The Story Behind the Name
Johnson County was created in 1836 from a part of Carter County. It was formed because of the distance and difficulty of traveling to Elizabethton, the county seat of Carter County. The county was named for Thomas Johnson who was one of the earliest settlers in the area. Johnson came to Doe Valley from Virginia. Johnson died in 1835, one year before his dream of a new county would come true. Johnsons home site was the meeting place where the first court of Johnson County was organized. Thomas Johnsons son was a member of that court.
|Taylorsville then Mountain
The new county seat of Johnson County was named Taylorsville after Col. James P. Taylor who was a leading citizen of Carter County. In 1885 the name Taylorsville was changed to Mountain City. The name change was a suggestion of Roderick Random Butler because the town was located in one of the highest valleys in Tennessee.
In 1820 a community began to grow along the banks of Roan Creek. The community was named Smiths Mill after one of the first businessmen to come to the area. Roderick Random Butler was one of the leading citizens of the Smiths Mill community. After the Civil War the community decided to rename their town to honor Col. Butler. Col. Butler later moved to Taylorsville and built a large home which is known to the locals as The Butler Mansion. Roderick Random Butler served in the state legislature for 24 years and was a member of the U. S. Congress for ten years. Butler died in 1902 and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery.
In the 1700s Indians, trappers, and settlers meet to trade in an area in which three wilderness trails and an old buffalo trail came together. The old buffalo trail, which is now Highway 421, ran between Snake and Rich Mountains and was the easiest route for travelers going west through the area. By 1790 a community began to grow on the trading grounds. The community, simply known as Trade, had a country store, post office, a blacksmith shop, and a number of log cabins.
Snake Mountain is the highest point in Johnson County at an elevation of 5574 feet above sea level.
Sink Mountain Map
Sink Mountain is a marvel of nature. It is located beside Highway 67 in Doe Valley. As you travel down Highway 67 from Mountain City to Butler you will notice a pointed mountain that stands above the others. As you continue driving down the highway you can imagine the mountain growing to immense proportions. Instead the mountain appears to be sinking. This is due to the way the highway is laid out between the mountains and not that the mountain is actually sinking.
In 1769 Daniel Boone left the Yadkin in Wilkes County, North Carolina going to Kentucky. He followed the Watauga River to a beautiful stream. It was then that he noticed his roan horse was limping. Boone, knowing that his horse could not make the long journey, left him behind in the peaceful valley beside the beautiful stream. Two years later Boone was returning to his home in the Yadkin when his horse recognized him. The two were tearfully reunited. Boone was surprised to see that not only had his limping horse healed, but the horse was fat and healthy as well. The roan horse carried Boone to his home in the Yadkin. The beautiful stream by which Boone left his horse is today called Roan Creek after Boones horse.
Watauga River Map
The Cherokee Indians were the tribe the white men encountered when they first explored the area that is now Johnson County. Because of this several places in the county are named for them or from Cherokee words. The Cherokee National Forest is one example. The word Cherokee means The Principle People. Watauga River is a Cherokee word meaning the place where they drank.
Maymead and Neva
Doeville is a small community in the Doe Valley. It was named for the large herds of doe that used to roam the area. A story is told that once when Daniel Boone was traveling through the valley he killed a doe.
|Laurel Bloomery and Forge
The area that is now known as Laurel Bloomery was first settled by James Keys, Charles Anderson, and Lewis Wills. Wills established an iron works in 1797. Later Luther Warden built the first mill pond. It was by this pond that he smelted iron in big bloomers. This along with the thick thickets of laurel bushes gave Laurel Bloomery its name.
Another mine was located on Woods Hill. Near the mouth of the creek was a large forge. This creek became known as Forge Creek and the community by the creek was simply known as Forge.
Map See Shady Valley
Shady Valley is a twelve square mile valley. It is completely surrounded by Iron, Holston, and Cross Mountains. Beaverdam Creek runs through the center of the valley. The first settlers came to the area in the late 1700s. They called it Shady Valley because the land was completely covered with trees that shut out the light of the sun.
Leonard and his wife Barbara Schelmp Shoun moved to Johnson County in 1792. They opened a county store. Mr. and Mrs. Shouns had eighteen children. All of their children married and had children of their own except one. The area in which they lived became known as Shouns Crossroads. Later the name was shortened to Shouns.
A side show visited Johnson County. It set up it attractions near the community of Neva. At the side show a wrestler was challenging the local farmers to a match. One farm boy took up the challenge. It was during this match that the farm boy cracked the wrestlers neck. Locals began referring to the area as the place where the farm boy broke the wrestlers neck. In time this was shortened to Crackers Neck.
Snake Mountain has the highest elevation of any other place in Johnson County at 5574 feet above sea level. It is located in the Stone Mountain Range at the North Carolina-Tennessee state line. Snake Mountain received its name because the top of the mountain is humped like the shape of a snake.
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