Antiquated newspapers and books have gained new life in recent years. The various projects nationwide to render the printed word into the digital form have made it possible for researchers, genealogists and historians to gain new insight into decades, or even centuries, in the past. Kingsport, Tennessee, was a small place even into the Twentieth Century. Surprisingly, this "tiny town" is approaching 50,000 residents today.
Kingsport remained a tiny village as late as 1894. By that point, it was still a two-hour drive from Gate City, Virginia, and the most notable feature was a row of quaint old houses.
In the 1790s, Kingsport was a stagecoach stop between Lynchburg, Virginia, and Knoxville, Tennessee. The main stop was called "The Old Hostelry," what is believed to be present-day Netherland Inn.
The name comes from a time when the area was known as "King's Port." The King Boatyard sat along the Holston River. The region was also known as "Salt Lick" for many decades. The town that began in the 1700s was chartered in 1822, but the area stagnated during the decades surrounding the Civil War. It was chartered again in 1917 as a "garden city."
At the turn of the Nineteenth Century, the Roller Farm was called "Long Island." This is also where the "Battle of Long Island" occurred in 1775. A tremendous battle occurred on the island, a war between the natives and the settlers. The conflict was led by one of Chief Benge's associates named Dragging Canoe.
The settlers were saved only by the efforts of a noble native woman named Nancy Ward. She is relatively lost to time, but she was likened to Pocahontas in calming the battle. She held a powerful position amid the Cherokee and used her influence to push for peace. Ms. Ward's Cherokee name was, "Nanyehi."
By 1781, Col. Joseph Martin owned Long Island. A wooden fort was constructed by Col. William Christian atop the embankment, directly opposite the island. It was created in 1776 and was garrisoned until 1784. A farm located a few miles down the river was called "Solitude" and was owned by Captain Clay. Sadly, there is no trace of Christian's fort left.