Today in Johnson City History: April 4

April 4, 1885: The Comet reported that Ike T. Jobe had opened an elegant sample line of clothing in the City Hall from clothiers Chas. Weiller & Son of Baltimore, Maryland. Jobe, who was Johnson City’s mayor from 1889 to 1892, owned and operated Job’e Opera house at East Main and Spring streets, which was the city’s cultural center in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

April 4, 1936: James Lollen was fined an unspecified amount for drunkenness and disorderly conduct, as well as refusing to support his family. The charges were dismissed.

April 4, 1958: Constance Ann Shulman was born in Johnson City. She is an actress and producer; she is known for “Fried Green Tomatoes” and “Orange is the New Black.”

April 4, 2011: Former Tennessee Gov. Ned McWherter died at age 80. In 1974, McWherter broke the tie in the state Legislature to override Gov. Winfield Dunn’s veto of the bill to establish East Tennessee State University’s Medical School.

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

Today in Johnson City History: April 3

April 3, 1910: The original Carnegie Hotel burned.

April 3, 1939: A Mr. Conley was charged with being a “Peeping Tom.” He was fined $15, and served time.

April 3, 1941: The City Commission created the Johnson City Planning Commission.

April 3, 1950: The Harlem Globetrotters played the House of David in a game at the Science Hill High School gymnasium.

Sources: Johnson’s Depot; Johnson City Court Records, 1939; City of Johnson City; Johnson City Press-Chronicle.

Today in Johnson City History: April 2

April 2, 1891: The Comet stated that “Jonesboro is near Johnson City but Johnson City is not near Jonesboro. A planet may have a moon, but a moon never has a planet.”

April 2, 1936: A Mr. Casida was fined $50 for possessing 1.85 pints of whiskey.

April 2, 1947: Johnson City resident Mary Lou Cox was one of four people killed when a private plane crashed near Roan Mountain. She was a senior at Virginia Intermont College in Bristol.

April 2, 1966: A massive shakeup took place in East Tennessee State University athletics. Head football coach John Robert Bell was named athletic director, succeeding Sidney Rice, who returned to the physical education department. Basketball coach Madison Brooks was named assistant athletic director. Shifts also were made in head coaching positions in baseball and track. Thus began the tenure of legendary track coach Dave Walker.

Sources: The Comet; Johnson City Court Records, 1936; Johnson City Press-Chronicle

Today in Johnson City History: April 1

April 1, 1886: The Comet reported that Johnson City’s new Board of Mayor and Aldermen had been sworn in. The city leaders had elected T.H. Lusk, Esq., as recorder and Oliver Burleson as marshal. “We have no doubt they will faithfully look after the interest of the town, but they should be careful not to tinker with the hog law or the barroom ordinance.”

April 1, 1969: The Humanities Festival, as a part of Johnson City’s Centennial, was held in the Reese Museum on the East Tennessee State University campus.

April 1, 1977: The AAU Swim Meet began at Freedom Hall Civic Center.

April 1, 1982: The Junior Service League of Johnson City became the Junior League of Johnson City.

April 1, 2009: Johnson City-based Mountain States Health Alliance announced it had acquired a majority of Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon, Virginia, after it borrowed more than $100 million earlier to consummate the $132 million deal.

Source: The Comet; Archives of Appalachia, Mary Hardin McCown Collection; Bobbie H. Shirley, Freedom Hall; Junior League; Johnson City Press

Today in Johnson City History: March 31

March 31, 1912: Robert Love Taylor died. He was the congressman from the 1st District in Tennessee from 1879 to 1881 and governor of Tennessee from 1887 to 1891 and again from 1897 to 1899. He was U.S. senator from 1907 until his death. Taylor was the founding editor of The Comet in Johnson City in 1884.

March 31, 1949: City Commissioner Ted Deakins resigned from the commission. His term was from 1947-1949.

March 31, 1977: A Clinchfield Railroad freight train derailed in Boones Creek. The 3 a.m. crash left the diesel engine and 46 cars strewn off the tracks at a ridge near the trestle over Boones Creek Road, while another 32 cars stayed upright. The train had been northbound from Johnson City, and the engineer told reporters it appeared the tracks had buckled in front of the train.

March 31, 2009: Chas Byrne allowed one earned run in 6 2/3 innings and Troy Mendez went 3 for 5 with two home runs and five RBI in East Tennessee State’s 9-3 defeat of Tennessee at Cardinal Park.

Sources:; City of Johnson City; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Johnson City Press.

Today in Johnson City History: March 30

March 30, 1899: After the Spanish-American War, The Comet reported that the Fourth Tennessee regiment sailed on its homeward voyage from Casilda, Cuba. “Several weeks, perhaps, will elapse before the boys will be mustered out and permitted to return to their homes.” 

March 30, 1905: Science Hill’s “Star List” honor roll was published. The list included 10th-graders Fred King (97), Lonnie McCown (96) and Cecil Donnelly (93); ninth-grader Mary Nell Beasley (98), Ora Keys (94) and Cordie Tomlinson (93); eighth-graders Era Matson (97), Lucy Sitton (90), Mona Miller (95), Pansy Painter (94), Mary Hardin (94), Bonnie Murray (93), Mary Agnes Berry (92), Eva Fulton (90) and Lucy Carr (92); and seventh-graders Ina Bayless (93), Geneva Gibbs (93), Nellie Strain (93), Dorothy Cure (93), Martha Martin (93) and Ruth Lyle (93).

