Two Influential Patriots Living on the Western Frontier When Jefferson County was Formed

Two Influential Patriots Living on the Western Frontier When Jefferson County was Formed

A presentation titled “Two Influential Patriots Living on the Western Frontier When Jefferson County was Formed – Alexander Outlaw and George Doherty” given by Jefferson County Historian Bob Jarnagin piqued the interest of members of the Martha Dandridge Washington Chapter (MDW), National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), at the organization’s June meeting.

Janagin examined the lives of the two patriots, Alexander Outlaw (1738-1826), who settled on the eastern border of the county, and George Doherty (1749-1833), who made his home in the Shady Grove community in the west.

Outlaw was born in North Carolina in 1738, served in the Revolutionary War as a colonel, and settled in what is now Hamblen County. He served in the legislatures of the failed State of Franklin and of the successful State of Tennessee. He was a representative in the first General Assembly and Speaker of the Senate. At the North Carolina convention in 1789 which ratified the United States Constitution, he served as a delegate. Moreover, he was a delegate to the Tennessee State Constitutional Convention in 1796. Following his sojourn through politics, he was a land speculator and lawyer. Ultimately, he died in 1826 in Alabama.

The Outlaw name is forever linked to Rural Mount, the stone house Outlaw built for his daughter Penelope and her husband Joseph Hamilton, which still stands on private property in a pasture at the Bend of Chucky south of Morristown, Tennessee. The stately home has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975.

Jarnagin stirred the hearts of the historical preservationists in his audience when he showed photos of the home’s current condition and said the house is one of the ten most endangered structures in Tennessee. Built circa 1799 using ashlar limestone construction in the Federal style, the home has little exterior ornamentation other than windows in rows of five, a

gable roof with dentils where the walls meet the roof, and massive fireplaces and chimneys at each end of the structure. Jarnagin said the house has undergone few changes since it was built. The changes that have occurred are those typical of decline and deterioration of a 224-year-old house that has been uninhabited for many years. When Jarnagin first saw the home in 2005, it was filled with debris and showed evidence of vandalism. However, by the time of an open house in 2011, the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance (ETPA) had removed most of the debris so that the lovely scrollwork on the stairway, the stone fireplaces, pegged rafters, and rosehead nails were clearly visible. The home has what architects might call “good bones” and needs a group to take it on to restore it to its former glory.

The second Patriot whom Jarnagin profiled was George Doherty, who like Outlaw was a colonel in the Revolutionary War. Doherty was born in Virginia in 1749 and died in Jefferson County, Tennessee, in 1833. During the Revolutionary War, Doherty engaged in notable battles with the Cherokee in 1779 and with the British at Kings Mountain in 1780. He settled at Shady Grove, west of Dandridge in an area now under the tranquil waters of Douglas Lake.

Politically aware, he was a leader in the movement to establish the State of Franklin. He was a member of several “firsts”: first Territorial Assembly in Tennessee, first Constitutional Convention in Tennessee, and first Tennessee Senate. Doherty continued involvement in the Tennessee militia, serving in the Creek War and the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

Doherty called Tennessee his home until he died and was buried in the Old Shady Grove Methodist Cemetery in 1833. In 1942, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) reinterred his remains in the relocated cemetery before Douglas Lake filled.

For information about the DAR, contact MDW Registrar Karen McFarland at (865) 258-8670 or Regent Janet Guyett at (865) 712-8782.