Guest Author - Phyllis Doyle Burns
If you are heading to the Southeastern United States anytime for vacations or touring a great place to visit is Jonesborough, which is the oldest town in Tennessee. On the eastern border of Tennessee is the beautiful Appalachian Mountains and on the western border is the legendary Mississippi River. Ranking in the rivers of the world, the Mississippi is the fourth longest and number ten of the largest.
Between these two icons of the Appalachia regions lie some of the most fertile valleys and richly wooded areas where about 12,000 years ago the Paleo-Indians, hunters and gatherers, lived. Long before other tribes settled in the area prehistoric Mound Builders inhabited the land. Later Indian tribes were the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek, and Shawnee who were found to be living there in 1540 when Hernando de Soto first came upon them. Hernando de Soto, Spanish explorer, was the first European who had gone into the territory.
For the early trailblazers and settlers, the desire for new lands, new places promoted a westward movement that would continue for many years to come. Daniel Boone and John Sevier were among the first of those looking for a new place to explore, settle, and call their new home. The land that is now Washington County was looked upon as a paradise to these adventurous pioneers.
In 1775 it was Daniel Boone who first blazed a trail (now called the Wilderness Road) over the Appalachians at Cumberland Gap. This made it possible for others to cross over from Virginia and begin new settlements. Settlers purchased a lot of land from the Cherokee people and began building their new homes.
It was June 1, 1796 that Tennessee became the 16th state admitted to the Union. In 1779 the town of Jonesborough (originally named Jonesboro in honor of Willie Jones of the North Carolina legislator), was part of North Carolina. Prior to the statehood of Tennessee, the state was called the State of Franklin, after Benjamin Franklin. Jonesborough was the first capital of Franklin. John Sevier, elected in 1785 by the people of the new state, served as the first governor. Franklin survived as a state until 1788 when North Carolina reclaimed the land, because Congress would not recognize the State of Franklin.
As in the past, the people of Jonesborough today are very proud of their history and welcome visitors and new residents. The Chester Inn is just one of the oldest buildings the citizens are proud to direct visitors to. It is the oldest building of the commercial area.
Jonesborough began a movement for restoration and preservation in the 1970's and their main street in town is looking pretty much the same as it was back in the early days of its birth. It has the honor of being the first town on the National Register of Historic Places in Tennessee.
If you like the crafts of yesteryear, you will love visiting the many shops where you will find beautifully made quilts or fabrics to make your own. Jonesborough is yet another stop on the Appalachian Quilt Trail (AQT) and is proud to be one of the over 750 stops that include farms, businesses, shops, galleries and restaurants for those who follow the AQT.
Other arts and crafts of exceptional quality can be found in the shops in town.
For those who like other things from the past, like ghosts and haunted places, Jonesborough is reputed to be one of the most mysterious and haunted places in the country. When you get to the town, just ask about ghostly tours. As America's first western frontier steeped in history, the civil war, and the community of the Bell Witch legends not too far away in Adams, Tennessee, there are a lot of stories to be told about spirits of the past.
One of the famous spirits who still linger in the area is that of Andrew Jackson. Apparently this ghost likes to visit the town park where he used to live in a cabin that was owned by Major Christopher Taylor.
Jonesborough is also known as the storytelling capital of the world. Check this out on the events calendar at their site.