History of Campbell County, Tennessee

Time Line


By Dallas Bogan

Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan. 

Many thanks to the personnel at the Campbell County Historical Society for allowing me to use this material . Dr. Ridenour's book, "The Land of the Lake " can be purchased through the Campbell County Historical Society at LaFollette , Tennessee

     The late Dr. Ridenour is the foremost author and historian of Campbell County. His writings encompassed the early history of this beautiful County; I shall now draw from these writings.



     Dr. Ridenour explains in detail the change from 22 to five Civil Districts. It all happened when the 1903 General Assembly passed a special law redistricting Campbell County and reducing the number of justices of the peace to thirteen. The general public disagreed with this decision. Friends of the unseated justices were thunderous in their charges of the unfairness. However, under this special law the districts were divided into five civil districts.

     A widespread county registration vote was opposed by the voters and was finally repealed. The five civil districts remained the county units until 1937 when the Beech Fork section was designated as the Sixth Civil District of Campbell County by a special act.



     The Confederates on Buffalo Creek in Scott County captured Lewis Baird, along with Lark Cross and a Vanover during the Civil War. They were quickly tried at a court martial for espionage. Cross and Vanover were hanged from an apple tree. Baird, being nearly eighty, was spared his life and was sent as a prisoner of war to Salisbury, North Carolina.

     The Confederates pleaded with him to take an oath of allegiance in exchange for his release from prison. Baird had two sons fighting for the Union army and he loyally refused to take the oath. He believed this action would give aid to the Confederate cause. He died in the military prison and is buried at Salisbury, North Carolina.

     During this period Clint Roe, Squire Perkins and Simon Snyder were captured in Cherry Bottom by a small influence of Confederates; they were tried for bushwhacking. Their sentence was to die before a firing squad. The trial ended quickly and they were lined up for the execution of the sentence and were forced to kneel. Roe, as the spokesperson, refused and the trio met death. The remains of Perkins and Snyder were reinterred in the Jellico Cemetery.

     Federal Soldiers captured Henry Tiller in Whitman Hollow for aiding the Confederates at Big Creek Gap (now LaFollette). Tiller's wife and Mrs. Joseph A. Cooper were sisters. Tiller had cared for Mrs. Cooper and her children. Tiller was removed to military prison and during his absence, both his wife and Mrs. Cooper died of exposure. Henry Tiller later returned to Campbell County after the war. He made a declaration to kill the informer who turned against him on sight.

     The men kept deliberately separated, however, at an all day Baptist meeting at Indian Creek, Tiller was informed that his enemy was likewise attending the meeting.

          "Well, I ain't never seed him yet I amin to keep my word."

     Those of interest persuaded Tiller's adversary to leave the grounds. Although the two lived within a few miles of each other, the two never met after the war.



     The first settlers of Campbell County found the area heavily forested. Early forges consumed the dense supply of hardwoods. During the period of 1824-1834 forest fires destroyed hundreds of acres of virgin timber. John Sweat, who lived on the left side of Highway 25W, and just within the entrance of Cove Lake State Park between Jacksboro and Caryville, perished in his cabin at the Sweaton Spring in Sweaton Hollow during one of these holocausts of negligence.



     Henry Sharp, Jacob Sharp, and William Sharp operated a powder mill at Grantsborough. The niter for powder was taken from their land described as, "Beginning on a steep hillside west and near a large salt petre cave [now known as the Merideth Cave] the said Sharps now work." After giving various calls "thence west crossing the Spring Branch of the Big Spring."

     The Big Spring was later known as Shanghai and is now covered with the waters of the lake below the Shanghai dock.

     Before the settlement of the country the Big Spring and the cave were noted Indian stopping places. At the mound on the hillside above the river, and near the mouth of the Big Spring Branch on the south side, were Indian graves and the graves of the early white hunters.

     Conrad Sharp and his sons were among the pioneer hunters to visit these well-known meeting places. In the large galleries of the huge cavern numerous hoppers of white oak clapboards were built to hold the niter-filled earth.



     Water was run through the hoppers into large earthen jars. This water holding saltpeter (niter) in solution was boiled in kettles at the mouth of the cave. Clumps of red bud on the adjacent h8ills were cut to furnish wood for the coal pits, as the pioneers believed that charcoal burned from the wood of the Judas tree was of a finer texture than that from any other wood.

     At first the niter and the charcoal were carried on packhorses to the small powder mill at Grantsborough. River men from 1800 would put in their flatboats at Grantsborough for a supply of powder before the long voyage on the rivers to the lower country


Time Line

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