People are the Key
Maryville is the county seat of Blount County. Blount County is the home of Townsend, Walland, the Foothills Parkway and of course one of the most popular entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Maryville is also one of the towns that is a little off the beaten path but has a lot to offer people who visit the areas each season. Shopping, dining and of course historic locations make Maryville a great place to visit while you are on vacation in the Smokies.
The first people to call the Maryville area home were the people of the Cherokee village called Elajay. Elajay (named after the Ellejoy Creek) was located near present day Heritage High School on Lamar Alexander Parkway on the way to Townsend. Elajay was built along the Great Indian Warpath, one of the transportation routes for the native people of the Smoky Mountains.
Maryville received its name from Mary Grainger Blount. Mary was the wife of William Blount (territorial governor) whom Blount County was named after. The first settlers in and around the Maryville area was John Craig and his family that built Fort Craig. The fort was built to defend the settlers from attacks by the Cherokee. Craig donated the land that Maryville was founded on. In 1808 Sam Houston came to Maryville from Virginia and for a time was a school teacher in a one room school house (you can still visit the Sam Houston School House today).
In the 1800s Maryville was the center for the abolitionist movement in East Tennessee. In fact, when the rest of Tennessee voted to secede from the Union, only 24% of the citizen of Maryville voted to do likewise. Maryville was liberated by the United States army in 1864. During the liberation of Maryville, an African-American slave named Polly Tool rescued the records that were being burned in one of the buildings in downtown Maryville. She has been honored by a statue in the Blount County courthouse. In fact, Maryville also elected the second African-American mayor in the history of the United States of America, WB Scott in 1869.
In more modern times, Maryville has been the home to several industrial employers, including Clayton Homes and Denso. Between these two companies and the ALCOA plant in Alcoa, TN, Maryville citizens have enjoyed employment, throughout the 20th and 21st century. Maryville is not necessarily a tourist town but they have lots of history and plenty of points of interest to offer those people that decide to get off the main roads and explore.
Points of Interest:
Foothills Milling Company – Fine dining on the Blount County side of the Smokies. Great menu that changes with the season and offers eclectic dining in a unique atmosphere.
Little River Trading Company – The best outfitters in the Smokies. If you are going to go hiking, this is the place to start trip. Experts in hiking, climbing, camping, mountain biking and kayaking are on hand to answer your questions.
Sam Houston Schoolhouse – This schoolhouse from the early 1800s gives you a glimpse back in history. This historic attraction includes not only information on the schoolhouse but also facts about the life of an American Hero: Sam Houston.
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Where are photos of Polly Tool’s statue, and a photo of Mayor W.B. Scott ? I would like to see them, or get copies for black history articles that I often write. — Rev. George Brooks of Murfreesboro, TN. (615) 494-9056