Today in Johnson City History: May 12

May 12, 1885: The Knoxville Daily Journal reported, “Selden Nelson, a prosperous Johnson City merchant, who has been here for a day or two, returned home yesterday.”

May 12, 1887: The Comet reported, “Next Thursday night, May 19th, the men of Johnson City and Suburbs are requested to meet at Jobe’s Hall to organize a military company as per act of the Legislature.”

May 12, 1891: A Mr. Dyer committed a misdemeanor, according to the Johnson City Court Records. The misdemeanor was “keeping his house open after hours for selling liquors.” He had a trial, was found guilty, and was fined $1. That’s roughly the equivalent of $28 in 2020. The Court Records did not say whether he paid the fine.

May 12, 1892: The Comet reported, “The C., C. & C. completed means competitive coal and coke for Johnson City and vicinity, but if purchased by the East Tennessee it will mean controlled coal and coke and a combination as oppressive as the anthracite combination in Pennsylvania.”

May 12, 1897: The Herald and Tribune in Jonesboro reported, “J.H. Bowman, of Johnson City, was down Tuesday. Mr. Bowman has the honor to address the graduating class at Johnson City next Tuesday evening.”

May 12, 1940: The Johnson City Press published an image of the drum majorettes of the State Teachers College band. Pictured were Billie Hawkins, Thelma Bennett and Evelyn “Polly” Rumbley, who had been leaders of the parade of bands at the annual Dogwood Festival in Bristol.

May 12, 1952: Apex Barbecue opened at West Market and Delaware streets. The business was owned by Gurney Campbell, known for the Gurney Burger, and managed by Bill and Betty Jackson. The Apex changed hands over the years until finally closing in 2015. Campbell went on to establish the Gurney Burger House on the New Elizabethton Highway (now part of East Main Street.)

May 12, 1957: “Picnic” starring William Holden and Kim Novak was showing at the Tri-City Drive-In on the Kingsport Highway.

May 12, 1965: Plans for the new four-lane U.S. Highway 23 from south of Johnson City through Southwest Virginia and into Kentucky were approved by the Appalachian Regional Commission. The budget for the project was $485 million. That’s roughly $4 billion in 2020 money. The Tennessee portion of the highway between the Virginia and North Carolina state lines through Kingsport, Johnson City and Erwin is now Interstate 26.

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