Sevierville is a city in Sevier County, Tennessee, located in the Southeastern United States. Its population was 11,757 at the 2000 United States Census; in 2004 the estimated population was 14,101. Sevierville is the county seat of Sevier County, Tennessee.
Sevierville is located at 3552?39?N 8334?12?W35.8775N 83.57W (35.877560, -83.569927). In the town’s eastern section, the Little Pigeon River is formed by the confluence of its East Fork and Middle Fork, both of which flow down from their sources high in the Great Smoky Mountains. Five miles downstream to the west, the Little Pigeon absorbs the West Fork before turning north and flowing for another five miles to its mouth along the French Broad River. Sevierville is centered around the stretch of land between these two junctions of the East and Middle Fork and the West Fork, known traditionally as Forks-of-the-Pigeon or Forks-of-the-River.
Sevierville is situated in an area where the Foothills of the Great Smokies give way to the Tennessee Valley, and thus the town has long acted as a nexus between Knoxville to the north and the Appalachian towns in the mountains to the south. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located approximately ten miles south of Sevierville.
Due to its hilly terrain and the relatively poor roads of 19th-century Sevier County, a number of smaller communities developed independently along the outskirts of Sevierville. These include Harrisburg and Fair Garden to the east and Catlettsburg and Boyd’s Creek to the north. In addition, the United States Postal Service associates the name “Sevierville” with ZIP codes for much of Sevier County, including the town of Pittman Center and other geographically extensive areas located outside Sevierville’s city limits.
Several major state and federal highways intersect in Sevierville. U.S. Route 441, commonly called “The Parkway,” connects Sevierville with Knoxville to the north and the national park and Cherokee, North Carolina to the south. The Sevierville section of US-441 has been named “Forks-of-the-River Parkway.” State Route 66, also called Winfield Dunn Parkway, connects Sevierville with Interstate 40 to the north. U.S. Route 411 traverses Sevierville from east to west, connecting Sevierville with Blount County and Cocke County. State Route 416 connects Sevierville with Pittman Center and U.S. Route 321 at the park boundary to the southeast.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.0 square miles of which, 19.9 square miles of it is land and 0.1 square miles of it (0.50%) is water.
Sevierville City Hall
As of the census of 2000, there were 11,757 people, 5,002 households, and 3,206 families residing in the city. The population density was 591.1 people per square mile. There were 5,787 housing units at an average density of 291.0/sq mi.
There were 5,002 households out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.3% were married couples living together, 13.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.9% were non-families.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,623, and the median income for a family was $37,972. Males had a median income of $27,247 versus $19,401 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,576.
Sevierville is the principal city of the Sevierville, Tennessee Micropolitan Statistical Area which includes all of Sevier County and is a component of the Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette Combined Statistical Area.
Native Americans of the Woodland period were among the first human inhabitants of what is now Sevierville, arriving sometime around 200 A.D. and living in villages scattered around the Forks-of-the-River area.
Between 1200 and 1500 A.D., during the Dallas Phase of the Mississippian period, a group of Native Americans established a relatively large village centered around a temple mound just above the confluence of the West Fork and the Little Pigeon River. This mound was approximately 16 feet (4.9 m) high and 240 feet (73 m) across and was surrounded by a palisade. An excavation in 1881 unearthed burials, arrow-points, a marble pipe, glass beads, pottery, and engraved objects. At the time of this first excavation, the mound was located on a farm owned by the McMahan family, and was thus given the name McMahan Indian Mound.
By the early 1700s, the Cherokee controlled much of the Tennessee side of the Smokies, establishing a series of settlements along the Little Tennessee River. A section of the Great Indian Warpath forked at the mouth of Boyd’s Creek, just north of Sevierville. The main branch crossed the French Broad and continued along Dumplin Creek to the Nolichucky basin in northeastern Tennessee. The other branch, known as the Tuckaleechee and Southeastern Trail, turned south along the West Fork of the Little Pigeon River. This second branch forked again at modern-day Pigeon Forge, with the main trail turning east en route to Little River and the other branch, known as the Indian Gap Trail, crossing the crest of the Smokies to the south and descending into the Oconaluftee area of North Carolina. The various Cherokee trails criss-crossing Sevier Co. brought the first Euro-American traders and settlers to
European long hunters and traders arrived in the Sevierville area in the mid-1700s. Isaac Thomas (1735?-1818), the most notable of these early traders, was well-respected by the Cherokee, and may have lived at the Overhill town of Chota at one time. Europeans like Thomas were mainly in search of animal furs, for which they exchanged manufactured goods.
