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Rogersville is a town in Hawkins Countymarker, Tennesseemarker, United Statesmarker. It was settled in 1775 by the grandparents of Davy Crockett and is the second-oldest town in the state. It is named for its founder, Joseph Rogers.

Tennessee's oldest courthouse, first newspaper, and first post office are each located in Rogersville. Much of the Townmarker is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The population living within the town's corporate limits was 4,240 at the 2000 census; the same census found 11,507 people living within of the town's center.

Rogersville is the county seat of Hawkins Countymarker. It is part of the KingsportmarkerBristol markerBristol marker Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson Citymarker–Kingsport–Bristol, TN-VAmarker Combined Statistical Area – commonly known as the "Tri-Cities" region.

Geography

Rogersville is located at .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of , all of it land. The town is drained by Crockett's Creek, which flows through the central depression of the valley in which the town lies.

Major highways



Demographics

Population

As of the census of 2000, there were 4,240 people, 2,060 households, and 1,155 families residing in the town. The census also found that in the six civil precincts which make up the Rogersville area, there are 11,507 people. In 2004, the Chamber of Commerce estimated there were 5,100 people living within the corporate limits of Rogersville.

The population density of Rogersville according to the 2000 U.S. Census was . There were 2,268 housing units at an average density of .

Ethnicity

The racial makeup of the town was 94.13% White, 4.06% African American, 0.14% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.66% from other races, and 0.68% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.06% of the population.

Age distribution

There were 2,060 households out of which 21.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.9% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.9% were non-families. 40.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 21.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.97 and the average family size was 2.63.

In the town the population was spread out with 17.8% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 23.2% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45 to 64, and 26.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there were 76.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 72.1 males.

Economic statistics

The median income for a household in the town was $23,275, and the median income for a family was $32,236. Males had a median income of $30,226 versus $22,482 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,940. About 14.9% of families and 21.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.0% of those under age 18 and 15.8% of those age 65 or over.

History

Settlement

In 1775, the grandparents of Davy Crockett, a sometime member of the United States Congress from Tennesseemarker and hero of the Alamomarker, settled what is today downtown Rogersville near a spring that bears their name. After hostile native Americans massacred or captured most of the family from their homestead, the Crocketts sold the property to a new settler in the area, a French Huguenot man named Colonel Thomas Amis.

In 1780, Colonel Amis built a fort at Big Creek with the assistance of fellow settler and Scots-Irish John Carter, on the outskirts of the present-day town. Not far from this fort in the same year, about three and one-half miles above downtown Rogersville, Colonel Amis erected a fort-like stone house, around which he built a palisade for protection against Native American attacks. The next year Amis opened a store, and erected a blacksmith shop and a distillery. Very soon after he also put into operation a saw and grist-mill, and from the first he kept a house of entertainment.

Founding of the town

In 1785, the State of Franklin organized Spencer County, including, besides other territory, the present Hawkins County, and declared the seat of county government to be located at what today is Rogersville. Thomas Henderson was chosen county court clerk and colonel of militia, and William Cocke and Thomas King representatives to the Franklin General Assembly. The remaining officers are unknown.

In November 1786, after the Franklin government had ceded authority back to North Carolina, that State's General Assembly passed an act creating Hawkins County. It included within its limits all the territory between Bays Mountain and the Holston and Tennessee Rivers on the east to the Cumberland Mountains on the west. The county court was organized at the house of Thomas Gibbons, but as the early records were destroyed during the American Civil War, nothing is known of its transactions.

Like Franklin, North Carolina set the county seat about the property of a recent and enterprising settler, Irishman Joseph Rogers.

Joseph and Mary: Rogersville's founding love story

Joseph Rogers was born August 21, 1764 near Cook's Town, Irelandmarker, the son of James Rogers and his wife Elizabeth Brown. He travelled to the area then known as the State of Franklin or western North Carolinamarker, called "the Holston country," by 1785 and, during a stay at a tavern adjacent to Colonel Thomas Amis' home, had fallen in love with the Colonel's daughter, Mary Amis.

