Today in Johnson City History: June 16

June 16, 1887: The Comet reported, “Gen. J.T. Wilder returned from New York yesterday morning and went up to Roan Mountain in the afternoon. He has been attending a meeting of the directors of the C.C. & C. road and reports every thing (sic) all right and progressing favorably for Johnson City. He also says dirt will be broken in Johnson City in 90 days.”

June 16, 1888: The Rogersville Herald reported, “The Johnson City string band, composed of Prof. D.N. McLeod, Prof. James McMillan, Mr. Ivy McNeas and Master Wallace McLeod came over Friday evening, en route to Hale Springs where they will make music for the season.”

June 16, 1890: The Nashville Banner reported, “The charter of the Johnson City Building and Improvement Company, of Washington County, was recorded in the Secretary of State’s office today.”

June 16, 1892: The Comet reported, “The Board of Education met Tuesday evening in the law office of Carr, Reeves and Jennings. The reading of the annual report of the city schools by Supt. E.H. Freeland, and its adoption by the Board was the principal business transacted. Teachers will be elected on Monday evening, June 27, as required by the by-laws adopted by the Board.”

June 16, 1916: The Chicago Livestock World and the Cincinnati Commercial Tribune were among the newspapers carrying news that Amy Crawford of Johnson City, Tennessee, was one of four people who drowned when their car plunged through a washout from a swollen creek near Isabella in Southeast Tennessee near the North Carolina state line.

June 16, 1927: Dr. W.G. King of Johnson City, Tennessee, was the guest of Dr. G.H. Sumner in Mt. Airy, North Carolina.

June 16, 1950: The Wilson Daily Times in Wilson, North Carolina, reported that the days seemed numbered for the “Tweetsie,” the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad’s narrow-gauge line between Johnson City and Cranberry, N.C.

June 16, 1961: Mayor May Ross McDowell presented the city of Johnson City’s first gavel to City Recorder Calvin Guthrie. The gavel was made out of wood from the historical Jacob Brown tree. Jacob Brown was one of Washington County’s earliest settlers.

June 16, 2009: Plans were announced to replace the last wooden bridge in Washington County. The Bob Davis Road bridge over the CSX railroad tracks near the city limits in Gray was to be replaced by a concrete I-beam bridge.

Sources: The Comet; Rogersville Herald; Nashville Banner; Chicago Livestock World; Cincinnati Commercial Tribune; Mount Airy News; Wilson Daily Times; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Johnson City Press.

Today in Johnson City History: June 16

June 17, 1874: The Daily Times, a newspaper in Chattanooga, reported, “The Knoxville Chronicle, has sold its old press to Mr. J.W. Peltier, who proposes to establish a paper at Johnson City, Washington Co., to be called the People’s Friend.”

June 17, 1882: The Daily Times reported, “The dwelling house of Capt. S.T. Harris, at Johnson City, was destroyed by fire Tuesday night. We understand that the only things saved from the burning house were a couple of beds. It is thought to have the work of incendiaries.”

June 17, 1892: Charles Oliver was fined $1.00 for interfering with an officer.

June 17, 1897: The Comet reported, “Gov. Taylor is at his pleasant home in this city taking a resting spell from the cares and worries of his office. He is in poor health and says he will resign if he don’t get better – but he is pourin’ the medicine into himself and it is sincerely hoped by his friends that it will have the desired effect.”

June 17, 1920: Miss Mary Nell Philips was spending the month with her aunt, Mrs. John Hambrick, in Forest City, North Carolina.

June 17, 1930: Dr. Charles C. Sherrod, president of State Teachers College, Johnson City, since 1925, was interviewed as one of four finalists for the position of superintendent of Nashville City Schools. Sherrod continued to lead the Johnson City institution now known as East Tennessee State University until 1949.

June 17, 1940: Pitcher Alphonse Bielan blew into Gastonia, North Carolina, to join the Gastonia Cardinals after 2+ seasons with the Card in Johnson City, where he won 12 and lost 10 in 1939.

June 17, 1944: Marine Corp. John William Wheelock, 24, Fall Branch, was killed in the Saipan invasion in World War II.

