Begins


Johnson County History

johnson county flag Johnson County is nestled in the beautiful mountains of extreme northeastern Tennessee. It joins Virginia on the north and North Carolina on the east and south. For many years before white settlers arrived, Native American people including the Cherokee, the Creeks and the Yuchi used the area as a hunting and burial ground. Evidence of prehistoric Indians including the "mound builders" have been found. When the first English speaking settlers arrived in this area looking for a new or better life, it was still part of the colony of North Carolina which included land from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi. These early settlers came in defiance of the English King's Proclamation Line that prohibited settlements west of the mountains because of the danger from the Indians and because the government could not provide adequate control, protection, and other government services. The first settlers here were mostly English but included many other groups including Scotch-Irish and Germans. The first settlement in what was to be Tennessee was at Trade. The first recorded settler of Johnson County was John Honeycutt whose home was on Roan Creek near Butler. Daniel Boone visited him in 1770 and James Robertson also visited Honeycutt on his way to the Watauga Settlement. Mr. Robertson is known as "The Father of Tennessee".

Johnson County was created from parts of Carter County in 1836; Carter County was formed in 1796 from Washington County. As a result, the early history of Johnson County is entwined with that of Washington and Carter counties. The Watauga Association, the first free and independent government on the American continent, was created at Sycamore Shoals near Elizabethton in 1772. Washington County was established in 1777. The short-lived State of Franklin (1784-88) was the first new state created after the original thirteen and included present Johnson County. John Sevier was elected Governor of the State of Franklin and later was elected the first Governor of Tennessee. When the US Constitution was ratified in 1789, North Carolina ceded its "overmountain" territory to the US government and the area became part of another government entity, the "Southwest Territory".


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