Russellville in Hamblen County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
From Bridge to Bridge
— The Role of the Russellville Area During the Civil War —
Early Russellville (1780-1859)
The Russellville area was settled shortly after the American Revolution. The first pioneers probably were in the area by 1780-1782, when the land was still known as Indian Territory. Early land grants from North Carolina were awarded to men that had fought the British as part of John Sevier and Isaac Shelby's famous Overmountain Militia. Other citizens also received grants for their service to the war. Three of the earliest on record were David and Andrew Coffman, George Russell, and Col. James Roddye. All of these were from 1782-85. The old Coffman House is still occupied as a home. It sits about one mile east of present day Russellville, on Old State Road. George Russell came in 1784, settling along the rich hills and bottoms of Fall Creek. The small village of Russellville was named in his honor. Colonel Roddye claimed his land grant a little south of Russellville. He built a fortress home, known as Red Door Tavern. Later the name was changed to Hayslope. By 1826, Russellville was a thriving village. It is a quite, primarily residential area today with some small businesses
Jesse Cheek Store and Home
The Jesse Cheek store/home was one of the earliest businesses built in Hamblen County. Cheek received a land grant of 595 acres in 1783 from Tennessee's mother state, North Carolina. The grant was in the very center of the intersection of Kentucky Road and Stage Coach Road. It is now called Cheek's Crossroads. The store and home were built in the 1790's. The store's account books list many early settlers of our area. Among them were the Crocketts, Taylors, Outlaws, and school teacher, Benjamin Kitchen. The old store had cattle pens attached. When enough cattle were in the pens, a cattle drive to Virginia would begin. Here, they would be sold at market. Young Davy Crockett is said to have gone with the drivers, returning home nearly three years later.
This pioneer home on Old Stage Road was built in 1782-1783 by David Coffman adjoining Indian Territory. In early days the home was a stopping place for weary travelers. This home is considered by many to be the oldest structure in Hamblen County and was part of an early land grant from Tennessee's mother state, North Carolina. The original structure is log, but has been covered with boards for many years.
Red Door Tavern-Hayslope
Red Door was built in 1785 by Revolutionary War soldier, Colonel James Roddye. This hero of King's Mountain received a 500
Barton's Spring is located in east Hamblin County, south of Morris Boulevard on Barton's Spring Rd. This pioneer period home was started by the Reverend William Murphy in 1791 near a large beautiful spring. At that time the area would have been in Hawkins County and also in the middle of the Great Indian War Path. A later cabin was built around the year 1801. The two were probably joined into one single enclosure by Isaac Burton about 1820, thus giving the name of "Burton" to the home. Isaac died in 1851 and was buried at Edwards Cemetery, a short distance north of the home. Three unmarked graves from the War Between the states are still on the property. It is said that many soldiers from both armies benefited from the cooling waters freely given from this great spring.
In the valley directly to the north, Captain William Atkinson mustered a company of 57 volunteers for the war with Mexico. Among the fighters was William R. Caswell. This man enlisted as a private and returned as a Brigadier General. Atkinson is buried in the old Russellville Cemetery.
This 1841 auction of slaves was put together to satisfy a monetary claim that was awarded to Verdy McBee by the East Tennessee Circuit Court at Knoxville. All the slaves sold belonged to Zeke Riggs, Elisha Bull, and Izaiah Reese. The sale probably occurred at the Jefferson County Court House annex in Russellville at that period of time.
Hugh Cain built this mill in 1836 on the site of a 1700's mill. This mill was much larger than most others. It's location on fast moving Fall Creek also proved to be a blessing for the mill. Fitted with larger grinding wheels, the mill could produce flour and meal of better quality than most. During the War Between the States, Cain Mill was asked to grind corn for Longstreet's Army. The mill ran day and night during Longstreet's encampment in the winter of 1863-1864. It was destroyed by fire in 1971.
From the very early days, pioneer people of the Russellville area made their own clothes, rugs, bedcovers, and quilts. They developed many skills in the arts of woven fabrics. Beginning in the early 1920's, Sarah Dougherty and Ella Dougherty Wall were busy designing and making woven items. Shuttle Crafters began in the 1930's after the Dougherty family attended the Educational and Industrial Union Crafter's Exposition held in Boston. Returning home with renewed vigor, Forest Home,
This house was once home to the Dougherty family. At one time Robinwood served as a loom house for the Shuttle Crafters.
This 1830 photograph is of Eliza Cain, a member of the Charlie Cain family. Accompanied by her treasured spinning wheel, Eliza was a tie-dye worker and spinner for the Russellville Shuttle Crafters at Robinwood.
