Spoiler. The city was not founded by the Knox Family.
Tennessee came to be from North Carolinians, as we learned during our visit to Greeneville some weeks ago. The pioneer James White was one of them; he led an expedition into the new Southwest Territory and planted a flag to claim the land he was rewarded for his Revolutionary War service, approximately 1,000 acres.
White, two sons and several servants arrived in 1785 and began the construction. The original two-story structure was built first, and then the fort was added to keep the livestock safe, not from the Cherokee (White befriended the Cherokee; wrote treaties with them and conducted trade) but from bears and wild cats; and to grow important crops. White’s family numbered seven; within the stockade were another 6-8 families totaling around 100 persons. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
A new architectural style was born: Frontier Elegance.
A dog trot provided a cool space during the summer day for weaving, churning butter, and stringing “Leather Britches” (string beans, pictured at the top right) among the no doubt many, many other chores.
Touring the kitchens of any old home/palace/castle is my favorite, to seek out the little details like the fancy butter molds and pastry rollers. “Cone Sugar,” with its snippers. And too, the cupboard. In the tradition of the early Scots-Irish settling, the lowest shelf was used as the place to keep the best laying hens safe and warm.
A Winding-Weasel used for measuring yarn. At every 89th revolution (don’t ask me why it couldn’t be rounded up) the weasel would “Pop” to signal that a skein of yarn has been wound. The classic nursery rhyme soon followed.
Let us go to the upper level, where as many as 20-25 people could have slept in the beds.
The fort also contained a Weaving House, another fascination for me. How were the various yarns dyed? Yellow color came from onion skins or hickory bark; Pink, from blackberries; Lavender; from grapes; Light Green, from dandelions or carrot fronds; and Red, from pokeberries.
Like any five-star fortress, this one had the requisite Smoke House (pig scalding bin below); Well and Smokehouse; Guest House; Mill; and of course, a Blacksmith. And an Outhouse, too.
Five years after White planted the flag, the new Governor of the Southwest Territory, William Blount (guess whose home I toured next? 😉) asked White if he could spare 64 acres or so to establish a new capital of the Territory. This was the beginning of Knoxville, named for Henry Knox, Secretary of War under President Washington.