From its beginning until the present, Johnson County has been populated by hardy, independent and pioneering people. Within its borders are beautiful mountains and valleys that are impressive not only to its citizens but also to those who visit. The county has a very interesting history. Carter County, formed from Washington County in 1796, included the area of land that now comprises Johnson County. Dissatisfied due to the difficulty of travel to conduct official business in Elizabethton, the county seat of Carter County, men of vision and determination finally persuaded the Tennessee general assembly to create a new county. A private bill passed in 1835 that established a new county and Governor Newton Cannon signed it into law in early 1836. The determination to have a new county is an example of the tenacity inherent in the citizens of what became Johnson County.
The countys stance during the awful American Civil War was one of courage and independence on the part of many county citizens. Johnson County along with several East Tennessee counties tried to keep Tennessee from seceding from the Union but failed. It took a great deal of courage and determination to be pro-union in East Tennessee but many Johnson County folks did just that.
I could point out many other interesting aspects of Johnson County history but suffice it to say that the countys history is indeed worthy of study and dissemination.
There is an organization in Johnson County that is dedicated to preserving and publicizing Johnson Countys unique history. The Johnson County Historical Society is the organization and its motto is: Dedicated to Bring the Past to the Present.
Organizational and preparatory action took place following a meeting of 15 area citizens on September 22, 1977. The late Walter Wayne Wilson was a driving force in getting the Society started and it was officially chartered by the state on December 15, 1977. The Society has published two outstanding books. In 1986 it published History of Johnson County, Vol. I. That book is filled with Johnson County history and a tremendous amount of family histories a boon for genealogists. The book is a handsome red in color with the Johnson County seal embossed in gold on the front.
In 2000 the society published History of Johnson County, Vol. II. It too is a treasure chest of history and genealogical information. It is similar to the first book in that it is red and has the county seal on the front. Both books are for sale at the Johnson County Welcome Center on South Shady Street in Mountain City. The books are of top quality. Drop by the Welcome Center and see how nice the books are. They would make great additions to your library and they make great gifts too.
The society contributed a great deal financially toward the building of the Johnson County Welcome Center. On the left as you enter the building is the Johnson County Historical Society Museum with many interesting items on display. If you havent visited the museum, I believe you will find it interesting.
As you can see the Johnson County Historical Society has accomplished much since its founding in 1977. It looks forward to many more projects in years to come. Current officers are Malcolm Howard, president; Grace Davis, Vice-President; Sue Howard, Treasurer; and Mary Swift, Secretary.
If you are interested in the history of Johnson County, you might want to become a member of the Society. Our normal meeting times are each third Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Come and check us out. Dues are $7.00 per year for one person and $10.00 per year for husband and wife.