The Settlement at Hamilton Crossroads

Photograph Courtesy of David Lay

It appears that THE William Hamilton was already in the vicinity of Hamilton Crossroads by the time Tennessee became a state in 1796. All this area was Hawkins County until Knox County was carved out of Hawkins County, then Grainger out of Hawkins County in 1796.
In 1794 William Hamilton received a land grant from the Governor of North Carolina. This land grant included Hamilton Crossroads, which was in Knox County from 1792 to 1796. Then in Grainger County until 1850 when Union County was carved out of Grainger, Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne and Knox Counties. He controlled 1,400 acres bounded by Log Mountain on the south and Hinds Ridge to the north. Hamilton Gap and Raccoon Valley

Old deeds refer to “the waters of Bull Run. The April 10, 1794 issue of the Knoxville Gazette [Source: Tennessee Ancestors, December 1987 and December 1988] noted that . . . the Indians have stolen nine horses from William Hamilton . . . . The August 12, 1794 edition of the Knoxville Gazette:

On the 12th instant, about 10 0'clck at night, a party of Indians, consisting of fifteen, attacked the Bull Run Blockhouse sixteen miles north of this place, at which a non-commissioned officer and ten privates are stationed for the defense of the frontiers, and continued around it until the arrival of Captain Beard with a party of the neighboring militia . . . The next day, Captain Evans . . .fell on the trail of the Indians who stole Hind’s, Barton’s, and Hamilton’s horses from Hind’s field on the 10th; and pursuing the trail into Cumberland Mountain, overtook the Indians, killed one, and regained the horses.”

Although “the crossroads” has not been referred to as a “station,” Ernest Hamilton, who lived on the old homeplace as a boy until the family left in November 1901, remembered an ancient “strong house..” In a 1967 letter he said, “It was large, no ceiling in it, some poles went across, and some across them, to store things on. Up near the top of the wall was kind of a walkway, and some holes cut through the wall so they could put their rifles to shoot at the Indians.

Jim Lay’s old store building still stands at the Crossroads.

Grandsons of Alexander Hamilton and Susanna Adamson and William Lay and Sarah Capps Hamilton Lay and children of Alexander Hamilton, Jr. and Casandra Lay Hamilton are:

William Lay Hamilton m. Nancy Buckner; Frances Marion Hamilton m. Matilda Hill; John Alvis Hamilton m. Mary (Polly) Yadon; Aaron Hamilton m. Phoebe Catherine Yadon; Alexander Lafayette Hamilton m. Mary Beeler; and Jasper Tennell Hamilton m. Betsy Beeler
All six sons were born at Liberty, which later became Maynardville.
Among the Hamiltons and Lays, they owned about 2,000 acres of land reaching from Raccoon Valley to Grainger County.
In 1967 Ernest Hamilton drew a sketch of the Hamilton Crossroads settlement as he remembered in 1901. There was a saw mil, ten homes, a blacksmith shop, two stores, two churches, probably more than one spring and a cemetery.

The land in the sketch is now owned by Lay family descendants. There appears to be several historic landmarks and structures still intact that could be added to the National Register of Historic Places should the owner decide to apply for this status.

Just north of the Crossroads on Kettle Hollow Road is the 40-acre Hamilton-Tolliver Farmstead, which was a part of the original William Hamilton land holdings.

The property's original owner, William Hamilton (1755-1828), was awarded in 1786 a land grant for his service in the American Revolution. By 1794, Hamilton settled in the community that would bear his name, Hamilton's Crossroads, at that time within the boundaries of Grainger County. Hamilton's property totaled some 1,629 acres and was among the largest landholdings in the area. Besides an active life in local political and civic affairs, the Hamilton family patriarch built a gristmill in the Hamilton's Crossroads community. William's eldest son, Alexander Hamilton, inherited most of the future Union County land his father had amassed, served as the local Justice of Peace and in the local militia. After Alexander’s death, the land passed to the third generation; and during the tenure of Alexander Hamilton, Jr. (1812-1863) the current log house is believed to have been built. Subsequently willed to Alexander,Jr.'s eldest son, William Lay Hamilton, the property temporarily passed out of Hamilton family ownership in 1875 when William Lay Hamilton sold the house and property to Crecy Hundley.