June 17, 1951: Wisconsin State Journal reported that The Very Rev. Leo L. Farrell, O.P., of Johnson City, Tennessee, has officiated the at the wedding of Miss Rosemary Jean Heronemus and C. William Pech in Madison, Wisconsin. Farrell had been pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Madison.

June 17, 1961: The Kingsport News reported that George Foster had died age 100 in Johnson City. He left behind a widow after 73 years of marriage. Foster had been a farmer, a blacksmith and a gunsmith. His father had been killed in the Battle of Murfreesboro in the Civil War.

June 17, 1965: “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” was showing at the Family Drive-In Theatre on the New Jonesboro Highway.

Sources: The Daily Times; Johnson City Court Records; The Comet; Forest City Courier; Kingsport Times; Gastonia Daily Gazette; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Ted Bowers/Johnson City, Tennessee, Memories; Wisconsin State Journal; Kingsport News

Today in Johnson City History: June 14

June 14, 1883: The Greeneville Herald reported “C. Reeves, of Johnson City, John Holloway … are among the attorneys attending Circuit Court this week.”

June 14, 1884: The Comet reported, “Dr. J.A. Dickey, of Bristol, long known and long loved by The Comet gang, was in our city on Wednesday last on professional business. He and Dr. Emmert are helping Dr. W.W. Worley out of a ‘pinch’”.

June 14, 1888: The Comet informed readers “Unaka Springs has opened for the season and as usual will be visited by the society people of Johnson City.”

June 14, 1890: The Chattanooga Daily Times reported, “Gov. Taylor passed through the city last night en route to his home in Johnson City. He was called home on account of the sickness of his wife.”

June 14, 1928: Mrs. W.C. Goodman and children of Johnson City were visiting her mother. Mrs. A.P. Glidewell in Danville, Virginia.

June 14, 1939: The Johnson City Cardinals broke a 3-3 tie with the Kingsport Cherokees with a four-run rally in the top of the ninth. The Cherokees scored one run in the bottom, giving the Cards a 7-4 victory for the lead in the Appalachian League standings.

June 14. 1956: The City of Johnson City was seeking to have an injunction lifted preventing it from spending $42,450 for the reassessment of property.

June 14, 1965: The Johnson City Police Department was asking the City Commission to raise police salaries by roughly 5 percent. A rookie made $300 per month at the time, and a patrolman’s topped out at $345. That range is the equivalent of roughly $2,442-$2,808 per month in 2020 — $29,304-$33,396 per year.



Today in Johnson City History: June 15

June 15, 1881: The Tennessee Legislature initially chartered the ET&WNC as a broad gauge railroad. Unanticipated problems necessitated the broad gauge railroad to be abandoned. The railroad was built instead as a narrow gauge. The line discontinued service in June 1969.

June 15, 1887: Readers of the Morristown Gazette learned that “The last issue of the Johnson City Enterprise reaches our table in a new, enlarged form and printed on both sides at home. It is an improvement worthy of the indefatigable efforts of the publisher who has labored hard to make a paper that would live and let live those dependent upon it. We congratulate friend Mitchell on the health aspect of his surroundings and the pleasing new features of his successful Enterprise.”

June 15, 1892: Readers of The Comet learned there would be a baseball game between Johnson City and Bristol on June 17. It would be played “on the ground west of the Presbyterian Church … Ladies invited to give their smiles and presence on this occasion.”

June 15, 1893: The Comet opined, “There are a great many reasons why some men should not be mayor of Johnson City.”

June 15, 1923: The services of Professor Herblin, an expert pianist, had been secured by the Strand Theatre in Kingsport. Professor Herblin arrived in Kingsport from Johnson City, where he had been playing for the. Liberty Theatre.

June 15, 1923: Gerald F. Kaumm, a Johnson City tannery manager, was named manager of Paw Paw Tannery in Cumberland, Maryland.

June 15, 1948: The Kingsport Times reported that the second-place Johnson City Cardinals took a game off the Pulaski Counts’ lead in Appalachian League baseball with a 2-1 victory. The win shaved the Counts’ lead to five games.

