Over the years, Johnson City acquired several city directories with many of them ending up in public libraries and local colleges. These books painted an amazing journey throughout the years. Over time, I added several volumes to my collection, including several from pricey estate sales.

The first one from 1908-09 offers an introduction: “In presenting to you this our first directory of Johnson City, we do so with pride and much pleasure.

“They are delightful because the book has been carefully arranged and compiled and the publisher felt that they were presenting to Johnson City the best directory that could have been published under existing circumstances.

“Minor mistakes can be found occasionally, it being absolutely impossible to make any directory perfect. especially, so we have had previous issues for a guide, but as a whole, we think our directory will prove satisfactory, and we hope will find its way into the business house of every business man in your city.

“By a count of the number of names taken on canvass, we find that we have over 3,500 names, exclusive of firm names and businesses. We are prepared to give the population of Johnson City and nearby suburbs, which we place at about 9,000 people. We also state that we found very few vacant houses and many new ones, which is a sure sign of growth.

“We take pleasure in presenting to you this directory because we believe you realize the need of such, judging from your support and co-operation, without which we would have been unable to publish the work.

“We thank our patrons for their business and extend our thanks to the public in general, for the courteous way in which they gave and supplied us with proper data, and we hope that you will liberally patronize the public spirit men who have advertised and thus aided in giving the citizens of your city a good up-to-date directory.

“If there be any who did not have an opportunity to subscribe for a copy of the directory, they can obtain the same by writing us at our home office located in Asheville, NC.

“Yours very truly, Piedmont Directory Co., by E.H. Miller.”

  Turning the pages to 12 and 13 display the street guide for 1908-1909: Afton, Ashe, Baxter, Boone, Buffalo, Carnegie, Cherokee Road, Cherry, Chestnut, Commerce Avenue, Division, Eighth Avenue, Elm, Elmo, Ernest, Fairview Avenue, Fifth Avenue, Fourth Avenue, Fulton, Grover, Hamilton, Harris Avenue, Henry, Holston Avenue, Humboldt, Ivy, Jobe, King, Lamont, Locust, Main, Maple, Market, Maupin, Millard, Montgomery, Myrtle Avenue, New, Ninth Avenue, Oak, Pine, Popular, Public Square, Railroad (parallel with Southern Railway tracks), Roan, Second Avenue (Carnegie), Seventh Avenue, Sixth Avenue, Spring, Stuart, Summer, Tenth Avenue, Third Avenue (Carnegie), Unaka Avenue, Walnut, Watauga Avenue, Wellborn, Whitney, Willow and Winter.


Physicians listed in this directory (and location of practice) include: CJ Broyles (Kress Bldg), EE Byrd (Natl Soldiers Home), HM Cass (King Bldg.), Jno W. Cox (w Roan), Dulaney HP, Soldiers Home, Dykes LM (DO, MD, 1-2-3 Miller Bldg, Estes Elmore, 307 e Main, Hartsook, NE (eye, ear, nose and throat), Kennedy WT, 834 W Maple, Long EA, 6-7 Brown Bldg, McKay SS, 406 W. Main, Matthews WM, 6-7 King Bldg, Miller HD, 7 Miller Bldg, Miller WJ, 100 w Watauga Ave, Moss JG, 4-5 Miller Bldg, Preas, JH, 241 e Main, Randall, J.P., 4-5-6 Brown Bldg, Sells GJ, 3-4-5 King Bldg, Sherrill OW, 140.5 E Market, West, ET and 26-27 Kress Bldg.

More peeks into Johnson City impressive directories will be featured later.

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In the 1950s and 60s, my mother, Leota Cox, and Carrie Bowman (wife of Lester Bowman) made numerous grocery visits to Cloyd  E. Litle located at 1927 W. Walnut Avenue. It was our favorite grocery.

Recently, I located a newspaper clipping from 1987 with photographs that gave further details concerning the business. Former Johnson City, Press Writer, Karen Roberts composed an article titled, “The Last of a Buying Breed.ö

What used to be the telltale ring of a bell against a door in the store signaled business. They traded talk and tales; business was good, but that would change.

Convenience markets on every other block and mammoth supermarkets were snuffing out the small neighborhood groceres where the last of a buying breed spend their money.

