Sabine Hill Bicentennial Celebration


 October 12, 13 & 14, 2018


2018 marks the 200th anniversary of Sabine Hill, the beautiful Taylor family home in Elizabethton, TN. Perched atop a prominent knoll at the west entrance of Elizabethton, Sabine Hill stands as a welcoming beacon to one of Tennessee’s most historic areas. Built by the widow of Brigadier General Nathaniel Taylor, Mary Patton Taylor, this beautiful surviving example of Federal architecture is a must see. Restored by the Tennessee Historical Commission, the house has been returned to its 1818 splendor and has been described as one of the finest examples of wood framed Federal architecture in the State of Tennessee. The operation of Sabine Hill is managed by Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, and the park has a full weekend of activities planned to commemorate the bicentennial of this significant historic home.

The celebration kicks off at 6:00 PM on Friday, October 12 with “An Evening with Andrew Jackson” presented in ‘The Gathering Place’ of the Sycamore Shoals Visitors Center. Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park is proud to welcome historian and renowned living history figure Grant Hardin as he portrays one of America’s most well-known historic characters, General Andrew Jackson. Jackson was not a stranger to Elizabethton. It is said that when he served as a Tennessee Superior Court Judge from 1797 to 1803, Jackson held court under the sycamore tree where the Watauga Association had been established 25 years earlier. During the Creek Indian War and the War of 1812, Jackson was a contemporary of Brigadier General Nathaniel Taylor who may have begun the construction of Sabine Hill as early as 1811. The evening program will begin with a presentation of early 19th century music followed by General Jackson as he recounts his days as a youth during the American Revolution, his rise in military leadership, and his finest hour at the Battle of New Orleans. There will be a reception with light refreshments following the presentation. Admission to the event is $8.00. Pre-registration is required.

Please log on to the following website to register and purchase tickets –

“An Evening with Andrew Jackson” Schedule:
6:00 – Doors Open
6:15 – Early 19th Century Music
7:00 – General Andrew Jackson
8:00 – Reception and Light Refreshments


The celebration continues through the weekend with guided tours of Sabine Hill giving visitors the opportunity to take in the colorful and architecturally detailed interior while learning about the Taylor family who called Sabine Hill home in the early 19th century. Tours are by reservation only. These special bicentennial tours will include early 19th century living history demonstrations and displays in addition to the regular guided tour of the historic house. Enjoy an 1812 era militia camp, US Army regular presentation, historic foodways, and more! Please note there are no restroom facilities on site at Sabine Hill, so plan accordingly before your arrival.

Sabine Hill Weekend Tour Schedule:

Saturday, October 13: 9am, 11am, 1pm & 3pm

Sunday, October 14: 1pm & 3pm

Admission costs are: Adults – $7.00; Ages 7 to 17- $5.00; Ages 6 and under- Free. Tours are limited to 18 guests per tour. Pre-registration is required. Please log on to the following website to register and purchase tickets – Sabine Hill State Historic Site is located at 2328 West G. Street, Elizabethton, TN 37643.


As part of your weekend experience be sure to take in these additional interesting and informative programs.

Here in East Tennessee we are taught from youth about the significance of our region and its inhabitants in the American Revolution and the American Civil War. However, few people understand the crucial involvement that East Tennesseans had in the War of 1812. Melanie Storie, a lecturer with ETSU’s Department of History and former seasonal interpreter at Sycamore Shoals, will be presenting a fifty-minute lecture on East Tennessee’s role in one of America’s most important and most-oft-forgotten wars as part of the Sabine Hill Bicentennial Celebration. Her expertise lies within East Tennessee in nineteenth century history and her publications include, “The Dreaded Thirteenth Tennessee Union Cavalry: Marauding Mountain Men”. The lecture will take place in the Gathering Room within the Sycamore Shoals visitor center from 11:00-11:50 on Saturday, October 13and is free to the public.


