Outside of Dolly Parton, you have to go back quite a ways to find the next most well-known Sevier County native. It isn’t too hard though as his name is found on most official documents and the county and town bear it as well: John Sevier.
Born on September 23, 1745, John Sevier lived until September 24, 1815 and was an American soldier, frontiersman and politician, and is considered one of the founding fathers of the state of Tennessee. He played a leading role, both militarily and politically, in Tennessee’s pre-statehood period, and was elected the state’s first governor in 1796. Sevier served as a colonel in the Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780, and commanded the frontier militia in dozens of battles against the Cherokee and Chickamaugas in the 1780s and 1790s.
Sevier arrived on the Tennessee Valley frontier in the 1770s. In 1776, he was elected one of five magistrates of the Watauga Association and helped defend Fort Watauga against an assault by the Cherokee. At the outbreak of the War for American Independence, he was chosen as a member of the Committee of Safety for the association’s successor, the Washington District. Following the Battle of Kings Mountain, he led an invasion that destroyed several Chickamauga towns in northern Georgia. In the 1780s, Sevier served as the only governor of the State of Franklin, an early, unsuccessful, attempt at statehood by the trans-Appalachian settlers. He was brigadier general of the Southwest Territory militia during the early 1790s.
Sevier served six two-year terms as Tennessee’s governor, from 1796 until 1801, and from 1803 to 1809, with term limits preventing a fourth consecutive term in both instances. His political career was marked by a growing rivalry with rising politician Andrew Jackson, which nearly culminated in a duel in 1803. After his last term as governor, Sevier served two terms in the United States House of Representatives, from 1811 until his death in 1815.