The city of Kingsport was first incorporated in 1822. Kingsport’s namesake is between two Kings — James King/Iron King (1752-1825) from Bristol, Tennessee, and William King/Salt King (1769-1808) from Abington and Saltville, Virginia.

A recent survey of local and regional history books, and various articles concerning the namesake of Kingsport, indicate that a majority cite James King. The authors, who list references, use 1905 and 1928 references to support their conclusion.

The 1905 reference reports Kings Mill Station was located at the mouth of Reedy Creek in present-day Kingsport. With this reference, the 1928 author ascribes James King as the builder and the namesake of Kingsport.

Now local authors place the location of Kings Mill Station 10 miles northeast of Kingsport on Boozy Creek. Land records indicate that James King did not own any land around the mouth of Reedy Creek.

Both Kings operated businesses in the Netherland Inn/old Kingsport area. William King's boatyard (1802-1818) had a larger economic impact on old Kingsport than James King’s business (1802-1808). James King was a customer of William King's boatyard and port.

The old Kingsport area was referred to has Kings Landing in 1809 by a visitor, William Clark, of Lewis and Clark. The only King associated with a port was William King. After examining the cited references and with new and current knowledge, the logical namesake for Kingsport is William King not James King.

Gary T. Clark


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