Over several decades succeeding William Lay Hamilton's sale of the farm in 1875, the Hamilton-Tolliver property passed through a series of owners, each of relatively short tenure, until it was finally acquired by Emily Tolliver in 1909. Emily's youngest brother, George Tolliver, began farming his sister's property shortly after she purchased it. Besides growing wheat, cotton, and other crops, George Tolliver was an active merchant in the county, operating his first store in Hickory Valley and a second at Hamilton's Crossroads (now Walkers Ford Rd. and Mill Pond Rd.) which he leased from J.P. Lay. In 1913, George acquired the farm from his sister and integrated his farming and mercantile enterprises, constantly expanding these to include a highly diversified livelihood strategy that would assist the family in surviving the worst economic crisis in the country's history. It was during the period of history spanning George Tolliver's ownership of the property that it would evolve toward its current appearance.

About a month before her death on September 20, 2009, Betty Hamilton Bullen, nephew David Lay, and I had the privilege of talking with Jean Lay Palmer about her recollections of the Lay family and growing up at Hamilton Crossroads. Here are some of the gleanings from that discussion:

Highway 33 was not completed until 1921, so the road through Hamilton Crossroads was the main road between Kentucky and the train station at Luttrell. People forded the Clinch River at Walker Ford and came on down by the Lay homeplace.

Jean recalls sitting in the front gallery of the Lay home watching cattle and turkey drives along the road to the train station at Luttrell. The circus came by one a year with their colorful wagons, animals and elephants.. Gypsies also came through one a year and Jean especially loved to watch them.. They camped just across from the old store building. The women wore fancy clothes in bright colors with lots of ruffles and big sleeves. They would stay three days and cooked over a campfire whatever they could gather up to cook. They helped themselves to anything that was not tied down–hid things in these big shirts and sleeves. Jean said, “Daddy (Herbert) looked forwarded the them coming and they all enjoyed the visit.” “That was the only time daddy just left the “:hen-house door open.” They were a lively group.

There is a wetland close by and people would come and gather the willow to make Bent Willow furniture–tables, chairs and baskets. Neighborhood women frequently gathered will for toothbrushes. In the early days people brushed their teeth with soda and salt and a willow toothbrush.

The log house set in front of the Herbert Lay homeplace. The first Hamilton and Lay settlers came to the area from Wilkes County, North Carolina. The Lays and Hamiltons intermarried. As did the Yadons and Cooks. The Cooks lived in a large log house with a dog-trot near where Warren and Louise Lynch now live.

Thomas Lay, Revolutionary War soldier received a pension of $40 a month and his widow received it after he died. John Lay and ___ Capps moved to Missouri and did well working as a blacksmith. The West was opening up. They worked on wagons, made harness. John Lay later moved on to Montana and some of the lays to Oregon. Larry Lay, son of John, (not the Mayor) visited Jean a few years ago. John Lay is a relative to Mayor Larry Lay.

The old store was built about 1840 by Fate Hamilton (Alexander Lafayette) and he also built the house that Jean was raised in. The Herbert Lay family moved back and forth between the “big house” and the house that’s there now. The house was “L” shaped before it was built onto.

The Lay property early on was up Mill Pond Road where the Jim Lay house was. Jean doesn’t remember when the log house was torn down. It was half way between current house and Walker Ford Road. Herbert Lay bought the store and the Hamilton property when he was 18. He was born ca 1885. He worked at the distillery until prohibition. The distillery was then turned into a grist mill. Herbert had a distillery in Park City (Knoxville) on Lay Avenue for about 10 years. The distillery was in the basement of the house on Lay Avenue. It drained to a branch that hogs had access to so the hogs got soused on the waste.

Jean recalled that Herbert loaned his cousin T. L. Lay money to start Lay Packing Company at Knoxville. He was part owner for many years. He sold his interest and moved to Halls, then later to Hamilton Crossroads. Ira Lay was also a major owner of Lay Packing Company. They lived out Tazewell Pike in the Smithwood area.



Earl and Judy Stowers Loving a Community Well

Earl and Judy Stowers with Lucky the pup stand in front of a photo of their Weimarener, Sasha. Earl says Sasha is driving his van and making a left-hand turn.

Folks often call him Speedo, but his real name is Mr. Earl, but you can call him Wendell if you like. Wendell Earl (Speedo) and Judy Stowers love to spend time with friends and are always up for a good joke, hence the name Speedo for Earl.

“I earned that name back when the Cadillacs had the hit song,” said Earl. “I guess it kind of stuck.”

Call him whatever name you want, just don’t call him late for dinner. When it comes to community service, well that’s no joking matter.


