By: Jack Swift
Johnson County Historian
I feel blessed to have been born and raised in the great state of Tennessee, especially in East Tennessee. I’ve spent most of my life in Tennessee except for two years in the United States Army. As I find out more and more about the Volunteer State, the more interested I become. There is a difference in the climate from one end of the state to the other. Further, the temperature varies greatly from cold weather to hot weather in the course of a year. East Tennessee has snow in varying amounts but I wouldn’t want snow all year long. I wouldn’t want hot weather all year either. A little snow is okay. A lot of Snow, not so much. Keeping the roads safe is my main concern when winter comes on the scene each year.
Anyway, I read somewhere that Tennessee got its name from a Cherokee Village and river called Tanasi. There are varying explanations as to why it is called The Volunteer State. But it boils down to the fact that Tennessee provided the most volunteers during a number of U. S. wars and military conflicts in its history.
Tennessee history is very interesting. The area that is Tennessee once belonged to North Carolina. Later, Tennessee was also in the area known as The Territory South of the River Ohio or simply The Southwest Territory. Prior to Tennessee becoming the 16th state in 1796 — only 20 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence — an experiment in government called The State of Franklin was formed but it only lasted four years. For those of my readers who like trivia, here are some other interesting facts about Tennessee: The state bird is the Mockingbird, the state flower is the Iris, the state motto is “Agriculture and Commerce,” the state song is “The Tennessee Waltz.” It is interesting to note that Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union during the American Civil War and it was the first state to be re-admitted. Many East Tennessee citizens were sympathetic to the Union.
Historians say that in 1540 the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto led the first white expedition into the region. Of course, the famous pioneer Daniel Boone explored a great deal in East Tennessee.
In 1982, Knoxville, Tennessee played host to the World’s Fair. I had the privilege of attending the fair with a church group and it was a great experience.