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by J. A. Sharp

Kermit Hunter's outdoor drama, Unto Theme Hills, has shown to thousands during the last five summer seasons. It is expected that his forthcoming Chucky Jack, about John Sevier and early Tennessee, will repeat and perhaps excel the phenomenal success of Unto Theme Hills. The premiere showing of Chucky Jack will be at Hunter Hills Theatre, four miles east of Gatlinburg on the night of June 22 and nightly thereafter through August except on Sundays.

Sevier Countians will have a special interest in Chucky Jack because our county and county seat both were named for Sevier. It in true that two other counties in the United States, one in Arkansas and one in Utah, bear the same name, but a careful search of Rand McNally's Atlas does not reveal another "Sevierville."

Although Sevier never lived in Sevier County, his associations with the county were close from the time he and his army of frontiersmen crossed the French Broad just below Ben Brabson's place in 1780 and defeated the Cherokee Indians on Boyds Creek -- the first of his thirty-five Indian battles and victories. Then in 1786 he received his first North Carolina land grant for 357-1/2 acres. This was the "Big Island" in the French Broad, all of which is in Sevier County and is owned today by five Sevier County families: Brabson, King, Trundle, Henderson and Catlett.

During the State of Franklin movement, which is covered by Chucky Jack, Sevier's strongest support came from Sevier County because our first settlers hold their lands under session treaties with the Cherokees made by Sevier as the Franklin governor. Therefore, in 1789, when the Franklin government ended, representatives of all the white settlers south of the Holston and the French Broad assembled at Newell's Station and adopted Articles of Association,thus establishing a government separate from both North Carolina and the United States, neither of which recognized the land claims of our first settlers.

Newell's Station, located near the junction of Chilhowee Road with Chapman Highway, was the county seat of Sevier County under the State of Franklins and now became the seat of government of this south of Holston and French Broad country until 1791 when the territorial governor William Blount negotiated the Treaty of Holston with the Cherokees at White's Fort, or the infant Knoxville. In this treaty the Cherokees again relinquished their claims to Sevier County.

That Sevier's associations with Sevier Countians were not always pleasant becomes evident from a letter he wrote to Colonel Samuel Wear, commander of the county's militia. He wrote this letter on May 25, 1796, about one month after his inauguration as first governor of Tennessee. From Knoxville he wrote: "Information has come from the Cherokees that a party of four was out hunting on the borders of your County. They were fired on by three white men who wounded one of the Indians, and took from them two guns by information from Little Pigeon I have reason to believe the persons were John Bird, Robert Henderson and John Phillips who fired on the Indians."

Sevier's alarm at this incident resulted from his fear that it would cause a renewal of attacks by the Cherokees on the frontier besides he told Colonel Wear that he had promised the Indians that their guns would be returned and they agreed to accept the guns and forget the affair. He ended the letter with this appeal: "I beg you Sir to use your endeavors and influence to get the guns from the person who has them and let them be returned otherwise I shall be obliged to pay for them myself. And not only so my enemies will rejoice, and has already said my friends would bring on a war -- these men, two of them I well know, to be my friends, and I most earnestly hope they will deliver up the guns. And let there be no more trouble about it. I would Rather pay for ten guns then any rupture should Happen or be Occasioned from your county. I Conceive the young men so much my friends that they will readily listen to my reasons, think them good, and find the guns."

Nothing more is known of this frontier episode in Sevier County's long history -- perhaps young Bird, Henderson and Phillips were "juvenile delinquents" of their day, but like most frontiersmen they probably felt that the only good Indian was a dead Indian. It is safe to assume that the Indians' guns were returned either by these young Sevier Countians or by Sevier himself.

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