History of Campbell County, Tennessee

Time Line


By Dallas Bogan

Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.  This article was published in the LaFollette Press.

     Campbell County's county seat, Jacksborough, later shortened to Jacksboro, was named for Judge John Finley Jack. He was the son of Patrick Jack, one of three men who escaped from Cherokee Indians at the massacre at Ford Louden Garrison. This fort, in 1860, was located below Knoxville on the Tennessee River. 
     Records reveal that Patrick Jack witnessed the massacre at the fort. However, his life was saved by the authority of a friendly Indian chief, Attakulla-kulls, also known as "The Little Carpenter." 
     Colonel Patrick Jack was born near Chambersburg, Pa., on the Conococheagne River. He was the son of Charles Jack. Historians describe him as a brave and meritorious officer under the Colonial government during the Revolutionary War. 
     As a young man he was engaged in assisting with the struggle to restrain the Indians in Pennsylvania. He commanded a company of Rangers under Generals Braddock and Washington in the French and Indian War. 
     John Finley Jack was born in Chambersburg, Pa., in 1765. He was educated at Dickinson College at Carlisle, Pa. He studied law and afterward migrated to Knoxville, then the capital of Tennessee. 
     He began the practice of law and became well known. He afterwards moved to Rutledge where he was associated in the law profession with Gen. John Cocke, a son of Gen. William Cocke. He took a leading role in politics in Grainger County.
     He occupied the office of Circuit Court Clerk, States Attorney General, and served several stints in both branches of Tennessee Legislature. He was later elected Circuit Judge, a position he held for many years. While performing this position he held court at Jacksborough, Campbell County. 
     John Finley Jack, in 1825, erected a ten-room brick mansion on the property that was awarded to his father, Patrick Jack, by the Indian Chief, "The Little Carpenter." The original tract consisted of 1000 acres. It was operated as a stock and poultry farm and stood for 127 years before it was razed. The bricks were hand made at a brickyard nearby. During the Civil War the home was seized by the Confederates and used as a hospital.
     John Finley Jack died at his home in Grainger County, June 22, 1829. Interrment was in a private burial plot close to his home.


     The location of the County Seat at Jacksboro was an unpopular decision with some of the people who desired a more central location. A petition was introduced in the House of Representatives to move the seat of government. Some wanted it moved to Big Creek Gap (LaFollette) while others wanted it located at Fincastle. 
     The earliest petition was read in the House of Representatives on September 22, 1813, and referred to committee. It was introduced into the Senate on the following day, which followed the action of the House and referred the petition to Committee. The Committee of Propositions and Grievances reported it as reasonable. The petition read as follows:


     We the citizens of Campbell County having for some years laboured under serious disadvantages as it relates to the Seat of Public Justice in said County: many of us having to ride twenty of twenty-five miles to the place now set apart for the holding of Courts and for doing other business of a public nature in said County. The said Seat having been unjustly settled within four miles of the line that divides this County from Anderson County. Wheras the distance from said Seat to the line that divides this County from Claiborne is seventeen miles, provided the line of measurement should be drawn directly up and down Powell's Valley in which the said Court House now stands. This will be the distance that the inhabitants will have to travel to said seat of Public Justice, for ages to us unknown.
     Surely it is the nature of all human beings when in distress to look up to some superior power for help and knowing of no body of men so well authorized to administer to the necessities of a people situate as we are at this time, and hoping and believing that is the only desire and disposition of the Legislature of Tennessee to alleviate the sufferings of your constituents and fellow citizens. WE THEREFORE petition your honorable Body that you in collective wisdom do provide that the Seat of Public Justice for Campbell County may be settled as near central as the situation of the County will admit and we your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
     The county seat was not removed but the matter was not a closed one, and was an issure for years to come. The County Court at the January 5, 1903 meeting adopted the following resolution.
     "Resolved, That it is hereby ordered that an election shall be held in all the Civil Districts of Campbell County, in accordance with the laws of the land, upon Saturday the 28th day of March 1903, to ascertain if the people of Campbell County desire the County Seat moved from its present location."
     The election showed a vote of 3,132 for the removal of the County Seat to LaFollette, and 1,175 voting against the removal. 
     On April 6, 1903, certain citizens filed an injunction bill in the Chancery Court enjoining the County Court from canvassing the vote but this injunction was dismissed and dissolved by Hugh G. Kyle, Chancellor, on the 19th day of November 1903, and at the November 25th meeting of the Court it was declared that the County Seat of Campbell County to have been legally removed from Jacksboro to LaFollette. Also at this meeting the LaFollette Coal, Iron and Railway Company offered to give and donate enough land to build a new Courthouse and jail. 
     The Cornwell Theatre was rented to hold Circuit Court in and six offices were agreed upon for the other officeholders at the price of $75 per month. 
     After much legal manuevering the Courthouse was moved back to Jacksboro and the July, 1904 Term of Court was begun and held in the Courthouse at Jacksboro. 
(The preceding article was taken from the historical works of the late Ted Miller of LaFollette.)

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