About Jefferson City, Tennessee
The Foundation of Mossy Creek
Jefferson City was first founded in 1788 under the name Mossy Creek. The first settlers of the area, Adam and Elizabeth Sharkey Peck, floated down the Holston River from Virginia with their seven children. They gave the area the name Mossy Creek because of the vivid green moss growing in the creek next to where they built their home. Adam opened a mill, which became the closest mill for nearby settlers who had previously traveled to a mill in Greeneville, making an immediate impact on the area. Adam soon became a member of the Tennessee Assembly and a Justice of the Peace, while his wife worked to establish the first Methodist church in the area. With a home, church, and mill, the area was ready to grow into a community.
Soon after the Peck family built their mill, Thomas Hume opened the area’s first store. Then, in 1798, Christopher Haynes established an iron works business. Mossy Creek quickly proved to be a desirable settlement thanks to these first settlers, with nearly 100 families settled within a four-mile radius by 1797. In 1816, Mossy Creek got its first post office, so settlers no longer had to go to Greenville to get their mail. Several more grist mills, stores, and other businesses continued to open and operate.
In the mid-1800s, population in the US began shifting southeastward, and Mossy Creek saw more people coming to the area. In the 1830s, Willis Hammond and George Wright discovered zinc east of the town, so mining became a lucrative industry in the area. 1851 saw the beginning of Mossy Creek Baptist Missionary Seminary, which would later become Carson-Newman University. Then, the East Tennessee Railroad between Bristol and Knoxville was completed in 1858. The original survey for the railroad through Mossy Creek had the track running along Mountcastle Street, but John Roper Branner had it changed to its present course by giving the right-of-way through his property and allocating three acres of his land for the railroad station. As part of the agreement, every passenger train was required to stop at Mossy Creek.
Mossy Creek After the Civil War
Mossy Creek was not untouched by the Civil War. On December 29, 1863, a battle was fought along the creek, with Union forces on one side and Confederate forces on the other. The Confederate forces were defeated, and the war continued elsewhere.
After the Civil War, Mossy Creek continued to grow. In 1867, John Roper Branner began building Glenmore Mansion, which is still standing today. The first hardware store and drug store were soon opened, as well as the town’s first hotel. Other businesses began popping up all across the town, including a barber shop, confectionary stand, tearooms, livery stables, and even an early jail. Eventually, the small town got its own newspapers as well: the Mossy Creek Lancet, Weekly Register, and the Watchman.
Mossy Creek Becomes Jefferson City and Continues to Grow
By the end of the 1800s, Mossy Creek was flanked by two other communities, Carsonville to the south and Frame Addition to the west. These communities were separated from Mossy Creek by farmland, but on February 7, 1901, they all became incorporated as one city under the name Jefferson City. The first mayor of Jefferson City was W.T. Russell, a member of the faculty and administrative staff at the college.
Jefferson City continued to grow and become more technologically advanced. The city soon got its first telephone service, then a privately owned light and power system. One of the owners of the power system was Mr. Goofenhour, who sold the company to a Cleveland concern, which then sold to TVA, and eventually it became Appalachian Electric Cooperative. The city then started its own water system in the early 1920s. On August 10, 1940, the present post office was dedicated with a large celebration and a parade that ran from City Hall to the new post office.
Jefferson City made national news on August 1, 1940, when work started toward building Cherokee Dam. This dam helped provide Oak Ridge with the current it needed during part of World War II. The entire project was completed in 1942. When the lake is full, only one and a half miles of the original Mossy Creek’s five to six meandering miles remain.
Jefferson City Today
Despite all the changes over the years, including the changing of the town’s name, some things have always remained the same. A newspaper article from 1853 says it best: “The views are not excelled anywhere for picturesque beauty. Landscapes of wooded hills and cultivated valleys stretch out til the eye rests against the blue dimness of the distant mountains to behold wondrous loveliness…The courageous, dignified and refined people make Mossy Creek a most delightful place to visit. Hospitality is second nature with people here, and a visitor never fails to come again.” The beauty and hospitality found in Jefferson City remain unchanging, even after all these years, making this city the best place to visit and live.
The Mayor of Jefferson City is an elected official who is responsible for the administration of all city government programs and services.
The City Council functions as the municipal governing body and is responsible for setting city government and administration policies as well as other legislative duties.
The City Court of Jefferson City has judicial jurisdiction involving matters concerning the violation of city ordinances. Find out when and where City Court is held.