Skip to content

The Rebirth of Jonesboro Part 2


As the center of population was moving rapidly westward, the capital of Franklin was changed, in November, 1785, toGreenevilleas a more convenient and central location, however, the organization of the state, the Constitutional
Convention, the greater part of the legislation and the major of the affairsofFranklintookplaceinand around Jonesboro. Its only governor John Severe did not live in the town itself but had his home not many miles away.
With the failure of Congress to receive them, it soon became evident that so small a commonwealth, particularly one so deep in the interior, with no easy outlets to other markets, could not long survive. Some of the citizens had always
retained their loyalty to the mother state. As time passed on, others, too, return to their former allegiance. So, after a troubled existence of about four years, Franklin reverted to North Carolina and ceased to exist save on the pages of history.
One morning in May 1788, five young men stood before the court in Jonesboro, requesting permission to practice law in Washington County. There was little about them to indicate what fate had planned for them, but seldom if ever had a galaxy of future talent presented itself at one time in Jonesboro. Among the offices they were destined to hold were three judgeships, one gubernatorial chair, one seat in the national House of Representatives, one United States Senate seat,
and the Presidency of the United States. These five men were David Allison, John McNairy, Joseph Hamilton, Archibald Roane, and Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson was to practice lawinJonesboroforseveralmonths
before pressing on his future home in Nashville. In that short time, he left his mark on the community. There he fought his first duel, a bloodless affair with Judge WaightstllAvery, and there he made many friends who were to be his staunch
supporters during his long career. His experiences during later visits to the town ranged all the way
from a threatened tar-and-feathering during his judgeship, to a great, enthusiastic reception during his Presidency. Demand always brings forth facilities to meet it. People coming to the West were not all crude frontiersmen and pioneers used to a life of hardship, wrestling a meager living from field and forest. Far from it. Many were men of means and refinement who had seen great opportunities for fame and fortune in the new region. They wished to
continue living at the same cultural level as before. To supply their desires as well as their needs, the local
merchants imported, by pack-horse and Conestoga wagon, a great variety of wares. A newspaper advertisement
of David Deadrick, who hadcometoJonesboroabout1783 and was to become the first merchant prince of East Tennessee,
with stores in Jonesboro, Greeneville, and Knoxville, in almost a whole column listed a surprising
assortment of goods both necessities and luxuries. Other merchantsopen stores and shops. A silversmith, William Atkinson, was doing an active business by 1800, producing among other things, the first great seal of Tennessee. First in so many things, Jonesboro hastoyieldprecedencetoRogersville and Knoxville in the matter of newspapers, none being published.


Leave a Comment