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Early East Tennessee settlers get their due

January 6th, 2014 3:56 pm by Becky Campbell

Early East Tennessee settlers get their due

Chad Fred Bailey gives an update on the Jonesborough Genealogical Society's Early Settler's Project - Early Settlers of Washington County, Tennessee (PRE) 1768-1777. Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

The first installment of a book documenting the earliest settlers in East Tennessee is at the printers, and a deadline for the second installment is fast approaching.
The Jonesborough Genealogical Society began the Early Settlers Project about 15 years ago, researcher and board First Vice President Chad Bailey said. But the work began in earnest last year.
The plan is to publish three books documenting three distinct periods — 1768-1777, 1778-1787 and 1788-1799 — in the county’s history. So far, 34 pages of articles have gone to The Brand Bureau Group for layout and design. Once the entire book is complete with articles on approximately 524 male settlers and their families, it will go to Overmountain Press for printing.
“We’re trying to do it in 10 percent chunks to break it down where we can handle it,” Bailey said. “It’s just such a big project and there’s so many settlers. ... It takes a lot of time to find all the information.”
Bailey said researchers meet the fourth Saturday of each month to work on the book.
“Our problem is we don’t have enough information to write an article on some of them,” especially since official record keeping in Washington County didn’t start until 1778, Bailey said. That’s why the society wants the public’s help on the project.
“We also don’t have enough people doing the research. It’s working us to death,” Bailey said.
At the rate researchers are working, it is likely to be early 2015 before the first of the three books is published.
Illustrations and the book cover were drawn by a new society member, Vivian Mietron, Bailey said. In addition to Mietron and Bailey, the research team consists of Jan Teinert, Joani Range-Douglas and Elaine Cantrell.
The next deadline for articles is Jan. 31. For more information about the project, visit the genealogical website or attend one of the research sessions on the fourth Saturday of each month.
Another part of the overall project is the Early Settlers Certificate, Bailey said. Certificates are being issued to anyone who has documented proof their ancestors settled in Washington County prior to 1840. During those early years, Washington County was much larger than it’s known today.
The area was established in 1777, but was part of North Carolina at the time. Initially it was called the Washington District, but as more settlers arrived and politics changed, the size and name of the district did also, the JGN website said. It wasn’t until 1796 that the area became part of a new state called Tennessee.
For more information about certificate eligibility, go to to see the complete application.
The next Genealogy Day is Jan. 25 from 9:30 a.m.-noon at the Washington County-Jonesborough Library, 200 Sabin Drive, Jonesborough.

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