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.



Making Notes

Making Notes

So you think you don't have enough memories to write your life story? You are wrong. They just need to be brought out to the here and now. There is an excellent way to do it, take notes. It will take time, but you will see results.

There is nothing to stop you from writing your memories down on a note pad or in an exercise book. But memories rarely arrive in chronological order and when you start writing your book of life stories, you will be forever flicking backwards and forwards through the pages trying to find the note that you want.

Who Were the Longhunters?

Who Were the Longhunters?

Robert Kato, a Longhunter reenactor, speaks at the June 9, 2018 meeting of the Nicholas Gibbs Historical Society.

Groups called Longhunters [18th century explorers and hunters] were the first to blaze the trails into the American wilderness across the United States. Elisha Wolfe led a group of Longhunters as early as 1761-1765.

Augustus and the Norris Reservior

Augustus and the Norris Reservior

Years before Harry Potter inspired older children to keep reading, Augustus inspired me, late in the primary grades, to keep reading. We were about the same age when we met at the school library. Eventually I grew up, but I never forgot him. In my imagination, he will always be out there somewhere on the Mississippi River with his kind, well meaning, but somewhat dysfunctional family.

Augustus' family not only lived in a houseboat on the river, but also lived off the river. What could be more exciting to an eight-year-old boy?

The Miracle of Plants

The Miracle of Plants

As an amateur naturalist I have a curiosity to know how things work. In college I once saw the chemical reactions involved in photosynthesis laid out on a large poster. This all-important method plants use to make food for themselves (and ultimately us) was incredibly long and complex. It is so complex that it’s tempting to simply say that plants bring in carbon dioxide and water, add sun energy, then a miracle happens and out comes oxygen and food. While there is truth there, let me elaborate on the miracle part.


Spine Osteoarthritis Patients and Those Under 65 More Likely to Use Opioids to Manage Pain

Spine Osteoarthritis Patients and Those Under 65 More Likely to Use Opioids to Manage Pain

A large percentage of patients with knee, hip and spine osteoarthritis use opioids to manage their chronic pain, especially those who are younger or have symptoms of depression, according to new research findings. Osteoarthritis, or OA, is the most common joint disease affecting middle-aged and older people. It is characterized by progressive damage to the joint cartilage—the cushioning material at the end of long bones—and causes changes in the structures around the joint.

Milk and Cornbread

Milk and Cornbread

We all have that one special treat that we look forward to having. For me, it’s a tossup between something chocolate and somebody doing the laundry. My Mamaw Jo had a treat that I could never understand: milk and cornbread. In all fairness, I did try it, but I didn’t like it. For one thing, milk and I don’t get along.

Blackberries and Dumplings

Blackberries and Dumplings

I spent my early years in Michigan. The last thirty years I have been here. If I had known how wonderful Tennessee was, I would have been here long ago. Don't fault me for being from Michigan. We all have to be from somewhere. I will try to keep the secret of how wonderful East Tennessee is. After all, there is only so much room for former Yankees down here.

Commission Approves 2019 Budget, No New Taxes

Union County Commission

Passing a budget and setting a tax rate in June has now become best practice in Union County. For two consecutive years, Ann Dyer, County Finance Director, and County Mayor Mike Williams have diligently worked with County Commission led by Chairman Gary England and the Budget and Finance Committee to complete the budget process before the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1. Their combined efforts have solidified the budget process into a transparent, accountable, and responsible fiscal practice that has set Union County on a course toward improvement and maybe even prosperity.

Cyn Taylor joins Authors Guild of Tennessee

Cyn Taylor

Local author Cyn Taylor was recently vetted by the Authors Guild of Tennessee and welcomed as a new member of the group in May.

A Knoxville native, Taylor writes Southern Contemporary Romantic Suspense staged in the Smoky Mountains and surrounding area. Smoky Mountain Mist is Taylor's first series. Blue Mountain Sky, Red Morning Glory and Dawn's Gray Light are the three books completing that series.



Meet-the-Candidates Tuesday, June 26 6PM-8PM

Dear Candidate:

Thank you for being a candidate for public office!

You are invited to participate in a Union County Meet-the-Candidates evening gathering on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, at 6 PM - 8PM at the Union County Senior Citizens Center.
This event is intended both to help our citizens cast an informed vote on August 2 (or earlier) and to help introduce you to your voters. Palm cards, written materials are welcome. (A surrogate for the candidate who cannot attend is welcome.)

Union County Board Of Education


The next regular workshop and meeting of the Union County Board of Education will be held on Thursday, June 28, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. at Union County High School. The workshop will begin at 6:00 p.m. with the meeting immediately to follow.



1. Discuss School Trips

· None at Time of Publication

2. Budget Amendments and Transfers/Director’s Monthly Report—Ann Dyer

County Commission will meet in Special Called Session

County Commission will meet in Special Called Session

The County Commission will meet in Special Called Session on Thursday, June 28, at 7:00 to finalize the budget amendments and transfers of the current budget to facilitate the filing of the Annual Financial Report. The public is encouraged to attend.


Thursday, June 28 2018 – TIME 7:00 P.M.


Community Worship & Revival

On February 22, 2018, A Call To Prayer was made in the Luttrell Community. Several community pastor agreed to go back to their respective churches and call on their members to pray for the Lord to guide in an effort to unite our churches with a common goal of a Community Worship & Revival leading folks to Jesus the only begotten son of God.