Paulette Outdoor Classroom Gains National Recognition

Paulette Outdoor Classroom Gains National Recognition

At Paulette Elementary School, they know that some of the most important lessons don't happen within classroom walls. Getting kids into nature, digging in dirt, and learning about plants, animals and agriculture, can provide experiences many students these days don't get at home. The Paulette Outdoor Classroom has been a vital part of that learning, a space for community gardens and wildlife habitats alike.

Ride Them Ponies

Is there a child who doesn’t want to ride a pony? From all indications there isn’t. I’m basing this on my seat at my book table at the 13th Annual Red Gate Festival and Rodeo this past weekend, and by the way, my latest book is here - More Tales from the Hills and Hollows of East Tennessee.

Billingsway Farm of Wytheville, Virginia brought their ponies and set up for this festival. From about 4:30pm to dark, little ones lined up with a parent or grandparent who had brought these little ones for a pony ride–or maybe a return for a second ride.

Knox County Potter's Field

Photo by  Brent Moore

Late one summer several years ago, I had the opportunity to walk into history-to explore a historical site that has been inaccessible for years. Sealed off from the public not by walls or fences but brush and bramble the interior of Knox County Potter's Field had been impenetrable for decades. In recent years, a trail had been blazed to the monument erected to indigent dead in 1937, but by spring of 2007 it had also become impenetrable.

The Ultimate Diet

The Ultimate Diet

Some say there is nothing new under the sun. I disagree. There is always a new diet making the rounds. You can be sure that after the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season the television will be overflowing with them. Old diet plans resurface with a new twist. Who do they think they're kidding? Those slim adolescent beauties were never fat. Put a fifty year old overweight mama of six kids on their diet plan and see if she is not a bunch of wrinkles. That is, if she is able to stay on their diet.

Please, Sir, I Want Some More

Ronnie Mincey

Mincey’s Musings
Year One, Week Seventeen

There are times in everyone’s life at church when there is a strong desire to laugh, but it would be most inappropriate.

One of my very favorite services is the Lord’s Supper (otherwise known as “communion” to some believers). At Maynardville (now the First) Baptist Church, this service has always been conducted with the utmost propriety. This is the service that commemorates the broken body and shed blood of the Lord Jesus, sacrificed that the world might be saved.

Balms, Banes, and Worts: Plant Name Curiosities


As a wildflower enthusiast and more recently a student of medicinal plants, I keep running across plants with recurring name components. The terms balm, bane, and wort come up often, so I decided to see why. Prepare to delve into the world of ethnobotany, the study of plants used by humans.


How Gardeners Can Dig For Health, Not Injury

How Gardeners Can Dig For Health, Not Injury

New research reveals that a bad digging technique can as much as double the load on the joints in the body, leaving people susceptible to chronic injuries.

The results reveal the risks that gardeners might be running if using a bad digging technique and comes at a time when more people are recognizing the health benefits of gardening.

God's Covenant with Mankind Terms and Conditions

God's Covenant with Mankind Terms and Conditions

There are many places in the Scriptures where God through His prophets details to varying degrees the terms and conditions of His covenant with mankind. The very first place He speaks of it is during Moses' summary of the creation story found in Genesis Chapter 1.

Zap! Boom!

Inch Worm

Zap! Boom!

My mom has an awesome superpower.  She can respond with clever comebacks at the speed of light. Seriously, it’s like a lightning bolt comes out of her mouth.  Zap! Boom!

She’s got you.

One time she had two Zap! Booms! in a row. 

We were at a nice restaurant with some friends. Mom ordered a side of coleslaw.  They served it to her in a scoop on top of a leaf of lettuce and in a small white bowl.

Soon after we started eating, my mom said, “Well…lookie here!”


Area Worship Leaders, Pastors, and Faith community leaders

Area Worship Leaders, Pastors, and Faith community leaders

"We invite all area Worship Leaders, Pastors, and Faith community leaders to come together on the last Thursday of each month at Hardee's at 7:30 am. This is to be a time of fellowship, prayer, and discussion about how we as a community of Faith can work together to have a positive impact on our county. All are welcome!" Margaret Chesney

Memoir Writing Class

Memoir Writing Class

Our next class will be Thursday, April 26 at 9:30 AM at the Senior Center in Maynardville. All are welcome.

If you haven't written anything more than a note asking whoever comes home first to start supper since you will be late, that's OK.

Also, it seems that the art of letter-writing is almost a thing of the past. That is not OK, but don't let that stop you from checking us out.