As settlers began to trickle into East Tennessee, relations with the Cherokee began to turn hostile. During the Revolutionary War, the Cherokee, who had aligned themselves with the British, launched sporadic attacks against the sparse settlements in the Tennessee Valley. In December of 1780, Col. John Sevier, fresh off a victory over the British at King’s Mountain, launched a punitive expedition against the Cherokee. Sevier routed the Cherokee at the Battle of Boyd’s Creek and proceeded to destroy several Cherokee settlements along the Little Tennessee.
A temporary truce secured by James White in 1783 led to an influx of Euro-American settlers in the French Broad valley. Hugh Henry (1756?1838) erected a small fort near the mouth of Dumplin Creek in 1782 known as Henry’s Station. He was joined the following year by Samuel Newell (1754?1841), who established Newell’s Station along Boyd’s Creek, and Joshua Gist, who settled near the creek’s mouth. Other early forts in the area included Willson’s Station at the confluence of the East and Middle Fork of the Little Pigeon and Wear’s Fort at the junction of the Southeastern and Tuckaleechee Trail and Indian Gap Trail. The Cherokee signed away all rights to what is now Sevier County in the 1785 Treaty of Dumplin, which was negotiated at Henry’s Station.
In 1783, Isaac Thomas established a farm, trading post, and tavern at the confluence of the West Fork and the Little Pigeon River. He was joined shortly thereafter by Spencer Clack (1740-1832) and James McMahan, and a community known as Forks of the Little Pigeon developed around them. In 1789, Reverend Richard Wood (1756-1831) established Forks-of-the-River Baptist Church, which reported a congregation of 22 in 1790. By 1795, the congregation had 94 members.
Sevier County was created in 1794 and named after John Sevier. At a meeting at Thomas’s house the following year, the Forks-of-the-Little-Pigeon area was chosen as the county seat, and renamed “Sevierville.” James McMahan donated a 25-acre tract upon which to erect a town square. This tract was parceled out into half-acre lots upon which the purchaser was required to build a brick, framed, or stone structure.
As the county grew, several large farms were established in the fertile Boyd’s Creek area. In 1792, Andrew Evans purchased a tract of land near the mouth of Boyd’s Creek and built a ferry near the site of the old ford. In the early 1790s, Thomas Buckingham established a large farm between Boyd’s Creek and Sevierville. Buckingham went on to become the county’s first sheriff.
As towns situated along the French Broad are connected via waterway to New Orleans, a flatboat trade flourished along the river in the early 1800s. In 1793, James Hubbert, who lived along Dumplin Creek, established Hubbert’s Flat Landing to trade with flatboats moving up and down the river.
In the early 1800s, Knoxville and Asheville were connected via Route 17, a crude road which followed the banks of the French Broad. This new road gave Tennessee’s cattle drovers greater access to markets along the east coast. In 1820, a stagecoach road connected Sevierville with Maryville to the west. Sevierville’s situation as a county seat along these early roads helped it to grow. By 1833, the town had a population of 150, including two doctors, two carpenters, a tanner, two tailors, a shoemaker, three stores, a hatter, two taverns, and two mills.
Distilleries were popular means of supplemental income. By 1850, John Chandler’s distillery was producing 6,000 gallons of whiskey per year.
In 1856, a fire swept through Sevierville, burning a recently-constructed new courthouse, 41 houses, and several shops in the downtown area. Perhaps more importantly, the county lost nearly all of the vital records of its early settlers.
The Civil War
Slavery wasn’t common in Sevier County, although it did occur, especially at the large plantations along the French Broad River.
Sevierville, situated at a major crossroads south of Knoxville, suffered consistent harassment, looting, and confiscation of property by both Union and Confederate forces moving through the town in 1863 and 1864.
After Confederate General James Longstreet failed to retake Knoxville in the Battle of Fort Sanders, Union and Confederate forces quickly initiated a series of maneuvers to gain control of the strategic fords along the French Broad, culminating in an engagement near Hodsden’s farm at Fair Garden in January 1864. Although the Union forces were victorious, they were later forced to retreat for lack of supplies. A state of general anarchy ensued, continuing until the end of the war. On October 30, 1864, Sevierville resident Terressa McCown wrote in her diary: The robbers have come at last, they robbed my husband of his pocketbook, money and papers and pocket knife. Times get worse everyday. We know not what will come next. I feel this morning like nothing but destruction awaits us.