Taken in front of Pear Grove Cannery. In this pre-World War I photograph are: Uncle Charlie Cain, Cynthea Coffman, and Julia Cain. Cain was a well respected farmer, cannery operator, and community leader. He lived to be nearly 106 years old.
Religion has always been a part of our heritage. The early pioneers that settled the Russellville area were no different. Bent Creek Church records list the names of several early Russellville families. In 1825 Russellville Methodist Church began holding services. In 1835 the Presbyterians built Bethesda Church.
The original church was a log structure erected in 1872. The present building was constructed in the early 1900's. Some of the pastors that have preached here include Reverend Lewis Lawrence, Rev. James Hamilton, and Rev. Frank B. Bowely. Early members of the church were the Cains, Bowleys, Taylors, Rices, and Carmichaels. The church is still active today.
Russellville Presbyterian Church
This 1870's church located on Depot Street is no longer in use. Its beginnings seem to have started with a split congregation at Bethesda Church after the Civil War. It is said that Unionists went to Morristown while the pro Confederates attended the Russellville Church. By the early 1920's, most of the church membership had either died or moved. The church was forced to close its doors.
Russellville Methodist Church
Russellville Methodist Church began as a log structure in 1825. The present brick building was erected in 1859. In the early days, the church served the community as both a church and school. The church is now much larger, and has been blessed with many new additions. It has served the community for over 175 years.
Built on South Depot Street, this beautiful, old traditional style church has stained glass windows, and a bell tower. This church is now a Russellville landmark. "Uncle" Pat Hale served as its first pastor. The old church building is now vacant. A new Russellville Baptist Church building is located on Cedar Creek Road.
Bethesda Presbyterian Church - Greene's Love Story
Bethesda Presbyterian Church was organized in 1832 by Dr. John McCampbell. Dr. Nathaniel Hood served as its first pastor (1832-1844). Under his leadership land was acquired by the congregation in 1834 and the building was erected in 1835. Late in the war, the church served as a hospital for wounded soldiers of both armies. A beautiful love story emerged between a nurse named Mary Reese and a wounded Union Artilleryman, Andrew Jackson Greene, who was awe struck by this angle of mercy. Calling her his "little angel," he returned after the war and took her as his bride. As the war ended and the doors of the church were reopened, the congregation had no permanent preacher. From 1867-1869, Rev. Griffin was appointed to serve this church. As bitterness leftover from the great conflicts of the war began to take its toll, many members withdrew from the congregation and moved their letter to other churches. The last pastor of the church was Benjamin Lea, who served in 1871. The last letter granted
Muddy roads and shallow rivers were prevalent in early East Tennessee. When money was needed to start an East Tennessee railroad line, many people became investors. The railroad lines helped keep Russellville as a thriving village between 1856 and the 1940's.
East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad Bond
Organized as a stock company in 1852, the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad Company raised large amounts of capital. By 1856-1858, tracks had been laid from Knoxville to Bristol. Russellville had rail service by 1856. During the Civil War this line was greatly used by the Confederate Army. Soldiers were transported between Knoxville and Bristol. In 1894, the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad Line was sold and became known as the Southern Railroad. Presently this line is known as the Norfolk Southern Railroad.
As railroad lines were in need of constant repair, section crews were an integral part of the railroad. Shown here are members of a section crew that kept the rails repaired between Russellville and Whitesburg. This circa 1920 photograph, pictured L-R: Mr. Ellenburg (foreman), Gale Blevins, Tommy Blevins, Sam Pinkston, James Welch, John Pruitt, and Claude Russell.
The Russellville Depot was a stately building with a high ramp type porch It also provided cattle pens. The deopt served the farmers, mill operators, and local businessmen in their buying and selling of goods. For many years Mr. Frank Hyatt was a telegrapher and station master at the depot. Falling into disease, it was torn down in the early 1950s's.
Russellville quickly became a center of trade after the Civil War. Between 1865 & 1920 the town was known as a hub of commerce. By the 1920's Russellville could boast of having a bank, shingle factory, general merchandise stores, hotels, movie theaters, several canning factories, doctors' offices, a drug store, and the Russellville Tie and Lumber Company.
Opening in 1907 as the Citizens Bank of Russellville, this bank was the first to operate in the town. With a beginning capital of $25,000, the bank issued its own paper money. This currency is extremely rare today. The first bank president was A.G. Patterson while J.G. Brown was its first cashier. It went into receivership in 1921 and was replaced by the Russellville Bank and Trust Company.