I have a number of “hand-outs” to help get you started in writing an episode of your past. We will help you.


Lacy Joe Harp

Lacy J. Harp, age 57, passed away April 22, 2018 after a brief battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Melanie Schimidt; daughter, Alyssa Jones and husband Stephen; sons, Zackary Harp, and Conner Harp; grandson Zephen. Please leave online condolences at

Brenda Sue Ammons

Brenda Sue Hutchison Ammons, age 73, of Halls Crossroads went home to be with her Lord on Friday April 20, 2018. She was a member of Emory Valley Baptist Church where she loved her Lord and Savior for many years. She is preceded in death by parents Ira and Lizzie Hutchison, loving husband of 55 years Elmer E. Ammons, brothers Jim and Steve Hutchison. She is survived by children Jeff Ammons, Trina Ammons and Robin Ammons Hipsky; grandchildren Joshua (Kristen) Moore and Zachary Hipsky, sister Betty Sturgill, grandpuppies; Breezy, Toby, and Smokey; and great grandpuppy Cooper.

Anthony "Tony" Griffin

Anthony “Tony” Austin Griffin, of Powell, passed away on April 18, 2018.

Tony is preceded in death by father Worley James Griffin Jr. and his grandparents.

He is survived by his mother Joan Griffin; siblings Martha (Lonnie) Gribble, Virginia (Ricky) Frye, Amy (Charlie) Payne, James Griffin, and Charity Griffin; grandmother Nannie Griffin; and many aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews.

Arlene Bell Rose

Arlene Bell Rose-age 82 of Luttrell went home to be with Jesus, Thursday, April 19, 2018 at her home following a lengthy illness. She was a member of Luttrell Church of God. Preceded in death by parents, Manie and Mamie Bell, five brothers and two sisters.

David Darrell Bailey

David Darrell Bailey-age 69 of Maynardville, born March 13, 1949 passed to eternal life Wednesday morning, April 18, 2018 at his home. He was a member of Elm Springs Baptist Church in Washburn. Retired truck driver with Olinger Trucking Company/Heartland Mobile Home Transport for 28 years.
Preceded in death by father, Rob Bailey; mother, Leona Bailey; brother, Hollis Bailey; sisters, Cathy Bailey and Carolyn Nicley; granddaughter, Angel Bailey.

Curtis Bert Fleenor

CURTIS BERT “CURTIE BERT” FLEENOR, 63 of Maynardville, TN formerly of Brandon, FL passed away unexpectedly & into the presence of the Lord on Sunday, April 15, 2018. He was born on September 16, 1954 in Louisville, KY, the firstborn son of Lawrence Bert Fleenor & Mary Jhalia Stewart who preceded him in death. A brother, Richard Scott also preceded him in death. His step-father whom he loved like a father, Francis Eggers, survives.

Sandra Prince

Sandra Faye Prince, age 60 of Knoxville, Tennessee, passed away on Sunday, April 15th, 2018. She was a faithful member of West Side Baptist Church.
She is preceded in death by Husband James Prince; Parents, Brother, and Sister. She is survived by Daughters, Amy Prince, and Melissa Roulette and son-in-law Jason; Grandchildren, Mason, Jordan, Javen, Noah, and Conner; Sisters, Glenda Hass, and Rudy Wright and Brother-in-law Buddy; Brother, Mike Kitts and sister-in-law Marty. As well as several nieces and nephews.

Tommie Grant

Tommie grant, age 72, of Knoxville, passed from this life on Saturday, April 14, 2018.

She is preceded in death by Husband Joe Grant, and Brother Bill Jones. She is survived by Daughter, Jody Ellison; Son, Michael Grant; Grandchildren Candy Hartmans (Peter), Maddison Lange, and Jacob Grant; Great-grandchildren Hagen, Harlem, Hyndrix, and Brentley; Sister-In-Law, Janet Grant; and other special family and friends.

The family will receive friends from 5pm until 7pm on Friday, April 20, 2018 at Mynatt Funeral Home in Fountain City. Funeral services will follow at 7pm.

Ethel Lee Rush

Mrs. Ethel Lee Rush, age 89, from Corryton, Tennessee, entered into her rest Sunday, April 15th, 2018 at her home. She was a beloved mother and grandmother, but above all she was a child of God and taught many children about Jesus over the years as a Sunday school teacher. She was an excellent cook, a lover and healer of animals and never came across any plant, flower or tree that she could not nourish and make grow.

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