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Lost pieces of the history of the little town of Tazewell, Tennessee

Among Tazewell's leaders in merchandising, building, law, and local government who invested wisely and extensively in land during the city's early years were Walter Evans, William and Hugh Graham, Benjamin Posey, Benjamin Sewell, and members of such families as the Chadwells, Fulkersons, Houstons, Hursts, Wales, and many others. The lands acquired by Hugh Graham placed him astride the Kentucky Road and afforded him a suitable site for construction of one of Tazewell's most famous homes Castle Rock. Castle Rock was later renamed Speedwell Manor and moved brick by brick to its current location by Dr. Frank Tipton Rogers and his wife Virginia.

The Graham estate in Ireland was confiscated and they were condemned to death. The Duke of Aberdine influenced the death sentence to banishment. They came to Tennessee when Hughe was 14 years old where he married a lady of much beauty and accomplishments. Their home in Tazewell, was famous as a center of culture and hospitality. (Graham Genealogy)

William, Hugh's older brother, acquired significant portions of Tazewell on which he built two homes that eventually were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Parkey House, built by William Graham about 1816; a focal point on Kentucky Road and a center of area political life. Although the house is no longer standing, the site is listed on the National Register. The Graham-Kivett House, built circa 1810 by William Graham; later occupied by the Kivett family was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. William Graham also built the city's only Presbyterian Church (see pictures at bottom of this page).

Many of these houses were either dismantled and moved or demolished after fire or abandonment. The story is that No one in the County would touch them. I often ask myself the question, why? Then I remember the most likely answer being, If anyone knows the politics of Claiborne County there are one or two people or families who are able to boast having the money and political influence to either make or destroy careers. You do not go against those people and if you follow their lead it might even mean you can do quite well with their help, influence and lending power. So, goes the old history of Claiborne County, not left for visitors to enjoy, or for the general public to understand why its small community is as it is today.

The first two images are of the home built by Hugh Graham, brother of William Graham. With my help in 2012 a noted author, Ken Mink, compiled a book entitled A Tale of Two Mansions: Speedwell Manor Survived Civil War, 50-Mile Journey to Take Its Place in History, pages 64-67 were taken directly from my website. I will be adding information along as I gather it from other sources. No more complete information on the home of Hugh Graham and the Graham lineage could be found other that The People's History of Claiborne County, Tennessee 1801-2005, Volume II, (pages 105 thru 159). Although the index of book does not correspond to information it contains much valuable information.

Two articles best describe the Tazewell of old. Read this letter written to the Claiborne County Progress on February 7, 1934 by James M. Freeman. This opinion should have been one that survived rather than one that was apparently never heeded.. One hundred years before Mr. Freeman wrote the article above a famous New York magazine writer by the name of Charles Fenno Hoffman passed through the Cumberland Gap and into Tazewell, Tennessee. On April 21, 1834 Mr. Hoffman sent his article back to Harper & Brothers entitled A Tennessee Hill Town about Tazewell, Tennessee.

Links also to deeds, surveys and various other documents are included further down as well as information on what may have been among one of the first Churches in Claiborne County.

Castle Rock before being removed to Knoxville

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Castle Rock renamed Speedwell Manor as it now looks.


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The Graham - Kivett House before partial demolition began.

The Parkey House as I remember it during the 1960s


This is where I was born in 1949 Joe Payne
The only part left is to the far left location of Stone & Stone Law Office

A.J. Francisco was Clerk of County Court 1886 - 1898
Senator A.J. Francisco served in the 51st Tennessee General Assembly 1899
U.S. Commissioner 1912 Eastern District 6th Circuit

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James Weir house during demolition and again relocated on private property

This was the home of Fielden and Hazel Stone McNeeley

The best bologna and cheese sandwich I ever ate.


3 Surveys of Tazewell in the 1830's


George Stuart Deeds

Hugh Graham Deeds

Lewis Chrisman Deeds


Peter Marcum Deeds

Reuben Rose Deeds

Tennessee Margraves Deeds

William Rogers Deeds

William Grahams Will

Miscellaneous Documents Early Tazewell Surveys

Benjamin Sewell Deed


John Hunt, considered to be the founder of Tazewell

Goodspeeds History of Claiborne County

James P. Kivett, Tazewell Lawyer


George Washington Montgomery, Tazewell Lawyer

Several of John Kivett's articles in the Claiborne Progress

Down on the Creek - Now and Then

James Willliams
Son-in-law of Hugh Graham
Minister Residence to the Ottoman Empire

Memoirs of the Graham family
Published 1908
Annie Kendrick Walker
Readable online book

Descendants of Peter Fulkerson

Descendants of Peter Marcum



The Patterson’s of East Tennessee

Graham Kivett House , Claiborne County

#4 on the Ten Endangered Heritage List by the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance

The Graham-Kivett House, built circa 1810, is the oldest home in Tazewell and one of only a few buildings that survived a disastrous fire in 1862. It was built by William Graham, a merchant and one of the founders of Tazewell. James P. Kivett acquired the home at the turn of the 20th century from William Yoakum, its then current owner. Kivett was a lawyer and coal mine operator. His daughter, Louise Kivett Redman, was a novelist and had several books published.

Since the death of John Kivett, the last descendant of the Kivett family, the house has remained empty for a number of years, while the executors of the will figure out what to do with it. Due to a lack of maintenance, the masonry needs repointing, the foundation is sinking on the right side of the building, and wood is beginning to deteriorate due to rot. The porch roof and possibly the standing seam metal roof on the main portion of the house are in need of replacing. Portions of the interiors are beginning to deteriorate due to dampness, and paint and wallpaper are peeling from the walls.

The Eastern Tennessee Preservation Alliance hopes that listing the house will help draw local awareness to the historic value of the house and the necessity of action before the house is lost due to neglect, deterioration, or fire. ETPA will work with the Claiborne County government, Claiborne Historical Society, and the East Tennessee Development District to determine the most effective strategy to protect this community resource.

The Tazewell Presbyterian Church

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Taken from a photocopy of the Claiborne County Progress 1934