Upper East Tennessee carries a strong legacy of traditional southern music. From bluesman Brownie McGhee to world-renowned singer Tennessee Ernie Ford, a wide array of music has spread from Tennessee’s mountains abroad. The Taylors of Elizabethton so too produced music that charmed the hearts and ears of locals and foreigners alike. Brothers Bob and Alf Taylor who at separate times held Tennessee’s highest office, brought mountain music to the national stage by ‘fiddling around’ on the campaign trail, even fiddling together when they ran against one another in the 1886 gubernatorial contest. Miraculously, links to the Taylor’s music such as phonograph records, eye-witness accounts and even Alf Taylor’s fiddle survive to today. Thanks to ETSU’s Reece Museum and director Randall Sanders, Alf’s fiddle among other Taylor related treasures will be on display at Sycamore Shoals for the Sabine Hill Bicentennial Celebration. Ranger Corbin Hayslett will present a program on East Tennessee fiddling and the Taylor brother’s influence and legacy on Saturday, October 13th in the Gathering Place within the Sycamore Shoals visitor center. The program will last from 12:00 – 12:50 and is free to the public.

Additionally the Sabine Hill Social Society will be offering opportunities throughout the weekend for visitors to take a glimpse into the social atmosphere of the early 19th century. These free programs will take place in the ‘Gathering Room’ of the Sycamore Shoals Visitor Center. Playing cards was a very common pastime in the early 1800s. On Saturday, October 13 from 1:30 to 4:00pm join in the fun, and learn some early 19th century card games. On Sunday, October 14 from 1:30 to 4:00pm join Sabine Hill Social Society members to learn about early 19th century dance styles and practices. Dancing was a highly popular social pastime, so come to learn or just to watch. No partner or prior experience required.

There will be plenty of opportunities this particular weekend to get the entire family out for a fun, entertaining and educational experience while celebrating 200 years of one of the area’s most historic homes.

For more information and a detailed schedule please contact Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park at 423-543-5808 or visit these websites; and Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park is located at 1651 W. Elk Ave. Elizabethton, TN 37643. Sabine Hill State Historic Site is only 2 miles west of the park and is located at 2328 West G. Street, Elizabethton, TN 37643. 


Sabine Hill Bicentennial Celebration – Schedule of Events

Friday, October 12th

An Evening with Andrew Jackson (Sycamore Shoals Visitors Center)

Admission $8.00 (by reservation only) 

6:00 – Doors Open

6:15 – Early 19th Century Music

7:00 – Address by General Jackson

8:00 – Reception and Light Refreshments


Saturday, October 13th

9:00, 11:00, 1:00 & 3:00 – Sabine Hill Guided Tours (by reservation only)

Admission: Adults – $7.00; Ages 7 to 17- $5.00; Ages 6 and under- Free

11:00 – East Tennessee in the War of 1812 ~ Lecture by Melanie Storie (Sycamore Shoals Visitor Center)

12:00 – East Tennessee Fiddling: The Legacy of Bob & Alf Taylor ~ Ranger Corbin Hayslett (SycamoreShoals Visitor Center)

1:00 until 4:00 – Early 19th Century Card Games (Sycamore Shoals Visitor Center)


Sunday, October 14th

1:00 & 3:00 – Sabine Hill Guided Tours (by reservation only)

Admission Adults – $7.00; Ages 7 to 17- $5.00; Ages 6 and under- Free

1:30 until 4:00 – Early 19th Century Fellowship Dancing (Sycamore Shoals Visitor Center)

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LIBERTY! continues its 40th anniversary performances

The True Spirit of Freedom 

LIBERTY! continues its 40th anniversary performances on Thursday, July 19, “Veterans Night at Liberty!” 

On Veterans Night we honor and thank our veterans and an escort by offering them free admission.



Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park – Elizabethton, Tennessee

Watching the cast of Liberty! share the stories of Sycamore Shoals is humbling, exciting, and above all…….inspirational.   Comprised of over 100 volunteers, our neighbors from throughout the Tri-Cities and beyond, come together each January to begin auditions and rehearsals for the July drama. Giving an enormous amount of time and energy, they ask nothing in return – just the opportunity to be a part of ensuring that historic events of national significance are always remembered. Within their hearts you will find a passion and strong desire to honor our ancestors – patriots in the truest sense of the word.

Leaving the comforts of home, long hunters, and then families, began leaving the 13 English colonies to begin a new life, free of the rule of the British king. They crossed over the mountains beyond the Proclamation Line of 1763 discovering land that was cleared, yet uninhabited. The “Old Fields” of the Watauga quickly became the heart of frontier settlements on land belonging to the Cherokee. Set in the 1770’s, Liberty! relates the good times and the sad times; the struggles and the sacrifices – of families who were willing to take incredible risks to create a democratic society against a multitude of obstacles.