June 15, 1958: A recently dismissed Washington County sheriff’s deputy, Charles Loudy, 47, was free on bond after the shooting death of 31-year-old James Hobart Hyatt at the Rock and Roll Haven on the New Elizabethton Highway.

June 15, 1970: The Land of Oz opened on Beech Mountain near Banner Elk, North Carolina.

Sources: Bob Cox’s Yesteryear; Morristown Gazette; The Comet; Kingsport Times; Cumberland Evening Times; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Ted Bowers/Ted’s Time Warp; Kingsport Times-News; 

Today in Johnson City History: June 13

June 13, 1885: Mr. Frank Sefton had opened an ice cream parlor in the room over G.W. Hickey’s store, where he kept on hands all kinds of cream and strawberries.

June 13, 1910: L.H. Sterchi was fined an unlisted amount for “blocking the streets and sidewalks.” The charge was dismissed on the advice of the city attorney.

June 13, 1915: The Bristol Herald Courier reported, “Miss Laura Mary Boring has been visiting Miss Mary Hardin in Johnson City.”

June 13, 1925: Robert Morris had recently been elected president of the Johnson City Lions Club.

June 13, 1935: Readers of the Elizabethton Star learned that “The annual early summer dance by the Hurstleigh club will be given Friday night at the Johnson City Country club  … Mr. Glenn M. Elliott is president of the club … Invitations were issued last week, there being around 500 going to friends in Johnson City and nearby towns. Cards state that admission is by card only. The invitations were the clever conception of Mr. Allen Wofford.”

June 13, 1954: Alfred Hitchcock’s “Dial M For Murder” starring Grace Kelly and Ray Milland was showing at the Majestic Theatre on East Main Street in downtown Johnson City.

June 13th, 1968: The epic film “Doctor Zhivago” starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie was showing at the Family Drive-In Theatre on the New Jonesboro Highway.

June 13, 1969: The Johnson City Community Theatre put on the play “Brigadoon” as part of Johnson City’s Centennial celebration.

Sources: The Comet; Johnson City Court Records; Johnson City Chronicle; Bristol Herald Courier; Elizabethton Star; 

Today in Johnson City History: June 12

June 12, 1890: The Johnson City Furniture Factory had placed an order for a band resawing machine. It was to cost about $500, and plant manager Grant calculated it would more than pay for itself every three months. The price was the equivalent of roughly $14,000 in 2020 money, accounting for inflation.

June 12, 1927: The Johnson City Chronicle carried these headlines: “Lindbergh Reception In National’s Capital Surpasses All Previous Welcome Greetings.”

June 12, 1934: The first edition of Johnson City Press was published. Carl A. Jones Sr. and Charles J. Harkrader Sr. were the founders. Carl A. Jones Jr. was business manager and later publisher.

June 12, 1941: King’s Department Store had an ad for its anniversary sale in the Johnson City Press.

June 12, 1945: The Press carried news of the Girl Scout Council’s upcoming summer plans.

June 12, 1947: Shaw Jared and Eustis Lancaster were awarded the Eagle Scout rank at the Red Shield Boys Club.

June 12, 1956: “Rock Around the Clock” was showing at the Tennessee Theatre at West Main and Boone streets in downtown Johnson City.

June 12, 1957: The Cold War classic science fiction film “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” was showing at the Tri-City Drive-In Movies on the Kingsport Highway.


June 12, 1967: Wrestling at the Johnson City Recreation Center featured a six-man tag match.

June 12, 1974: A news release from the Office of James H. Quillen announced that Veterans Affairs had approved the location of the future College of Medicine at the VA Mountain Home campus.

June 12, 2009: WJHL-TV ended its analog broadcast signal in making the full switch to a digital station alongside all other broadcasters in the nation. Founding General Manager Hanes Lancaster “flip the switch,” having launched the analog broadcasts back in 1953.






