Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Brown's Corner, in Historic Rogersville, Tennessee (published 3-13-2024; article #459)


Why is it called Brown's Corner? Welcome, dear reader, to the 30th article, under the topic section Appalachia - northeast Tennessee. I hope to fill the section, with more articles. The most recent article, on 3/2/2024, was about Burton's Service Station, in my hometown, historic Rogersville, Tennessee. The article remembered and honored Mr. and Mrs. Burton, shared memories, and told a couple of funny stories.

Local folks, for decades, before my birth, and to this day, have called the junction, near the building, which was once Burton's Service Station, Brown's Corner. Writing the most recent article got me wondering how the area got its name.

As far as I know, Brown's Corner includes the small, triangular roadside park, where East Main Street and Highway 70 intersect. The roadside park is within walking distance, of where Burton's Service Station once was. (The building still stands.) Brown's Corner probably encompasses more of the surrounding area. I assume that it is named, after a person or family, with the common last name of Brown.

This article shares what I learned about Brown's Corner. I still can't figure out how it got its name. The conclusion asks for comments, by readers, who know the answer.

Brown's Corner: what I can find out

Well, I didn't find out much, about how Brown's Corner was named. I did find out more, about the roadside park -- especially about the white oak tree and the monument.

The White Oak Tree

The Tennessee Urban Forestry Council (TUFC) includes the program “Landmark, Historic, and Heritage Tree Registry.” Scrolling down, to “Landmark and Historic Trees,” then selecting “East TN,” finds (on the top row, third entry, from the left) “The Old Stagecoach Oak” (East TN, Hawkins County, Landmark and Historic Trees). TUFC, Project, Category, East TN shows the date, of that entry (third from the top), as 2/6/2023. There is no mention of the author(s).

The following photograph is included, in the 2/6/2023 entry (“The Old Stagecoach Oak”). The caption (above the photograph) reads, “Historic Tree, 2021 • Nominated by Tom Simpson • Photo by Tom Simpson.”

I'd like to thank Tom Simpson, whom I've never met, for taking that photograph. His photograph looks west. He was standing near East Main Street, near where Highway 70 turns north. The remodeled building, which was once Burton's Service Station, is in the background.

A picnic table is beside the large oak tree. Dad and Mom took us boys on picnics, at that roadside park, back in the 1960s and 1970s. At times, Papaw and Granny Wood, Mom's parents, were with us. We gathered for a few birthday parties. I recall that at least one of them was mine. Back then, the large white oak tree, in the above image, was somewhat smaller. It provided excellent shade, from the hot summer sun.

The 2/6/2023 entry states that the large white oak is over 15 feet in circumference and 77 feet tall. The confluence of the roads limits its total crown spread to 58 feet; although, foresters have estimated its age as around 240 years.” (Bold font used, for emphasis.)

The tree sprouted, naturally or by being planting, sometime around 1783. If that tree could talk, what stories would it tell?

The Monument

Also, the previously cited 2/6/2023 entry, “The Old Stagecoach Oak,” states that the “granite monument” (visible, to the west, or left, of the white oak tree), “. . . was erected in 1934 by the U.S. Department of Coast and Geological Survey as one of only five Zero Milestones in the United States.” (Bold text used, for emphasis.)

My research could not verify that only five Zero Milestones were built. The cited article may assume only five, incorrectly, since images of five markers are included, in “Auto Trails: Lee Highway,” on Varner Guides: American Roads (undated), under the section “Zero Milestones on the Lee Highway.” One image is the Zero Milestone, at the junction of East Main Street and Highway 70, in Rogersville. The undated Auto Trails article states that this Zero Milestone “. . . is made of local Tennessee marble.” (Bold lettering used, for emphasis.)

Lord willing, my next trip, to my hometown, will include a stop, at that roadside park. I want to see, for myself, if the monument is made of granite or marble! Decades have passed, since I've seen it up close. I don't recall, if the monument is granite or marble.

Additionally, the 2/6/2023 entry states, “The monument . . . also commemorates North Carolina Senator Benjamin Hawkins, for whom Hawkins County was named (upper East TN was part of North Carolina until 1796), and John Carter, one of the area’s first settlers and for whom the valley, Carter Valley, is named.” To correct, in kindness, the unknown author, the area is called Carter's Valley (in the possessive case).

Further, the 2/6/2023 entry, “The Old Stagecoach Oak,” states, “The monument also marks the original route of 'The Old East Tennessee Stagecoach Line' that ran through the county from 1825 until 1855.” The entry indicates that the stagecoach line, of 111 miles, connected Abington, Virginia, to Knoxville, Tennessee. During those 30 years, did my great, great, great paternal grandfather, John Ferrell (born 1780), or any of his immediate family, travel, on that stagecoach line? I wonder.

Lastly, of note, the 2/6/2023 entry, going farther back in time, indicates that buffalo and elk migration started the trail -- which The Old East Tennessee Stagecoach Line and old Highway 11W followed. Surely, native Americans and their settlements followed that initial big game trail. The trail follows what is now known, as the Holston River. The entry indicates that the native American name, for the later named Holston River, is Hogohegee, meaning “water of many islands.”

Following water, animals start trails. In time, humans turn the trails into roads. Life-giving water is the source of the trails.


This article has shared what I could learn about Brown's Corner. I still can't figure out how it got its name. Do you, dear reader, know how Brown's Corner got its name? If you know, then you are welcome to comment, below this article, or email me, using the Contact Form, on the right side of this website. I'd like to know.

Life-giving water brings to mind the Gospel of John, Chapter 7. The pericope is the context of the Festival of Tabernacles, when Jesus taught publicly, at the temple courts. Verses 37 and 38, in the New International Version (NIV), read as follows.

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

The inspired apostle John, in the next verse, explains that Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit, which believers would receive, after His glorification. This is a vivid picture of believers, filled with the Holy Spirit, who, as streams of living water, share the love and grace of Jesus with all, who are thirsty!

If you are thirsty, spiritually, dear reader, then please accept Jesus' free offer, to come to Him and drink! If your thirst, dear reader, is quenched, by the Holy Spirit, then I trust that the ”rivers of living water” are flowing, from within you, to all, who are thirsty!

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