Then and Now: Tennessee history endures at Tipton-Haynes site

The Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site is dedicated to preserving the early history of Northeast Tennessee and to telling the story of the two prominent families who called the site home.

Tipton-Haynes includes 45 acres, 11 historic buildings, the Tipton/Gifford/Simerly cemetery and a limestone cave. Also on the grounds, visitors can see a buffalo trace, a nature trail and a natural spring.

The site’s Visitors Center features a permanent exhibit, a museum store and a library complete with archives.

Col. John Tipton, a hero of the American Revolution, purchased the site in 1784 after moving from Shenandoah County, Virginia, to settle in what was then Washington County, North Carolina.

In the next few years, Tipton — a North Carolina loyalist — would become embroiled in a controversy over statehood for the frontier territory.

In February of 1788, the Battle of the State of Franklin turned Tipton’s home into a battleground for Franklin independence.

Franklinites vs. Tiptonites

While tensions existed for more than three years with no major conflicts, friction between the Franklinites and the North Carolina loyalists (also called Tiptonites) eventually developed into an armed conflict.

Earlier that month, the North Carolina sheriff of Washington County, Jonathan Pugh, was ordered by the county court under Colonel John Tipton to seize property of John Sevier, governor of the state of Franklin, for taxes he owed to the state of North Carolina.

Pugh obeyed those orders and seized some of Sevier’s property, including taking several slaves from his home while Sevier was away in Greene County.

Sevier’s property and slaves were taken to Tipton’s cabin for safekeeping by the sheriff, which led to the Battle of the State of Franklin. An angry Sevier marched to Tipton’s property with 100 men on Feb 27, 1788 and positioned themselves a few hundred yards from his cabin. The colonel was now surrounded in his cabin with only his family and a handful of supporters.

The next day, Sevier sent a second flag of truce to Tipton requesting his surrender. Tipton replied: “To this flag I sent an answer, letting the men assembled there know that all I wanted was a submission to the laws of North Carolina, and if they would acquiesce with this proposal I would disband my troops here …”

Realizing that Tipton and his small party were not going to surrender, Sevier decided to lay siege to Tipton’s cabin instead of risking any bloodshed by assaulting the cabin.

After sneaking out of Tipton’s cabin, Major Robert Love joined his brother, Thomas Love, in raising a small party to reinforce Tipton. On the evening of  Feb. 28, Major Love’s party dashed into the Tipton cabin, when it was discovered the Franklinite sentries had left their post around the cave because of bitter cold weather.

Tipton troops were reinforced again Feb. 29 when Col. George Maxwell and his North Carolina loyalists from Sullivan County reached the Tipton cabin early that morning. They arrived during a heavy snowstorm and were not detected by Sevier’s men.

Not knowing exactly who fired first, both sides fired a volley at each other and upon hearing the shots, Col. Tipton decided to attack Sevier. While dashing out of his cabin, Col. Tipton exclaimed, “Boys, every man who is a soldier come out.”

The fight was brief, but decisive. following 10 minutes of fighting, Sevier and his men retreated back to Jonesborough. The state of Franklin would be dissolved more than a year later.

Col. John Tipton would later help Tennessee become the 16th state of the Union. His advisory — John Sevier — would be elected the first governor of the state of Tennessee.

Landon Carter Haynes

After his father’s death in 1813, John Tipton Jr.  inherited the property. Before moving to Washington County, the younger Tipton was already a successful state legislator and wealthy land owner in Blountville.

He expanded his father’s cabin in the 1820s, making it a Federal-style farmhouse. He died in Nashville in 1831 while attending Tennessee’s 19th General Assembly.

The heirs of John Tipton Jr. sold the property to David and Rhoda Haynes in 1837. The couple gave the home to their eldest son, Landon Carter Haynes, as a wedding gift in 1839.

In the 1850s, Haynes expanded the former Tipton home into how it appears today. Haynes is best known for being a Confederate senator, but he was also a state legislator, farmer and newspaper editor.

