Rogersville was settled in 1775 by the grandparents of Davy Crockett in what is today downtown Rogersville near Crocketts’ Spring. When the settlers were attacked by Native Americans, all but decimating the family, the Crocketts sold the property to Colonel Thomas Amis.
In 1780, Colonel Amis and John Carter built a fort near the outskirts of Rogersville and Amis built a stone house a few miles away, fortified against attacks. The next year he opened a store, a blacksmith shop, a distillery, a saw and grist-mill, and a tavern.
In 1785, the present day Rogersville area was, for a year, part of Spencer County in the (brief) State of Franklin. A year later, it was relinquished to to North Carolina, which proceeded to name the area part of Hawkins County.
Joseph RogersDuring this year, Joseph Rogers arrived in the area and stayed at a tavern adjacent to Colonel Amis’ home. He fell in love with the Colonel’s daughter, Mary Amis and they married on October 24, 1786, against Colonel Amis’ wishes. Amis later ceded the land he’d purchased from the Crocketts to Joseph Rogers. Rogers had established a tavern of his own around 1784-85 and became a successful businessman.
Rogers lobbied to have the county seat near his home and volunteered his tavern as the first county courthouse in 1787. He and 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 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.” –source Wikipedia
During the Civil War, the residents of Rogersville were divided in their loyalties and this diversity of opinion may have had something to do with why many of the original structures were spared. At various times, buildings were used by either side as Rogersville was the site of a battle for control of the town. It was occupied by the Federal forces but the Confederate army invaded the area and pushed the army across the Holston into Greene County. Confederates maintained control of the town until the end of the war.
Tennessee’s oldest courthouse, first newspaper, and first post office are each located in Rogersville. Much of the Town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s the second-oldest town in the state and is located in Hawkins County, East Tennessee.
Learn more about printing history at the Tennessee Newspaper and Printing Museum.