March 30, 1971: Jim Brown, Johnson City’s unofficial public relations man, was lauded in an editorial in the Johnson City Press-Chronicle. Mr. Brown had recently passed away at age 82. He worked for the City of Johnson City for more than 40 years as a custodian, always taking time to greet visitors. Mr. Brown moved to Johnson City as a youth around 1900. Members of his church, Thankful Baptist, said he was a very humble man and would be missed much.

March 30, 2009: East Tennessee State University released requests for proposals for construction bids on its new baseball stadium.

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

Today in Johnson City History: March 29

March 29, 1884: The Comet reported that “Our handsome friend, John Mongle has returned from Sullivan. There is only one thing needful with John, and that is a wife.” Another friend noted that Mongle would have plenty of prospects in Johnson City.

March 29, 1900: The Comet reported that work on the DeVault bridge at Austin Springs would be finished in a few days. “The Sunday school girls will be very much pleased when the bridge is finished, so that Mr. W.W. DeVault can come to church. They say it is very annoying to go to Sunday school and have no teacher. But of course the young girls always like to have a good looking young man for their teacher.”

March 29, 1936: Johnson City court records note that a Mr. Jenkins was arrested and fined $10 for being an “escaped convict from Byrd’s chain gang” with an additional notation of “several times.”

March 29, 1948: About 100 donors agreed to use funds raised for Johnson City’s Appalachian Hospital for an annex and remodeling the current hospital. A consultant advised that existing structure facilities could be increased to accommodate 125 beds for about $900,000.


Source: The Comet; Johnson City Court Documents, 1936; Johnson City Press-Chronicle.

Today in Johnson City History: March 28

March 28, 1885: The Comet called on the new Board of Mayor and Aldermen to improve Johnson City streets. “Our muddy streets and shabby sidewalks are a disgrace to any town, to say nothing about a city. At the rate in which improvements have been made it will take, something like twenty years to give Main Street a decent look.” The Comet also reported that the supply of provisions in Johnson City was not meeting the demand. “We have heard a good deal of complaint about the market. There were two days last week when there was no butter in a store in town.”

March 28, 1947: Johnson City filed suit against the state of Tennessee seeking a larger share of the recently enacted 2 percent sales tax. The suit claimed the state was not giving Johnson City credit for its true population. The state used the early estimate of 22,783 residents vs. the official U.S. Census figure of 25,332.

March 28, 1965: Appalachian Christian Village, now Cornerstone Village, held its groundbreaking ceremony.

March 28, 1975: Tom Hodge mentioned in his Johnson City Press-Chronicle column that if it rained on Easter, it would rain for the following seven Sundays. Hodge also wrote, “A white Christmas means a green Easter and a green Christmas means a white Easter.”

March 28, 1975: Johnny Winter and the James Cotton Band were at Freedom Hall Civic Center.

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

Today in Johnson City History: March 27

March 27, 1890: The Comet reported that a company of eastern capitalists had decided to build a town on the river about 3 miles outside the corporate limits of Johnson City. “They have purchased several thousand acres of land and are laying out town on broad gauge plans. A railroad will be built from Watauga Point on the E.T. and W.N.C. road crossing the E.T.V. and G. at their town and connecting with the Three C’s at Austin’s Springs. Work was commenced on the road last Monday morning at 1 o’clock in order to keep other companies from getting in and holding the route. All the land the company bought was formerly known as Carters. Just what they will call their town is not yet known. The town will be laid out towards Johnson City and the two places will be one before twelve months have passed.”

March 27, 1949: The Johnson City Press-Chronicle reported that Mrs. R.C. Hunter had celebrated her 85th birthday in a private dining room at the John Sevier Hotel.

March 27, 1977: East Tennessee State University officials were anxiously awaiting details about a plan to fix the leaky roof on the Memorial Center mini-dome.

March 27, 2009: ETSU employees eligible for a voluntary early retirement buyout program approved by the Tennessee Board of Regents began lining up at the administration building. First in line was  Amelia Brown, associate dean of transfer articulation, who had been with ETSU for 30 years.

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

Today in Johnson City History: March 26

By Rebecca Henderson and Johnson City Press

March 26, 1892: T.E. Matson was elected mayor. He ran against E.H. Stebens, with a total of 953 votes being cast. At that time, Johnson City was divided into four wards.

March 26, 1910: Two revivals were in progress in Johnson City with large attendance. The Rev. J. Edmund Brown, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, was assisted by the the Rev. J. Lynn Bachman of Sweetwater, with the Rev. T.M.P. Woods of Plumtree, North Carolina, in charge of the choir. Meanwhile the Rev. J.J. Robinette, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was assisted by L.H. Baker of Berkley, California.

March 26, 1941: State Teachers College President C.C. Sherrod confirmed reports he had rejected the terms of an offer to be Knoxville’s school superintendent but noted negotiations were ongoing.

Former U.S. Vice President Albert Gore Jr. speaks about climate change at East Tennessee State University’s mini-dome, March 26, 2009.

March 26, 2009: Former U.S. Vice President Albert Gore Jr. spoke about climate change at East Tennessee State University’s mini-dome.

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