Even though Haynes was defeated in a bid for Congress 1859, he still had something to celebrate. It was that same year that the U.S. government changed the Johnson’s Depot post office name to Haynesville in his honor.

After the start of the Civil War, the United States changed the name back to Johnson’s Depot, but the Confederate States of America still referred to the town as Haynesville.

After losing his home during the Civil War, Haynes moved to Memphis, where he would reside until his death in 1875.

The historic home would eventually return to the Haynes family when Sarah L. Gifford Simerly purchased the property on May 1, 1882. Simerly was the niece of Landon Carter Haynes.

Famous Visitor

Between 1785 and 1796, famed 18th century French botanist Andre´ Michaux traveled most of Eastern North America from Florida to Quebec in search of local plants and trees that would be useful to his home country.

It was from his extensive travels that he wrote two influential field guides on indigenous plant life.

He became the first professionally trained botanist to explore Tennessee when he spent the night at Col. John Tipton’s log home on May 14, 1795. He would again spend the night at the Tipton home on March 20, 1796, after exploring Roan Mountain and other areas of Tennessee, stretching to the Mississippi River.

Today, Tipton-Haynes pays tribute to Michaux and his accomplishments with an exhibit in the historic site’s museum. Along with a brief biography of Michaux, who died in 1802, is a reproduction of his journal entry detailing his flora findings at the Tipton home.

Downtown Johnson City changes with the times

Over the last 150 years, downtown Johnson City has gone through several transformations, from a small railroad outpost to a bustling center of commerce to a ghost town to a historic small business district.

Founder and first mayor Henry Johnson got to work even before the town’s incorporation. He bought a half-acre near the intersection of a main stagecoach road and a new railroad branch in 1856 and built a small home and general store.

Through several expansions, he established a railroad depot and post office, creating a population and business center in the countryside.

After Johnson City’s incorporation in 1869, Johnson was unanimously elected its leader.

The Reconstruction period after the Civil War was kind to the city. Three railroad lines passed through its downtown, bringing mined ore, farm products and passengers to their depots.

The city prospered and attracted investment from industrialists and land developers who built whole neighborhoods on its outskirts.

Though national economic busts stalled some of the planned projects, the city’s population grew, and its downtown remained a retail and business center well into the 1960s.

Current Mayor Jenny Brock worked at the Penney’s department store on Main Street in the late ’60s. She remembers a bustling downtown core.

“It was the center of everything, banking, attorneys, retail, everything was downtown,” she said. “It was a very vibrant and energetic place. During Christmas parades, you could hardly move down the streets it was so crowded.”

As a younger child, Brock said downtown was a place people dressed up to visit. Friends and neighbors would meet at the businesses, creating a social hub there, as well.

Brock moved away in 1969, shortly before downtown Johnson City started a downhill slide.

The ’70s saw a new shopping district established on the city’s north side, following a trend of standalone department stores and shopping malls.

The mall opened in 1971 on North Roan Street. From then through the ’80s, downtown’s retail businesses moved away, leaving empty storefronts.

Without investment and economic activity, the area floundered. Buildings became blighted, and only a few stores and offices remained.

Heavy rains flooded the streets, compounding problems and discouraging business owners.

Brock returned in the ’80s to find a very different downtown.

“When I came back I was heartbroken,” she said. “It was like a desert. There was very little activity and it was rundown looking. It was very sad to see.”

The 2000s brought renewed interest downtown. Other cities were revitalizing their central cores, and officials wanted to follow suit.

The city’s Historic Zoning Commission overlaid a historic district on the area and set to work preserving the old structures.

Work also began on a plan to better manage floodwater from nearby creeks. The multimillion dollar plan established Founders Park and King Commons, providing green space and relieving some of the frequent and costly deluges.

As business owners and investors saw the city’s officials’ commitment to downtown, they too began to believe in its potential.

Developers rehabilitated two dilapidated train depots and moved restaurants in. Long dark storefronts were once again filled with products and customers.

The Model Mill, left empty by the flour company that owned it, is getting new life, and will soon be filled by retail businesses and offices. City officials likewise hope to transform the John Sevier Center into a business hub.

