Catherine Sherrill Sevier

Also known as “Bonnie Kate,” Catherine S. Sevier was the wife of John Sevier (1745-1815), Revolutionary War hero, Indian fighter, governor of the State of Franklin, and first governor of Tennessee. Legend has it that their courtship began after she was surprised by an Indian attack while milking a cow outside the walls of Fort Watauga in northeast Tennessee. The defenders of the fort quickly closed the gates, locking her out. She ran to the palisades and, helped by Sevier, climbed to safety. She and Sevier married in 1780, when she was twenty-six, after the death of his first wife, Sarah Hawkins. At their home in Washington County, Bonnie Kate made soldiers’ uniforms, cast lead balls for ammunition, and prepared food for her husband’s victorious campaign against the British at the battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina. On the eve of the battle, she thwarted a Tory attempt to murder her husband. Bonnie Kate held the title “First Lady” three times, first from 1785 to 1788, when her husband was governor of the State of Franklin, and during his terms as the first and third governor of Tennessee, 1796 to 1801 and 1803 to 1809. She was originally buried in Russellville, Alabama, but was reinterred in 1922 next to her husband on the lawn of the old Knox County Courthouse in Knoxville. The inscription on her tombstone describes her as the “brightest star among pioneer women of this state.”

Citation Information

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  • Article Title Catherine Sherrill Sevier
  • Author
  • Website Name Tennessee Encyclopedia
  • URL
  • Access Date June 23, 2024
  • Publisher Tennessee Historical Society
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 1, 2018