Territorial governor William Blount established Jefferson County in June 1792. The original county encompassed 1,200 square miles using natural boundaries of the Clinch Mountains, the Smoky Mountains, and the Holston River. Because of the mountains and nearby rivers, this area has the second highest rainfall average in the continental United States. By 1795, Jefferson County was named after the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson, and received its first settlers in 1783. The land, which was originally part of North Carolina, became a part of the State of Tennessee.
Jefferson County originally covered most of East Tennessee, but the creation of new counties has greatly diminished its size. In 1795, Sevier County was formed and it took a portion of Jefferson County. The same happened in 1797 when Cocke County was created. Two thirds of Hamblen County came from Jefferson County in 1870, and the Tennessee Valley Authority also took a portion of Jefferson County when it submerged 40.5 square miles of land for Douglas Lake.
The second oldest town in Tennessee is Jefferson County’s Dandridge, which also features the oldest continuously occupied courthouse in the state. Dandridge was a thriving center for commercial trade until after the Civil War. That diminished when the railroad was relocated to Mossy Creek (Jefferson City). Dandridge was named for Martha Dandridge Washington, the wife of the first president. It is the only city in the nation to honor her. The city prides itself on its heritage, rather than the ongoing changes in the region.
Another community in Jefferson County is Baneberry, a recreational community founded in 1987. It features golf, tennis, lake front homes, and swimming areas. In addition to those ways to relax, Jefferson County is known as a “fisherman’s paradise” with Douglas Lake and Cherokee lakes available for anglers to try their skills.
Since Jefferson County is located in the valley between the Clinch Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains, the citizens of Jefferson County enjoy the four seasons and the beauty associated with seasonal change. Jefferson County’s population experienced a 25.4 percent growth from 1970-1980 and a 5.5 percent growth from 1980-1990, and from 1990-1997 a whopping 27.4% growth.
Jefferson County is situated in the northeastern section of Tennessee. The county lies in what is commonly referred to as the Great Valley of East Tennessee. Generally, Jefferson County lies between the Holston River to the west and the French Broad River to the east. Douglas Lake and Cherokee Lake are the two prominent bodies of water in the county. The county seat, Dandridge, was founded in 1793 and is the second oldest city in the State of Tennessee. Jefferson County is linked to the region and all parts of the nation via a comprehensive highway network. Jefferson County is located approximately 25 miles from the intersection of Interstates 1-40 and 1-75 in Knoxville.
Transportation is another factor driving our growth. Interstate Route 81, which begins in Jefferson County, makes the Northeast an easy drive. Interstate 40, which bisects the county, is the main central USA-East-West route linking the Atlantic with the Pacific.