“Today, when I see that vibrancy coming back, it connects me to my fondest memories of downtown,” Brock said. “It’s starting to become very familiar to me, except people complain a lot more about parking, when they didn’t before.”

Still, with new open air retail shopping centers going up in neighboring towns and one proposed in Boones Creek, Brock said efforts should be made to preserve downtown’s vibrancy.

“After what happened early ’70s, the excitement about the mall, I think more could have been done to help retain downtown’s business activity,” she said. “There should have been programs in place to keep businesses from closing and moving. As we think about a new development in Boones Creek soon, we need to be keeping an eye on that and make sure downtown and North Roan stay vibrant centers for activity.”

Rails to highways and trails: Keeping Johnson City moving

From the first rail spike in 1857 to the improvement of Exit 17 on Interstate 26 in 2019, roads have forged the way for Johnson City’s development.

This town is known as the Gateway to Appalachia for good reason.

While trains may not be the dominant economic driver they were through the first half of Johnson City’s history, they continue to chug through downtown on a daily basis. Meanwhile, thousands of vehicles pass over the tracks on I-26 on the crucial route through the mountains between Western North Carolina and Southwest Virginia. Since the 1980s, the city’s major artery, State of Franklin Road, has run in part along the path of the old tracks.

The railroads

Henry Johnson knew how important transportation was for success. That’s why he established his store where the stage road met the path of the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad in 1865, a year before the railway entered Washington County. The ET&V built a water tank at the store, birthing the settlement of Johnson’s Tank, which would become Johnson’s Depot and ultimately Johnson City.

In 1866, a second railroad, the legendary East Tennessee & Western North Carolina, was chartered to haul magnetite iron ore out of the mountains. Construction began in spring 1868, a year before the newly dubbed Johnson City was chartered, and the “Tweetsie” railway to Cranberry, North Carolina, was completed in 1882.

Suddenly, this was a boom town. The combination of the railroad crossing and the iron route made this the perfect setting for the smelting industry — it was the “Pittsburgh of the South.” The city’s population grew from around 500 people to 4,200 by 1893.

Amid the boom, industrialist John T. Wilder, a former Civil War general, brought yet another railroad here. Wilder pinned his hopes of capitalizing on Johnson City’s growth by building the Charleston, Cincinnati and Chicago Railroad, a proposed a 625-mile line with headquarters here. Wilder established a neighboring community east of Johnson City, naming it Carnegie in hopes of attracting the interests of magnate Andrew Carnegie to the furnace business. Tracks were built from here to Erwin, and grading was well underway into Virginia when the “3 C’s” collapsed in the depression of 1893 and took the town of Carnegie along with it.

But in the early 20th century, entrepreneur George L. Carter bought the bones of the 3 C’s and developed the Clinchfield, Carolina & Ohio Railroad to haul loads from the coalfields of Southwest Virginia north and south. The Clinchfield’s success made Johnson City the hub where three railroads met. Carter’s investment here would pave the way for education in Northeast Tennessee. He donated land in southwest Johnson City for the state Normal School, an institution that began training teachers for the region’s rural communities in 1911. Today, that school is East Tennessee State University.

With the move to freight and passenger transportation over highways and airlines, the railroad business declined across the country in the second half of the 20th century. The ET&WNC abandoned in its narrow gauge line in 1950. Trains continued on the standard gauge segment of the line from Johnson City to Elizabethton until the East Tennessee Railway abandoned the line in 2009. The city of Johnson City purchased that abandoned path and created the Tweetsie Trail, a 10-mile rails-to-trails path for biking, running and walking.

Today, CSX (Clinchfield’s successor) and the Norfolk Southern Railway continue to run freight through the city on a smaller scale. In recent years, both the ET&WNC and Clinchfield depots have been remodeled for modern business use.

Public transportation

Around the turn of the 20th century, travelers on horse-drawn carriages and wagons found themselves sharing Johnson City’s streets with streetcars. The Johnson City & Carnegie Street Railway Co. operated 4 miles of rail in 1892. Riders not only could make their way through downtown’s busy streets, they could ride east into the neighboring community of Carnegie and out the town’s Main Street (today’s East Oakland Avenue) to go boating on Lake Watusee, later known as Cox’s Lake.

