From its creation Johnson County has had a most interesting history. We can deduce from the arrowheads and other artifacts that have been found that the Cherokee tribe of Native Americans once hunted and some historians believe even camped on what is Johnson County land. As a youngster, I found arrowheads while working in the fields of our small farm. According to some historians, other Native American tribes were here before the Cherokee but were driven further west by the Cherokee, who then dominated this land.
In early 1777, Washington County was formed. In 1779 Jonesborough was created as Washington Countys county seat. On April 9, 1796 the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law to create a new county from Washington County. The new county was named Carter County in honor of Landon Carter, a prominent citizen of the area. Elizabethton was created to be the county seat.
Johnson County was carved from Carter County in 1836. Hardship due to traveling great distances (at that time), poor trails or roads, mountains to climb and rivers to ford were reason enough for the citizens of what is now Johnson County to desire change. Attempts were made first to move the county seat but those efforts were to no avail. Finally after petitions were delivered Johnson County was formed from Carter County in early 1836. The new Tennessee County was named Johnson County in honor of Thomas Johnson who was a distinguished and prominent citizen of what would become Johnson County. A county seat was laid out and named Taylorsville to honor Col. James P. Taylor also a prominent citizen of Carter County. During the life of the State of Franklin, what is now Johnson County was called Wayne County in honor of General Mad Anthony Wayne due to his outstanding performance during the Revolutionary War. Johnson Countys county seat was changed from Taylorsville to Mountain City in 1885.
The first session of the County Court of Johnson County took place on May 2, 1836. The magistrates present were John Ward, Thomas Johnson, Andrew L. Wilson, Jared Arrendell, James W. Warren, Joseph Robinson, James W. Wright, Andrew Wilson, James Brown, Jesse Cole, Levi Heath, M. M. Wagner, John Dugger, Sr., and Phillip Shull. M. M. Wagner was elected trustee, David H. Wagner; Register; David H. Wagner, register; Benjamin Wilson, entry taker; S. E. McQueen, surveyor; William Keys, Coroner; and Levi Heath, ranger. Those officials had sessions at the Pleasant Grove Schoolhouse for about a year. They also met in the home of Green Moore. In October of 1836, the commissioners were given authority to contract for the building of a courthouse. About two years later, the structure was built and later a jail was built.
The first circuit court of Johnson County was held on March 28, 1836. It was held in the former home of Thomas Johnson who had passed away. Samuel Powell presided and Alfred D. Smith qualified as clerk.
Originally Taylorsville consisted of twenty-five and one half acres. I have a copy of the original handwritten deed and the plat that formed the town of Taylorsville (later Mountain City). It appears to be roughly the size and location of the area bounded on the east by Church Street, on the south by Murphy Street, on the west by Shady Street and on the north by College Street.