Rogers married Mary Amis on October 24, 1786, despite Colonel Amis' initial dislike for him. Eventually, the Colonel gave his blessing and ceded the lands near Crockett Spring to his son-in-law—land that Colonel Amis had purchased from the heirs of David Crockett, Sr.

When North Carolina was considering where to establish the county seat for its new Hawkins County, Rogers successfully lobbied, through the influence of his father-in-law, to have the government located near his home; he even volunteered his tavern, set up around 1784-85, as the first county courthouse in 1787.

Rogers, with the help of other local settlers, laid out a plan for the town, and the town of Rogersville was chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1789. The plan included a public square, deeded to the town government, which would host the town's public well and the county courthouse.

Rogers was a successful businessman and tavern keeper. In November 1792, he was appointed the first postmaster at Rogersville, and the second post office of Rogersville, built by its founder circa 1815, still stands at the corner of East Main Street and South Hasson Street.

Rogers was the father of fourteen children with Mary. He died on November 6, 1833, at Rogersville, near the hour of midnight. He was buried in Rogers Cemetery, near the founding site of the Town. His wife Mary died a month later, the victim, according to legend, of a broken heart at the loss of her beloved Joseph.

A town divided: the American Civil War

In November 1863, during the American Civil War, Rogersville was the site of a battle between occupying Federal forces and invading Confederate troops. Union forces were encamped just outside the town. The Confederates, led by Brigadier General William E. Jones, were able to surprise the Union forces and pursue them across the Holston River and into Greene Countymarker. The Confederates held the town for the remainder of the War.

Sentiment in Rogersville was divided between loyalists, many of whom supported the efforts by many to get twenty-six East Tennessee counties to secede from the State and re-join the Unionmarker. Other Rogersvillians saw President Lincoln's invasion of Tennessee as an unprecedented invasion of their homes and an incursion by Federal power; these people became strong Confederates.

Partly because of the town's mixed loyalties, Rogersville was spared destruction during the war; indeed, many of the town's buildings were used by the different occupying armies.

Printing history: the cradle of Tennessee journalism

Downtown Rogersville has been home to many of the town's numerous newspapers and publications.
George Roulstone was Tennessee's first printer. He was brought, along with his printing press to Rogersville by the new governor of the Southwest Territory, William Blount, who was sensitive to the fact that government could not exist without printing. Roulston printed Rogersville's, and Tennessee's, first newspaper on November 5, 1791. Because Knoxville, the intended seat of the new territorial government, had not yet been established, Roulstone published the first year of his paper near Joseph Rogers' tavern. To hedge his bets, Roulstone called the newspaper The Knoxville Gazette, and in October 1792, he moved his press to Knoxvillemarker, where he continued to publish the Gazette as well as other papers until his death in 1804.

After the Gazette was moved, there was no newspaper in the area until 1813, when John B. Hood began publishing The East Tennessee Gazette at Rogersville. Other papers shortly followed, including The Western Pilot, circa 1815, and The Rogersville Gazette from the same era.

Speciality publications emerged during these early days, including The Rail-Road Advocate, The Calvinistic Magazine, and The Holston Watchman. Numerous other newspapers have been published in Rogersville over the years, most surviving only a short time and having modest circulation. Among them were The Independent, The Rogersville Spectator, The Weekly Reporter, The Rogersville Gazette, Rogersville Press and Times, Holston Journal, Hawkins County Republican, Hawkins County Telephone, and The Rogersville Herald.

Rogersville's longest-lasting newspaper is The Rogersville Review, which began publication as The Holston Review in 1885 by William T. Robertson. A year later, Robertson changed the name to the present banner, and the paper has published without fail to the present day. The Review's closest competitor was The Rogersville Herald, which was published from 1886 to 1932. The Herald competed with the Review during that 46-year period and survived longer than any other local newspaper the Review.

The town's storied printing heritage is chronicled by the Tennessee Newspaper and Printing Museum, located in its historic Southern Railway train depot, circa 1890.