By 1912, the Johnson City Traction Corp. was sending trolleys over more than 6 miles of track. A magazine once estimated that between 1892 and 1921, more than a million passengers rode the city trolley. With the increasing affordability of private automobiles, however, trolley ridership declined steadily in the 1920s. The old streetcar rails still sit below downtown’s streets.

Yesteryear columnist Bob Cox has reported that Johnson City faced a dilemma in 1931 with the need to replace old street cars with expensive new ones while expanding routes with new rails and overhead cables. Johnson City Traction proposed that streetcars be replaced with buses. The city agreed and acquired five new Mack Model BG 21-passenger vehicles.

Private companies continued to manage buses and routes through Johnson City through the 1970s. Today, the city’s bus fleet is managed by the Johnson City Transit, which was created in 1979 as the first new municipal transit system in Tennessee since World War II. On a fleet of 20-some vehicles, people make hundreds of thousands of trips each year throughout the city’s expanded footprint on 20 routes.

The Transit Center, at 137 W. Market St., was built in 1986 on the former site of the Tennessee Theater. In recent years, the center was equipped with modern technology giving administrators access to real-time rider data. The JCT also operates the city’s school buses.

Johnson City’s Highways

The Appalachian Highway — designated as I-26 through Unicoi, Washington and Sullivan counties — is the major route through Johnson City for both local commuters and travelers going to and from Asheville, North Carolina. In the Johnson City area alone, an estimated 64,230 vehicles travel the route per day, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s 2017 figures. Trucks account for 6% of that total. TDOT recently improved the I-26 interchange at Exit 13 in Gray to accommodate northerly growth, and a similar project is underway at Exit 17 in Boones Creek.

Drivers also make their way between Jonesborough, Johnson City and Bristol along U.S. Highway 11E, from here to Kingsport on Tenn. Highway 36 and from here to Elizabethton along U.S. Highway 321.

State of Franklin Road takes motorists on a three-quarters loop around Johnson City from downtown past ETSU and Johnson City Medical Center and north to I-26 before merging into the Bristol Highway in north Johnson City. The road’s development has in part facilitated Johnson City’s growth in education, medicine, retail and other business sectors.

Today in Johnson City History: Dec. 1

Dec. 1, 1869: Johnson City received its charter from the state of Tennessee.

Dec. 1, 1887: The Comet reported that “A New York musical journal says Mrs. Potter is ‘a born amateur.’ And it is not likely that she will ever outgrow it.” The same issue also reported that “Boston society has promised to read the Bible this winter. Boston fashionables are always looking for something new.”

Dec. 1, 1894: The Johnson City and Carnegie Street Railroad Company stopped operating.

Dec. 1, 1898: The people of the First Ward would not make Mel Weiler a city dad” at the aldermanic election, but his wife was more considerate and on his return from Salt River, presented him with a bouncing baby girl, the Comet reported.

Dec. 1, 1910: Ed Ryan, who shot and killed Will Ryan and his wife, Ocie Ryan, and also shot at his own wife, Cissie Ryan, and then shot himself in Johnson City, was to remain in the Jonesboro Jail until the February term of the Circuit Court.

Dec. 1, 1925: Johnson City’s J.A. Higgins spent the day in Kingsport on business.

Dec. 1, 1930: District Vice Commander Brick Smith was among several members of Johnson City’s American Legion post who attended addresses by Tennessee Commander John H. McCall and Adjutant Guy H. May at Kingsport’s Municipal Building.

Dec. 1, 1940: The Appalachian Baseball League’s annual meeting of directors took place in Johnson City. Johnson City Press Publisher Carl A. Jones Jr. was elected vice president.

Dec. 1, 1949: Burley tobacco warehouses reported fewer rejections of bids than any other season. One warehouse had none. Tobacco prices averaged 45 cents per pound in the East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia markets.

