Today in Johnson City History: April 15

April 15, 1947: F.A. and C.J. McNees, owners and operators of McNees Brothers Dairy, purchased the Utopia Dairy Farm from the Smithdeal family at auction in Johnson City.

April 15, 1975: North Side Hospital opened at 401 Princeton Road.

April 15, 1992: Carl A. Jones Jr., longtime publisher of Johnson City Press (Press-Chronicle 1942-85), died. After graduating from Ohio State University in 1934, Jones joined the new enterprise, Johnson City Press, which had been established that same year by his father and Charles Harkrader. He was business manager and then publisher — a position he held until his death.

April 15, 2008: The Johnson City Commission approved on first reading an amendment to the city zoning code that would restrict substance abuse treatment centers to MS-1 (medical services) zoned districts.

Sources: Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Greater Johnson City A Pictorial History; Johnson City Press. 

Today in Johnson City History: April 14

April 14, 1891: President Benjamin Harrison spoke in Johnson City. The president gave a speech from a platform at the East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad.

April 14, 1949: Science Hill’s Hilltoppers opened the baseball season by blasting Jonesboro’s Tigers 10-2 at home.

April 14, 1977: The Hilltoppers beat Daniel Boone High School’s Trailblazers 7-5 in an away game.

April 14, 2006: Former Science Hill coach George Pitts and Jovann Johnson joined former ETSU players Tim Smith and Titus Shelton for the second annual “A Night With The Stars” at Science Hill. The basketball reunion game, which benefitted the Melvin Stevens Scholarship Fund, was headlined by players from Science Hill’s three state championship teams (1990, 1994-95).

Sources: Greater Johnson City: A Pictorial History; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Johnson City Press

Today in Johnson City History: April 13

April 13, 1899: The Comet reported that S.C. Williams had tendered his resignation as city attorney to avoid conflicts of interest with other clients, corporations “antagonistic” to the city. His successor had not been named, but the newspaper expected S.E. Miller to be appointed.

April 13, 1911: The Comet published the obituary of Dr. Elbert Sevier Miller, who unexpectedly died the previous day at his home on King Street after an operation for gall stones. He had served Johnson City in many capacities over the years, including alderman, city physician and member of the board of elections for many years.

April 13, 1955: The ETSC Buccaneer tennis team beat Appalachian State College’s Mountaineers for their second straight victory of the season.

April 13, 1984: Famed illustrator John Alan Maxwell died in Johnson City. In 1936, the Society of Illustrators named him as one of the top 10 illustrators in the U.S. His work appeared in many commercial publications, including Collier’s Weekly, The Saturday Evening Post and Woman’s Home Companion. He illustrated for such noted writers as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Pearl S. Buck and Edna Ferber. A Roanoke, Virginia, native, Maxwell grew up in Johnson City and worked as a drug store soda jerk while attending Science Hill High School.

Sources: The Comet; Johnson City Press-Chronicle;; Archives of Appalachia.

Today in Johnson City History: April 12

April 12, 1884: The Comet reported that Louis Mitchell, a waiter the City Hotel, was lying asleep in the hotel office when Thomas Johnson and William McMertry amused themselves by pouring coal oil on Louis’ sock and applying a lighted match. “Before the flame could be extinguished, Louis danced the cancan, turned a double summersault and performed several wonderful feats. His foot was badly burned.”

April 12, 1888: Mr. H.H. Corson, representing the Thomas-Houston Electric Company of Boston, had arrived in the city to form a stock company to put in electric light plant in Johnson City. The stock was all taken in a short while and work was to be commenced on the plant at once. Corson expected to have everything completed in 60 days. Sure enough, the lights came on July 5. The private arc light at Jobe’s Livery Stable was the first to light.

April 12, 1906: Professional baseball would return to Johnson City as U.S. Archer and J.T. Linville had closed a contract with S.A. Lynch to manage a team. The Comet reported that a bunch of stars would be selected and a fast team put out for the pennant. Grounds were to be near the Presbyterian Church. The game had been played in Johnson City at least since 1886 when the Johnson City Reds were led by team captain Cy Lyle, who also was an owner of The Comet.

April 12, 1909: The Smith Greater Shows, a carnival, appeared at the Johnson City ballpark under the auspices of the United Confederate Veterans. The Comet described it as the largest, best and most meritorious organization of its kind. The company arrived in its own private train and brought its own electric light and power house. The Smiths had invented the first jumping horses for merry-go-rounds and pioneered one of the first wild animal shows to travel with a carnival.

April 12, 1945: Memorial Hospital, a new hospital in Johnson City, was chartered. Memorial Hospital was a nonprofit, publicly owned hospital, and served Johnson City until the Johnson City Medical Center was built.

Sources: The Comet; Johnson’s Depot; History of Washington County, Tennessee.

Today in Johnson City History: April 11

April 11, 1885: Johnson City’s stormwater problems were included in an address by Mayor Seth H. Yocum reprinted in The Comet. Yocum, who had served a single term in the Congress from 1879-81 as a resident of Pennsylvania, opined that because the streams that catch runoff were at the same level as the city itself, resolving the town’s flooding issues would require the best of engineering for sewer placement and road grading. It would take about 130 years for Yocum’s hopes to be realized, as flooding continued to plague downtown until the city’s extensive mitigation efforts took hold this decade.

April 11, 1928: Wade McNeese was fined $3 for crossing railroad tracks while railroad bells were ringing.