Liberty opens its second week of performances on Thursday, July 19, and continues Thursday through Saturday through July 28th. With just two more weeks to go, we hope you will mark your calendars now to attend the 40th anniversary performances of Tennessee’s Official Outdoor Drama – Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals in Elizabethton, Tennessee.

Set beside the Watauga River, the story unfolds with Fort Watauga as the backdrop. The outdoor amphitheater provides bench seating with backs and an opportunity to sample great food within a short distance from your seat, at Carter’s Store.

Liberty! continues July 19 – 21 and the 26 – 28, closing the 40th season on Saturday, July 28th.

For additional information :

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

1651 W. Elk Avenue

Elizabethton, TN 37643




Advance Ticket Reservations:


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Liberty! the Saga of Sycamore Shoals anticipating 40th anniversary record attendance


Liberty! opens its 40th season of outdoor drama at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park on Thursday, July 12th and runs for 3 weekends, Thursday through Saturday each week, offering the opportunity for you to become immersed in our regions history. The sacrifices of our ancestors and their strong desire for freedom played a critical role in our nation’s ultimate independence from Great Britain and the creation of America as a new nation.

Our regions connection to our history is strong and has been the catalyst for years of dramatic presentations that retell the stories of those who lived in the Watauga Old Field in the late 18th century.

Thus, outdoor drama is not new to Elizabethton; as a matter of fact, the earliest known dramatic presentation of the story of Sycamore Shoals, took place in 1922, when the people living in the communities of Elizabethton and Carter County came together to present a five act play. Jim Bishop, one of Elizabethton’s most important leaders in historic preservation, came across the program prepared for the 1922 event. “Our stories have been told from one generation to the next; to our families and our children. These are stories of our ancestors, the people who were instrumental in the formation of our new country – America, with a government based on the principles of democracy and freedom! The drama presented in 1922 was the earliest known play presented here, which featured veterans from World War I.”

Ninety six years later, we are honored to be able to carry on the tradition of presenting the story of Sycamore Shoals to guests from all over the United States and beyond, continuing in the format of an outdoor drama! 


As you stand on the grounds of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, you walk on the land where historic events of monumental significance have taken place.  It is here, that families came together, made their homes, formed a new government, bought & traded land from the Cherokee, and ultimately, during the American Revolution, fought for the freedom we hold so dear today.

The series of events that unfolded at Sycamore Shoals were critical to the formation of our state and our nation in the 18th century. These dramatic chapters in America’s westward expansion set the tone for a number of events that helped propel the British colonies towards independence and a democratic form of government.

The concept of outdoor drama offers a very unique format in which to present a theatrical performance.   Without a doubt, experiencing live theater, beside the cool waters of the Watauga River, with Fort Watauga as the backdrop to the play, is unlike any other. Theatrical lighting, professional sound, and a host of unexpected effects completely immerse the audience in the lifestyles of the late 18th century.

The skill and professionalism of our 2018 cast, composed completely of volunteers, sets the stage for an unforgettable audience experience. You will feel their joys, their sorrows, and often be on the edge of your seats as the action unfolds. Liberty! presents the opportunity to connect with a cast who brings the 18th century at Sycamore Shoals to life in a very engaging way.

Michael Barnett, President of Friends of Sycamore Shoals, has tirelessly devoted himself to the successful production of Liberty! “It is heartwarming and humbling, to see over 100 volunteers come together, beginning in January each year, to share their time with us in telling one of America’s most important stories.”

“My energy level is at an all-time high as Liberty! approaches.” Michael continues, “The people – the cast, the guests; their love and appreciation of our efforts make the entire behind the scenes work worth every minute invested. When you see that spark of inspiration and gratitude in their eye, you know your efforts have not been in vain.”

Chad Bogart, Museum Curatorial Assistant for Sycamore Shoals is fully immersed in planning that continues throughout the year. “The dedication of our cast is meaningful beyond words.   Our Liberty! family represents all that is good in our world; people filled with a deep passion and commitment to do their part in making sure the sacrifices and contributions of our ancestors are remembered and honored”


The story they tell begins with the earliest days of the Watauga Settlement along the Watauga Old Fields and the arrival of long hunters and European settlers on what was Cherokee land. As two very different cultures come together west of the Proclamation Line of 1763, coupled with the effects of the American Revolution, a host of dramatic and emotionally trying events begin to unfold in their lives.

