My little hometown, Sneedville, lies near the Tennessee – Virginia border. Hancock County is named for John Hancock, who was a patriot in the American Revolution, a president of the 2nd Continental Congress, and Governor of Massachusetts. The population is roughly over 6,000 for the entire county, although just over 1,000 live in the city seat. Surrounded by beautiful, picturesque, rugged mountains, it is home to the “King of Bluegrass,” Jimmy Martin, and country music singer, Morgan Wallen. It is also home of the Melungeon people, including “Big Haley.” The beautiful Clinch River flows through Hancock County with many nearby waterfalls, such as one named “Elrod Falls,” known for its three–tier falls that can be hiked. The river holds many endangered species, such as mussels which can contain our Tennessee pearl.
The mountain people call this little slice of heaven “Over Home” as it’s located across mountain ranges and nestled within a deep valley. The old jail and the Vardy School in Hancock County are listed on the National Historic Register. Both of these locations are open for visitors. My dad worked as a police officer for the old jail before the new prison was built. Currently, the jail serves as the Hancock County Historical Society for anyone wishing to research their genealogy.
Every fall, the Hancock County Fall Festival takes place for two days (October 5-6, 2019). This is the largest event in the county that hosts its annual tractor parade, mountain music, arts & crafts, vendors, and much more. Back in the day, Jack Stapleton made and gave out samples of gasohol. This tradition continues to this day although others man the booth and brew it. One can find anything from local apple butter to quilts to hand-made items of various sorts.
Another event held yearly is the Jimmy Martin Bluegrass Festival, which lures in family and friends of Martin from all over the country. As many come to visit, they often take a ride along the back roads to enjoy the beauty of the landscape in the spring or summer or the vibrant colors in the fall season. One of the most beautiful views is on top of Goins Chapel Road just outside of town. This panoramic view will simply take your breath away!