Today in Johnson City History: June 11

June 11, 1875: The Daily Press and Herald, a newspaper in Knoxville, reported about a shooting death. “A young man named Eads was shot and killed near Johnson City two days ago. It is said that he accompanied a married woman who left Greeneville about that time and suspicion naturally points to the legal protection of the woman. His body was ordered to be sent to Greeneville by his brother, and yesterday evening a number of the friends of Eads were at the depot to receive the remains, but they failed to arrive, and some skeptical loafers affected to discredit altogether the statement of his death.”

June 11, 1885: The Herald and Tribune, the Jonesboro newspaper, reported, “Our Knob Creek correspondent writes that J.M. Range has sold his country property to Capt. Harris of near Johnson City. Capt. Harris will take possession about the 5th of August. Mr. Range moving to Johnson City.”

June 11, 1891: The Comet reported the first term of the Johnson City Institute would open on August 10, 1891.

June 11, 1912: Walter Hartley was fined $1 for “throwing on streets.” That fine would be the equivalent of roughly $26 today.

June 11, 1953: The Coca-Cola Bottling Works of Johnson City advertised that the safest way to drive was “refreshed.”

June 11, 1955: A photo in the Johnson City Press-Chronicle illustrated downtown Johnson City’s parking crunch.

June 11, 1964: “The Bridge on the River Kwai” starring Alec Guinness, William Holden and Jack Hawkins was at the Sevier Theatre on Spring Street in downtown Johnson City. The 1957 fictionalized epic war picture won seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director for David Lean and Best Actor for Guinness.

June 11, 1966: The Skyline Drive-In Theatre on the New Jonesboro Highway hosted “All Night Horror -Terror – Macabre.” The five-movie bill included “The Day of the Triffids” and “Kiss of the Vampire.”

Sources: Daily Press and Herald; The Herald and Tribune; The Comet; Johnson City Court Records; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Ted Bowers/Johnson City, Tennessee, Memories.

Today in Johnson City History: June 10

June 10, 1886: Miss Kittie Saunders, a charming young lady of Mossy Creek, was visiting her bewitching little lady friend, Miss Nannie Patty, at her suburban residence.

June 10, 1890: The Johnson City Baptists had expelled Rev. D.P. Chockley from the church by a large majority.

June 10, 1906: A new First Christian Church building was dedicated at 335-339 E. Main St. The building has been occupied by Downtown Christian Church since First Christian moved to north Johnson City.

June 10, 1912: Mrs. Ella Murray was fined $7.50 for selling “near beer on Sunday.” The fine was paid.

June 10, 1935: The Kingsport Times opined against routing the Memphis to Bristol Highway through Johnson City as opposed to Kingsport, claiming that reports of the Johnson City route were in error. “The highway would, of course, barring any shady political maneuvering, go from Bristol to Knoxville by way of Kingsport. This is the direct route, and it is inconceivable that it would be detoured by way of Johnson City and Morristown, thus missing Kingsport and Rogersville. We would emphasize the fact that the route by way of Kingsport and Rogersville is the direct route from Bristol to Knoxville, and consequently is much shorter than the detour route by way of Johnson City and Morristown.” Tenn. Highway 1 indeed was paved through Rogersville and Kingsport, but the Morristown-Johnson City route also was improved. Both highways were later designated as part of U.S. Highway 11 — 11W through Kingsport to Bristol and 11E through Johnson City.

June 8, 1947: “Angel and the Badman,” starring John Wayne, was at the Sevier Theatre on Spring Street in downtown Johnson City.

June 10, 1948: Cadet Midshipman Charles D. Tolley, of Johnson City, was graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy.

June 10, 1956: The Little Stores advertised a six-bottle carton of Coca-Cola for 15 cents plus a deposit for the returnable bottles. That 15 cents is about $1.41 in today’s money. Could you get a six pack for that?

June 10, 1960: “The Oregon Trail” and “Fiend Without A Face” were showing at the Tri-City Drive-In Movies on the Kingsport Highway. Meanwhile, Tennessee Williams’s “The Fugitive Kind,” starring Marlon Brando, was at the Sevier Theatre.

