A DECADE OF DIVISION

The area in and around Morristown had been settled in the early 1800's, and Morristown was becoming an important community in East Tennessee. Morristown was located on the main road (formerly an Indian path) from south- western Virginia to the west and south. A post office was built in 1833. With the coming of the railroad in 1856, Morristown began its rapid growth as a commercial center in the middle of a rich agricultural area. In the next five years, the town more than doubled in population.

The advent of the Civil War derailed this expansion. Town government ceased to play an important part in citizens' lives. Morristown was a Confederate strong hold while most East Tennessee counties declared themselves staunch Union sympathizers. Military control of Morristown changed half a dozen times during the War. The residents of the town suffered from the constant troop movements and seizure of food, supplies, and livestock. After the War, Morristown continued the growth that it had enjoyed prior to the war. When the town was re-chartered in 1867, the new leaders began to work together to heal the wounds of the past brought on by the Civil War. Morristown also became an important commercial center. This expansion led to the forming of Hamblen County in 1870. Dewitt Clinton Senter, the only state governor to come from Hamblen County, was in office at the time of the counties' formation.

PRE-CIVIL WAR MORRISTOWN

About 200 people lived -in Morristown during the pre-Civil War years. Seventy-four lots were bought and owned at a combined value of $26,600. By 1856, the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad Company had finished construction of the mainline connecting Bristol to Knoxville. The railroad also constructed sidetracks for Mossy Creek (present-day Jefferson City) Russellville and Whitesburg. The Morristown community raised funds enough to construct a side track to be built through Morristown. This track was to give Morristown the push it needed to grow in the areas of population and business.

By 1860, the population of Morristown had risen to 500 and the slave population was 15. There were 136 lots owned with a combined value of $52,900. Local government was planning much- needed improvements to streets and side- walks. Turkey Creek, which provided water for horses, livestock, and turkeys that were brought to town for sale, flowed across Main Street. Flooding was often a problem.

CONFEDERATE STRONGHOLD IN UNIONIST COUNTY IN CONFEDERATE STATE

The rapid development of Morristown was interrupted in early April 1861 when the first shots of the war were fired at Fort Sumpter. The Morristown Town Council had scheduled a meeting to discuss an upcoming election. The meeting was never held and the city's charter lapsed. By early May, Confederate troops were being transported through Morristown on the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad. Posters urging "Freedmen of Tennessee" to join an infantry company and defend the Confederacy appeared in Morristown. Captain Steven Cocke quickly raised a company of 100 volunteers that became Company C of the 37th Tennessee Infantry. In June 1861, the "Religious Intelligencer," a Morristown weekly newspaper, ceased publication.

Turmoil at the local level mirrored the bigger developments in Tennessee and the nation. In a referendum on June 8, 1861, the people of Tennessee voted to join the Confederacy. Although support for the Confederacy was strong in Morristown, Jefferson and Grainger Counties overwhelmingly voted, in opposition. Later in June, 300 people met in Greeneville to protest the state's succession. The Greeneville Convention called on then Governor lsham Harris, but the Tennessee Legislature did not grant their request. In August, the three congressional districts in East Tennessee elected Pro-Legion candidates any voted against Governor Isham Harris. The Confederacy could not afford to lose the support of Upper-East Tennessee. By October 1861, there was a growing feeling that Union troops were going to enter the area. Pro-Union supporters targeted railroads and bridges to impede the movement of Confederate troops. Even though the Union invasion never occurred, some bridges were burned. Five men were hanged by Confederate authority and two were left hanging by the rail- road tracks in Greene County as a warning to others. Loyalty oaths soon began to be required of local officials.

By the fall of 1862, two additional companies had been raised in Morristown: Company G of the 61st Tennessee under Captain Frank Jackson and Company H of the 60th Tennessee under Captain J.C. Hodges. When the first significant battle involving troops from the Morristown area occurred at Murfreesboro - in December 1862, a committee raised $250 for the widows and children of the Confederate soldiers killed there.

MORRISTOWN REBUILDS AFTER THE WAR; CREATION OF HAMBLEN COUNTY

Directly after the war, an influx of people and capital from outside the area contributed greatly to the 'growth of Morristown. Several firms that had been in business prior to the war were operating by the beginning of 1866. A new line was built from Morristown through Newport and North Carolina. Morristown in 1869 was described as "a very fast place, new buildings going up every few days." There were about 10 stores, three drug stores, six doctors, and six lawyers.

 

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