Civil War era artist preserves the history of Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Many books have been written on the history of Knoxville, but one man has preserved it through art.

Native Knoxvillian Lloyd Branson was born in the 1850s and died in 1925.

His career really took off after the Civil War. He documented a lot of individuals and names synonymous with the area.

"We have him here pictured in his studio with his last major portrait that of Alvin York," said East Tennessee History Center Curator Adam Alfrey.

Branson's artistry was propelled by his schooling in New York in the 1870s. His early works include portraits of the Taylor family of Cocke County from their early life to later years.

Branson's studio was on Gay Street for a number of years. Even though he was known for more for portraits, there was also a series of historical pieces.

Perhaps the most intriguing is a painting of a fort that encompassed downtown Knoxville in the 1700s.

"Its an image of the United States barracks at the corner of Gay Street and Main Street," said Alfrey.

Branson's knowledge of the fort came from historical accounts then recreating what he imagined it looked like.

Another piece on loan from the Tennessee State Museum is a depiction of the Over Mountain Men before they went into the Battle of Kings Mountain

It took Branson 15 years to complete, and it's considered to be his masterpiece.

From beautiful women to historic battles, Lloyd Branson documented the history of Knoxville now preserved for all the see.