While the hours were long, the profits small and the customers few, there were still people like Litle and Jim Killen who whiled away the hours in business, if not bless.

Ironically, when 74-old Litle was a teenager, he carted water from a nearby creek to help mix the mortar and lay bricks for the building he now owns and operates as a grocery at the corner of west Walnut Street and Embreeville Road.

He opened his store whenever he took a notion and closed it and when he got and ready to, he would tell customers. I’m here every day. The door isn’t open on Sunday, but I’m always doing something.ö

Litle had been a grocer since 1947 after fate and a plane crash set him in a wheel chair. When the State of Franklin Road moved in, Litle’s store and stock moved  out and down the road to the building he already owned.

For Mrs. Killen, a desire to be her own boss and a lack of enough money to open a restaurant put her in the grocery business about eight months after she left Arizona to Open Kim’s Grocery on the corner of Virginia and Virginia and Franklin streets.

Her store was the epitome of the family-owned and operated grocery. While she was at the store for most of the 14-hours, seven-day-a-weeks, her husband and co-owner, Randy, helped out part-time, as did  her brother-in-law.

Litle said a lot of familiar people, including “the hot stove leagueö during the winter, saunter in from time to time to exchange conversation.

“Mrs. Killen said she saw mostly familiar faces from day to day since those within walking distance make up a large part of her clientele. Every now and then, someone entered the store with whom they were not familiar, she said.

 For Litle, running the store was both something to do and a way to get rid of his merchandise. But for Mrs. Killen, it was a livilihood, and the one that had been immensely profitable.

“It’s been tough,ö she said. “We haven’t been in it a year yet, and we figure we’ve got to give it a year to make something of it and start making money,ö she said. “Back when I went into business,” Litle said, “there were various little stores here and there around the city, but unfortunately they just faded away.

Mrs. Killen said she was surprised that any small stores existed any more because of the big discouragement of competition. “I don’t see how you can get ahead.ö  

While it takes mainly common sense to run the store, it takes dollars and cents to keep it open. Wholesalers don’t give you a break. That’s how bigger stores make their money, by buying in volume, but a small store can’t do that.ö

For Litle, keeping the store open or closing it, was also a wait and “see thingö that depends partly on whether the value of his property increases because of development around State of Franklin Road, which only time would tell.

I’m glad I patronnized several “mom and popö grocers over years, the main one being West Side Grocery across from where the Pepsi Cola Plant once stood.

If any of my readers have pleasant memories for favorite grocer stores, please sent them to me and tell me what made them so special.

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In the mid 1940s, my mother ordered groceries from Ford Wilson Grocery Store located on 200 Elm Street, which was several blocks away from where we lived in the Gardner Apartments, located at the intersection of W. Watauga Avenue and W. Market Street.

Mr. Ford wisely delivered groceries to area patrons using a bicycle. I remember a nice young man, who worked for Guy, load his bicycle for deliveries. Guy Wilson used to do the same thing for his pharmacy at W. Market and W. Watauga. I don’t recall there being a charge for this service.

This was during World War II when my dad was serving his country. Grocery stores who had delivery service was a blessing since many women struggled to make ends meet until the war was over and soldiers began returning home.

Our apartment was #10 upstairs. It was close to the Police Department on the King Street side and the Fire Department on the W. Market Street side. We all felt safe.

Occasionally, a trio of  emergency sounds could be heard with the Silk Mill adding its noisy roar from the machines to the clamor. Truthfully, after living there a brief amount time, we did not notice it. It was home to us.

My mother routinely purchased food from the Red Store at 266-268 W. Market. I went with her on most visits. My research shows that the owner was a W. Howard Stewart. I seem to recall a Mr. Weems, who owned it for a period of time.

Mom would take me there to get a few food items. Later, she allowed me to go to the Red Store by myself to pick up her called-in order. She would go out on our second floor porch and wait for me to return down a narrow sidewalk with my merchandise.

That worked well and boosted my self confidence, except for one incident when a stray dog chased me, sending me back to the store and having to call mom to retrieve the food and her freighted young son. However, I soon overcome my fear of dogs and routinely picked up orders for Mom.

