Loudon County lies on both sides of the Tennessee River, and extends north
to the Clinch. The Little Tennessee also passes through it. It embraces
about 275 square miles, and has more tillable land, in proportion to its
size, than any other county in East Tennessee. The territory south of the
river contains the fertile valleys of Sweet Water, Pond, Fork, and Town
Creeks, and to the north are the broad bottoms of the Tennessee River.
Marble of the finest quality has recently been discovered in the vicinity
of Loudon, and several quarries have been opened.
The part of the county lying south of the rivers, formerly belonged
to the Hiwassee District, and was not settled until 1819-20, but
settlements were made on the north bank of the Tennessee and Little
Tennessee, within the present limits of the county, previous to the
beginning of the century. Among the first settlers were James, William and
Samuel Blair, Jesse and Simeon Eldridge, Henry Bogard, Jacob Gardenhill,
John and Pomeroy Carmichael, John Browder, Benjamin Prater and William B.
Lenoir. On October 25, 1813, the Legislature passed an act for the
establishment of the town of Morganton, which had been laid off at the
mouth of Bakers Creek, on land owned by Hugh and Charles Kelso. The
commissioners appointed were William Lowry, J. J. Greene, John Eakin,
Richard Dearman, Matthew Wallace, James Wyley, John Lambert, Sr., and
Joseph Duncan. It was at that time on the border of the Hiwassee District,
and became an important trading post. It was subsequently included within
the limits of Monroe County.
The first settler south of the river is said to have been William
Tunnell, who entered the land now owned by T. J. Mason. Several others,
however, located at about the same time. Among them were James Blair,
Robert and Ebenezer Johnston, James Johnston, Robert Campbell, James
Greene, Barnard Franklin, Robert Cannon and James Bacome, all of whom
lived on the road leading to Philadelphia. The Johnstons -- Robert and
Ebenezer -- were bachelors. They owned a cotton-gin and press, a hemp
breaker and grist-mill. Robert Cannon kept a house of entertainment. James
Johnson, a young man who married a daughter of James Johnston, opened a
store where William E. Huff now lives. Thomas Johnston and John Hoston
located on the river above the ferry. The latter operated a saw mill, and
built large boats for the river trade. About a mile below the ferry were
John and James Harrison. The ferry was kept by James Blair.
In the fall of 1821 or 1822, a town was laid off about six miles
southwest of the ferry by William Knox and Jacob Pearson, who named it
Philadelphia. It was then in Monroe County, but it is now near the line in
Loudon County. Among the first settlers in that vicinity were Jacob
Grimmett, Stephen Bond, William Reynolds, George Yokum, Daniel Prigmore,
Hardy Jones and James Bacome, who removed from his first location in 1821.
The first store in the town was opened by Robert Browder. About 1824
Morgan & Jacobs, of Knoxville, established a store with S. H. Crawley as
manager. The first hotels were opened by Robert Carden and Capt. James
Maddy. Carden was also the first blacksmith. Capt. James Dodd ran a
still-house, and Lewis Patterson a tan-yard. The latter was succeeded by
Robert Shugart, and he by J. D. Jones and Eli Cleveland. A gristmill was
built about 1821 by Jacob Pearson. For ten or fifteen years succeeding
1840, the town was at the height of its prosperity, and a large amount of
business was carried on there. Of the merchants of that period may be
mentioned R. R. Cleveland, James Chestnut, E. E. Edwards, Hugh Smith and
The first church was erected by the Presbyterians in 1822 or 1823. It
was a small frame building, and stood where the graveyard now is. The
first preacher was Dr. Isaac Anderson of Maryville. A few years later the
Baptists built a house, which was used until the erection of the present
one. Eli Cleveland and Richard Taliaferro were the first preachers. The
Methodists did not erect a church until about 1850, but a congregation had
been organized many years before.
Previous to the completion of the railroad to that point Loudon was
known as Blairs Ferry, and consisted only of a steamboat landing, a store
and a few houses. The first steamboat to pass up the river was the
Atlas, which in 1828 ran up as far as the junction of the French Broad
and Holston. It was not until about 1835, however, that steamboats began
plying regularly. In 1851, Wiley Blair laid off a town covering a portion
of the present site of Loudon, and named it Blairsville. He failed to sell
any lots and the next year S. M. Johnson & Co., having bought the land,
had the town re-surveyed, and named it Loudon. For the next four years it
was the terminus of the railroad, and its growth was rapid. Produce in
large quantities was brought from various points on the river and
transferred to the railroad, and it is said that steamboats were
frequently compelled to lay several days waiting their turn to discharge
their cargoes. Among the merchants of this period were Orme Wilson & Co.,
Johnston & Smith, S. H. Harvey & Co., Frank Goodman, W. C. Maclin & Co.,
J. M. Wheeler, Hugh Tinley and W. T. Lowe. Reynolds & Leuty opened a
hotel; Jones & Harris established an extensive foundry and rolling mill;
Mason, Wilson and other formed a stock company and erected a
flouring-mill, and Harvey & King put a saw mill into operation. In 1854 a
newspaper, called the Loudon Free Press, was established by Samuel and
William OBrien. It continued for several years. The Orion was also
published for a short time previous to the war by J. A. Bannister. It was
not a financial success, and he departed suddenly, leaving several
creditors behind. In 1865 the Union Pilot, a radical Republican paper was
started at Philadelphia by M. L. Blackburn, who soon after removed it to
Loudon, and thence to Clinton. Other papers have since been published as
follows: The Journal, by William Russell; the Times, by W. C. Nelson; the
Republican Farmer, by Dr. Thomas Foster; the Sun by W. H. Mitchell, and
the Record, established in March, 1886, with Dr. F. W. Goding as editor.
