Amyx’ History of Rogersville and Area

Presented by Warren M. Amyx, October 10, 1975

This document, bearing a date of October 10, 1975, was found in the Stamps Library, Rogersville. The transcription for this Web site was completed by Billie McNamara in 1998.


During America’s Bicentennial, we can all be very proud of Rogersville’s part in our nation’s history.  Thomas Amis, a Revolutionary War officer and one of Tennessee’s earliest settlers, gave the land which is now Rogersville to his daughter, Mary, and son-in-law, Joseph Rogers, as a wedding gift in 1785.1

The Rogers were innkeepers, and two of the buildings are located on Rogers Street near Crockett Creek.  The inn was built in the 1730’s, and it is said that Andrew Jackson once spent a night at the inn on his way to Washington to be inaugurated as the seventh President of the United
states.2

Portraits of Mary and Joseph Rogers hang in the Walker House on Main Street.  The Rogers family cemetery is off West Main Street near Crockett‘s Creek.  The Grandparents of Davy Crockett (who were massacred by Indians) are buried there also.3

The first paper ever published in Tennessee was the Knoxville Gazette, and it was started in Rogersville in 1791.  The publishers of that first newspaper were G. Roulstone and R. Ferguson. The paper continued for about one year and then moved to Knoxville.4  The second paper was the Rogersville Gazette, which was published in 1814.5 Some of the other newspapers were the Western Pilot, Railroad Advocate, Rogersville Times, and the Rogersville Herald.6  The Rogersville Review was first established in March of 1887, and is the oldest continuous newspaper in Tennessee.  (Mrs. Eleanor Sheets, editor and publisher, then noted the incorrect date has been appearing for a number of years and made a note to have it corrected.)7

The first schools in Rogersville are believed to have been taught in a small house.  Among the first teachers were John Scruggs and Rufus Kennedy.8

In 1817, a branch of the old State Bank was opened under the title of the Rogersville Tennessee Bank.  It had a capital of $4,000.

In June, 1787, Joseph Rogers gave two acres of his land for the use of public buildings.9   In 1792, five Commissioners laid out the town of Rogersville.  Before the town was formally laid out, the center of activity was around the Rogers Tavern.10

The first courthouse stood in front of the Bank Building with its side to Market Street, which is now the Main Street of Rogersville.11   It was occupied until 1836, when the present building was built.12

In 1807, a jail was built upon the site of the present one, which was built a short time before the war.13

The following people ran the business of Rogersville in 1835:14

  • Jacob Wax, coppersmith and tinner
  • John Aston, cabinet maker
  • George C. Bradley, hatter
  • Michael Baugh, silversmith
  • Robert Carden, blacksmith
  • Richard Humphrys, kept the present Hale Springs Hotel.

The county in which Rogersville resides is called Hawkins County.  It was named for Benjamin Hawkins (a United States Senator), who came from Warren County, North Carolina, in 1754.15 The County had been claimed as part of four states and a territory, starting with Virginia in early colonial times, then North Carolina, and, in 1784, the State of Franklin for four years.16

In 1789, North Carolina, not recognizing the State of Franklin gave her western lands to the United States of America and, in 1790, Hawkins County became part of the Territory of the United States of America South of the Ohio River, where it remained until 1796, when the state of Tennessee was formed.17

The first settlements were established in Carter’s Valley, a short distance from New Canton. Most of the people that moved and settled the area were the young runaways from richer families that lived in Virginia.18

Historic buildings in Rogersville and Hawkins County include:

  • The Amis House — a fortress type stone house, built by Thomas Amis, is located about three miles southeast of Burem Road.19
  • Hawkins County Courthouse — faces the town square at the corner of Main and Depot Streets. It was built in 1837, and its design is a fine example of Colonial decor.20
  • The Masonic Temple — is across the square from the Courthouse and was originally a bank. It bears the original 1840 cornices and decorations.21
  • The Kyle House — built in 1839 on the northwest corner of the square was Confederate Headquarters during the War between the States. (Miss Kay Kyle tells the story that, at one time, Confederate Soldiers were at the Kyle House hiding from Union Soldiers, who at the same time were directly across the street at the Hale Springs Hotel hiding from the Confederate Soldiers. Neither armies were aware of each other’s presence.)22
  • Hale Springs Hotel — across the street from the Kyle House on Main Street, was the Union Headquarters during the Civil War and was built in 1824. Presidents Andrew Jackson and James Polk have stayed overnight at this hotel.23
  • Rogers Tavern — the inn owned by Joseph and Mary Rogers, the founders of Rogersville. This building also housed many famous people.24
  • Armstrong Hotel — at Stoney Point just off 11-W, was built by William Armstrong and is the first brick house ever built in Hawkins County. (At this time, work is going on to restore this house.)25
  • Rogersville Elementary School — was built in 1850 and was originally a school for young ladies. It was named the Rogersville Synodical College.26
  • H. B. Stamps Memorial Library — was made a public library honoring the man who worked in marble quarrying.  More than half the marble in Washington, D. C., is from the quarries of Hawkins County.27
  • Rice Mill — located off Highway 11-W near Church Hill was built in 1775 by Henry Rice.  Settlers took refuge from the Cherokee Indians here in 1776.28

The towns of Hawkins County include Rogersville, Mooresburg, Bulls Gap, Surgoinsville, Persia, Church Hill and Mt. Carmel.


Footnotes

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1. History of Tennessee, East Tennessee Edition, Copy 1.
2. Ibid, p. 1.
3. Historica1 Marker (Location) West Main Street, Rogersville.
4. History of Tennessee, East Tennessee Edition, Copy 1.
5. Ibid., p. 2.
6. Ibid., p. 2.
7. Eleanor Sheets, Personal Interview, Oct. 5, 1975.
8. History of Tennessee, East Tennessee Edition, Copy 1.
9. op. cit. [sic], p. 2
10. History of Tennessee, East Tennessee Edition, Copy 1.
11. Ibid., p. 3.
12. Ibid., p. 3.
13. Ibid., p. 3.
14. Ibid., p. 3.
15. The Ridgerunner, Supplement to Kingsport Times, Oct 3, 1975.
16. History of Tennessee, East Tennessee Edition, Copy 1.
17. Ibid., p. 4.
18. Wayne Bailey, Personal Interview, Oct, 5, 1975.
19. The Ridgerunner, Supplement to Kingsport Times, Oct 3, 1975.
20. Ibid., p. 5.
21. Ibid., p. 5.
22. Miss Kay Kyle, Personal Interview, Oct., 1975.
23. The Ridgerunner, Supplement to Kingsport Times, Oct 3, 1975.
24. Ibid., p. 6.
25. Ibid., p. 6.
26. Ibid., p. 6.
27. Ibid., p. 6.
28. Highway Marker, Highway 11W; Church Hill, Tenn.
29. Rogersville Review, Sesqui-Centennial Edition, Copy 1.

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