As 1950 rolled around, we moved to Johnson Avenue in the west side of town. We ate out on most Friday evenings, usually choosing the Cut Rate Supermarket on Walnut Street. We always made it a family affair.

I particularly enjoyed patronizing the magazines. My favorite one, a monthly, was Alfred E. ‘What Me Worry’ Newman” and possessing a unique face that only a mother could love. Amazingly, he hasn’t changed in all these years. He is still around and still ugly.

Our family later began patronizing Giant Food Store on Commerce Street. Another store that attracted our business was Kroger, located on King Street. It was not as large as Giant but attracted my parents on occasion.

In 1960, there were 106 grocery stores in and around Johnson City. Some of my favorite “Mom and Pop” grocery stores that were close to our residence were West Side Grocery (Knob Creek Road and W. Market Street) and Fox Grocery (Knob Creek Road close to Peachtree Street). I will never forget Carroll and Nettie Younce. They were jewels.

Other grocery stores in various locations around town were Adams, Bailey, Baskett, Collins, J.M. Copp, Doyle, Lamont Street, Litle (loved that store), Looney, Miller, Mullins, Pardue, Puckett (another favorite), Shipley, Streets, Vest, Watson, Williams, Willingham, White Rock, Wrights and others.

Some businesses maintained their grocery stores for several years, while others moved to other locations. There were an abundance of them during my younger days.

Regardless where they located or relocated, there was always something special about a “Mom and Pop store” that could not be duplicated by larger enterprises.

Sadly, most of the owners of cherished stores from yesteryear have closed their doors and have become just a fading memory.

If you have a favorite store or person from that era that you would like to mention in a future column, please drop me a note at the address listed below. Ah, what memories.

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Things sure have changed since John Cash Penney opened a dry goods store in Kemmerer, Wyoming 90 years ago. Back in 1902, America was a country of small towns, Kemmerer being one of them with a population of 900. Penney, a 26-year-old entrepreneur, figured they could support a dry goods store. His first day sales came to $466.59, an astonishing amount considering the most expensive item in the store was a $9.95 suit. More typical were the 35-cent overalls and 49-cent ladies shoes.

J.C. Penney Co. Notifies the Public of a New Store Opening in Johnson City, 1929

Penney's strategy was to set a fair price and stick firmly to it. That appealed to most residents who were accustomed to haggling with local merchants and who generally pressed for the highest price possible. Within five years, Penney had acquired three more stores and had moved his original dry goods store to a larger building.

Through the years, Penney was one of the first to apply new strategies to running department stores. In the early days, cash was kept in a muffin tin under the counter, but later Mr. Penney would adopt the Lamson Basket Method (baskets running on a wire and pulley system) and the intriguing looking Pneumatic Tube System, both of which whisked away customers' cash by overhead wires or vacuum tubes. It was worth a trip to the stores just to observe new technology at work.

In 1923, when JC Penney Company was 21 years old, it opened its first store in Johnson City at 319-21 E. Main Street (opposite the Johnson City Buick Company). This was its 475th store. You could buy a man's silk shirt for $4.88 and ladies new spring frocks – flat crepe in alluring colors, lively prints and staple shades – georgette in lovely models, scarf's, jackets, tiers and bows added interest at $14.75.

Children's shoes cost $2.49, girls dresses ranged from $.98 to $2.49, and a boy's suit went for $8.90. That year, men's waistband overalls, now called jeans, were $2.49. Women's cotton dresses went for $2.00 and dress shoes at $8.90.

The year 1929 brought about the need for a bigger store in Johnson City. Two buildings were purchased at 240-42 E. Main Street (opposite the Rialto Cafe). Some of us recall that location being occupied by Lorraine Shops and Booze Bros. Inc. Shoes. A bold clipping in the Johnson City Chronicle said, “J.C. Penney Co. To Move Into New Home Soon. New Building Modernly Equipped, To Be Occupied. Opening This Week.”

“The Burrow building, a two-story brick facility, has been entirely remodeled, two buildings have been combined with a new interior and plate glass front, and modern store fixtures and equipment provided.

“New and additional equipment has been secured by Penney for the new location, and a considerable larger stock will be displayed, complete stocks of clothing and accessories, for men, women and children and for the home as a complete department store in the most modern sense.

