KINGSTON, Tenn. (WATE) — 215 years ago an East Tennessee town was the state capital for one day.
Kingston, Tennessee was the capital for a day on September 21 in 1807. According to the East Tennessee Historical Society (ETHS), the day was to fulfill a promise made to the Native Americans.
“The Cherokee had been promised that if they ceded land in Roane County, the state capital would be moved there. Having fulfilled this promise, the Tennessee General Assembly moved their meeting and the capital back to Knoxville the next day,” ETHS says.
Most of Roane County was acquired from the Cherokee through two treaties, One in 1794 and the Third Tellico Treaty of 1805, according to the Soil Survey of Roan County, published by the United States Department of Agriculture Bureau of Plant Industry. The Tennessee Encyclopedia explains that a third treaty, the Calhoun Treaty of 1819, included the Hiwassee Purchase which expanded the area further.
The Soil Survey of Roane County explains that Roane County was formed from Knox County in 1801, but with the additional land that was added in 1805, the county became very large. Later, the surrounding counties, Morgan, Bledsoe, Rhea, Hamilton, Sequatchie, and parts of Cumberland, Grundy, Marion, Franklin, and Loudon, would be made from lands that were originally parts of Roane County.
The city of Kingston, which prides itself on its natural beauty, is located just along Watts Bar Lake. The lake connects back to the Tennessee River through Fort Loudon Lake and was once a major steamboat hub along the river. Now those waters are used mostly for recreational purposes according to the city.
Kingston was founded in 1799 according to the city. It now has one of only seven remaining antebellum courthouses in Tennessee, which is located in the center of town, the city says.
This same courthouse served as the state capital, according to the Tennessee River Valley Geotourism website. Now the Historic Roane County Courthouse, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, has two museums and an archive library, according to the Roane Tourism website. The courthouse can be found at 119 Court Street in Kingston.
EDITORS NOTE: This story has been updated for clarification.