Thomason Brothers Store
This well supplied general merchandise store was owned and operated by the Thomason Brothers of turn of the century Russellville. It was a center of trade and gathering place for many of the community
Russellville Bank & Trust Co.
This bank was chartered in 1921 and located in downtown Russellville. The company offered stock to the public and was a locally owned bank. One of the investors was Luther S. Sloat who was an owner or partner in many of the canning companies in and around Russellville at this time.
Among the many canning factories found in the Russellville area was the Davis-Dougherty-Goodson Store and Canning Factory. Their offices bought large amounts of locally grown green beans, corn, pears, sweet potatoes, turnips, and greens from local farmers. Thousands of cases of canned vegetables were hauled from the cannery by trucks to all cities within the area.
Circa 1900 Main Street
During the late 1800's, the crossroads location of Russellville attracted many businesses to the area. Shown in this early 1900's photograph, looking east, one can see well dressed storekeepers and jobbers. Most early general merchandise stores were here. Russellville's early merchants included the Daivs, Neaney, Sloat, Dean, and Thomason families.
From discussions with many older residents of the Russellville Community, we find that education was a very important and integral part of the community. A log building near Cain's Mill served as the school during the very early days of Russellville. Many of the early churches such as Russellville Methodist Church were used as schools during the week. Union College replaced all of these, and supplied the community with its educational needs from 1899-1910. Opening in 1911, Russellville High School educated the children until it was replaced in the 1950's by Russellville Elementary School. The children of the area who are of the middle and high school age now attend East Ridge Middle School and Morristown-Hamblen High School East.
Founded in 1899, this school served the area until it burned in 1910. Professor E.H. Moore headed the school, which provided classes from the first grade through college level. Among those who attended were Russellville's Dougherty sisters.
Russellville High School
This beautiful old block school building was constructed in 1910-1911. It replaced the burned Union College and served students from the first grade through high school level. The school was fronted on Main Street, while Chestnut Street (now Hwy, 11-E) was at its rear. A tunnel under the road was built for the students to go safely to the playground & ballfield that were across the street from the school. Professor E.H. Moore served as the school's first principal.
Colored School Students
This is a rare photograph of children attending Russellville Colored School.
Russellville Colored School
Mrs. Ruby Rogers Meriwether is shown in this 1951 photograph with her small class of students. Then known as Russellville Colored School, it was the last of the one room schools of Hamblen County. The old Russellville Colored School of pre WWI days was replaced by this one room block building during the 1940's. Noted educator C.J. Pullen taught for many years in the building. Many young students of the Hawkins, Sherles, Cain, and Paoffitt families received a good basic education here.
Busy Bee Reading Class
Miss Goan, a Russellville school teacher of 1927, was very innovative in here duties. She set up the title, "Busy Bee," for those students that worked hard to advance their reading skills.
Air Age Club
Russellville could boast of having an airport during WWII. It was located just west of present day Russellville near Morristown Block Company. This 1944 photograph is of the Morristown High School Air Age Club at the lower hanger. The airport failed to prosper and was replaced by the Morristown Airport during the 1950's.
From Bridge to Bridge
The Role of the Russellville Area During the Civil War
From Cheek's Cross Roads to Russellville, many of the area's older homes and churches played a significant role during the Civil War. Both armies used many of these structures as headquarters, camp areas and places to treat wounded soldiers. In the following part of our story, many of these homes and churches are described along with their individual stories.
Russellville, like most other small villages before the Civil War, was a community of neighbors. When the war started in 1861, some men joined the Confederate Army while others enlisted with the Union Army. East Tennessee was more isolated than most areas of the South. The Confederates controlled the area most of the war. Knoxville fell to the Union Army in the fall of 1863. Longstreet and his army, after being defeated at Fort Sanders, went into winter camps in and around the Russellville area during one of the coldest winters on record. Many of the Confederates were without shoes and blankets. Citizens of the community helped provide for them. In October of 1864, Union General Alvin C. Gillem defeated General Vaughn's forces during the Battle of Morristown. The Confederate forces were pushed through Russellville, leaving many dead or wounded enroute. A similar situation occurred about two weeks later. The Confederate Army under General Vaughn was resupplied and reinforced. By November 15, 1864, the Confederates had pushed the Union Army, under General Gillem, out of the area and back to Knoxville. Again the women of Barton Springs, Cheek's Crossroads, and Russellville became "Angels of Mercy." They nursed many wounded soldiers back to health and buried several of the dead. Many are here at Bethesda Cemetery and the old Russellville Cemetery. When the war ended and the men of both armies returned home, feuds, fights, and one known killing took place in Russellville.
