The Rockwood Times, Rockwood, TN, Thursday, 25 Aug 1904, Vol. XXIV, No. 24.
About Roane County People. by W.E. McELWEE.---In 1804 James LONES and Richard MERIDETH opened a store on the road from Knoxville to South West Point at what was known for many years afterwards as the MERIDETH old place. MERIDETH also erected a tavern at the same place. This 1st of July in the same year James McNUTT and Co. opened a store near where Capt. DIETZ now lives. Wm. BLACK began the mercantile business in the same year one door above McNUTT & Co. There were now seven stores in the county, one of them James WILLETTS being located in Sequatchie Valley at the big spring where the town of Pikeville now stands. Charles MILLBANKS engaged in the business of a peddler in June of the same year. As there were but 342 men between the ages of 21 and 50 in the county at the time it is easy to see that the goods business was being overdone, besides the State had levied a tax of twenty five dollars on each merchant and peddler. The result was that five of the parties closed out their business. The population of the county continued to increase and more residences were being built in Kingston. Forty six lots had been sold and houses were being erected on the most of them. While some of the merchants went out of the trade a new industry sprang up. There were nine ordinaries licensed this year four of which were located around the public square where they flourished and fattened for almost one hundred years. Of these ordinary keepers no descendants now live in the town. There were three merchants in the town at that date. Two of them, Samuel MARTIN and John McEWEN, have descendants in the town who have been in the business continuously ever since.
Taxes in the county for the year 1802 amounted to two hundred and forty nine dollars and six and one fourth cents for the state and four hundred and sixty five dollars and twenty nine cents for county. Of this amount one hundred and three dollars and sixty-eight cents was expended for charity. Ten years from this date the amount of taxes collected were eleven hundred and thirty-seven dollars and fifty-four cents. Of this amount there was paid to the State $322.35; for public buildings $350.35; court expenses $163.74. To charity $106.71 and general expense fund. In other words county expenses at that date were about one dollar to each individual. Now it amounts to about four dollars to each individual. The tax rate as set by the court for the year 1815 after the costs of building the court house and jail had been paid was on each one hundred acres of land eighteen and three-fourth cents, on each town lot thirty seven and one half cents, on poll tax twelve and one half cents on merchant license ten dollars. At this date, 1815, there three stores in the county all located in Kingston. They were those of McEWEN and FAIN located in the frame house on the corner below the Exchange Hotel, Calvin and Gideon MORGAN in the brick now occupied by BRAZEALE as a hotel and Samuel MARTIN who had added to his store a hatters shop. Almost all hats were "home made." When a hat was wanted the first thing was to catch three coons and one fox and take their pelts to the hatter who clipt the fur and by a simple process manufactured a hat. Eight rabbit skins would make a hat but they were not desirable as they would not turn water. Four mink skins and one fox made the best hat. The fox fur was to tie the mesh together. Henry LEGGET had the most noted hat shop in the town. He continued to make hats till about 1840. Wm. WORMSLEY was the last man who worked at the trade and run a shop for LIGGET. Tom WORMSLEY of Rockwood is WORMSLEY'S son. LIGGET run a store on the corner of 3rd street and the public square where JOHNSON lives, and a hotel in the brick at the crest of the little hill on the east side of the town where TIndexLL lives. Just back of this house on first street was the PATTON home and near by on the spring branch was located the tannery where George LOVELACE whipped the bull dog by catching the dogs nose in his teeth and holding on till the dog hollowed. The spectators all declared it was a fair fight, the dog making the mistake when he went for LOVELACE'S throat of sticking his nose into LOVELACES mouth, much to the disgust of PATTON who was betting on the dog.
The Rockwood Times, Rockwood, TN, Thursday, 8 Sep 1904, Vol. XXIV, No. 26.
About Roane County People. by W.E. McELWEE.---For the reason that political affair will occupy so much of public attention, till after the election in November, space in the columns of your paper can be utilized much more to the public taste than by my gossip about Roane county people. I will therefore cease, at least, until after the election. I may then take up the introduction and growth industries, and sketches of people connected therewith for instance:
The first coal used in Roane county, was mined and used by Allison HOWARD in 1812.
The first coal shipped to market, by Capt. Wm. JACKSON, 1830.
The first Catalan forge, with water blast, for making hammered iron, built by George GORDEN, 1816.
First furnace, charcoal, cold blast, pig iron and castings; built by George GORDEN and Mathew P. ENGLISH in 1827.
First Grist mill, water power, built by Samuel EBLEN, 1799.
First Saw mill, Steam power, Roughs(?) & Co., 1850.
First well established newspaper, Kingston East Tennessean, N.A. and M.L. PATTERSON, 1852.
First book written in county, "Arithmetic by Samuel FOWLER."
First bell-crowned silk hat, made by John ASHLEY and worn by John EBLEN, 1812.
First sewing machine, a Remington, bought by Col. R.K. BYRD for $110 and presented to a lady friend.
First threshing machine, a "Taplac?" power, bought by BROWN & McELWEE, 1850.
First mowing machine, a wood bar, one wheel, McCormac, bought by Benjamin HUFFINE, 1857.
It may not be known to some that Cyrus McCORMAC was not the real originator of the basic principle of the mowing machine. The plan was originated by old Ben. WELLS while tending a sash saw mill on Spring creek. A pair of scissors was lying on an overhead beam and accidentally fell with the handles between the feed hand and fender post. The working of the feed hand opened and shut the scissors. WELLS picked up a straw and held it tot he scissors which cut it. It occurred to WELLS to arrange a number of pairs on a horizontal bar and cut grass. He made a model, sold his possession and traveled in a wagon to Cincinnati to get one made. It was found on trial that while the shears cut the grass that was caught between the cutting edges, just one half of the grass went behind the blades when shut. Being without money WELLS gave up and came home. Cyrus McCORMAC saw the machine, discovered the defect, and remedied it by changing the scissors to cutting bar and patented it. He died worth six millions. WELLS left an estate of fifteen hundred.