By Mike Steely

Ever been to Friendsville, Greenback, Mascot, Walland or Wartburg? Ever wonder how those places got their names?

Friendsville was founded by Quakers from North Carolina who visited the area to promote anti-slavery. Some stayed and founded the Friends Meeting House. The Blount County community became a haven for runaway slaves before and during the Civil War as part of the Underground Railroad escape route. The nearby community of Unita is a related place also part of the Underground Railroad.

Greenback is named for the U.S. currency, often called “Greenbacks” and was inspired by local resident Jonathan Tipton, a supporter of the former Greenback political party.. Founder Lorenzo Thompson wanted to use the name “Thompson’s Station” but could not as it was already taken. The Loudon County community grew when nearby Morganton residents relocated when their community was flooded with rising lake waters.

Mascot was originally settled by the John Erwin family near a ford of the Holston River. It was the center of zinc production. The name apparently comes as an acronym of The Mining and Smelting Company of Tennessee. It is located just four miles from Strawberry Plains and about 2,400 people live in the Knox County community.

Walland is a fusion of “Walton” and “England.” The A. J. Fisher house still stands on Old Walland Highway and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The community gets it name from the Walton and England Leather Company in Blount County and was settled about 1780.

Wartburg was originally founded as a German settlement and the first six streets were named for European cities. The name comes from Germany’s Wartburg Castle. It became the Morgan County Seat in 1871, moving the county government from Montgomery, a city that disappeared after the move. Only about 900 people live in the town. Frozen Head State park is located nearby.

Petros, also in Morgan County and the home of Brushy Mountain State Prison, gets its name from the Greek word “Peter” meaning “Rock.” It was a center of coal mining, much by prison labor. There’s only about 650 residents.

Corryton in Knox County was settled by John Sawyers, a Revolutionary War veteran who in 1785 built a small fort along Emory Road.  In 1887, a developer named Corryton Woodbury purchased property surrounding the rail depot to grow the community into a small town. The lots failed to sell and the venture was unsuccessful with the community remaining predominately a northern suburb of Knoxville.

Seymour was founded as Newell’s Station by Samuel Newell. The Sevier County community was where the first meeting place for the State of Franklin was held. It became known as Trundles Crossroads. When the railroad came through in 1909 the post office changed its name to Seymour in honor of the line’s chief engineer, Charles Seymour.

Blaine is located just northeast of Knoxville in Grainger County. Originally known as Blain’s Crossroads the small town sat at the intersection of several roads and the beginning of Emory Road. It was founded about 1789 by Robert Blaine who opened a general store.

Do you have a question about a community or place name? Email me at and I’ll look into it.