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OLD JONESBORO IN THE 1850s

August 7, 1991

OLD JONESBORO IN THE 1850s

By John L. Kiener,

 Washington County Sessions Judge  

     “Captain Ross Smith for a long period of years was known to thousands of Upper East Tennesseans as the conductor of the passenger train No. 1, ‘the short train’ operated between Bristol and Knoxville.” He also wrote a book entitled Reminiscences of an Old Timer in 1930, as a contribution to the Sesquicentennial celebration “of the Mother Town of Tennessee.”

     Ruth Street, a Deputy Clerk in Circuit Court Don Squibb’s Office, has given me a copy of the book. When Smith wrote the book, a “Foreword” by Samuel C. Williams recognized the valuable information contained in its 86 pages. Williams said, “Coming generations of those deriving from Jonesboro families will find it serviceable in genealogical research.”

     The book is a private publication and contains no copyright. I have no knowledge of how many copies were printed. Therefore, because I do not believe the information in the book has received wide publication, let me share some of its material with you. I have information for additional articles with facts taken from the book. However, the information will be published from “time to time” rather than in a sequence.

     In Smith’s own words: “I will endeavor to give a roster of the names of the citizens of old Jonesboro in the years of the eighteen fifties with residence, names and occupations.” Once the capitol of the State of Franklin, its first charter was granted in 1784, and it celebrated its centennial year in 1879.

     Commencing at the old cemetery, at the east end of Main Street, on the north side, going west was:

     Milton Atkinson, Silversmith: A long one-story frame. Large family. James and Brownlow followed their father’s trade, Henry Cate and William were tinners. There were six daughters. One married A.C. Collin, father of H.C. Collin of the Knoxville Journal; one, Bush McCloud; one, John Dwain; one, William Smith; one, Nelson; one John Compton.

     Blacksmith shop of W.P. Brewer: One story frame.

     W.P. Brewer, merchant: one-story frame; out Sunday School superintendent. Two boys. My memory of his family is vague, W. P. Brewer moved to Bristol, and was depot agent for the E.T. & VA.  R.R. through the war. All of the above is now the property of Mrs. Silas Cooper.

     Thomas Cooper, constable: One-story frame. Two sons; William, deceased; and James, now a mechanic in the Southern Railway shops, Knoxville, Tenn. Site now bungalow of F.S. Patton.

     David Wilds, merchant; two-story brick and frame. Four children: John, a minister; Mrs. George Smith; Mrs. Wilson; one died. Home of Miss Lillian Dosser.

     Chief Justice James W. Deadrick: Large two-story frame. Five boys: James W. Jr., and A.S. were lawyers; Dot, owner of Unaka Spring; others were Frank Shell and Dissey; two daughters: one married Judge John Moon; one, a lawyer named Van Dyke. Now the home of Mrs. Charles Thomas.

     The Baptist Church, one of the oldest in the town, is still prosperous. The pastor was William Cate. A fine addition has been added by John D. Cox and sister, Virginia, in memory of their mother.

     Mrs. Mary Steward: Boarding House, two-story log, later weather boarded. Kept a select house of picked boarders. Only one son that I remember. Later occupied by Charles Meek. Now a filling station.

     Seth J. Lucky, Jurist: Two-story brick, one of our most prominent citizens. One son: Cornelius, a lawyer; two daughters, one of whom married a lawyer by name of Williams. Now the Ford Motor Company.

     Two-story brick used as a broker’s office by William Gammon.  All I remember is that in the first and second years of the war all the silver went into hiding, or at least disappeared. In order to make change, they cut the Ocoee Bank bills of one dollar in halves. Each half passed as currency for fifty cents. Now L.S. Tucker’s Restaurant.

Continued Next Week

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