Greene County - Ceded to Tennessee

A History of Greene County - Ceded to Tennessee

Goodspeed's History of Greene County, Tennessee [with minor edits] 

In 1783, the General Assembly of North Carolina passed a Legislative Act dividing Washington County for the second time, and establishing the county of Greene, which was named after Major General Nathanael Greene, the noted leader of the Continental Army in the Southern Theater from December 4, 1780 to the end of the Revolutionary War..

Created in the last year of the American Revolution, Greene County was required to establish a full regiment of Patriot Militia for the war effort. Click Here to learn about all of the known officers and men who served in the Greene County Regiment of Militia during the American Revolution. All names in "blue/underscore" can be clicked on for additional information.

On the third Monday of August, the court of pleas and quarter sessions met at the house of Robert Carr, which stood near to what is known as the Big Spring in Greeneville. The magistrates present were Joseph Hardin, John Newman, George Doherty, James Houston, Amos Bird, and Asahel Rawlings. Daniel Kennedy was elected clerk; James Wilson, sheriff; William Cocke, attorney for the state; Joseph Hardin, Jr., entry taker; Isaac Taylor, surveyor, Richard Woods, register, and Francis Hughes, ranger. For convenience the county was divided into four civil districts, three of which lay north of the Nolachucky and French Broad Rivers, which the fourth included all the residents south of these streams. For these districts the following assessors were appointed: First - Lanty Armstrong, Owen Owens and William Stockton; Second - Gideon Richie, James Dillard and Henry Conway; Third - Alexander Kelly, Jeremiah Jack and Henry Earnest; Fourth ----- -----. The constables appointed were John Hammond, James Robinson, Joseph Box and Robert Ore. The County Seat was named Greeneville and it continues to this day.

At the November session of 1783, the first grand jury was summoned. It was composed of the following men: Henry Conway, Joseph Carter, David Russell, Lanty Armstrong, Alexander Galbraith, Archibald Stone, Andrew Martin, James Rogers, Jeremiah Jack, Anthony Moore, George Martin, David Copeland, Richard Woods, Robert Allison, and four others whose names could not be deciphered. This jury, however, found no indictments and was soon discharged. The court which was begun in February of 1784, levied a tax of one shilling specie on each 100 pounds of taxable property for the purpose of erecting public buildings. At the same session a road was ordered to be laid off from Robert Carr’s “to the confines of the county in the direction of Sullivan Court House.” At the next term Robert Carr was allowed £8 for the use of his house by the court while at the same time the sheriff entered a protest against the jail erected by Mr. Carr.

In May of 1785, the county was reorganized under the illegal state of Franklin, and all the officers who were re-appointed were required to take a new oath of office. The magistrates who appeared and qualified were Joseph Hardin, George Doherty, Benjamin and John Gist, John Newman, Asabel Rawlings, John Maughon, James Patterson, John Weir, and David Craig. The old county officers were removed except Daniel Kennedy, clerk and Francis Hughes, ranger. The county, as a whole, was the most loyal to the Franklin government of any of the counties composing the new state, and jealously guarded against anything tending to weaken its influence or authority.

In the records of the February session in 1786, is the following entry: “An anonymous printed paper, purporting to be an address to the citizens of Franklin, is judged by the court to be a scandalous, wicked and seditious libel against the states in the Union, and individuals of the Ecclesiastical order, and the same is ordered by the court to be burnt by the High Sheriff to-morrow at four o’clock in the afternoon.” At the next term David Crawley was brought before the court on a charge of “threatening the county of Greene,” and it was considered “that he be bound to good behavior for one year and a day.”

An amusing instance of the court’s attempt to maintain its dignity against an irate attorney is found in the following entries in the minutes of November in 1786: “Luke Bowyer fined five shillings for insulting the court. Fi. fa. issue for the same. Luke Bowyer fined £10 for insulting the court and 5s for profane swearing. Fi. fa. issue for the same.” “Luke Bowyer ordered to be confined in the stocks for one-quarter of an hour; ditto one hour.” At this juncture Mr. Bowyer doubtless bethought himself of the maxim, that “discretion is the better part of valor,” and submitted to the court.

Notwithstanding the troublous times through which the new state of Franklin was passing, the court of pleas and quarter sessions for Greene County continued to hold its sessions regularly, and to discharge its duties with the greatest fidelity, and even after every vestage of the authority of John Sevier’s government had disappeared from the other counties this court transacted its business in the name of the state of Franklin.

In August of 1788, however, the county passed once more under the authority of North Carolina, and John McNabb, Alexander Outlaw, Abraham McCoy, Alexander Galbraith, Joseph Hardin, and John Newman, qualified as magistrates. At this term, new county officers were elected with the exception of clerk of the court, and the following attorneys were admitted to practice: John McNairy, Alexander McGinty, David Allison, Archibald Roane, Joseph Hamilton, and Andrew Jackson.

In November of 1790, the county court was once more reorganized, to comply with the government of the Territory South of the Ohio River, aka the Southwest Territory, but there were few changes in the magistrates or other officers. The same may also be said of what occurred six years later, when the officers qualified according to the laws of the new state of Tennessee in 1796.

The settlement of what is now Greene County was begun before 1788. One of the first settlers was Anthony Moore, who in that year located not far from Henderson’s Station, and whose daughter is said to have been the first white child born in the county. Other settlers followed soon after, and during the next two years, the greater part of the land, along Lick Creek and the Nolachucky River had been occupied. Daniel Kennedy came in 1779, and located on the river four miles east of Greeneville, at the mouth of Holley Creek. He was one of the most prominent pioneers of the state, and deserves to rank with Sevier, Shelby, and Cocke. He was chosen clerk of the county court upon the organization of the county, and continued to hold it under four successive changes of government, a sufficient proof of his integrity and worth. He was an ardent supporter of the state of Franklin, and was an active participant in the convention which founded it. He was also elected a brigadier-general of the Franklin militia.

Among the other early settlers of the county were James English, on the headwaters of Lick Creek; Joseph Hardin, on the Roaring Fork of Lick Creek; George, William and Henry Conway, at the mouth of Lick Creek; Amos Bird, on the Chucky River; Alexander Galbraith, on Sinking Creek; James Delaney, on Holley Creek; Lewis Brayles, on Horse Creek; James Houston, in what is known as the Cove; Lanty Armstrong, on the sight of Rheatown; Robert Carr and Robert Hood, on the sight of Greeneville; James Patterson, who had four sons - James, Andrew, Nathaniel and William - located on Lick Creek in 1783.

The Moores, Rankins, and David Rice also settled in the same vicinity. A station was erected by the Carters about eight miles northwest of Greeneville. Tephaniah Woolsey lived south of the river. About 1790, a large number of Friends or Quakers began to come into the county from Pennsylvania and North Carolina, although a number of person of that faith had come several years before. Among the pioneers were William Reese, Garrett and Peter Dillion, William and Abraham Smith, Solomon, David, and John B. Beales, Samuel and Mordecai Ellis, Abraham Marshall, Samuel Pearson, Samuel Stanfield, and George Hayworth.

The first religious services were held on the eleventh day of the ninth month in 1791. Other meetings were held from time to time, and on the twenty-eighth day of the second month, 1795, New Hope monthly meeting was organized about one mile west of Rheatown where a house of worship was erected. A church house was also erected on Lick Creek at an early day.

Click Here to see the approximate boundaries of Greene County between 1783 and 1790, when it was ceded to the Territory South of the Ohio River, aka the Southwest Territory.

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