Dec. 1, 1953: “Vice Squad” starring Edward G. Robinson and Paulette Goddard was playing at the Tennessee Theater. The Tennessee stood at the corner Boone and West Main, present site of the Johnson City Transit Center.

Dec. 1, 1955: East Tennessee State College announced it had adopted a university-like engineering curriculum. Students could do their first three years of training before spending the senior year at the University of Tennessee with no loss of credit.

Dec. 1, 1960: The Johnson City Junior High lost a home basketball game 39-32 to Kingsport’s John Sevier Junior High. Buck Oxendine was Johnson City’s high scorer with nine points.

Dec. 1, 1965: A Tennessee Highway Patrol chase in Johnson City ended in a crash that sent a woman into surgery for head injures. The woman’s 17-year-old boyfriend was charged with reckless driving and driving without a license.

Dec. 1, 1966: Science Hill High School alumnus Steve Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy as quarterback of the Florida Gators.

Dec. 1, 1969: The Johnson City Press-Chronicle published a photo of a billboard highlighting the “Hope of Tomorrow” at the site for the future Liberty Bell and Freedom Hall complex behind Science Hill High School.

Dec. 1, 1970: Joe Whitehead tipped in a basket at the buzzer to give Science Hill’s Hilltoppers a 53-52 victory against Bristol’s Tennessee High.

Dec. 1, 1975: A Pontiac Firebird outran police cruisers in a chase on Cherokee Road. The driver then fled down Highway 107, which was blocked by Greene County deputies at the line. He escaped down a side road and deputies spotted the sports car on roads in the South Central community but were unable to stop it. Six warrants were issued for the driver’s arrest.

Dec. 1, 1977: Commissioner Warren Vest stormed out of a Johnson City Commission meeting saying he had not received a full agenda.

Dec. 1, 1992: East Tennessee State University officials courted a group of state senators in hopes of garnering $22.6 million for a new library.

Dec. 1, 1996: The Johnson City Press reported that new dress codes at Science Hill High School and Liberty Bell Middle School included bans on ripped jeans, short skirts, bicycle shorts, tank tops and underwear-revealing baggy shorts.

Dec. 1, 2000: East Tennessee State University hosted sections of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt in the D.P. Culp University Center while offering HIV testing on the campus.

Dec. 1, 2006: On the second anniversary of Jackson Rice’s birth, “Jackson’s Playground” was dedicated at the Salvation Army in Johnson City. Baby Jackson Rice and his twin Brayden were born one minute apart and months before they should have been. Jackson’s struggle lasted two days before he died, but his twin survived after after spending three months in the neonatal Intense Care Unit at Johnson City Medical Center. Their father, Herman Rice, was program director at the Salvation Army.

Dec. 1, 2010: A cold front swept into Johnson City bringing a light snow to the city’s streets.

Dec. 1, 2015: Gov. Bill Haslam announced that Tennessee would establish governing boards for each of the six universities not governed by the University of Tennessee. The change removed ETSU and the other five schools from the Tennessee Board of Regents, which continued to oversee community colleges and technical schools.

Dec. 1, 2018: The Johnson City Christmas Parade ran from ETSU to downtown Johnson City. The theme was “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” and the winning float was built by Central Baptist Church.

Sources: City of Johnson City; The Comet; Johnson City Postcard History Series; Kingsport Times; Johnson City Press; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Ted Bowers/Johnson City, Tennessee, Memories; Johnson City Press.

Today in Johnson City History: November 30

Nov. 30, 1888: The State of Tennessee chartered John T. Wilder’s “Watauga Improvement Company.” This provided for building houses, grading streets, making sidewalks, libraries and schools, as well as other like-infrastructure.

Nov. 30, 1899: Since the East Tennessee Telephone Company put in a toll station here, Johnson City was connected with the outside world. Earlier that week, W.E. Uptegrove called up Little Rock, Arkansas, and talked 19 minutes. The distance was more than 1,300 miles, but the conversation was carried on distinctly. The toll charges were $27, the equivalent of about $837 in 2019.

