What You Should Know About Knoxville

“In learning to know other things, and other minds, we become more intimately acquainted with ourselves, and are to ourselves better worth knowing”

-Philip Gilbert Hamilton


It is important for a man to know his hometown to better know himself. After all, tracing your roots will open you to the realizations of your history, of your past, and of things which you know nothing about but have indirectly changed your life.

Many people claim that they know their hometown. They tell others that they know everything about the place they live. They want to prove to the world that they are not a stranger.

What about you? Do you think you know everything about Knoxville? Read on and find out if you already know these things!

Knoxville is a land of stories; stories of inspirational people, of historic places and unforgettable events. Knoxville is full of stories meant to be inspiring and touching. Here are things you should know about Knoxville!

•  The first settlers of Knoxville and East Tennessee were Indians. By the time the first European settlers appeared, the Cherokees dominated the region.

•  Knoxville native James E. “Buck” Karnes helped rally the 117th Infantry in a charge that broke the Hindenburg Line and forced the Germans into a retreat in WWI. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.

•  In 1901, Kid Curry, a member of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch, shot a couple deputies and escaped out the back window of a business on Central Avenue in what is now the Old City. He was captured, brought to the Knoxville Jail, but escaped and was last seen riding the sheriff’s stolen horse across the Gay Street Bridge.

•  Most of the Civil War dead from the battle in Knoxville are buried in the Confederate Cemetery, located in East Knoxville.

•  The first black federal judge, William Henry Hastie was born in Knoxville in 1904.

•  A Knoxville record merchant, Sam Morrison of Bell Sales Company, helped launch the career of Elvis Presley by promoting Presley’s “That’s All Right, Mama” by playing it on loudspeakers to the public on the square. He sold hundreds of copies to people of all ages, including two copies to an RCA talent scout. The scout sent a copy of the record to his boss in New York and several months later, RCA bought Elvis’ contract from Sun Studios in Memphis.

Wherever life leads you, always remember to look back to where you came from.


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  1. Linda Lawson (Gurley-Scherer) on August 20, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Wow! I’ve never claimed to know “everything” about my beloved Knoxville, BUT after reading this, I think maybe that I know “very little”!Thanks so much for enlightening me. I did not know several of these interesting facts.

  2. tommy pritchard on August 20, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Kid Curry, huh…sounds as if there might be an interesting story there…thanks, as always, for the info J Ross.

  3. Cindy Prince Lacy on August 27, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Ross, you are amazing! I cannot think of anyone in East Knoxville who is as interested in our history of the past as you. You are truly nostalgic, more than anyone else I know, and just do not stop to research facts and present them to those of us in the dark! I know that so many of us appreciate you and your endeavor to keep our old East High School and other very interesting Knoxville historical facts from the past alive! Thank you!

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