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A bit of Johnson County history

Mountain City is unique in many ways not the least of which is how it came to be. Carter County once encompassed all of Johnson County with the County Seat located in Elizabethton. Folks living in the Northeast portion of Carter County became more and more dissatisfied due to the hardship they encountered due to the distance and difficulty they were forced to endure to conduct necessary business in Elizabethton.

Petitions were initially sent to Nashville, the Tennessee State Capital, to move the county seat closer to the center of Carter County and of course the folks in Elizabethton wanted no part of that. Finally, in early in 1836 a new county was formed from a part of Carter County and it was named in honor of Thomas Johnson, a prominent resident of the area. There were some in the state legislature who wanted to name the new county Taylorsville, in honor of Col. James P. Taylor also a well-respected citizen of Carter County. But, the name Johnson County prevailed and the County Seat would be named Taylorsville. Those who were appointed to lay out the new county were William Gott, Robert Reeves and James O’Brian.

Mountain City is located in one of the highest valleys in the state of Tennessee with Doe Mountain to the southeast, Forge Mountain to the east and Iron Mountain to the north. The commissioners appointed to locate the County Seat were Green Moore, John Ward, James Brown, James B. Morley and Ezekiel Smith. After viewing several sites, they bought 25½ acres from William P. Vaught and surveyed the town. The land was earlier owned by John Wagner. The sale of lots was held September 6, 1836. Thirty-three lots were sold with prices being good. One of the first residences of the town was Col. Green Moore.

If we had been in Taylorsville in its beginning, we would probably have seen homes being built and businesses going up and a good deal of activity. The town soon had hardware stores, hotels, restaurants and livery stables. Probably dirt streets with hitching posts for the horses were the norm. Some old photographs show those to be true. In the town’s early days I believe it would have been much like the town scenes shown in the old western movies.

Mountain City has expanded much since its beginning. The town has had three courthouses since it was formed in 1836. The first one was finished in 1837, the second one was built in 1894 and the current one was built in 1958. I remember well the second one. It was built on about the same site as the current one.
Mountain City was a bustling place when it was the hub of the green bean market. At one time there were three bean markets in Mountain City. So many green beans were grown in Johnson County that it was dubbed “The Green Bean Capital of the World.” Tobacco warehouses were also located in Mountain City but those buildings are now vacant or are being used for other purposes.

With their history, uniqueness and friendly folks, I’m happy to be a resident of Johnson County and