Nov. 30, 1911: Dr. R.L. Patton, of Telford, had been in Johnson City as one of the commissioners appointed to locate the Memphis to Bristol highway through the county.

Nov. 30, 1956: The Science Hill Hilltoppers defeated the Washington College Eagles 52-49. Jerry Vance led scoring 17 points.

Nov. 30, 1979: More than 7,100 fans enjoyed the performance of the Statler Brothers and Barbara Mandrell at Freedom Hall Civic Center.

Nov. 30, 1986: The Royal Lipizzaner Stallions appeared at Freedom Hall.

Nov. 30, 1996: East Tennessee State University and Lees-McRae College played basketball at Freedom Hall. The Bucs won 73-56. It was one of only seven wins in a dismal season with 20 losses.

Sources: Johnson’s Depot; The Comet; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Bobbie H. Shirley, Freedom Hall.

Johnson City at 150: Then & Now

Just a block from where Henry Johnson built his general store near Brush Creek in 1856, the town he founded will celebrate its 150th birthday today in King Commons Park.

From 2 to 4 p.m., the city’s Sesquicentennial Commission will host the grand finale of a yearlong celebration of the founder’s legacy. With the public invited, the festivities will include the first lighting of a commissioned art piece installed in the center of the new History Circle and the placement of contents in a sesquicentennial time capsule to be opened in 2069.

Here in 2019, Johnson City encompasses 43.3 square miles in three counties, is home to about 68,000 people, and is a hub for education, medical services and manufacturing. It’s the bustling center of a metropolitan region 500,000 strong.

Born because Johnson had the foresight to buy land where the old stage road was to meet the planned path of the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad, Johnson City received its first charter from the state of Tennessee on this date in 1869. Johnson fittingly was named its first mayor in 1870.

Though Johnson would only live another four years, everything this town is in 2019 was built from his foresight.

The town became a strategic rail junction for the southeastern United States. Three rail lines — the Southern, the Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio Railway and the ET&WNC — all met near the site of Johnson’s original depot. The rail confluence made this a logical spot to smelt iron ore hauled along the rails from North Carolina mines and later the gateway for coal transportation.

As a passenger rail hub, Johnson City was a natural choice for the U.S. government to establish the Mountain Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in 1901. That complex today is the James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Mountain Home, which continues to serve the health care needs of thousands of former servicemen and women every year.

The railroads brought such entrepreneurs as George L. Carter, father of the Clinchfield, to the region. It was Carter who donated the land for what is now East Tennessee State University. When it opened as a teacher-training school in 1911, the institution was responsible for educating the instructors who would fill East Tennessee’s growing public education system. From normal school to state college to 15,000-student university, ETSU has educated hundreds of thousands of graduates in 108 years.

Having both ETSU and the VAMC was the key to Johnson City’s modern way of life. In the 1960s, this part of Southern Appalachian region was far behind the rest of the country in the availability of medical services. It lacked the primary care physicians, specialists and facilities necessary for a healthy, thriving population.

Local, state and federal officials joined together to create what would become the ETSU James H. Quillen College of Medicine at the VAMC campus — the catalyst for today’s medical services economy.

It’s that evolution Johnson City will celebrate today at King Commons.

Today in Johnson City History: November 29

Nov. 29, 1888: From the pages of The Comet: “Our friend S.H. Hendrix, of Carters, has replaced our sick rooster with great big frizzly one. It is a fine crower and if we that do not get chicken hungry before that time, he will crow for the democracy in 1892.”

Nov. 29, 1906: The Comet’s advertising included the Southern Railroad, which offered holiday excursion rates. Readers were advised that “We seldom repent of having eaten too little,” which was one of Jefferson’s Ten Rules the paper printed that day.

Nov. 29, 1955: Leonardo Thomas Cumberbatch, a player for the Kingsport Cherokees, was awarded 50 percent disability for an injury he received in a Johnson City baseball game that August. A Johnson City doctor testified that while the knee injury ended Cumberbatch’s playing career, he could still do some forms of manual labor. The player’s attorney had argued for 100 percent disability from the Cherokees’ insurance carrier.

