Sunday, August 13, 2017

Second Trip to East Tennessee Part 2

When I planned my trip to Jonesborough I didn't know about Jonesborough Days. I'm happy I was there for that celebration.  It's a nice time to visit, which I just hit by accident. More food is available in town during the festival. Additional tours and entertainment are provided during this time, including a parade. I was able to do some research before the courthouse closed on Friday for the festival.

I found some Holloway deeds at the courthouse. I am trying to prove Obedience, William McPike's wife was a Holloway. Unfortunately none of the McPike's witnessed or are mentioned in any deeds with the Holloways. William Holloway was on the road building crew with William McPike, building a road to the courthouse, in 1783. I was hoping to get more information on this William Holloway because his wife was named as Katherine. Unfortunately I haven't found any information on this couple, at least yet. The Washington County, Tennessee Holloways' origins are unknown?


Three historical tours were offered during Jonesborough Days. There were tours covering the town's history, and train station. I'll cover the Cemetery tour in my third post.

The 1886 Oak Hill School



Jonesborough Town Tour

Jonesborough was selected as site for a courthouse because of its central location for the population of the area. Washington County was the first county west of the mountains. Jonesborough was founded in 1779. Washington County was established in 1777. Area residents petitioned for a courthouse because the nearest one was over the mountains in North Carolina. This area was part of North Carolina at that time. North Carolina stretched from the eastern seaboard to the Mississippi. Towns grew up around the early courthouses, where local residents handled legal matters like filing wills and deeds.

The town was the birthplace of the state of Franklin.

Andrew Jackson lived for a time in a log cabin now on Main Street.

The trains brought in wrought iron and plates of glass for the expanding Main Street businesses. Steps were constructed in front of Main Street stores to make mounting horses and carriages easier for customers. May's was a fashionable ladies shop. You can still see the name plate in the door way.

One saloon was pointed out to us. It was closed after the city went dry.
The town contains many historic church buildings. All Protestant.

The civil war divided the town. One church Congregation split into two, because of a dispute over which side they supported. The Union supporters built a Northern style church to emphasize which side they supported. The Northern style church still stands out because of its dark gothic brick construction.

The town was a center for the abolitionist movement. The town still seems progressive.

The town is now a center for storytelling. A large storytelling festival takes place every year.

Clapboards cover an old log house

The Chester Inn was built in 1797 and catered to stagecoach traffic. In early days their guests would have been mainly men, traveling for business. Women and families didn't travel often.

The Inn was restored based with furnishings, and recreated wallpaper from the 19th Century.


The 1906 Chuckey Train Station was moved to Jonesborough in order to restore and preserve it. It was getting ready to open to the public when I was there in late June/early July.

Railroad Tour
Tennessee was a late comer to train transportation. Johnson City's reason for being was as a railroad hub. Jonesborough had been a gateway to the west before the railway. Travelers west waited, someone times many months, for caravans west to form. Joneborough attracted merchants innkeepers, etc., catering to westward travel before railways. It was a thriving stagecoach stop with a large stagecoach inn built in the 1797 and still there, namely the Chester Inn.

The prosperous merchants of Jonesborough were responsible for adding the Joneborough connecting train line. They sensed the town would be bypassed without it.

When the train arrived in the 1850's it increased the wealth of the 1 percent living in town. Farmers and travelers did benefit from the railroad too, but the merchants and railroad investors did reap the largest benefits. The town required that the train to make at least one stop a day in town. The trains actually made many more stops as the town became a popular destination. The train brought the building materials for the mansions and stores in town. The town always prided itself on furnishing luxury goods to the frontier area.

The town actually provided more transportation options in Victorian days. Livery stables rented horses and carriages. You can't rent a car there now, and there is no public transportation. Amtrak may offer service in the future?

Freight trains still travel on the old line. They came through around midnight and 3 am when I checked the time. I like the sound of trains so I'm not complaining.




Andrew Jackson lodged for a short time in the 1788 Christopher Taylor log house.(below)



One of the earliest paintings of Jonesborough hangs in the Chester Inn Museum.
Watercolor by Rebecca Chester 1810. 


Thursday, August 10, 2017

My Second Visit to Eastern Tennessee Part 1

I made a second visit to East Tennessee in June of this year. I stayed in Jonesborough. When I took a bus tour of the area as a part of the "Tennessee First Families Reunion" we went through Jonesborough, but didn't stop. I thought that town was so cute I wanted to spend more time there. I also had ancestors who lived in that area, and wanted to do some research there.


I flew into Jonesborough from Charlotte, North Carolina. I actually live in California, but found it was cheaper to fly to North Carolina and backtrack to the Tri-Cities Airport near Jonesborough. I was a little skeptical of the plane, which had outboard propellers. Once I was airborne I realized it wasn't much different than any other plane. The view flying over the mountains was beautiful! The endless chain of beautiful green mountains was dream like.  The ride to the Inn I was staying at was also very scenic too.

Some Pics of the town of Joneborough


I stayed at the historical Eureka Inn (the serve the largest, and best breakfasts I've ever had) . My room was the Laura room dating back to when the hotel was built in 1797. Jonesborough was sited on a historic stage coach route, and stopping off point for the journey west. "The Oldest Town" in Tennessee it was the capital of the state of Franklin.

My 1797 room

My ancestors William McPike born about 1750, and his wife Obedience born about 1755 (maiden name said to be Holloway) were early settlers in Washington County, Tennessee. They originally settled in Carter's Valley on Puncheon Creek in the 1770's. He transferred his land grant soon after receiving it. He returned to Virginia briefly, maybe due to his father's death? When the family returned to Tennessee in the early 1780's they settled in the Fall Branch area. of Washington County, Tennessee. Fall Branch borders the counties of Greene, Sullivan. and Hawkins. It appears sometimes William McPike was considered to be a resident of Greene, and other times a resident of Washington County for tax purposes.

I'm grateful to the staff of the Washington County Archives for pinpointing the Fall Branch area as the area my ancestors lived. The archives recently opened to the public in a renovated 1915 bank building in the town of Joneborough. You can search what is available at that location here:

Many old churches line Main Street. Their steeples, and the clock tower of the courthouse, are the most prominent buildings you see as you enter Jonesborough. Many of the churches and other buildings date to before the Civil War.

My ancestor William McPike worked on a road from his home on the northern county border, to the courthouse in 1783. The original courthouse is long gone, but an early 20th century courthouse now stands on the same site.

A side trip with my cousin Kenneth Edmondson was also very scenic. We went through Johnson City (a city owing its existence to the railroad) and Elizabethton. The Doe river covered bridge in Elizabethton is really picturesque. It was built in 1882.


Visiting the Carter Mansion was another highlight of our side trip. The mansion was built between 1775 and 1780 by John Carter, a prominent early settler of the area. This house is still 90% original. Many of the glass window panes are also original, with their wavy thick glass.

John Carter was an entry taker for land entered in East Tennessee, then North Carolina. He signed William McPike's land survey. It was so exciting standing in the room where my ancestor's document was signed!

The desk where William McPike's survey was signed in 1779 by John Carter


It was so interesting seeing this slab, or brick, of tea. This is the way tea was shipped to early America, I never knew that. The tea thrown off the ships during the Boston tea party would have looked like this.

Heading back to Jonesborough we passed this beautiful farm.

Some more photos from the town.