Kingston has its roots in Fort Southwest Point, which was built just south of present-day Kingston in 1792. At the time, Southwest Point was on the fringe of the legal settlement area for Euro-Americans. A Cherokee village, headed by Chief Tollunteeskee, was situated just across the river, at what is now Rockwood. In 1805, Colonel Return J. Meigs, who operated out of Southwest Point, was appointed Cherokee Agent, effectively moving the agency from the Tellico Blockhouse to Southwest Point. The city of Kingston was established on October 23, 1799, as part of an effort to partition Knox County (the initial effort to form a separate county failed, but succeeded two years later). Kingston was named after Major Robert King, an officer at Fort Southwest Point in the 1790s. Building in Kingston used briefly as Tennessee’s state capitol in 1807, photographed in 1889.
On September 21, 1807, Kingston was Tennessee’s state capital for one day. The Tennessee General Assembly convened in Kingston that day due to an agreement with the Cherokee, who had been told that if the Cherokee Nation ceded the land that is now Roane County, Kingston would become the capital of Tennessee. After adjourning that day, the Assembly resumed meeting in Knoxville.
At the outset of the Civil War in 1861, Kingston was selected as the site of the third session of the East Tennessee Convention, which attempted to form a new, Union-aligned state in East Tennessee. Due to the Confederate occupation of the region, however, this third session, which was scheduled for August 1861, never took place. In October 1861, William B. Carter and several co-conspirators planned the East Tennessee bridge burnings from a command post in Kingston. On November 24, 1863, Confederate Cavalry under Joseph Wheeler numbering about 500–1,000 men tried to take Kingston from the Union, but they were unsuccessful.
In 1955, the Tennessee Valley Authority completed work on the Kingston Fossil Plant, which at the time was the world’s largest coal-burning power plant. The plant, which consumes roughly 14,000 short tons (13,000 t) of coal daily, can produce up to 1,456 megawatts of electricity. The plant’s 1,000-foot (305 m) smokestacks are a familiar sight to those driving on the Roane County stretch of Interstate 40. On December 22, 2008, a 40-acre (0.16 km2) impoundment containing fly ash slurry from the power plant broke, spilling more than 1 billion US gallons (3,800,000 m3) of waste into the surrounding area.
Located at 119 Court Street in Kingston, the Historic Roane County Courthouse, known as the state’s “capital for a day,” is one of only seven remaining antebellum courthouses in the state and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is home to a museum and archive library. The Roane County Archives Library has become the premier genealogical and historical research center for the area. It contains court documents dating back to 1802 as well as books and historical documents from the prehistoric era to World War II. The Roane County Museum of History displays Roane County and state artifacts.
On September 21, 1807, Kingston was Tennessee’s state capital for one day. The Tennessee General Assembly convened in Kingston that day due to an agreement with the Cherokee, who had been told that if the Cherokee Nation ceded the land that is now Roane County, Kingston would become the capital of Tennessee. After adjourning that day, the Assembly resumed meeting in Knoxville. (Source: Wikipedia).
A combined Greek Revivalist and Federalist style, it was built from 1854 to 1855 by architect Augustus Fisher and designer Fredrick B. Guenther, using native lumber and bricks made on the site by slaves. No nails were used in the original structure.
The courthouse is home to the Roane County Archives Library, becoming the premier genealogical and historical research center for the area. It contains court documents dating back to 1802 as well as books and historical documents from the prehistoric era to World War II. It also houses the Roane County Museum of History displaying Roane County and state artifacts.
The building was the active courthouse of Roane County until 1974 when the new courthouse was completed and the old courthouse was deeded to the Roane County Heritage Commission. An annual gala is held every September to raise money to help repair and preserve this magnificent building.
The building was used in the civil war by both confederates and union as a hospital. Graffiti can be found on the walls written by soldiers who were hospitalized. One false story told about the building are hangings taking place in the cupola of the building. This is totally “FALSE.” By law a hanging had to be made public, so gallows were built in the yard. The gallows in the building are purely for exhibit.
The cemetery was established in 1811 on lands donated by a Cherokee chief named “Riley.” The Bethel Presbyterian Church, organized in 1818, is now located on Kentucky Street. The Clinch River is visible in the distance.
Cherokee tried to live in peace with the white settlers. In 1811, Cherokee Indian Chief John Riley donated the land in downtown Kingston for the establishment of a cemetery. The cemetery surrounded the Bethel Presbyterian Church that was established on June 6, 1818. The church was moved to Kentucky Street between 1883 and 1886. I visited Historical Cemetery on my visit. It is located on the top of a pretty steep hill on Church Street just a block off of Kentucky Street which is the main street through town. All of the headstones are very weathered and it is difficult if not impossible to read the inscriptions. The listing of those buried there that are known do not include Alvis or his wife Charity. However the cemetery contains over 100 unmarked graves. Since this is the oldest and the main cemetery in Kingston and surrounded the Bethel Presbyterian Church when Alvis died in 1839, there is a strong possibility that he was buried here. The cemetery has lovely views of the mountains all around and the lake to the west.