Settled in the
late 1760s, Carter County's historical notability is among the most
fascinating in the state. Home of the first permanent settlement
outside the original 13 colonies and the first majority-rule system of
American democracy, the Watauga Settlement at Sycamore Shoals (in what
is now Elizabethton) was home to prominent military officials,
legislators, and members of the Constitutional Convention.
Sycamore Shoals, at
the convergence of the Doe and Watauga Rivers, was also the site of the
largest private land deal in American history. Resulting in the
purchase of 20 million acres of land, the Transylvania Purchase marked
the beginning of the westward expansion and gave all the lands of the
Cumberland Watershed and extending to the Kentucky River to the
In 1780, 1100 men
gathered at Sycamore Shoals before making a 14-day march to King's
Mountain, South Carolina, where they confronted and defeated Major
Patrick Ferguson's British militia.
was established in 1799 as the county seat of Carter County, the town
did not have an organized form of government until the early twentieth
legislature appointed a commission of five members, Landon Carter,
Reuben Thornton, Andrew Greer, Zachariah Campbell and David McNabb, to
establish a county seat including a courthouse and prison.
The committee selected
a 50-acre tract at the base of Lynn Mountain, east of the Doe River.
Elizabethton was named in honor of Elizabeth MacLin Carter, wife of
Landon, for whom the county had been named.