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
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
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.