By Mike Steely
Roseberry City in North Knoxville just off Bruhin (Central Avenue) seems an odd name for a neighborhood. The Focus looked into the name and found some possible and interesting origins.
The rose berry is actually a rose hip, the small berry that the rose plant produces. The ridge above the neighborhood, once called Roseberry Ridge, was known for rose bushes. The name is also given to a variety of strawberry.
Roseberry is an English surname, also given as Rosebery, and it is also the English version of the Swedish name Rosberg.
The Roseberry family in Knox County dates back to our recent and early history. Today the University of Tennessee award recognizes an upper-level student who exemplifies the attributes of Douglas V. Roseberry, an undergraduate physics major at UT in the late 1950s known for his academic and research acumen as well as his enthusiasm for departmental and campus activities.
In early East Tennessee the name stands out as an unusual footnote. William Roseberry was born in 1703 and was an early settler in what is now North Knox County in the area of Skaggstown and Mascot. He was issued a land grant along Roseberry Creek near Mascot.
William married a Cherokee woman, Kahuga, and had several children. He was apparently escorting or accompanying a group of white treaty makers in 1793 to Coyatee Village, now within the confines of Tellico Village in Loudon County. Coyatee was near the junction of the Little Tennessee and the Holston (now the Tennessee River). While assembled there the peace talks were interrupted by an attack by militia forces led by Captain Hugh Beard.
William was killed, along with the wife of General Joseph Martin. Wounded in the attack were Chief Hanging May, his wife, daughter and several others.
William’s wife and some of her children, including Absolom and William, later migrated to Arkansas along with many other mixed blood Cherokee families. However, some records show Kahuga as dying in Coyatee in 1797.
There are about 50 Roseberry family members currently listed in Knox County yet today and the Knox County community of Mascot has a Roseberry Road, lane, cemetery and church.