5/8/2023 addendum: on the 77th anniversary of VE Day (5/8/1945), I updated the links to the websites cited, and I improved the format, to this original publication of 8/7/2021. This article still awaits proof, if any, that confirms that Dandridge is the second oldest town -- by date settled, not by date established. This article still confirms that Rogersville is the second oldest town, by date settled, in Tennessee!
The most recent article, of 7/25/2021, mentioned six “working documents.” The oldest “working document,” which started on 3/28/2021, is updated, finalized, and published today!
This is a friendly howdy, to our fine friends in Jefferson County! I win the “which town is oldest” war! Y'all are still my friends – even if you are wrong!
The “gang” is getting together, in person, later today -- finally! The last gathering was on Saturday, 2/15/2020. The new cold virus (i.e., “global pandemic” or Corona Myopia) had been hindering us -- among other reasons.
This article is published today -- to add fuel to the conversational fodder! If the “gang” doesn't read this article, before we get together, then I'll mention it! I love each member of the “gang!” We always have fun together. We have had “joking arguments,” for decades, about the second oldest town in Tennessee. I win! The following is the proof!
First, let's set the stage, with the beginning of the state. Tennessee became a state, on June 1, 1796. (Source: “Tennessee,” on A&E History, by History.com Editors, updated 8/21/2018.) That's why the media were bragging on Tennessee, on 6/1/2021. Tennessee has been a state for 225 years.
By the way, June first is the beginning of summer (meteorological summer) -- not June 20, which is astronomical summer. I have argued that point in many articles, but I digress.
As a personal aside, June first was Mrs. Appalachian Irishman's last work day. Her summer vacation has started. It ends on 8/10/2021. She returns to “hitting a lick,” on the last “dog day” of summer, which the most article mentions.
Tennessee Counties (95) in Chronological Order
Next, let's move on to when Tennessee's 95 counties were formed. The origination dates of those counties are listed, below, in chronological order. The four sources for the list are: “Education Outreach,” on Tennessee State Library and Archives: Education Outreach Program, Tennessee Blue Book, "Table of Contents: 5 List of Tennessee Counties,” under “History and Facts of Tennessee Counties,” on My Counties, and 2009-2010 Tennessee Blue Book, Section VI – Tennessee, Origin of County Names (a PDF file).
1777 - 1799: 18 Counties
1777 Washington County 1779 Sullivan County
1783 Davidson County, Greene County 1786 Sumner County
1787 Hawkins County. The exact date was 1/6/1787, according to “Hawkins County,” on Tennessee Encyclopedia (by Henry R. Price, last update 3/1/2018).
1792 Jefferson County, Knox County 1794 Sevier County
1795 Blount County
1796 Carter County, Grainger County, Montgomery County, Robertson County
1797 Cocke County
1799 Smith County, Williamson County, Wilson County
1850 - 1879: final 16 Counties
1850 Union County 1854 Putnam County
1855 Cumberland County 1856 Cheatham County
1857 Sequatchie County
1870 Clay County, Hamblen County, Lake County, Loudon County, Trousdale County
1871 Crockett County, Houston County, Moore County
1875 Unicoi County
1879 Chester County, Pickett County
Jonesborough is the Oldest Tennessee Town
Jonesborough is the oldest town in Tennessee well known. “History,”
on The Town of Jonesborough, Tennessee, beside “Jonesborough’s
Timeline,” states: “1779
Jonesborough is Established: Jonesborough, the oldest town in
Tennessee, is established seventeen years before Tennessee was
Jonesborough was settled ten years earlier, in 1769. The same website confirms, beside “1769 English Colonists Move into the Region,” that Jonesborough was settled in 1769, when “William and Lydia Bean, the first permanent white settlers, build a cabin on the Watauga River in Northeast Tennessee. New settlers begin to come into the area from Virginia and North Carolina.”
Please note that Jonesborough was settled in 1769 then established in 1779. A town starts as a settlement, before it is established.
Rogersville is the Second Oldest Tennessee Town
Rogersville is the second oldest “settled” town in Tennessee -- settled in 1775. “Visitors,” on the official website for the Town of Rogersville, TN, states: “Rogersville is a town in, and the county seat of, Hawkins County, Tennessee, United States. It was settled in 1775 by the grandparents of Davy Crockett, and is the second-oldest town in the state.” The official website states that Rogersville is the second oldest town in Tennessee.
“Hawkins County,” on Tennessee Encyclopedia (by Henry R. Price, last update 3/1/2018) confirms the establishment of Rogersville, in 1789, fourteen years after settlement.
In 1789 Amis presented a petition from the community to the North Carolina General Assembly to establish a town at the Hawkins Court House site and to name the town Rogersville. Approval of the petition, which was granted on November 7, 1789 . . . .
Dandridge is the Third Oldest Tennessee Town
Dandridge is the third oldest “settled” and “founded” town in Tennessee -- settled and founded in 1783. To my Jefferson County friends, the following is the proof that I win this decades old discussion!
The official Town of Dandridge website introduces itself, in error, by stating, “Welcome to Dandridge, Tennessee: 'Tennessee’s Second Oldest Town.'” At least the town's introduction places “Tennessee's Second Oldest Town” in quotation marks, since the statement is not correct.
Scrolling to the bottom of that introductory page, the “History” section states, “Dandridge was founded around 1783 when the settlers came across the Appalachian Mountains moving west.”
“Jefferson County,” on Tennessee Encyclopedia (by Estle P. Muncy, last update 3/1/2018) confirms: “The first permanent settlement at Dandridge dates to 1783; the village became the county seat in 1793.”
Dandridge was both settled and founded in 1783. Rogersville was settled in 1775 -- eight years before Dandridge. Of course, Rogersville was established in 1789 -- six years after Dandridge.
To our Jefferson County “gang” members, Rogersville was settled before Dandridge! I win! (Yes, I know that Rogersville was established six years after Dandridge.)
The established dates are a point of triviality. For example, Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I live in the settlement of “Corrytonvegas” (as I call it). “John Sawyers, a Revolutionary War veteran, settled in the vicinity of what is now Corryton in 1785 . . . . In 1887, a developer named Corryton Woodbury purchased property surrounding the rail depot to grow the community into a suburban town.” (Source: “Corryton, Tennessee,” on Wikipedia, which references: Miller, Larry (2001). Tennessee Place Names. Indiana University Press. p. 51. ISBN 0-253-33984-7. Retrieved July 25, 2020.) I have seen the area highway signs that confirm settlement in 1785 (two years after Dandridge). The little town of “Corrytonvegas” exists. It just hasn't been “established” or “founded” yet!
If the “gang” members from Jefferson County can cite proof, confirming that Dandridge was settled before Rogersville (in 1775), then I will retract my victory. Otherwise, my victory stands -- in a joking manner, of course.
Either way, Rogersville and Dandridge have both been around longer than Tennessee has been a state! Both towns have bragging rights on that!
We will see y'all (the “gang”) this afternoon! Love y'all! Mean it!