He was soon after succeeded by W. H. Mitchell, the present editor and
Soon after the town was laid out the Methodists, Presbyterians,
Cumberland Presbyterians and Episcopalians each erected a house of
worship. At the close of the war the Baptists formed an organization, and
purchased a store house, which was fitted up for church purposes, and has
since been occupied by them. The Methodist Episcopal Church also organized
a congregation and erected a house. During the war the Presbyterian Church
was torn down, and the building belonging to the Methodist Episcopal
Church South was badly damaged. The latter was afterward repaired and
occupied for a time, but was finally sold to the county, and used as a
school house. In 1882 the Cumberland Presbyterians erected a new church,
and the old building has since been occupied by the Presbyterians and
Methodist Episcopal Church South.
The population of Loudon is now rapidly increasing. Situated as it is
on the Tennessee River, at the crossing of the East Tennessee, Virginia &
Georgia Railroad, and in the center of a fine agricultural country, its
location is one of the best in East Tennessee. The close proximity of
inexhaustable beds of marble and large tracts of timber furnish still
greater advantages for the investment of capital. The business interests
of the town are represented at the present time by the following
individuals and firms: Simpson & Bell, W. K. Sheddan, A. Howard, L. P.
Campbell, Johnston Bros., F. M. Felts, W. Warner, W. W. Fuller, James
Mahoney & Co., general merchandise; J. F. Horne & Bro., drugs; Greer,
James & Co., hardware, and Horne Bros. & Greer, produce and grain.
The formation of Loudon County from fractions of Roane, Monroe and
Blount Counties was authorized by an exception to Section 4 of Article X
of the constitution of 1870. Several previous efforts to form such a
county had failed, on account of the impossibility of complying with the
general provisions of the old constitution. The act to establish the new
county was passed Mary 27, 1870, and approved by Gov. D. W. C. Senter, on
June 2, being the first act ever approved by a governor of Tennessee. By
this act the proposed county was named Christiana, but by an act passed a
few days later it was changed to Loudon. The commissioners appointed to
hold the election for the ratification or rejection of the proposition
were J. Matthews and F. R. Hackney, of Blount; John B. Tipton and J. D.
Jones, of Monroe, and W. Y. Huff, J. D. Turner, Mitchell Rose, J. W.
Robinson and W. B. Hope, of Roane. The election resulted in the necessary
two-thirds majority for the new county. In August, following, county
officers were chosen, and on September 5, 1870, the county court was
organized at the Baptist Church in Loudon. Twenty-three justices of the
peace were present, and qualified. W. Y. Huff, of the First Civil
District, was elected chairman.
At the January term, 1871, S. A. Rodgers, Thomas J. Mason and R. R.
Anderson were appointed commissioners to let the contracts and superintend
the erection of county buildings. The town square was donated as a site
for the courthouse, and a plan for that building submitted by A. C. Bruce,
was selected by the county court. The contract was let to J. W. Clark &
Bro. for $14,200, and in September, 1872, the building was ready for
occupancy. In 1874 a house and lot was purchased from E. C. Johnston, and
during that year a brick jail was erected at a cost of about $5,000.
Subsequently steel cages were provided for the cells at an additional cost
of over $4,000. In 1878 a farm for a poor asylum was purchased from N. P.
Bacon and H. A. Crox for $5,300. It is situated about one and one-half
miles below Loudon, and contains 275 acres. Notwithstanding these large
expenditures, the county is without a debt, except outstanding warrants
amounting to about $2,000.
The following is a list of the officers of the county since its
organization: Sheriffs -- J. D. Turner, 1870-76; J. T. Carpenter, 1876-78;
J. D. Foute, 1878- 81; S. P. Cook, 1881-.
Trustees -- S. Lane, 1870-74; G. W. Littleton, 1874-76, T. J. Mason,
1876-77; S. A. Humphreys, 1878; Joseph H. Williams, 1878-86; J. J. Duff,
Clerks of the circuit court -- John S. King, 1870-84; John W. Hayden,
1884; J. E. Cassady, 1884-.
Clerks of the county court -- M. H. Taliaferro, 1870-74; M. L.
Mourfield, 1874- 86; E. S. Lineberry, 1886-87.
Registers -- Francis Beals, 1870-72; J. L. McLemore, 1872-78; R. N.
Ragains, 1878-82; R. L. Loftis, 1882-86; J. B. Payne, 1886-.
Clerks and masters -- Mitchell Rose, 1870-73; Elbert Kerr, 1873-84;
N. H. Greer, 1884-.
Other elective offices have been held by citizens of the county since
its organization as follows: Judge of the third circuit, Samuel A.
Rodgers; attorney-general, W. L. Welcker; State senator, Henry A.
Chambers, 1876-77; D. F. Harrison, 1877; representative to the
Legislature, William Cannon, 1876-78; J. T. Shipley, 1884-86.
The circuit court was organized by Judge E. T. Hall on September 26,
1870. The first grand jury was composed of the following men: Darius
Hudgins, H. N. Dale, J. C. Pennington, E. S. Adkins, A. M. Cook, David
Rogers, W. R. Best, H. H. Segal, J. C. Wyley, P. Whitlock, R. C. Alford,
J. E. Crowder and W. J. Wells. The first indictment was found against
Lafayette and Samuel Franklin for the murder of Hezekiah Hunt. The former
was arrested, convicted of murder in the second degree, and sentenced to
ten years in the penitentiary, Samuel Franklin escaped arrest.
Among the attorneys who have resided at Loudon may be mentioned Judge
S. A. Rogers, W. L. Welcker, S. Lane, H. A. Chambers, D. R. Nelson and E.
P. McQueen, the last of three of whom constitute the present bar.
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