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Eldridge was attacked and killed by the elephant while he was leading her to a pond. Leaders of several nearby towns threatened to prevent the circus from performing if it included the elephant.
The circus owner, Charlie Sparks, reluctantly decided that the only way to quickly resolve the situation was to hold a public execution.
Early settlements at the site were used as a staging ground for other pioneers who were traveling overland on the Wilderness Road leading to Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap.
First chartered in 1822, Kingsport also became an important shipping port on the Holston River, a main transportation carrier.
Re-chartered in 1917, Kingsport was an early example of a "garden city".Goods originating for many miles around from the surrounding countryside were loaded onto barges for the journey downriver to the Tennessee River at Knoxville.In the Battle of Kingsport (December 13, 1864) during the Civil War, a force of 300 Confederates under Colonel Richard Morgan (1836–1918) stopped a larger Union force for nearly two days.An army of over 5,500 troops under command of Major General George Stoneman (1822–1894) had left Knoxville to raid Confederate targets in Virginia: the salt works at Saltville, the lead works at Wytheville, and the iron works in Marion. Morgan's small band held off a main Union force under Major General Cullem Gillem on the opposite side the Holston River, Union Col.
Samuel Patton took a force of cavalry to a ford in the river 2.5 miles (4.0 km) north and came down behind the Confederates.
The name "Kingsport" is a simplification of "King's Port", originally referring to the area on the Holston River known as King's Boat Yard, the head of navigation for the Tennessee Valley.