UNION COUNTY lies immediately north of Knox County, and is divided into two very nearly equal parts by the Clinch River. Powell River forms a part of its northern boundary. These streams, with their tributaries, afford an abundance of water and water power. The area of the county is about 220 square miles. The surface is generally broken, but there is a very large number of valleys, furnishing excellent soil. The county contains much valuable timber, but its greatest wealth lies in its mineral resource which are varied and abundant. It contains rich deposits of iron ore, which as yet have been worked to a very limited extent; vast beds of the finest marble; silver-bearing lead ore and zinc. The last named is abundant, and is worked quite extensively by the Edes Mixter & Heald Zinc Company. The first act providing for the erection of the county was passed on January 3, 1850, but not meeting with the requirements of the constitution it became necessary to amend it. This was done November 21, 1853. It provided for the formation of the new county from fractions of Knox, Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne an Grainger Counties, and appointed James W. Turner, William Needham, C. B. Howard and Allen Hurst, commissioners to hold the elections and organize the county. The elections were accordingly held and resulted in a vote of 368 to 100 in favor of organization. The county court was organized on February 6. 1854, at Liberty Meeting-house, in what is now Maynardville. The magistrates present were Elijah Evans, John Lowry William Colvin, Goldman B. Carden, William Needham, Jesse G. Palmer, Jacob Turner, Calvin B. Howard and Enoch Branson. Soon after a bill was filed, enjoining further proceedings by the officers of Union County, and pending the decision of the courts, a period of nearly two years, no business was transacted. The bill was finally dismissed, and the complete organization of the county effected in 1856. The counsel on behalf of the county in the cause mentioned above was Horace Maynard, and in gratitude for the service rendered by him, the seat of justice was named in his honor. The first circuit court for Union County was begun and held at Liberty Meeting-house by Judge Robert H. Hynds. The grand jury empanelled at that term was as follows: Coleman Walton, Eli Ausley, Jacob Stooksberry, John Monroe, Jonathan Alexander, George Turner, William Hikle, Robert Dyer, Charles Skaggs, David Miller, Isaac Stooksberry, Isaac Sharp and William Bayless. The citizens of the county have ever been peaceable and law-abiding, and comparatively little litigation has ever taken place. The courts continued to be held ,in the meeting-house until 1858, when a brick courthouse was erected. The jail was built about a year previous.
The site of Maynardville was formerly the property of Marcus Monroe, who donated to the county the lots north of Main Street, reserving the proceeds of the sale of the remainder for his own use. The first house erected was a stone building, erected in by A. L. Leinert, who still occupies it. Among the other merchants and professional men of the town prior to the war were Leinert, Huddleston & Co., D. F. Huddleston, merchants; Nicholas Ailor, attorney; J. W. Thornburgh, Monroe Harbison and R. I. Carr, physicians.
In 1858 Liberty Academy was built, and the institution incorporated with the following trustees: C. Monroe, W. P. Owens, J. M. Dinwiddie, A. L. Leinert and Harding Scaggs. It has since been well supported, and ranks among schools of its class.
Maynardville is pleasantly situated, and has a population of about 200. The merchants at the present time are A. L. Leinert and J. W. Branson. A. W. Carr is engaged the drug business, and also keeps the hotel.
The attorneys resident in the county are Coram Acuff, the present representative to the legislature from Union and Campbell Counties; John P. Rogers, attorney-general of the Second Circuit; J. L. Ledgerwood, D. W. Gentry, J. S. Groves and John Williams.
The leading religious denomination in this county is the Baptist. It is doubtful indeed if in any other section of the State one denomination so far predominates as do the Baptists here. This being so brief a sketch of the two associations, which center in Union County, will not be out of place.
