Do you enjoy reading about the history of Northeast Tennessee and surrounding area? If so, welcome to "Bob Cox's Yesteryear" website, containing my local history columns and features, most of which have appeared on Monday's History/Heritage page of the Johnson City (Tennessee) Press newspaper:
Subjects deal with the glorious beginnings of this beautiful Appalachian mountainous region. My focus lies mainly within Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina, with particular emphasis on Johnson City. Click on any photo along the right side and you will be directed to the corresponding article. I am currently in the process of adding many new photos to my articles. Feel free to add comments to my columns. The rotating questions at the top can be answered by clicking on them, which takes you to the article that contains the answer. So now ... sit back, relax and return with us to those glorious carefree days of yesteryear. I can be reached at
I attended Henry Johnson School on W. Market Street during my second through sixth grades. I entered Miss Margaret King’s third grade room in the fall of 1951 and, according to my report card, studied reading, writing, spelling, English, geography, arithmetic, health and music.
Hotel Windsor, originally built as Hotel Pardue in 1909, became a downtown fixture on Fountain Square until it was razed in 1971. I located an interesting item from what appears to from 1939 in ETSU’s Archives of Appalachia’s “Hotel Windsor Collection” (AppMs269, 1937-54).
(Note: The subject of this article is controversal and will likely be rewritten to address some response that came in after it appeared in the Johnson City Press. Some people maintain that it is accurate as written, while others believe it was Robert Young who owned Sweetlips and brought down the British leader Patrick Ferguson at the Revolutionary War Battle of King's Mountain. Check back later for updates and comments. If you have information on this subject and would like to post a blog at the end of the article, e-mail me at email@example.com.)
The bold headline from an unidentified and undated newspaper article reads, “Famous Old Gun Found, Used at Kings Mountain.” The date is likely from the early 1900s.
My favorite television announcer at WJHL over the years was Ed Carter. He later moved to WIS television in Columbia, SC. Within two years, Tennessee Eastman Company relocated me to Columbia where I found, to my surprise and delight, Ed on local TV again.
In the late 1940s, Mom and I shopped for my clothing needs at Parks-Belk under the able guidance of Morris Thompson. As I grew older I started patronizing Kings Department Store where funnyman Ed Bateman helped guide me through selections (while continually reminding me that I needed to get married).
On October 29, 1909, the Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio (CC&O) Railway completed track from Dante, Virginia to Spartanburg, SC. Festive celebrations were observed in both Johnson City and Spartanburg that year. I wrote a column about it in September 2011.
Johnson City was once recognized as one of the outstanding burley tobacco centers of the Appalachian region. It contained approximately 40 million pounds of the product stored in seven spacious tobacco warehouses with combined floor space of 450 thousand square feet. Sadly, all seven structures have vanished into yesteryear. I recall two of them went up in smoke, while others were razed.
A circus visited Johnson City on Wednesday, June 16, 1909 carrying the name, The Mighty Haag Railroad Shows. It came by rail for a two-show, one-day only event. Ernest Haag formed his entertainment business in 1895 as the Mighty Haag Shows, then renamed it The Mighty Haag Railroad Shows from 1909 until 1915 when it became The Mighty Haag Circus. It wintered first in Shreveport, Louisiana and later in Marianna, Florida.
In October 1938, an unidentified outdoorsman, whom I will call Jim, joined a hearty group of fellow hunters on what was billed as a cross-country marathon boar hunt on the Unaka Mountains in the hills of East Tennessee.
One of the men, Ben Ellis, served as guide for the party. The rugged trip was said to offer the thrill of the chase, the beauty of the mountains at stunning peak fall colors and, if successful, from 60 to 150 pounds of the most scrumptious pork imaginable.
European boars, introduced as game animals in the early 1900s, thrived in Southern Appalachia but were generally considered a nuisance because they destroyed plants and robbed food resources from bears.
I received a letter from Tommy Thomas of Johnson City, containing two high quality photographs of Johnson City as it appeared in 1949.
“As an avid reader of your column in the Monday edition of the Press,” said Tommy, “I thought you might be interested in the two photos I have enclosed.
"I was a Gulf Oil distributor in the 1970s and 80s. I sold to Appalachian Oil Company but have since retired from the business. My grandfather and father were also distributors of the company. The Gulf service station in the smaller photo was located at the corner of Fairview Avenue and N. Roan Street. The old Junior High School building can be seen to the right in the background. The operator of the business was a gentleman named Roy Trivette. I think he is the person on the left in the photo. He operated the station for many years in the late 1940s, 50s and 60s. The Gulf Oil Company razed the building in the 1970s.”