Ultimately, the Watauga Association, the first majority-rule system of American democratic government was formed in 1772, when the settlers elected five of their number to “govern and direct for the common good of all the people.” These Articles of the Watauga Association invested in those elected representatives the legislative, judicial and executive functions of their fledgling government.

It was at Sycamore Shoals in March 1775 that the largest private real estate transaction in the nation’s history took place, the Transylvania Purchase.  A company led by Judge Richard Henderson of North Carolina bought 20 million acres of land, stretching from the Cumberland River watershed to the Kentucky River. The Transylvania Company paid the Cherokees 2,000 pounds sterling and goods worth an additional 8,000 pounds for the land.

Prior to the deal being closed, the Cherokee, totaling more than 1,200 individuals, spent weeks in counsel at Sycamore Shoals debating the merits of the deal. Cherokee warrior Dragging Canoe was firmly against giving up the land and resisted the deal, but was overridden by Chief Little Carpenter who ignored his misgivings and signed the deed amid great ceremony and celebration.

In 1776, a year after the Transylvania Purchase, settlers constructed Fort Watauga on a private land holder’s farm. The fort became a refuge and means of protection for all of the families living along the Watauga when Dragging Canoe, aided by English agents, waged war against the pioneers, determined to drive them from the lands they felt they had purchased.

A band of warriors under Old Abram of Chilhowee laid siege to the fort for approximately three weeks, but when the settlers refused to surrender, the Indians gave up and departed.

The slate of leaders present at the Watauga settlement reads like a roster of state and national historical figures. The commanders included Col. John Carter, Capt. James Robertson, who would found Nashville, a few years later, and Lt. John Sevier, the man who would be Tennessee’s first governor.

One of the most significant events associated with Sycamore Shoals was the muster of the “Overmountain Men,” a militia comprised of citizens who fought and defeated a Loyalist army at the Battle of Kings Mountain.

The Overmountain men were responding to a threat sent to the settlements via British Major Patrick Ferguson who was given command of the Loyalist militia in the Carolinas. If the “rebels” did not cease their opposition to the Crown, he threatened to “march his army over the mountains, hang the leaders and lay waste their country with fire and sword.”

On September 25, 1780, approximately 1,100 men gathered at Sycamore Shoals and marched in pursuit of Major Ferguson and his Loyalists. The Overmountain men caught up with Ferguson on October 7 at King’s Mountain in South Carolina and soundly defeated the British forces with Ferguson being killed in the hour-long battle.

The victory of the “Overmountain Men” at King’s Mountain is considered by many historians to be a turning point in the Revolutionary War.  Indeed, Sir Henry Clinton, commander of British forces in America, later pronounced Ferguson’s defeat at King’s Mountain as “the first link in a chain of events that followed each other in regular succession until they at last ended in the total loss of America.”

Years later Thomas Jefferson called the event “that memorable victory the joyful annunciation of that turn of the tide of success, which terminated the Revolutionary War with the seal of independence.”


Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore is an event not to be missed!  

We hope you will join us for one of our nine performances this year, presented by Friends of Sycamore Shoals at the Fort Watauga amphitheater, Thursdays – Saturdays, July 12 – 14, 19 – 21, and 26 – 28. Gates open at 6:00 pm with the show starting at 7:30 pm.

Tickets are $14.00 for Adults (18 and over), $11.00 for Seniors (55 and over), $6.00 for Children (6 – 17 yrs), 5 and under are free.

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Liberty! we anticipate high attendance, thus we encourage you to purchase tickets for General Admission Seating, in advance, by visiting – we want everyone to have the opportunity to see one of the most nationally significant stories in the history of our great country!

The Fort Watauga Amphitheater comfortably seats 400.   Tickets can also be purchased the night of the event at the door for seats that have not been purchased in advance.

Concessions opens nightly at 6:30 pm

Special reduced admission nights this year include:

Thursday, July 12th

First Night – Adults and Seniors – $9.00

1st Responders Night – 1st Responder & a Companion admitted Free

Thursday, July 19th

Veterans Night – Veteran & a Companion admitted Free


For additional information please contact Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, 1651 W. Elk Avenue, Elizabethton, Tennessee 37643. Phone – 423-543-5808





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