(Portrait and Photo captions from upper left to lower right):
General Alvin C. Gillem
General Gillem was born in Middle Tennessee in 1830. After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1851, General Gillem became a Career Army Officer. When the War Between the States began in 1861, Gillem chose to remain loyal to the Union. General Gillem participated in the Battle of Mill Springs in Kentucky and Shiloh in West Tennessee. Both of these great battles were Union victories. Forces under General Gillem's command ambushed and killed the popular Confederate General John Hunt Morgan in Greeneville, Tennessee. The General is better remembered for his leadership in routing Confederate General John C. Vaughn and his forces during the Battle of Morristown in October of 1864. His victory became known as "Vaughn's Stampede."
General John C. Vaughn
General John C. Vaughn, Confederate Cavalry officer, was in command of Confederate forces in East Tennessee by the Fall of 1864. Pushed out of the Morristown-Russellville area by General Alvin C. Gillem and his larger Union Forces, General Vaughn withdrew to the area above Greenville. Adequate supplies and reinforcements arrived with General John C. Brekenridge. Immediately, General Vaughn ordered his troops back into action with orders to retake the ground that had been lost to General Gillem just two weeks earlier. In the ensuing battle, Vaughn's command routed the Union forces of General Gillem from Bulls Gap, and pushed them to the Holston River at Strawberry Plains. This Confederate victory became known as, "Gillem's Stampede." Union losses included 500 men lost as prisoners of war. Also Gillem lost 200 wagons and most of his artillery. Gillem's remaining army was forced to cross the Holston River and encamp near Knoxville for the rest of the winter of 1864. The battle turned out to be a great victory for the Confederate Army, under the command of General John C. Vaughn.
General James Longstreet "Old Pete"
General Longstreet was born in South Carolina on January 8, 1821. He graduated from West Point in 1842. Lt. General Longstreet commanded the Confederate Army, which was stationed in and around Russellville during the terrible winter of 1863-1864. His mission was to recapture and hold East Tennessee for the Confederacy. Upon receiving orders to rejoin Gen. Robert E. Lee in Virginia, General Longstreet's Army, was in the final surrender at Appomattox courthouse, Va in April 1865.
Dr. E.B. Hale
Dr. Elijah B. Hale, an east Tennessean by birth, served his country well during the Civil War. He was assigned duty as an assistant surgeon in the Fourth Tennessee Cavalry, U.S. Army. Dr. Hale opened a medical practice in Russellville in 1868. The good doctor was a blessing to those in need of medical treatment. Hale died on February 20, 1893.
UDC Marker with Betsy Adams Hyatt
Located in Russellville, Tennessee on Highway 11E near Depot Street, this beautiful, granite marker was erected on June 3, 1928 by the Sam Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The marker reads: Campsite of the Army of Tennessee, C.S.A. 1863-64 commanded by Lieut. General James Longstreet, Maj. General Lafayette McLaws, and Brig. General J.B. Kershaw.
Here the Kentucky Road, from Cumberland Gap to the Carolinas, crossed the Stage Road, from Abingdon, Virginia, to the west. In 1790, Jesse Cheek had a store about 50 yards northeast. On this spot, the Deaderick family operated a store with various partners in 1802. James Deaderick closed it in order to study law in 1844, later becoming chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Nenney Home - Longtreets Billet
Built prior to the Civil War, this beautiful old home was occupied by Confederate General James Longstreet as his home and headquarters during the winter of 1863-1864. The house was blessed with a large brick well which contained some of the best water found in the area. People came from all over the Russellville area to get water here. Prior to 1925, the home faced Chestnut Street, now Highway 11E. The one large, unattached kitchen of the house faced Old Russellville Pike. Using teams of oxen and mules, and with the help of railroad jacks, two local men, Sam Lawrence and James Rober Jarnagan turned the kitchen around. Now the home and kitchen both face Highway 11E. The old home was remodeled in the 1990's and now is in a good state of repair.
Greenwood Mansion was built by James W. Deaderick in 1832. F.W. Taylor bought the Deaderick home at auction in 1844. He moved here from Russellville in 1846. The yard of the home was beautified by planting 200 boxwoods. Thus, the property stayed green year round, giving it the name "Greenwood." The mansion had 10ft ceilings and a winding staircase to the second floor. The main structure was of handmade brick, which were made by the slaves of the plantation. Most of the elaborate furnishings in the home were shipped there from Baltimore. Greenwood endured both war and depression, but was demolished in 1959 in order to make way for the East Tennessee Industrial Park.
