By Mike Steely
Knoxville and Knox County are growing fast. New subdivisions, apartments, and condos seem to spring up weekly as our area booms with new residents, new businesses, and new homes. We’re growing and changing so fast that sometimes we forget those older established communities located here and there that were never large enough to be a town or city.
Sometimes the names of these mostly-rural communities appear now only on detailed maps and not on street or road signs. There are many other little places in and around Knoxville but here are a few worth noting.
Harbison Crossroads is known to most of us as Gibbs. Named for the Harbison family and original Revolutionary War veteran, James Harbison, the community grew up as a settlement where the historic Emory Road crossed Tazewell Pike.
Tuckahoe in East Knox County is the home of the Tuckahoe Trading Post, the Tuckahoe Baptist Church and Tuckahoe Creek. The name is rumored to have come from an incident where a white settler and a Native American had a dispute over taking a hoe. But, in fact, there are “Tuckahoe” communities across the nation and probably is derived from the Native American word for a swampy area. The Tuckahoe Trading Post burned earlier this year; it had been a center for the community for many years.
Other North and East Knox County all-but-forgotten communities include Graveston, Clear Springs, Beech Grove, Pleasant Gap, Cedar Grove, Pedigo, Ventis, Corinth and Maloneyville.
West Knox County also has several of those little communities including Dixie Lee Junction, Robinson Crossroads, Blue Grass, Ebenezer, Ball Camp, Solway, Byington, Amherst, Wright, and Lyons View.
Ball Camp was named for Revolutionary War veteran Nicholas Ball, who made his camp there in the early years of the territory. Ball built a blockhouse along Emory Road and was killed by the Cherokee in 1793. Ball Camp Pike, the elementary school and the large community park there are named for him.
Ebenezer was an early settlement began by Ebenezer Byram about 1786. Indians attacked his cabin twice. Rev. Samuel Ramsey organized a church there and it became the third oldest Presbyterian Church in the county.
South Knoxville has little communities or neighborhoods like Shook, Vestal, Island Home, Valley Grove, Henron, Bonny Kate, Seymour and High Bluff.
Bonnie Kate is named for John Sevier’s wife, Katherine Sherrill, who married Sevier after the death of his first wife in 1780. It is fitting that the Bonnie Kate neighborhood is located just off Gov. John Sevier Highway. Sevier and Katherine met years before during an attack on a fort. She was outside as the attack started and Sevier was inside on the wall.
Legend says Katherine ran for the fort and leaped on the wall and was helped across by Sevier, who dubbed her “Bonny” meaning good or beautiful.
The Bonnie Kate area includes the John Sevier farm and home where the couple lived for 15 years. She became Tennessee’s very first First Lady. Several places in the area carry her name including the library and elementary school. The Bonnie Kate area falls within the South Doyle Knoxville Homeowners Association.