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James White Greenway History

James White (August 8, 1747 – August 14, 1821) was an American pioneer and soldier who founded White's Fort, which later became Knoxville, Tennessee.

White was born in Rowan County, North Carolina, although the site later became Iredell County. In 1785, White brought his family and household across the mountains to the location where the French Broad and Holston Rivers met. He had come two years earlier with a group of friends from North Carolina and had decided that the area would be a nice place to live.

After living at the forks of the rivers for one year, White decided to move to the present day site of Knoxville. He chose a spot where a large creek flowed into the Tennessee River. He built a cabin on the wooded hill above it and began growing crops. When more and more settlers began to come to the same area, White became worried that it might upset the Cherokee Indians also living in the area. He rebuilt his cabin into a fort for the protection of his family and neighbors. White built a small mill on the creek bear the fort to grind meal from the settlers’ staple crop, corn.

William Blount of North Carolina had been appointed the governor of a new federal territory. He chose White’s Fort to be the capital of the territory. White sold some of his property and Blount began to build the capital city. This is how the City of Knoxville came to be.

James White died in Knox County in 1821, and he is buried in the First Presbyterian Church Cemetery.




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