Knob Creek was one of the earliest settlements in Tennessee. Some of the first settlers’ names were McMahan, Fain, McBee, Duncan, Range, Hammer, Miller, Bowman, Melvin, Reeves, Sell, Carr, Krouse and Bashor. Several of their homes and a mill stand today.
Knob Creek was a self-sufficient community with several mills, a foundry, cotton spinning mill, blacksmith shops, post office, schools and churches. The center of the community was around the Knob Creek Brethren Church and Oak Hill School. The Knob Creek Brethren Church was the first Brethren church in Tennessee, being established in 1799. The first Love Feast (communion) was held in the home of Michael Krouse. Church was held in Deacon Joseph Bowman’s house, which had removable panels in the two front rooms for this purpose. A log church was built in 1834 and was replaced by the present building in 1905. Daniel Bowman preached in English and Michael Krouse preached in German. The first deacons were Joseph and John Bowman.
In 1790 Rev. Samuel Doak and Hezekiah Balch organized the Hebron Church at the head of Knob Creek. The first elders were John Blair McMahan, Samuel Fain and Adam Mitchell, Sr. The log building was also used as a schoolhouse. Eventually the congregation relocated in Jonesborough, and the name was changed to Jonesborough Presbyterian Church.
On Knob Creek Road a stone monument marks the site of the William Nelson home, “an ancient home of Methodists and Methodist preaching.” Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury held annual conferences at the Nelson home in 1793, 1796 and 1797.
The lumber for Oak Hill School was sawed by Daniel Bowman in 1885; school was held in this building until 1952. Education was carried on at other places and times such as at Hebron, at a schoolhouse near the Peter Bowman house, which was a voting precinct, and at the Carr School and McNeil School.
A post office called Vineland was in Judge Newton Alexander Patterson’s house. A judge and inventor, he invented the eagle-wing propeller which was used in ships. The postmistress was Mary Sue Reeves Patterson; the effective date was 21 May 1892 until 30 November 1900. Alpheus Dove was postmaster at an unknown Knob Creek location from 29 July 1856 until 18 October 1859.
The Old Stage Coach Road ran through the community and an inn was located near the David Deaderick home. A marker, Mile Post Seven (located near the present Roundtree subdivision), marked seven miles to Jonesborough.
Beginning at the headwaters of Knob Creek and locating all the water-powered machines, it is obvious that Knob Creek’s waters were used many times before emptying into the Wautauga River. A cotton spinning mill was located at the David Deaderick place near upper Knob Creek, according to an article in the Herald and Tribune written by Paul Fink. Also, it is said that a nail factory was located nearby. The ruins of the earthen water race can still be seen. Word was handed down that the dam broke and nearly washed everything below it away. There was a three-story grist mill on the Joseph Bowman homestead; below this mill was a power plant belonging to Daniel Bowman. Daniel B. Bowman had a sawmill and later also a power plant on his place. The Reeds had a grist mill below Oak Hill School, and George Miller had several water wheels providing power for a machine shop, a sawmill, and a blacksmith shop. Henry Bashor’s mill, built in 1832, still stands; he married Elizabeth Bowman, a daughter of Deacon Joseph Bowman and Mary Hoss. A short distance farther, Bill Melvin’s grist mill was located. The Peter Range mill had two water wheels. The next mills were John Edens’ and Buck Hale’s mills near the mouth of Knob Creek.
During the Civil War, a Union cannon was positioned on upper Knob Creek along the old stage road at Headtown Road. The Deakins house on Boones Creek Road and the Deacon Joseph Bowman house on Knob Creek were both hit by cannon balls during the war.
In early 1900 a cannery was operated by Price Bowman, son of Dr. Samuel Bowman, on the bowman farm near the big spring. A metal basket used in the cannery was still on the farm as late as 1956.
Once thriving family farms are now becoming housing developments and industrial parks. On upper Knob Creek, the “Moss Creek Plantation” is located on the original Samuel Fain land grant, later the Deacon Joseph Bowman farm. “Berkshire” subdivision was at one time the Bill Goodman farm, and “Briarwood” development was the John Goodman farm. “Roundtree” and “Pine Timbers” subdivisions were formerly part of the Charles and Velma (Larimer) Martin farm. The “West Commerce Park” and “Roundtree II” are on what was once the Winnum and Laura (Fulmer) Carathers farm. “Sequoyah Heights” subdivision is located on part of the Michael Krouse farm. Highways and annexation by Johnson City have engulfed the lower half of Knob Creek, formerly consisting of the farms of Bill Melvin, Ed Brown, John M. Carathers, Reuel Pritchett, Bill Vaughn, John Miller-Adam Sell, Isaac Hammer, John Hammer, Peter Range, John Edens, and others.
Knob Creek was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historical District in 1986. Ten buildings and three cemeteries include: Jacob Krouse house, 1912; Homer Sell house, 1925; Henry Bashor Mill, 1832; Charles Duncan house, before 1777; Duncan-Melvin cemetery, prior to 1818; George Miller house, 1930-1890; Miller cemetery, from 1859; Oak Hill school, 1886; Knob Creek Brethren church, 1905; Knob Creek Cemetery, 1848; Bowman-Bond house, 1848; Peter Bowman house, 1907; and Solomon Miller house, 1810.
Other old homes in the Knob Creek community include the Peter Range house, 1804; Peter Miller house, 1810; the William Reeves house, 1840; Peter Miller Reeves house, 1846; the Carr-Crumley house, 1790; Isaac Hammer house, 1793; John Hammer house; and the John Miller-Adam Sell house, 1788.
Old cemeteries include the following: Persinger, Knob Creek Church or the Bowman-Bond graveyard, Reed, Miller, Duncan-Melvin, Hunt, Northington, Crumley, Krouse, Brown-Peoples, Sell, Hammer, and Range. Other abandoned burial places also exist.
In 1905, the C. C. & O Railroad was built through the middle of the community, and in 1969 Interstate 181 cut through the lower half of the once peaceful and serene countryside. – contributed by Margaret Sherfey Holley