“Penney will move early this week and fuller announcements will be made as to opening dates and special features of interest to the public during the formal opening in their new home.”

Mr. J.C. Penny as He Looked in His Younger Days (public domain)

The next Penney move occurred 19 years later in 1948 when the store moved to the impressive, modernistic building at 307-13 E. Main St, (opposite Charles Stores Co.). J.C. Penney stayed downtown until 1980 when the Main Street store closed and the company reopened in the Johnson City Mall.

Though Mr. Penney was instrumental in bringing his ever-growing chain stores into the modern age, he is also known for his staunch opposition to increasing popular in-house credit. Early department stores were strictly cash only, mainly because it kept prices lower. Later, credit became necessary to be competitive and Penneys reluctantly complied.

James Cash Penney died Feb. 12, 1971, and was buried in Kemmerer, Wyoming. Since he opened his first store in 1902, the chain peaked at 2053 stores in 1973. 

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In 1948, a popular CBS radio show was titled, “The Life of Riley,” starring William Bendix in the popular role of Chester A. Riley. The show's title depicts someone who has it made or lives “the life of Riley.” His oft-repeated familiar idiom on the show was, “What a revoltin' development this is.” Riley could easily be described as the “Archie Bunker” of the 1940s.

Undertaker Digby “Digger” O'Dell and the first Chester B. Riley, Jackie Gleason

While we would all agree that death is never funny, this show had an usual character in it by the name of Digby “Digger” O'Dell, known unaffectionately as “the friendly undertaker.” In real life, he was the character actor, John Brown. One of his familiar lines addressed to Riley was, “You're looking fine, Riley. Very natural.” When it came time for him to leave an establishment, he would say, “Cheerio, I'd better be… shoveling off.”

Forrest Morris, president of Morris Funeral Home (located at 305 N. Roan Street, opposite Central Baptist Church) and, prior to that, Sterchi Funeral Home on Spring Street), suggested to the widely-known radio personality, that his type of humor was completely in bad taste and the character should be permanently “laid to rest.”

In May 1948, Morris called attention to the insensitivity of the program with an editorial in the Johnson City Press-Chronicle that was sent to the popular radio program. In part, it said:

“Throughout my long tenure of service, “said Mr. Morris, “it has never been my desire to make light of death or its accompanying grief” and I confidently feel that if this well-known punster were to suffer poignant grief, he would without hesitation seek another means of livelihood.”

“Twixt you and me, “Dig,” death is never funny, nor, in the human circumstances of deep sorrow, can funeral service ever be considered festive or jovial.

“In all fairness, Mr. Digby, we put to you the case of a family suffering bereavement. Not an exceptional case of some overly sensitive family issue, but the typical family of average, decent Americans. They recently lost, let us say, their elderly mother. To keep the case entirely fair to you, let us think of this family, not in their first poignancy employing grief, but some weeks after the funeral.

“Picture this scenario: This family is still in the phase of adjustment and transition. They're slowly, very slowly beginning to find their way back into normal paths of life they'd known before the shock of their recent heartbreak. They are seated in their home on any given Saturday evening, trying as best they can to comfort one another, seeking any seemly diversion that may bring some sense of sorrow in their hearts.

“Someone turns on the radio, and all of a sudden without the slightest warning, comes Digger “Digby” O'Dell, the friendly undertaker” to the microphone. Before you know it, you have been exposed to a pointed pun, or play on words that conjures up a cold, hard, callous, grim allusion to man's physical mortality.

“In the circumstances of these people, and there are of several million like them at any given time in these United States, do you suppose your act would be a joke to them? In my opinion, Digger, it is something that far exceeds a joke.

“It is true that the funeral director earns his or her living from services connected with the burial of the dead, but no decent funeral director or embalmer, in my opinion, has ever been made happier to learn of any person's death.

“In a matter of speaking, funeral directors do have the patience of Job, but there's a limit to all things. In the tolerant opinion of many, your burlesque is no longer funny. It is time to take “Digby” and bury him six feet down.” Well said, Mr. Morris.

According to my research, the role of “Digger” was never eliminated from the radio show; instead, when the program was switched to television in 1949, it retained, not only the same character but also the same actor … John Brown.