2018 Luttrell Music festival

2018 Luttrell Music festival

An exciting event will happen in Luttrell once again this fall. Thanks to organizer Mayme Taylor. The Luttrell Music Festival will return September 8, 2018. Taylor has accomplished quite the feat with her headliner band, Ricochet, as well as acquiring sponsors and donors.

Ricochet will take a brief time out from a busy tour season to perform at the festival. Along with band performances, the festival will host a kid’s music competition, a cruise in, barbeque, food vendors, baked goods and craft vendors.


Brenda Ann Hall

Brenda Ann Hall-age 59 of Maynardville passed away suddenly Wednesday, June 20. 2018 at North Knoxville Medical Center after a brief battle with ovarian cancer. She worked and served faithfully as an LPN at Willow Ridge Center for the past 8 years and was beloved by both her patients and co-workers alike. Brenda was preceded in death by father, Gerald W. Hall; nephew, Stefan Hall.

Harold D. Dotson

Harold D. Dotson-age 83 of Maynardville passed away Tuesday, June 19, 2018 at Willow Ridge Center. He was a member of New Fellowship Church. Harold retired from the U. S. Navy with 20 years of service and was a Vietnam Veteran. Preceded in death by parents, Frank E. and Ada Francis Dotson; son, Frank E. Dotson, II; all of Harold’s brothers and sisters preceded him in death; James Dotson, Herman Dotson, George Dotson, Bobby Lee Dotson, Fae L. Simpson, Gayenell Stanley and Ines Bevins.

George Taylor Brooks

George Taylor Brooks, age 90, of Thorngrove, passed away on June 20, 2018 at Oakwood Senior Living in Knoxville. He was preceded in death by his wife, Grace Bridges Brooks, parents Joe “Frosty” and Hattie Hickman Brooks, sister Ida Huffaker, and brother John Elmer “Toad” Brooks. He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law Cathy Jo and Jim Norris of Thorngrove. Special friends include Bob Petty, Donnie Crawford, Glyn Underwood and his little buddy Grayson Huffaker. He leaves to cherish his memory a large extended family of sister-in-laws, brother-in-laws, nieces, and nephews.

Rev. Earl Ray Johnson

Reverend Earl Johnson – age 82 of Union County, went to his Heavenly home on June 19, 2018. He was a member of Ailor Dale Baptist Church and former pastor of several churches. Earl was a dedicated man of God with the strongest faith. He was always caring and giving to everyone, always putting others needs before his own. He will be sadly missed by all that were lucky enough to know him.

Edna Mae (Beeler) Shoffner

Edna Mae (Beeler) Shoffner, Age 97 of Sharps Chapel was born on November 23, 1920 and went home to be with the Lord on Monday, June 18, 2018 at her home surrounded by her family. She was a member of Oak Grove Primitive Baptist Church.
Edna is preceded in death by her loving Husband Charlie Shoffner. Daughter: Wanda Brown, Son: Tom Shoffner and Grand-Daughter Gabrielle Shoffner. Parents: Mack and Lennie Beeler. Brothers: Tommy, Otis, and Clarence Beeler. Sisters: Mert, Lelia, and Georgia.

Teresa Ann Greer

Teresa Ann Greer, age 44, of Maryville, TN passed away peacefully on June 16, 2018. Preceded in death by mother Judith Ann Greer. Survived by children, Courtney Ann Thomas and fiancé Brandon Yeaman, Justin Joe Bradburn, and Madison Ann Bradburn; father Bobby Joe and wife Deborah; grandchildren John Mason and Eli Blane.

James Paul Myers, Jr.

James Paul Myers, Jr. age 70 of Knoxville, passed away June 15, 2018. James was a Vietnam veteran. He was of the Baptist faith and pastored many churches in his life. Preceded in death by wife Janet Myers; parents James P. Myers, Sr. and Juanita Myers; sister Helen Wrinkle. Survived by sons Jay Lloyd Myers and Stephen Myers; very special brother David Myers; several nieces and nephews. Family will receive friends 6:00p.m.-8:00p.m. Wednesday June 20, 2018 at Mynatt Funeral Home Fountain City Chapel with service to follow, Rev. Clyde Lakin and Eddie Myers officiating.

Anna Mae Shelby Davis

Anna Mae Shelby Davis-age 78 of New Tazewell passed away Friday morning, June 15, 2018 at U. T. Medical Center following a long illness. She was a member of Raccoon Valley Baptist Church. Preceded in death by daughter, Kathy Ann Davis; parents, Jim and Louella Shelby; brothers, Willis Shelby, Troy Milton Shelby; sisters, Grace Shoffner and Viola Shelby.

Gary Lynn Anderson, Sr.

Gary Lynn Anderson, Sr.-age 72 of Luttrell passed away Thursday morning, June 14, 2018 at U. T. Medical Center. He was preceded in death by parents, Rev. Frank J. and Mildred (Hundley) Anderson; brothers, Robert (Bob) Anderson, Paul Anderson; sister, Cheryl Tyson; grandson, James Thompson; great-grandson, Skyler McClure.

Betty Jane Patterson

Betty Jane Patterson-age 91 of Maynardville passed away Sunday morning, June 10, 2018 at Beverly Park Place, Knoxville. She was a member of First United Methodist Church of Sevierville. She also enjoyed square dancing and was a member of Good Times Square Dance Club. Preceded in death by her husband, Clinton Patterson, Sr. in 1998; three sisters, Dorothy, Jean and Alla.

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