April 11, 1967: Johnson City residents learned they would not be able to officially register their thoughts about Vice Mayor Mitchell Thorp, who had been the subject of controversy regarding the city’s water supply. The Washington County Election Commission ruled against a petition seeking a two-question referendum in the upcoming municipal election about Thorp, who was amid his four-year term on the City Commission and therefore not up for re-election. One question was to ask whether voters would support him were his name on the ballot, while the other was whether he should be the city’s next mayor. He was not. That honor went to Hal Littleford.

Sources: The Comet; Johnson City Court Records, 1928; Johnson City Press-Chronicle.

Today in Johnson City History: April 9

April 9, 1884: Johnson City’s first industry, the Miller and Crumley Foundry works, was sold to investors. The company was granted a charter for the Johnson City Foundry and Machine Works.

April 9, 1908: The Comet reported that S.F. Swift fell from a third-story window at the Carnegie Hotel the prior night. He fell about 20 feet and landed on the skylight over the hotel lobby. Swift suffered a broken thigh and lost several teeth.

April 9, 2007: Record low temperatures and high winds had plant farmers, retailers and home gardeners scrambling to save delicate plants, flowers and trees during “dogwood winter.” The low was 22 degrees.

Sources: City of Johnson City; 

Today in Johnson City History: April 8

April 8, 1886: The Comet reported that a Wilburn Hodges, a constable in the Johnson City district, had announced his candidacy for Washington County sheriff, subject to the Republican Party convention. He did not win the office, which was retained by George W. Willett.

April 8, 1897: A new private school was set to open in Johnson City. The Comet reported that Prof. A.M. Mettetal, a well known educator, planned to open a school at the Lusk schoolhouse on Roan Street.

April 8, 1967: Mr. and Mrs. Allen Harris Sr., set sail on a cruise across the Atlantic to Europe for their 65th wedding anniversary. They were honored at the Johnson City Country Club at a surprise luncheon several days earlier, according to the Johnson City Press-Chronicle.

April 8, 2009: The Johnson City Press covered the destruction by fire of the old Town Hall building in neighboring Erwin. Smoke was spotted in the 86-year-old building from the neighboring jail, and the structure soon was engulfed in flames.

Sources: The Comet; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Johnson City Press

Today in Johnson City History: April 7

April 7, 1887: The Comet reported that the Washington County Court had appointed a survey committee to map out a practical route for a turnpike from Johnson City to Jonesboro.

April 7, 1910: The Comet reported that Prof. J.N. Erwin, principal of the Langston School, had been trying to establish the Washington County Industrial School for black students. “His plan is to secure sufficient endowment to establish a permanent institution in Johnson City to teach girls to sew and cook and boys some useful trade. The scope is broad and the idea commendable, and he has met with a great deal of encouragement in Johnson City, having had over $1,500 given him by citizens.” On the 6th, the County Court had agreed to issue $2,000 in interest bearing notes for the project. Erwin planned to visit potential benefactors for additional support.

April 7, 1936: Aleck McDonald of Cincinnati, Ohio, was fined $25 for “peddling without license, drunk and investigation.” He paid his fine, and spent no time in jail.

Sources: The Comet; Johnson City Court Records, 1936; 

Today in Johnson City History: April 6

April 6, 1887: Voters approved floating $75,000 in bonds to support the Charleston-Cincinnati-Chicago Railroad, which was coming through Johnson City.

April 6, 1899: The Comet reported that the Johnson City members of the Fourth Tennessee Regiment would be home in a few days. The editors called on Johnson City to give the men a public reception.

April 6, 1911: The Comet reported that leaders had applied for a charter of incorporation for the establishment and organization of a hospital, sanitarium and training school for nurses in Johnson City. The incorporators were Drs. G.G. Hells, W.J. Matthews. E.A. Long, E.T. West, C.J. Broyles and H.D. Miller.

April 6, 1936: A 5-year-old boy drowned after falling into a swollen creek in Johnson City while playing along the banks. Neighbors quickly pulled his body from the stream but could not resuscitate him. The boy was a grandson of Johnson County Court Chairman W.S. Wilson.

Sources: City of Johnson City; The Comet; Johnson City Press.

Today in Johnson City History: April 5

April 5, 1884: The Comet reported that Joseph Wolfe, a local veteran of the War of 1812, died earlier in the week at his house.

April 5, 1937: The Wednesday Morning Music Club of Johnson City performed before the Kingsport Music Club at the home of Mrs. J. Fred Johnson in Kingsport. Classical music performances included Miss Hasseltyne Oakes on violin accompanied by Mrs. D.G. Stout, Mrs. Lionel Johnson on piano, Mrs. C.J. Spencer in a vocal performance accompanied by Mrs. D.R. Beeson, Oakes again on violin with Ellis Levy, and a chorus singing “The Nightingale and the Rose” and “There’s a Lark in My Heart.”

April 5, 1949: The John Sevier Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution met. Mrs. S.C. Williams presented the program, which was about France.

April 5, 1973: The Tennessee Senate approved a $100,000 allocation for the planning of a medical school at East Tennessee State University.

April 5, 2007: Johnson City Press Sports Writer Joe Avento was “Our Man at the Masters” to witness golf legend Arnold Palmer open the tournament by hitting the ceremonial first ball off the No. 1 tee. “When Palmer’s ball hit a tree, it bounded in front of a spectator. The man picked up the ball, high-fived his friends and began to briskly walk away. He was corralled by a woman assigned the sole duty of getting the ball and gave it up,” Avento reported.

Sources: The Comet; Kingsport Times; Archives of Appalachia, Mary Hardin McCown Collection; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Johnson City Press.