In case you're even remotely interested, on May 16, 1957, Digger (John Brown) died of a heart attack at age 54 while en route to his doctor's office. It is unlikely that there was any blatant merriment present at his funeral service. We can only wonder.

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This column is the third of three dealing with a few early 1900 city enterprises. I have attempted to identify the location of each, plus (in parenthesis) some later businesses that occupied that same site. Slightly paraphrased comments are in the present tense.

K.P. Jones & Company

Located at Buffalo and Cherry streets: Johnson City can boast of having a number of prominent lumber yards, among which is K.P. Jones & Co., who are manufacturers and dealers in building supplies and building material of all kinds. A complete line of paint, oils, sash, doors, siding, ceiling, flooring, laths and shingles is available. Hemlock framing is a specialty of the business. The yards and offices of this prosperous concern comprise three adjoining yards at their site.

The members of the company are K.P. Jones and J.E. Brading, two robust and wide-awake business men. The Lumber Company opened its business in February 1902, and since the first of January, 1903, a gain of 100 percent, has been enjoyed in the volume of business. The firm's members are local men and take an active interest in our city welfare.

Johnson City Coal and Lumber Company

Located on Jobe Street (Central Tobacco Warehouse): Prominent among the thriving and flourishing industries in our city who are enjoying a good trade is the Johnson City Coal and Lumber Co., which was established in 1902. S.R. Sells and L.W. Walsh are the owners of the plant and report business most encouraging from the present outlook. They are wholesale and retail dealers in rough and dressed lumber. They also manufacture and carry in stock at all times including flooring, ceiling, siding, molding, laths, sash, doors and building material.

This progressive and enterprising firm deserves credit for the increase of their last year's business, as a gain of 50 percent is the result since the first of January. Mr. Sells is held in high esteem by our citizens for his business qualifications. The company owns abundant mountain land, including a saw mill at Cranberry, NC. The 24-man workforce has a large payroll each week with a daily capacity of 25,000 feet of lumber.

The City National Bank

Located at 214 E. Main Street (H.E. Hart Jeweler): The City National Bank, a most ably-managed and substantially founded financial institution, is a designated state and city depository, with a national repository as well. The facility is regularly inspected by government agents and, therefore, cannot be otherwise than absolutely safe.

All branches of banking business are most ably conducted, collections are made and approved paper negotiated. Individuals, firms, corporations and banks, carrying accounts with the City National Bank will find their terms most liberal. The bank is equipped with handsome and luxurious furniture, along with fixtures and decorations. Every attention and courtesy is extended to callers.

The top officers are James M. Gaunt, president; J.M. Buck, vice president; and Sam T. Millard, cashier. The capital of this bank is all home capital and the bank is officered by Johnson City citizens.

Steven Brothers

Located at 200 Spring Street, corner of Spring Street and the Narrow Gauge Railroad: The large wholesale produce house of Stevens Brothers is a branch of the Baltimore House that was established in 1898. The business is a large buyer of chickens, eggs and dried fruits, drawing its supplies from all parts of the surrounding country. They purchase only first-class produce, which gives them enormous patronage from the eastern markets. G.F. Hobbs, the local manager, is well-known in Johnson City and vicinity and stands high in public esteem. He has been most zealous in his business duties since he assumed charge, and his efforts have met with the high success which he deserves. 

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I recently came across an April 1985 newspaper clipping written by former Press-Chronicle business editor, Mary Alice Basconi. It concerned an early business in Johnson City – Leach Motor Co.

The endeavor started when Paris Leach went into business for himself in 1911, with one of the first garages in Johnson City to service gasoline engines. He later sold cars, such as the Hupmobile, from a building at 415 W. Market Street.

A 1944 City Directory lists Leach as an “automobile repairer” at 111 Ashe Street, the site of the family's “old home place.” The location, developed in 1931, became his business home. A 1948 directory shows him as the owner of Leach Motor Co.

Paris's legacy to sons Kyle and Harold was his business that withstood years of capricious trends in the automotive industry. Later, he wisely steered his trade along sales of a timeless product: the Jeep, known cleverly as “the ubiquitous World War II four-wheeled personification of Yankee ingenuity and cocky, can-do determination.”