Other Rogersville firsts

  • Oldest inn. Tennessee's oldest continuously-operated inn was the Hale Springs Innmarker, built in 1824. When it was constructed, the Inn was located on a major stage coach route from Northeast Tennessee to Knoxville. Over the years the inn hosted U.S. Presidents Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, and James K. Polk.
  • Tidal spring. Called Sinking Spring in a land grant given a Union officer for distinguished service, Ebbing and Flowing Spring is one of only two known springs in the world to exhibit tidal characteristics. During a period of 2 hours and 47 minutes, the flow ranges from an indiscernible trickle to per minute. Unlike thermal springs that produce warm water, the water in Ebbing and Flowing Spring maintains a constant temperature of .
  • Masonic lodge. One of the first lodges of Free and Accepted Masons in Tennessee was organized in Rogersville on December 14, 1805. It is known as the Overton Lodgemarker, named for Tennessee statesman and Mason John H. Overton, and remains today, as Overton Lodge, No. 5, F & AM, the oldest, continuously-active Masonic Lodge in Tennessee.
  • Post office. Joseph Rogers was the appointed the first postmaster of Rogersville in 1792, and his post office was Tennessee's first.
  • Trade journal. The Rogersville Rail-Road Advocate (see printing history, above) was one of the first trade journals in the world devoted to the propagation of railroads when it was published in 1831.
  • Volunteer Fire Department. Established in 1786, the Rogersville Fire Department is the second-oldest fire department in Tennessee, and one of the oldest active fire departments in the United States.


Culture

Notable people from Rogersville

Listed chronologically by date of birth:

Events

Downtown Rogersville during Heritage Days.
  • Heritage Days, each second full weekend in October in downtown Rogersville.
  • Fourth of July Celebration
  • Shakespeare and Friends Renaissance Faire, held in June in Crockett Springs Park
  • Rogersville Holiday Festival, includes a Holiday Tour of Homes in the town's Historic District and Yule Log Ceremony on the Courthouse Square


Religion

There are no non-Christian congregations in Rogersville. Among Christian churches, congregations are predominantly Baptist. Denominations with congregations currently in Rogersville include:

Media



Media from Rogersville

The following media originates from within or nearby the Town:

Media available to Rogersville

  • The Kingsportmarker Times-News
  • The Knoxvillemarker News-Sentinel
  • The Greenevillemarker Sun
  • WSJK TV-2 (Sneedville), PBS
  • WCYB TV-5 (Bristol), NBC
  • WATE TV-6 (Knoxville), ABC
  • WVLT TV-8 (Knoxville), CBS
  • WBIR TV-10 (Knoxville), NBC
  • WJHL TV-11 (Johnson City), CBS
  • WKPT TV-19 (Kingsport), ABC
  • WAPK TV-30 (Kingsport), UPN
  • WEMT TV-39 (Greenville), FOX


Recreation

Rogersville City Park

Located in the eastern part of the town, the Rogersville City Park is the owned and operated by the Town of Rogersville. It is bounded by U.S. Route 11W on the northwest, Park Boulevard on the northeast, and East Main Street on the south.

The boasts four children's playgrounds, two outdoor basketball courts, four outdoor tennis courts, numerous picnic shelters, three large, lighted pavilions (two with restroom facilities), an amphitheatre, a lighted stage area, six lighted baseball/softball fields, the town's soccer fields, a duck pond, a fitness trail, two walking trails, and skate park.

The Park is also home to the Rogersville City Pool, the home pool of the Rogersville Flying Fish Swim Association, which is open to the public from Memorial Day to the start of classes in the City school system in August.

The Park is the site of a travelling midway carnival in the late spring and early fall and hosts more than fifty-thousand people annually during the Rogersville Fourth of July Celebration.

The Town-sponsored holiday festival of lights is hosted at the Park, where the Department of Parks & Recreation illuminates several thousand holiday lights and exhibits.

Crockett Spring Park

Located in downtown Rogersville, in the central part of the town, the Crockett Spring Park is a joint project of the Town and the Rogersville Heritage Association. The park is the site of Rogersville's first settlement, and the tavern and home built by founder Joseph Rogers (see History, above) is preserved on the site.

