Sam Houston may be one of the most celebrated former citizens of Blount County. While he lived in the area it is no doubt that he roamed the mountains and countrysides, down into the Walland and Townsend area and of course throughout Maryville.
Sam Houston lived with the Cherokee Indians at age 16 for a number of years and learned to live off the land. He was taught all manner of outdoor craft by these natives of the mountains. Before that point he had gotten his ‘book learning’ at a school. When turned 18 he took the position as school master at a one room schoolhouse in the area that would eventually become known as Maryville. He taught these students the knowledge they would need out of books but also taught them about the Indians that had become part of his family and how they could live in unity with them. He taught everyone that wanted to learn, from the age of 6 to the age of 60, they people came to learn. The tuition to be taught at the one room log cabin style house was $8 a year and though that was a lot for the people that lived back then, people payed it gladly.
The schoolhouse was built of hewn poplar logs. It was a typical one room schoolhouse of he day. A fireplace would supply heat tot he students when it was close to harvest and the mornings were cold and the door would stay open through the summer so that they could get a breeze when the heat got bad. Houston founded the school in 1812. This was the first school in what would become the state of Tennessee. The school served students form the edge of Knox county and Blount county. The time spent teaching the students of the East Tennessee area would shape Houstons life in later years.
“(with) the sense of authority over my pupils, I experienced a higher feeling of dignity and self satisfaction than from any office or honor which I have held since.
Now, you can visit this historic site and take a step back into the past. Some of the original logs are still there and on a quite day you can hear the babbling brook nearby that would have given the students drinking water. You can walk in and sit down at the desks and imagine what it would have been like to sit under the watchful eye of a future statesman like Sam Houston. You can read about the man that built the schoolhouse and how he ended up in Texas. Take your family on a day trip into the Smokies and let them experience true history at a place that shaped the people that shaped the founding of America.