September 11, 1991
OLD JONESBORO IN THE 1850s- PART VI
By John L. Kiener,
Washington County Sessions Judge
Cone & Adler, Merchants; a two-story brick in which they old goods. Site now of the City Barber Shop.
Zachariah Bureen, Minister. A two-story brick. Two children, I think John, a lawyer, daughter, Sarah. Now the Post Office and Drug Store. Burned in 1875.
Now south to the Southern Railway:
Joel Butler, saloon. Two-story brick, property of Hilbert Brothers.
Large frame, one-story, not remembered what used for, but John and James Grisham sold goods in this building in the years of 1878-79. Later burned.
G.W. Willett, Sr., Sheriff. Two-story brick. Three sons: Zed, G.W. and Samuel, two daughters, Sarah and Anna, Samuel died at the outbreak of the war. G.W. Jr. was sheriff for several years; Anna Laurence still alive, lives in Johnson City. It was in this house that L.W. Keen first opened his photo gallery. There has been a great deal written about Gen. Robert Lee refusing the command of the Federal Army in the War Between the States. Here is a similar case.
Zed Willett at that time was a cadet at West Point, and held a Lieutenant’s commission in the regular army. He resigned, came home, and joined the Confederate Army, and joined the Confederate Army, and was made first lieutenant. Just before going to his command he married Miss Lauretta Lyle, daughter of John Lyle. He was killed at the Battle of Shiloh. This property now belongs to Mrs. A.S. Murray.
County Jail: two-story brick. The jailer at one time was William Patterson. This jail had what they called a dungeon for confinement of our worst criminals. It is now replaced by a modern one.
On the now vacant lot between the jail and Washington Hotel the writer was born. Later the house was occupied by a large family by the name of Showalter, one son and daughter, Miss Gertie, who married Capt. Harry Lyle, railroad conductor. She as the mother of Cy Lyle, Harry Jr., and Col. Burrow’s wife. Also the Rev. David Sullins, who married Rebecca Blair, daughter of John Blair, lived here.
John Blair, Congressman from 1823-1835; two-story frame and brick. Converted his residence into a hotel in 1857 where passenger trains stopped for meals up into the seventies. Later run by Capt. James Sevier. Now the Washington Hotel.
At this location, Smith’s narrative takes us back north to Main Street. It is a good point to end Part VI. You might be interested in the reason that Captain Ross Smith wrote Reminiscences of an Old timer. The reason for the book is explained by Samuel W. Williams in the “Foreword,” as follows: “This booklet, the Reminiscences of an Old Timer, though unpretentious, is a worth-while production, particularly in its depiction of the construction and the beginning of the operation of railroads in East Tennessee, as well as the use made of such lines of communication by the Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War.”
“Many books of a reminiscential kind have been written by persons who engaged in early steamboat navigation, but, strangely enough, few if any have appeared that have been written from the standpoint of an employee of our early railroads. The book is, in this respect, well-nigh unique, and therefore of essential value to those who may hereafter deal with the history of transportation in Tennessee and the South.”