Jesse Walton, pioneer soldier and settler, was born in Virginia. By the outbreak of the American Revolution, Walton was living in Surry County, North Carolina, along the Virginia border north of Winston-Salem. A patriot, Walton was active in the Surry Committee of Safety and served in the militia. His earliest service was in the procurement of arms and ammunition for the North Carolina forces. In 1776, when the Cherokees attacked Fort Watauga, Long Island, Nolichucky, and other areas in upper East Tennessee, Second-Major Walton was sent with the forces under Colonel William Christian on an expedition to attack the Overhill Cherokee towns along the Little Tennessee River. Subsequently, Walton became part of the garrison forces at the newly built Fort Williams along the Nolichucky River near Jacob Brown’s settlement.
In 1777 Walton purchased a farm in the region and became a friend of John Sevier, who commanded the western soldiers occupying the fort. By February 1778 Walton had been elected justice of the peace in Washington County and served on the commission charged with providing a site for the courthouse, jail, and stocks. He also was elected to the North Carolina legislature and introduced a bill in 1779 to create the town of Jonesborough, named for a North Carolina politician.
Jonesboro, as it later was spelled, was laid out by Walton and five other commissioners in one-acre lots that were sold by drawing. The original town plat showed that Walton was the largest landowner with ten lots. After founding Tennessee’s first town, Walton moved to Georgia about 1781 and was killed in a battle with the Cherokees in 1789.