Conclusion

The ferries on the French Broad River were an integral part of Sevier County history.

Ferries helped to open the area south of the French Broad River for settlement as early as 1788 and perhaps earlier as we have no record of how long Andrew Evans lived at the ferry site before he received a North Carolina land grant.

The Knoxville Gazette of June 19, 1795, reported that James Armstrong of Abingdon, Virginia had opened a store at Evans Ferry 15 miles from Knoxville, selling dry goods, cutlery, pewter, and salt in exchange for cash, beef cattle, bear, deer, and fur skins.[38]

The site of the Underdown Ferry was an important commercial center. Beginning in January, 1887, a great deal of activity took place at the Underdown Ferry, especially on the north bank where structures had been built by the Scottish Carolina Lumber and Land Company for the purpose of catching, holding, and storing logs and timber floating down the river.[39]

The Underdown Post office opened March 2, 1890, with William P. Keener as postmaster.[40]

The south bank of the river later owned by the Hodges family was the site of the Edward Hodges Sand and Soil Company on McCleary Road.[41]

The south bank of the Brabson Ferry was a center of commercial activity.

The John Brabson and Company Store was built in the early 1800's. An old store ledger shows purchases made as early as 1819. Associated with the Brabson Store were a tannery, flour mill, blacksmith shop, and brick kiln. The post office was located in the store from 1821 to 1911. The store was in operation from 1819 to 1942, a total of 123 years.[42]

The road at the Brabson Ferry was on the trail of the Great Indian War Path from Virginia which crossed the French Broad River near Buckingham Island and followed Boyd's Creek to its source and then descended into the Little River Valley.

Some older folks in 1998 remember the Hodge and Kyker ferries, the last of Sevier County's ferries. As one citizen expressed it, "The ferries really were a blessing as it was the only way to get to or from north of the river".

The French Broad River ferries provided for river-borne trade and travel from 1788 to 1944, a period of 156 years.


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