On the third Saturday in October, 1818, delegations from twelve churches, mainly m the Tennessee Association, met at Cedar Fork Church in Claiborne County, and organized Powell Valley Association. The churches and delegates were as follows: Hinds Creek (Union County), John Warwick, James Ishams, John Goss and Richard Newport; Gap Creek (Claiborne County), William Jones, Thomas Murray, Aaron Davis and Jacob Lowder; Cedar Fork (Claiborne County), Samuel Pitman and Absolom Hurst; Buffalo Creek (Grainger County), Josiah C. Bunch, John Ferguson, James Dyer and David Watson; Davis Creek (Claiborne County), John Sharp and Fred Bolinger; Glade Spring (Campbell County), Joshua Inglish; Powell River (Campbell County), Thomas Boydston; Big Barren (Claiborne County), William Cook and Samuel McBee; Head of Richland (Grainger County), John Kidwell and C. Rucker; Big Spring (Claiborne County), Richard Harper, Joab Hill and Hiram Hurst; Coal Creek (Anderson County), and War Creek. Thompsons settlement in Virginia was also represented. Other churches were organized and added to the association as follows: Puncheon Camp (Grainger County), Rocky Spring, now Fall Creek, 1822; Mount Hebron (Union County), 1824; Blackwell Branch (Hancock County), 1825; Old Town Creek (Claiborne County), 1825; Clear Creek (Anderson County), 1826; Mouth of Barren, 1832; Blackwater, 1834; Mount Pleasant, 1834; Blue Spring (Union County), 1834; Powder Spring Gap (Grainger County), Lost Creek (Union County), 1835. In 1835 seven churches were dismissed to form Mulberry Association to include the territory previously covered by the eastern portion of Powell Valley Association. During the next year Mountain Creek (Claiborne County) and Zion were added to the latter association. At about this time the schism in the church in reference to missionary work and to joining the societies of the day, began to widen, and in 1839 five churches holding to the missionary doctrines withdrew to form a new association. Other churches were divided, the weaker faction usually withdrawing to organize a new congregation. The association as a whole, however, remained anti-mission, and received accessions from some of the adjoining associations which had joined the opposite faction. Among the new churches received after that time were Cane Creek (Anderson County), 1852; Hickory Creek (Campbell County), Salem (Grainger County), 1864; Pleasant Point (Claiborne County), 1865; Mossy Spring, (Union County), about 1865; Bean Creek (Grainger County), about 1870, and Concord (Grainger County), 1877. The association now numbers seventeen churches with a total membership of 585.
The five churches which withdrew from Powell Valley Association assembled at Glade Spring Meeting-house, in Campbell County, on November 29, 1839, and organized the Northern Association of United Baptists. The churches and delegates were as follows: Puncheon Camp Creek, John Clark, Anderson Acuff and William H. Odle; Powder Spring Gap, Marcus Monroe, William Huff, J. Beelor and William Peters; Blue Springs, George Sharp and Daniel H. Wright; Mount Pleasant, Jacob Whitman and Nathaniel Gray, and Clear Branch, C. H. Boatright and Joseph Kenney. The new association was prosperous, and its growth remarkably rapid. At the second meeting five churches, Zion Hill, Glade Spring, Cedar Ford, New Salem and Beech Fork were admitted, making the number of churches ten, and the total membership 579. Other churches were admitted as follows: Bethel, Powells River, Shady Grove and Clinton, 1841; Liberty and Jacksboro, 1842; Locust Grove, 1843; Milan and Hickory Valley, 1845; Zion, Chalybeate Spring and Poplar Creek, 1846; Indian Creek, Sulphur Spring, Macedonia and Union, 1847; Elm Spring, 1848; Big Valley, Beech Grove and Alder Spring, 1849; Head of Barren, 1850; Blowing Spring, 1851. In 1853 Clinton Association was formed of several churches in Anderson and Campbell Counties, having sixteen churches in the Northern Association. Since that time the churches admitted have been Providence and Cedar Grove, 1856; New Hope, 1857; Little Barren and Shady Grove, 1859; Nave Hill, 1867; Liberty, 1868; Warwick Chapel, Rock Castle, Gravestown, Cedar Creek, New Hope and Bethany, 1869; Chestnut Grove, 1870; Dutch Valley, Sugar Hollow, Gap Creek, 1871; Cedar Spring and Pleasant Point, 1872; Haynes Flat, Texas Valley and Carrs Branch, 1873; Cedar Spring and Zion, 1877; Union, 1878; Crooked Creek, 1881; Spring Dale and New Prospect, 1882. The total number of churches in the association is now thirty-two, of which seventeen are in Union County. The aggregate membership is 2,960.
The following have been the officers of Union County since its organization:
Sheriffs--E. West, 1854-66; Jesse G. Palmer, 1856-60; A. J. Brock, 1860-62; Calvin Moore, 1862; James L. Ledgerwood, 1865-68; Christian Ousley, 1868-72; John Sharp, 1872-74; J. L. Ledgerwood, 1874-76; James M. Wilson, 1876-78; W. G. Monroe, 1878-W; William Oaks, 1880-84; William C. Sharp, 1886; F. M. Miller, 1886.
Clerks of the county court-William T. Carden, 1854-58; L. Huddleston, 185844; William Colvin, 1865-72; J. W. Turner, 1872-74; Coram Acuff, 1874-86; W. B. Morton, 1886.
Clerks of the circuit court--Allen Hurst, 1856-60; R. J. Carr, 1860; L. R. Carden, 1865-70-1 A. A. Snoderly, 1870-74; M. D. L. Kincaid, 1874-78; J. F. Huddleston.
Clerks and masters--0. W. Huddleston, A. McPheeters and J. W. Branson.
Registers--William P. Owens, Thomas D. Harding, JamesW. Turner, Isaac Snoderly, 1860-66; George Johnston, 1866-74; D. S. Turner, 1874-78. William Weaver, 1878-W; E. B. Morton, 1880-86; J. R. Snoderly, 1886.