Watertown, Tennessee
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City of Watertown, Tennessee

Watertown, TN History

Watertown, TN History

***Please Note: We are desperately seeking more information on the history of Watertown. If you have any information on the area, the buildings, or the people, please let us know! You can email our webmaster at webmaster@watertowntn.com, or you can use the good old fashioned US Post Office, please send your historical information to Watertowntn.com, 300 Town Sq., Watertown TN 37184.

The area around Watertown was first settled by Captain William Thompson of North Carolina in 1780. He built a fort in the area to protect settlers and provide a safe haven for travelers on the nearby Holstein Trail.

After Thompson left, the land became a revolutionary war grant given to Colonel Archibald Lytle, who received 1,000 acres, and his brother, Captain William Lytle, who received 500 acres.

The grandparents of Wilson L. Waters, the founder of Watertown, moved into the Round Lick Creek area around 1790. In 1844, Waters and his wife built a log cabin where they lived until their final home was built. The cabin no longer remains, but the house (pictured here) is still standing and has been extensively restored.

Watertown has been a family town since its beginnings when the post office was moved from Three Forks to Waters store in 1845. Waters established a sawmill, gristmill and blacksmith shop in 1857 and was appointed as the first postmaster in 1858. Waters' 400-acre farm became Watertown.

The village remained rather sleepy until the Nashville and Knoxville Railroad came in 1885. After this the village more than doubled in size. The depot in Watertown was the unloading place for surrounding towns.

But it was a devastating fire in 1903 that truly transformed Watertown from a small village to a bustling city. Most of the businesses in Watertown were constructed of wood, and there was no town square. After the fire, citizens laid off a square that was surrounded by mostly one-story brick buildings that remain to this day.

Today, according to Historic Watertown, a group formed to preserve the history of Watertown, all the buildings in the business district are historic buildings. The sidewalks around the square have been replaced, and lampposts fashioned in an early 20th-century style have been installed.

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