Contributed by James T. Dykes
The community of Brownsborough, located along the Nolichucky River in the Third Civil District, was once a thriving town. The town was established on land granted to Joseph Brown, Sr., a resident of Pendleton District South Carolina, by the state of North Carolina in 1782. In 1795 Joseph deeded this land to his son, James Brown.
On October 24, 1796 a town consisting of forty-six lots was laid out for James Brown by John C. Harris, surveyor. These lots were to be sold to subscribers. The bounds of Brownsborough were described as follows: “Beginning at a point nerar the south bank of Nolychuckey (sic) River thence N76 (degrees) extending as far as 20 lots on each side of the main street each lot containing six poles in front and thirteen poles and half back except four lotts (sic) at the main cross street which are eleven and half each.” The subscribers (purchasers) of the lots were 1) Charly Waddill; 2) William Glaze; 3) __________; 4) Aaron Broyles; 5) Casper Lot; 6) James Waddell; 7) Andrew Thompson; 8) Solomon Yeager; 9) Thos. Blackburn; 10) Thomas Gann; 11) Samuel D. Waddill; 12) John Holley; 13) Adam Gann, Jr.: 14) James Gray; 15) David Kennedy; 16) James Miller; 17) _________; 18) James Gray; 19) James Gray; 20) James Gray; 21) James Gray; 22) George Collom; 23) James Gray; 24) Robert Scott; 25) William Mitchell; 26) Andrew Hannah; 27) John Nelson; 28) Reuben Broyles; 29) James Brown; 30) Henry Shields; 31) James Brown; 32) George McGee; 33) _________; 34) Samuel McElroy; 35) Samuel McCollom; 36) William Harbison; 37) Alexander McKee; 38) __________son Sturgeon; 39) Jonathan Collom; 40) George Collom. Six additional lots, not numbered were purchased by William Brown, Samuel Doak, and Adam Gann.
On February 11, 1797, Brown made the following agreement: “Articles of the Sail (sic) of the Lots for a Town Laid out on the plantation of James Brown of the County of Washington and the state Tennessee of the one part and the subscribers of the other part made and entered into the eleventh of February and in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety seven I James Brown as Propriator (sic) of sd Town do bind myself in the sum of one thousand dollars to make to each Person or Cause to be made to those that may be purchasers of sd Lots to each one agreeable to the number of the Lot that he may purchase a good and sufficient Deed in fee Simple on or before the eleventh of October next it being for the Consideration Money of Each Lot Agreeable as they are bid off by the purchaser and we the purchasers and subscribers do bind ourselves our heirs etc. to James Brown his heirs etc. to improve each Lot in the term of three years from the Date hereof with a house at least sixteen feet Square with a shingle Roof and stone or Brick Chimney or forfeit the Lot to the Propriator (sic) or pay fifty Dollars to sd Brown to be recovered as an action of Debt by sd Brown and any person or persons purchasing a Lot or Lots in sd Town and afterward refusing to comply with the articles of sail (sic) shall forfeit the sum of five Dollars to sd Brown for a Disappointment of Sail (sic) and it also will be Required of each purchaser to give a bond and approved security for the Compliance to sd articles in witness hereof we Set our hand the Day and year above written.
“It will also be required of Each person purchasing a Lot or Lots to give their Notes for the _______ With Approved Security payable on or Before the Eleventh of October Next
Jas Brown, Proprietor; Arron Broyles, Charles Crubough(?); William Glaze; William Garbison; Saml. Doak”
Other persons purchasing lots in Brownsborough before 1820 were William Patton, Joshua Green, Jacob Spore, Ira Green and Francis Preston.
In 1801, James Brown sold his interest in the town of Brownsborough to William Mitchell. Mitchell constructed a mill and store at this location which were operated by his family for many years. In 1810, Elijah and Elihu Embree formed a partnership with David Mitchell in a store to be known as “E. & E. Embree & Mitchell.” David Mitchell, operating at the Brownsborough location, was to be responsible for the shipment of goods produced by the Embrees (notably, iron products) to other areas via the Nolichucky River. Flatboats were used to transport materials down the river to Knoxville and beyond.
After the completion of the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad through Washington County in the late 1850’s, Brownsborough began to decline. This was probably due to the fact that the railroad passed several miles to the north and due to the decline in river traffic. By 1887, the community’s population had dwindled to only thirty-three. Today, nothing remains of the town of Brownsborough except a few foundation stones along the river.