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Joseph Rogers was born August 21, 1764, in Tyrone County, Ireland.He immigrated to America in 1781, through the port of Philadelphia. He came to North Carolina and found work on the Thomas Amis plantation On Big Creek. History
Amis had moved from his home in Bladen County to the western Country and had established a new home on Big Creek. It was here that Joseph Rogers met and married Mary Amis, daughter of Thomas, on October 24, 1786, When Joseph was 22 and Mary was 16 or 18. (There is some controversy about Mary’s age—her gravestone gives 1768 as her birthdate while Rogers family Records give 1770.)
Tradition says that the young couple eloped as the relationship between Rogers and Thomas Amis was strained and remained so for several years until grandchildren began to arrive.
Tradition also relates that during the early years of the marriage, Amis one day sent word for Rogers to come to the Amis plantation on Big Creek for a meeting. When Rogers failed to show, Amis saddled his horse and rode the three or four miles to the Rogers Tavern and called Joseph out. Amis then struck Rogers across the face with his riding crop and left him with the admonition that “when I send for you again, you had better come.”
Rogers and his brother-in-law, James Hagan, who had married Rachael Amis, a younger sister of Mary Amis Rogers, formed a partnership in 1787 For the purpose of buying, selling, trading and speculating in land. In 1789, Rogers and Hagan petitioned the North Carolina legislature to establish the Town of Rogersville at Hawkins Court House. The petition was granted and the partners proceeded to lay out a square town site on the east side of the tract acquired from Robert Crockett.
Rogers was an astute merchant, innkeeper, justice of the peace and shrewd land speculator. He operated a store with his brother-in-law James Hagan, managed his various tracts of land, his taverns, his fish trap in the Holston River (which can still be seen at low tide just west of the Hugh B. Day Bridge), his orchards, his distillery, his blacksmith shop, a stockholder and director of the first bank established in Rogersville and was named postmaster in Rogersville when the U.S. Postal Department established the first post office in Tennessee in 1792.
Joseph and Mary had 14 children. Joseph died November 6, 1833; his wife Mary died November 30, 1833, both around midnight. They are buried in the Rogers Cemetery near the big spring near the site of their first cabin between Rogers Street and Rogan Road.
There are a number of Rogers descendants who still reside in or near Rogersville. The portraits of Joseph and Mary, painted by the painter, W. H. Scarborough,are now in the possession of the family of the late George Webster, formerly of Rogersville, in Washington, D.C.