Original Name: -
General Evan Shelby, a notable figure during the French and Indian War and later the Revolutionary War, first appeared in what is now the Bristol area about the close of the year 1770 and was excited by all that he saw. He wrote his sons of his satisfaction with the territory, telling them that the soldiers and officers of the French and Indian War would probably receive grants of land there, and for them to purchase as many of the grants as possible.
The following year, Shelby, moved his family and settled at a place called Big Camp Meet (now Bristol, TN/VA). It is said that Cherokee Indians once inhabited the area. The place was a prehistoric Indian village named, according to legend, because numerous deer and buffalo met here to feast in the canebrakes.
Shelby renamed the site Sapling Grove (which would later be changed to Bristol). It was a backcountry settlement dangerously situated at the edge of Cherokee land on the southern Appalachian frontier. Scottish and Irish pioneers settled in the region in the 1700's. In 1774, Shelby erected a fort on a hill overlooking what is now downtown Bristol. It was an important stopping-off place for notables such as Daniel Boone and George Rogers Clark, as well as hundreds of pioneers' en-route to the interior of the developing nation. This fort, known as Shelby's Station was actually a combination trading post, way station, and stockade. It was a bastion to protect his family and travelers against the Indians. The fort also became the place where the pivotal Revolutionary War battle of King's Mountain was planned.
After the Revolutionary War, Col. James King, an immigrant from Ireland and a patriot in the American Revolution, purchased the Shelby land setting up an ironworks and a sawmill, which became a great boon to the area, later Col. King started a furniture works to meet the high demand for the quality wood pieces available.
Soon after Col. King's death his son, Rev. James King, brought in new sawmill equipment and built the largest stone milldam in the region.
By the mid-nineteenth century, when surveyors projected a junction of two railroad lines at the VA-TN state line, Rev. James King conveyed much of his acreage to his son-in-law, Joseph R. Anderson. Anderson laid out the original Town of Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee. Building began in 1853. In the same year, Samuel Eason Goodson, founded a community named Goodsonville adjoining Bristol on the north of Beaver Creek in downtown Bristol. Goodson, a Virginia legislator, was instrumental in re-routing the railroad survey from east of Bristol, near Paperville, to their lands which comprised both tracts of the original Sapling Grove purchase. Incorporation for Bristol & Goodson (the community that later became Bristol Virginia, and named for Samuel Goodson) occurred in 1856. On October 1, 1856, the first passenger train came steaming toward Bristol.