Nov. 29, 1974: The Gospel Sing at Freedom Hall Civic Center was attended by 400 people.

Nov. 29, 2011: Science Hill High School went on lockdown and a senior student was arrested after school resource officers discovered a handgun inside his trench coat. The .22-caliber handgun was loaded and there was additional ammunition in his backpack, police said at the time.

Sources: The Comet; Kingsport Times; Bobbie H. Shirley, Freedom Hall: Johnson City Press

Today in Johnson City History: November 28

Nov. 28, 1889: Ground had been broken for the new depot of the “Three Cs” Road — the short-lived enterprise of Gen. John T. Wilder, the Charleston, Cincinnati and Chicago Railroad.

Nov. 28, 1912: Notice on The Comet’s front page advertised a request for sealed bids for the erection of a high school building of fire-proof construction according to plans and specifications as drawn by Bauman Brothers, Knoxville. The new high school was built on the same site of the original Science Hill Male and Female Institute on a hill above Roan and Market streets.

Nov. 28, 1979: Tom Hodge wrote in his column in the Johnson City Press-Chronicle about the groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Johnson City Public Library. This library was built on the site of the old Science Hill High School (later South Junior High School). It was later razed when the city built its current library a few blocks up North Roan Street.

Nov. 28, 1992: Smoky Mountain Wrestling came to Freedom Hall Civic Center.

Sources: The Comet; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Bobbie H. Shirley, Freedom Hall.

Today in Johnson City History: November 27

Nov. 27, 1890: The Comet reported that the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough had passed through Johnson City earlier that week. The duke at the time was Charles Richard John Spencer-Churchill, the 9th Duke of Marlborough. The duchess was American Consuelo Spencer-Churchill, born Consuelo Vanderbilt, a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family.

Nov. 27, 1936: David Walker, age 11, founded The Tribute, “a small sheet issued every now and then.” The circulation was 250. King’s Boy’s Shop was an advertiser in the publication.

Nov. 27, 1944: Frank Capra’s classic comedy “Arsenic and Old Lace” starring Cary Grant was playing at the Majestic Theater in downtown Johnson City.

Nov. 27, 1987: Sesame Street Live began the first day of a three-day run at Freedom Hall Civic Center. More than 9,900 fans attended the performances.

Sources: The Comet; Archives of Appalachia, Mary Hardin McCown Collection; Johnson City Press-Chronicle/Ted Bowers, Johnson City, Tennessee, Memories; Bobbie H. Shirley, Freedom Hall.

Today in Johnson City History: November 26

Nov. 26, 1885: The Comet reported on an unsuccessful attempt at courting. “A young gentleman being introduced to a certain young lady in this place a few evenings since, after a rather lengthy conversation with her mid in his departure: ‘Good evening, ma’am; I hope to have the pleasure of meeting you again some time in the near future,’ when she replied, ‘Yes, I hope so, thank you — in heaven.’”

Nov. 26, 1910: Retiring Gov. Malcolm R. Patterson lectured at Memorial Hall in Johnson City on “True Reforms and False Reformers.” Patterson, who had served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1901-06, was governor for two terms from 1907-11. In his second term, pardon-happy Patterson was plagued by a pardon he issued for political ally Duncan Cooper, who had been convicted in the killing of Edward W. Carmack, Patterson’s opponent for the nomination in the 1908 election. The controversy divided the Democratic Party, and the scandal led Patterson to withdraw from the race for a third term. The result was Tennessee’s first Republican governor in 30 years, Ben Hooper.

Nov. 26, 1959: A shortage of steel halted work at the new Science Hill High School, according to contractor J.E. Green.

Nov. 26, 1974: Black Oak Arkansas, along with Foghat, played to over 5,500 fans at Freedom Hall Civic Center.

Nov. 26, 2006: The Tennessee Department of Transportation was installing cable barriers in both directions in the medians of Interstate 26 through Johnson City.

Sources: The Comet; Tennessee Encyclopedia; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Bobbie H. Shirley, Freedom Hall; Johnson City Press