(Note: The subject of this article is controversal and will likely be rewritten to address some response that came in after it appeared in the Johnson City Press. Some people maintain that it is accurate as written, while others believe it was Robert Young who owned Sweetlips and brought down the British leader Patrick Ferguson at the Revolutionary War Battle of King's Mountain. Check back later for updates and comments. If you have information on this subject and would like to post a blog at the end of the article, e-mail me at email@example.com.)
The bold headline from an unidentified and undated newspaper article reads, “Famous Old Gun Found, Used at Kings Mountain.” The date is likely from the early 1900s.
The first settlers in East Tennessee took up residence near the Watauga River where they had to adjust to the complications of life in the harsh mountainous region.
Before leaving their homes in the East, these robust pioneers saved money for the trip by boldly selling their land and other possessions. Initially, many of them settled in the Appalachian Mountains, but eventually crossed the Mississippi River and headed farther west.
The families packed all the essentials they could reasonably carry on their horse-drawn wagons, including axes, rifles, cooking vessels, food and clothing. The lack of roads presented them with formidable challenges as they migrated across rugged terrain.
In the spring of 1955, coonskin caps and similar paraphernalia became the fashion among youngsters when a song, “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” by Bill Hayes, reached the top spot on the pop charts, remained on the pinnacle of the charts for five weeks and eventually sold over seven million records. Other artists also recorded it.
People living in the 1950s readily recall the action-packed Walt Disney movies pertaining to the life of legendary hero, Davy Crockett. Many, like this writer, had to have a coonskin cap to wear that was available from such downtown establishments as S.H. Kress, McLellan’s, Woolworth’s, Charles Store and Powell’s.
In November 1909, Booker T. (Taliaferro) Washington (1856-1915) began an "educational pilgrimage" through five southern states: Tennessee, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas and Florida. The educator’s purpose was to boost the spirits of African Americans living in appalling conditions in these five states. The first day of the Tennessee portion of the trip included stops at Bristol, Johnson City and Greeneville where he spoke to large crowds comprised of both races.
For David “Davy” Crockett (1786-1836), “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The folk hero, frontiersman, soldier, storyteller, politician and defender of the Alamo was born near Limestone, Tennessee at the convergence of Limestone Creek and the Nolichucky River in the short-lived State of Franklin. Two counties, Washington and Greene, claim his birthplace.
Drivers motoring along West G Street in Elizabethton encounter a unique memorial situated on a small hill at the intersection with Monument Place, just a short driving distance from Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park. While some people scarcely give the century-old structure a passing glance, others are vividly aware that it symbolizes an epic event that significantly shaped our country’s history.
Davy Crockett’s tales - truthful, enhanced or fabricated - have perpetuated the antics of Tennessee’s colorful history maker. Brush aside the accumulated cobwebs of tall tales and he still emerges as a fascinating folk hero.
My fascination for stories about Daniel Boone and his famous trek through East Tennessee in 1760 have me constantly searching for new information about him. Recently, I found something in a 1918 “Wisconsin Magazine of History” that merits sharing with Press readers.
Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, once practiced law in Jonesborough and Greeneville, residing there for several months in the Christopher Taylor log cabin. He became a polarizing and dominating political figure in the 1820s and 30s who ultimately helped shape the modern Democratic Party.