The Park also encompasses the Rogers Cemetery, where Joseph and Mary Rogers, many of their children, and the grandparents of Davy Crockett are buried.

In addition to these historic interests, the site of Rogersville's first public swimming pool is here, as is a gazebo built to commemorate the bicentennials of both the Town (1789) and the State (1796).

Swift Memorial Park

Rogersville was home to an African-American college, Swift College, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the Swift Park, located off of North Hasson Street in the central part of the Town, commemorates the legacy of that institution. In addition, the park boasts picnic shelters, two playgrounds, and basketball courts.

Education

High schools

  • Rogersville High School, circa 1923-1980. Mascot was the Warrior, colors were maroon and gray.
  • Cherokee Comprehensive High School, circa 1981-present (Hawkins County School System). Serves grades 9-12. Mascot is the Chief; colors are red, black, and white. Comprehensive public high school serving students from the former Rogersville High School and Bulls Gapmarker High School. Competes in TSSAA-sanctioned interscholastic athletics.


Intermediate schools

  • Rogersville Middle School, circa 1981-present (present configuration beginning 2000; Hawkins County School System). Mascot is the Warrior; colors are maroon and gray. Serving grades 6-8 since 2000; from 1981-2000, grades 5-8 (fifth grade transferred to Hawkins Elementary School). Competes in interscholastic athletics.
  • Rogersville City School, circa 1923-present (present configuration beginning 1950; Rogersville City School System). Mascot is the Warrior; colors are red, white, and black. Serving grades K-8 since 1950; from 1923-1950, grades 1-12 (grades 9-12 transferred to Rogersville High School). Competes in interscholastic athletics. In 2007, the RCS Warriors football team won the TMSAA state championship.


Elementary schools

  • Hawkins Elementary School, circa 1978-present (present configuration beginning 2000; Hawkins County School System). Mascot is the Bearcat; colors are light blue and yellow. Serving grades 3-5 since 2000; from 1978-2000, grades K-4 (grades K-2 transferred to Joseph Rogers Primary School; fifth grade received from Rogersville Middle School).
  • Rogersville City School (Rogersville City School System), serving grades K-8 (see Intermediate Schools above).
  • Joseph Rogers Primary School, circa 2000-present (Hawkins County School System). Mascot is the Bobcat. Serving grades K-2.


References

  1. The U.S. Census measured population in Tennessee using Tennessee's civil precinct numbering system. Precincts 3904 (Rogersville North Outside) and 3897 (Rogersville South Outside) are immediately adjacent corporate limits of Rogersville. Immediately adjacent to those two precincts are precincts number 3864 (Choptack) and 3860 (Cherokee). These areas are within a radius of Rogersville's Courthouse Square at the intersection of Main Street and Depot Street. See http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/QTTable?_bm=n&_lang=en&qr_name=DEC_2000_SF1_U_DP1&ds_name=DEC_2000_SF1_U&geo_id=05000US47073.
  2. Price, Henry, Old Rogersville: An Illustrated History of Rogersville, Tennessee. Vol. I. (Rogersville: 2001) chs. 1-2.
  3. Price, Henry, Old Rogersville: An Illustrated History of Rogersville, Tennessee. Vol. I. (Rogersville: 2001) ch. 2.
  4. Price, Henry, Old Rogersville: An Illustrated History of Rogersville, Tennessee. Vol. I. (Rogersville: 2001) chs. 1.
  5. Price, Henry, Old Rogersville: An Illustrated History of Rogersville, Tennessee. Vol. I. (Rogersville: 2001) ch. 1.
  6. Price, Henry, Old Rogersville: An Illustrated History of Rogersville, Tennessee. Vol. I. (Rogersville: 2001) chs. 2-3
  7. Price, Henry, Old Rogersville: An Illustrated History of Rogersville, Tennessee. Vol. I. (Rogersville: 2001) ch. 3.
  8. Price, Henry, Old Rogersville: An Illustrated History of Rogersville, Tennessee. Vol. I. (Rogersville: 2001) ch. 4.


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