3.1 Grainger County, Tennessee, About 1800

The settlement of Tennessee had begun in the late 18th century.  In 1787, North Carolina offered to grant to the United States her Western Territory, which was Washington County, North Carolina.  In 1790, the territory formally known as Washington County, North Carolina became known as the State of Tennessee, with the seat of government at Knoxville, Knox County.  Tennessee was admitted to the Union in 1796.  Grainger County was formed on the Holston River in 1796 from parts of Knox and Hawthorn Counties.

About that time, John Booker II decided to leave Virginia and move west to Tennessee.  He traveled through the Cumberland Gap and down the trail toward Knoxville, a small city of less than 10,000 people.

He arrived in the sparsely populated valley that he was to call his home for the rest of his life.  He found land to his liking along Flat Creek, about two miles downstream from the settlement called Cedar Ford (later named Luttrell).  A stage road ran along the creek.  He traded a rifle for the approximately 500 acres of rich land.

The bottomland was covered in tall, straight yellow poplars that were used to build his house.  The hillsides were covered with thick stands of ash, oak, hickory and other hardwoods.  Dogwood blossoms were everywhere in the springtime.  There were few clearings.  There were deer, turkeys and other game in abundance on the land.  Indians lived in the area, and there were occasional reports of raids on farmers.

John and the older boys began clearing about 40 acres of the rich, flat bottomland.  They cut the giant yellow poplars and dragged the logs across the creek with oxen.  As the women kept watch for Indians, the men used broad axes to hew the giant logs into the shapes they needed to build a house.  They selected a spot about 70 feet above the Flat Creek where they would have a clear view of the farmland they were clearing.  They hoisted the giant logs into place and built two rooms about twenty feet square, one above the other.  They chinked up the cracks between the logs with mud.  They laid down a sturdy floor of sawed lumber over log joists.  They built a large fireplace for cooking and heating in one end of the lower room from stones carried down from the hillsides.  They eventually built a porch on the south side and a spiral staircase of the corner of the living room leading to the bedroom upstairs.

When they were finished, they had a sturdy, comfortable and warm house for the family.  They probably did not dream that their house would still be a favorite gathering place for dances and other social functions more than 100 years later and still be standing 190 years later; long after all other structures of the period had gone.

Tobacco was in demand, and it became the main crop for the farm.  They built a log barn nearby to dry the tobacco leaves as well as to store the feed for the horses and cattle.
John II died some time after 1810.  The family hauled his body up the sides of a steep hill on the northwest corner of the farm and started a small family cemetery under giant oak trees on the narrow ridge.

3.2 Grainger County, Tennessee, January 2, 1822

Twenty four year old George Booker, son of John II, married eighteen-year-old Sarah (Sally) Bond.  He was born in Virginia in 1798.  She was born in North Carolina in 1803.  Sarah’s father, Isaac Bond moved to the area from North Carolina before 1810.  Isaac’s father, George Bond had immigrated to Virginia from England.

George had lived on the Booker farm along Flat Creek for as long as he could remember.  He inherited the Booker house and much of the farm when his father, John II, died, sometime between 1810 and 1820.  Some of George’s brothers were working parts of the farm.

George Booker and his young bride continued operation of the Booker farm.  Within the first few years of their marriage, George cut out more giant yellow poplar logs and doubled the size of the Booker house by adding two more rooms of about the same size.  They built another fireplace in the east end.  The house was so tight and easy to heat that it was still a favorite place for country-dances during the Great Depression over 100 years later.

They raised a large family.  Their first son John III came in October, that same year.  The children to follow were Amelia in August, 1824, James in 1827, William in 1829, Mary Ann in 1831, Nicholas in 1833, twins George Washington “Wash” and Benjamin Franklin “Frank” in 1836, Pryor in February, 1839, Elizabeth in 1842, a boy (name not know) in 1845, and Sarah C. in 1848.  The family had 12 children, the youngest of which was born when George was 50 and Sarah was 45 years old.

The county lines were changed at least twice, so the Booker farm was included in Knox County by 1850.  It was later to become part of Union County.  The value placed on the farm in the 1850 census, $450.

The available marriage and census documents suggest that both parents and the children were educated.
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