Located in a beautiful natural setting near Russellville, on the road to three Springs, this home was built by Joseph Eckel in 1854. Mr. Eckel at that time was a Russellville merchant operating a business known as Taylor-Eckel Mercantile. During the Civil War, when the country was much overridden by the forces of both armies, the house was the scene of a very exciting event. A large party of renegade soldiers made a call on Mr. Eckel and, with drawn guns forced him to unlock his safe. More than 200 pounds of silver coins were taken. While the coins were being divided among the distracted thieves, Mr. Eckel bolted from the house and made his escape into the woods. Leaving in a great hurry, the thieves missed a very large amount of paper money that was in a drawer located in the safe near the hoard of silver coins. Also in this old home, a frail young man by the name of John Long, a stepson of Mr. Eckel, was hidden from both army's conscript agents. He spent most of the war hidden in the attic of "Forest Home", which could only be reached by secret passage. This home was later used by the Russellville Shuttle Crafters as their workshop.
Franklin William Taylor (1810-1886)
F.W. Taylor was a very prominent farmer, businessman, and postmaster at Russellville in 1837. Mr. Taylor, owner of Greenwood mansion and friend of confederate Lieut. General Joseph B. Kershaw, remained loyal to the south during the Civil War. Two of his sons served in the Confederate Army.
Eliza Graham Taylor (1821-1897)
Eliza Graham Taylor was a faithful wife and mother of twelve children. She was the matron of the Greenwood plantation.
Deaderick and Conway Store
Built in 1802, by the pioneer Deaderick family, this massive brick store stood at Cheek's Crossroads on the Old Stage Road. It was about 50 yards northeast of the Jesse Cheek Store. The area's first post office, with William Conway as postmaster out of the Deaderick Store by 1802. Three members of the Deaderick family also were appointed and served as postmasters at Cheek's Crossroads Post Office between 1817-1833. The Deaderick family left Cheek's Crossroads in 1844. Later, son James Deaderick became a most successful lawyer and was appointed Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Deadericks home, later called "Greenwood," along with the store, land, and slaves were all auctioned off by the Bank of Rogersville in 1844. The entire state was purchased by Russellville merchant Franklin W. Taylor.
Lieut. General Joseph Brevard Kershaw
General Kershaw was born at Camden, South Carolina on January 5, 1822. Serving one year in the Mexican War, he entered the Civil War as a Colonel of the 2nd South Carolina. During the winter of 1863-1864, Lieut. General Kershaw was an officer on General Longstreet's staff at Russellville. While in the area he made his home with the Franklin W. Taylor family at Greenwood. Taylor's farm office was transferred to Gen. Kershaw to use as his headquarters, while in the area. Kershaw survived the war and returned to become Postmaster at Camden, South Carolina. He died in 1894.
Built in 1857-1858 by William Barton for his brother Robert, an official with the Confederate government during the Civil War. Several skirmishes occurred around the home. Many soldiers of both armies were treated for wounds by the Barton family. Some died and are buried on the grounds.
This farm related office building, constructed prior to the Civil War, served Franklin W. Taylor very well for the purpose of conducting his cattle and agricultural business at Greenwood. This same office was later occupied by Confederate General Joseph Kershaw and used as his headquarters while stationed at Greenwood during the winter of 1863-1864. Several of the soldiers stationed at Greenwood Plantation were from the First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia.
Marker series. This marker is included in the United Daughters of the Confederacy marker series.
Location. 36° 14.828′ N, 83° 13.663′ W. Marker is in Russellville, Tennessee, in Hamblen County. Marker is on Bethesda Road, on the right when traveling north. Located near the gate for Bethesda Cemetery, about 700 yards north of Andrew Johnson Highway (US 11E). Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Russellville TN 37860, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Bethesda Presbyterian Church (a few steps from this marker); Cheek's Crossroads (approx. 0.9 miles away); Hayslope (approx. 1.7 miles away); Longstreet's Billet (approx. 1.9 miles away); Longstreet's Headquarters (approx. 1.9 miles away); Return From Kentucky (approx. 2.6 miles away); Crockett Tavern (approx. 2.8 miles away); Conestoga Wagon (approx. 2.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Russellville.
Also see . . . Bethesda Cemetery. Find-a-grave page for the cemetery. (Submitted on December 13, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
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Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 13, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 4,368 times since then and 91 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on December 13, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.