Sources: The Comet; The Chattanooga Daily Times; Johnson City Postcard History; Kingsport Times; Johnson City Court Records; Ted Bowers/Johnson City, Tennessee, Memories; Johnson City Press-Chronicle.

Today in Johnson City History: June 9

June 9, 1885: The Memphis Avalanche reported, “W.R. Rhea was appointed postmaster today at Johnson City.”

June 9, 1887: The Comet reported on a ballplayer with typhoid fever. “Tom Crouch, the center fielder of the Boone’s Creek base ball club, is very low with typhoid fever.”

June 9, 1924: Mark Bowen was fined $3 for “running with a bright and glaring headlight.” The fine was paid.

June 9, 1959: Psychiatric care became available in Johnson City with the opening of a clinic on Fairview Avenue. The Junior Service League, now the Junior League, channeled volunteer and fundraising efforts toward the clinic’s opening for several years. The clinic was the forerunner of Watauga Mental Health, and is now Frontier Health.

June 9, 1963: The Johnson City Press-Chronicle published a photo illustrating the traffic and parking problem on East Main Street in downtown Johnson City.

June 9, 1963: The Press-Chronicle also published an image of Shirley Harrison and Jerry Deakins walking on East Main Street in downtown Johnson City. They were walking onto Fountain Square with the Anderson Drugs sign behind them.

June 9, 1970: Tennessee gubernatorial candidate John J. Hooker appeared in a meet-and-greet at the Holiday Inn in Johnson City. Hooker was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1970 and 1998. He lost to Winfield Dunn in the first race and to incumbent Don Sundquist in the second.

Sources: Memphis Avalanche; The Comet; Johnson City Court Records; History of Washington County, Tennessee; Kathy Benedetto; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Ted Bowers/Johnson City, Tennessee, Memories.

Today in Johnson City History: June 7

June 7, 1849: The Blue Plum Post Office opened south of what is now downtown Johnson City. Future Johnson City founder Henry Johnson was the first postmaster. In 1859, the Blue Plum office was closed.

June 7, 1884: The Comet had an invitation for everyone. “The ladies of the Baptist church in this city will give an ice cream festival in Jobe’s new hall, on Friday evening June 13th. Everybody come.”

June 7, 1888: The Comet had a “lost and found” section, “Any one having lost dishes during the Y.M.C.A. Supper can get them by calling J.F. Crumley & Co’s.”

June 7, 1892: The Comet reported that a merchant in Flourville, Mr. J.H. Crouch, had recently been to Johnson City. “He informed us that a strawberry festival was given at the Christian Church at Boon’s (sic) Creek Friday night.”

June 7, 1896: The Knoxville Daily Journal opined, “Sixteen pages of Bob Taylor’s home organ, the Johnson City Comet, for the past week, were edited by the back-tax attorney, being advertisements of tax sales.” Taylor was a candidate for Tennessee governor at the time and later won election to his second, non-consecutive term.

June 7, 1951: The Johnson City Press-Chronicle reported that A.M. Butler, a former private detective and policeman in the Roanoke, Virginia, Police Department, would take over as Johnson City police chief. He succeed W.T. Wheelock, who had held the post as acting chief since Earl Laughren was demoted the previous fall.

June 7, 1954: The Press-Chronicle published a photograph of Constables John Cloyd, Ernest Keplinger and Roy Reed with a safe impounded during a gaming raid on Tipton Street.

June 7, 1962: Wright’s Grocery Stores announced the grand opening Wright’s No. 2 in the Holiday Shopping Center on Broyles Drive in north Johnson City.

June 7, 1963: “Outlaws Treasure” and “Journey to the 7th Planet” were showing at the Tri-City Drive-In on the Kingsport Highway.

June 7, 1966: John Robert Bell was named head football coach and athletic director for East Tennessee State University by University President Burgin E. Dossett.

June 7, 1967: The Spaghetti Western “For A Few Dollars More” starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef was showing at the Tennessee Theatre at West Main and Boone streets in downtown Johnson City.

Sources: Bob Cox’s Yesteryear; The Comet; Knoxville Daily Journal; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Ted Bowers/Johnson City, Tennessee, Memories.