At the war’s end, the county’s few remaining Confederate sympathizers, most notably members of the Brabson family, were forced to flee.
Sevierville recovered quickly from the war, with a number of new houses and businesses being built in the 1870s. Two members of the town’s African-American community house builder Lewis Buckner (1856-1924) and brickmason Isaac Dockery (1832-1910) would play a prominent role in Sevierville’s post-war construction boom. Buckner designed a number of houses in the Sevierville area over a 40-year period, 15 of which still stand. Dockery’s greatest contributions include the New Salem Baptist Church in 1886 and the Sevier County Courthouse in 1896, both of which still stand.
By the 1880s, Sevierville was growing rapidly as the population of Sevier County swelled. In 1887, the town had four general stores, two groceries, a jeweler, a sawmill, and two hotels. It was also home to the Sevierville Lumber Company, which had recently been established to harvest trees in the area. Tourists also started to trickle into Sevier County, drawn by the health-restoring qualities of mountain springs. Resorts sprang up throughout the county, with Seaton Springs and Henderson Springs located just south of Sevierville.
After a fire destroyed much of the downtown area in 1900, businesses shifted from the old town square at Main Street to the new Sevierville Commercial District. Court Avenue and Bruce Street, were centered around the new courthouse. The town incorporated in 1901.
In 1910, Indiana entrepreneur William J. Oliver finished work on the Knoxville, Sevierville and Eastern Railroad, which was Sevier County’s first standard gauge rail line. Known as the Smoky Mountain Railroad, this line offered passenger service between Knoxville and Sevierville until 1962.
With the opening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1934, tens of thousands of tourists began passing through Sevierville, which was situated about halfway between the park and Knoxville. US-441, initially known as the Smoky Mountain Highway, was completed to Sevierville in 1934, and later extended to North Carolina.
Entertainer Dolly Parton was born in Sevierville in 1946. The Parton family migrated to Greenbrier sometime around 1850, and later moved to Locust Ridge (near Pittman Center) after establishment of the national park. Parton has been honored with the Dolly Parton Parkway being named for her and with a statue on the lawn of the Sevierville courthouse.
Like other towns situated along the Parkway in Sevier County, Sevierville has reaped the benefits of the burgeoning tourism industry brought on by the development of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As of 2004, nearly fifty percent of businesses based in Sevierville were linked to tourism. For example, there are over 2,000 hotel and motel rooms in the city today, generating more than $500,000(USD) in hotel-motel tax revenues each year.
In spite of the local tourism boom, however, Sevierville is still the most traditional community in the county. With almost twice the population of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg combined, local industry accounts for twenty percent of the city’s economy, and most of the practical services of daily life, such as hospitals and car dealerships, are found nowhere else in the county.
East Tennessee Radio Group owns and operates the Sevierville area’s primary local radio stations, WPFT-FM “106.3 THE MOUNTAIN” (Classic hits of the 60’s and 70’s) and FM 105.5 (adult contemporary music, known as “Mix 105.5”). Also, WWST-FM “Star” 102.1, a Top 40 music station serving the Knoxville market, is licensed by the FCC to Sevierville.
Ten Tec, a manufacturer of amateur radio equipment, is headquartered in Sevierville. It is one of just a handful of similar businesses remaining in the United States, as most of the radio electronics industry shifted to Japan in the 1970s and 1980s.
Registered historic sites
? The Sevier County Courthouse, completed in 1896. Sevier County’s fifth courthouse. The building was designed by the McDonald Brothers of Louisville and constructed by C.W. Brown of Lenoir City. The brickwork was completed by Isaac Dockery. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
The Sevierville Commercial District, which includes Court Avenue, Bruce Street, and Commerce Street, all in the vicinity of the courthouse. Sevierville’s commercial district shifted to this part of town when the old commercial district burned in the early 1900s. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.
Buckingham House between Sevierville and Boyd’s Creek, built late 1700s by Thomas Buckingham. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
Brabson’s Ferry Plantation, near Boyd’s Creek; established by Andrew Evans in early 1790s and purchased by John Brabson in 1798. The site includes a plank house from the late 1700s. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
Wheatlands, near Boyd’s Creek. This house was built in the early 1800s by John Chandler, who owned a large plantation and distillery. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
Rose Glen, near Fair Garden. This house was built in the 1840s by Dr. Robert Hodsden. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
New Salem Baptist Church, built in the 1880s by the local African-American community, including brickwork by Isaac Dockery. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
The Harrisburg Covered Bridge, built in the late 1880s. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
Courtesy of Wikipedia