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TN History for Kids

Union County

A Roy Acuff record

In the 1940s and 1950s few Americans were better known than Roy Acuff, a native of Maynardville. He started off as a baseball player, but then an injury cut short his career and he began playing the fiddle.

In 1934 Acuff started going on hillbilly radio shows on stations such as WSM in Nashville (the home of the Grand Ole Opry). With the release of songs such as The Great Speckled Bird and The Wabash Cannonball he became nationally famous. And, with a great sense of humor, Acuff eventually became the host of the Grand Ole Opry.

Oakdale School near Loyston, an area now under Norris Lake



Here's another tidbit about Union County. When man-made lakes were created by the Tennessee Valley Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, many communities were flooded (see, for instance, the Clay and Johnson County pages).

In Union County, the town of Loyston was flooded by Norris Lake. It was moved and is now known as New Loyston.

The Union County marker at the Bicentennial Mall State Park



Union County's name is also a reminder that most of the people in East Tennessee sided with the North during the Civil War. The county was formed in the 1850s and, according to many local history accounts, the name suggests the reluctance of people in it to side with the Confederacy.

However, some accounts say that the name "union" simply refers to the union of five parts of adjourning counties when Union County was formed.



Here's the Union County Courthouse in Maynardville.

Union County

County Seat: Maynardville

Population (2015 estimate): 19,119