Kyle and Harold Leach with Their Parents' Photos on the Wall Behind Them

“When we went into it,” Harold said, “it was the first 4-wheel drive vehicle for civilian use. Jeeps don't look much different today, although other manufacturers produce vehicles of the same style now.”

Harold recalled that customers came from North Carolina, Virginia and throughout Northeast Tennessee, which included sportsmen, fishermen and farmers along with people who resided in “the real, real rough country.”

“One fellow who owned a farm,” he said, “took one of our little Jeeps, put a plow on it and used it as a tractor.” Others took advantage of the recreational virtues of a Jeep. Leach Motors even sponsored a club, the “The East Tennessee 4-Wheelers,” for Jeep devotees who liked to explore wild mountain trails.

According to Harold, “We went everywhere from Tellico Plains, the Erwin mountains, Elizabethton, places where you could hardly walk. We'd circle the Jeeps up like a wagon train and have lunch. Those were fun times.”

In 1945, Kyle related to his father that, “I don't want to work for you, but I'd go into business with you someday.” Paris Leach told his son to knock out a wall in the building and add an equal addition to it. Kyle did as instructed.  

For many years, the business had no hydraulic lift. To service vehicles, they drove a car over a pit and worked from below. Kyle said with progress the old pot-bellied stove was finally done away with and the pits were replaced with hydraulic units.

With the passing of the years, the Leach brothers, who grew up and labored in their father's shop, began looking forward to retirement. Leach Motor Co.'s turquoise-blue buildings on Ashe Street were sadly put up for sale or rent.

1960 Ad from the Science Hill High School Wataugan

In 1983, the brothers sold their Jeep franchise to another car dealer and piece by piece began selling off equipment and parts, even shelves. In March 1985, Kyle sold two of his father's first purchases for the company: an old vice and a mechanical hoist from the pre-hydraulic age.

“I think that had we not been at retirement age, the business would have held on,” added Harold. He noted that his days would soon be filled with fishing, golf, square-dancing and travel.

The brothers mentioned one loyal nameless employee who had been with the firm since 1946, even through the dismantling of the operation. “He's sort of like an old horse,” Harold said in a flattering manner. “After you work him for so long, you take the bridle off and he still goes into the stable.”

In early March of 1985, the brothers wrapped up their work by answering calls from would-be renters or buyers and watching old equipment being hauled away. Remaining in the family were portraits of their parents and a wall full of pictures from “The East Tennessee 4-Wheelers” past expeditions.

Harold recalled those monthly trips and how Jeep men from Cincinnati even came down once to attend the events. Harold's concluding words to Basconi were “Leach meant Jeep. It really, really did.” 

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Today's column is the second of three that deals with some early 1900 Johnson City enterprises. I have attempted to identify the location of each, plus (in parenthesis) include  some later businesses that occupied that same site. Slightly paraphrased comments are in present tense.

City Stables

The intersection of Ashe, Cherry and Buffalo streets: The City Stables, owned by W.T. Givens and conducted by W.C. Snapp, manager, easily take the lead in Johnson City liveries. Mr. Givens is a Kentuckian, an accurate judge of horseflesh and will have none but sound, swift, young roadsters in his stables. Since opening his livery in 1900, he has established a large patronage, owing to the fact that his turnouts are serviceable, comfortable and handsome. His stables measure 135 x 90 feet, and he has ample accommodation for 100 horses. Mr. Givens also conducts a feed stable, which is largely patronized as all horses are given the best care and attention.

Will I. Hart & Co.

101 E. Market (Idol Inn, Southern Cafe, Byrd's Restaurant): This large shop is located in the heart of the downtown business section. The Comet has the pleasure of advertising Will I. Hart, our noted manufacturer of hand-made harnesses, saddles, bridles, collars, whips, leggings and all kinds of horse millinery. Mr. Hart has spent a number of years in the harness business.

In 1894, the business was established and since its inception, trade hasincreased tremendously in all parts of the city and surrounding county. The business affords four experienced men with full-time employment. Mr. Hart rewards his help with liberal wages and in return receives first-rate work from them. He has resided here for the past 25 years and does an extensive business. He has garnered a large acquaintance and is held in high esteem by patrons.

S.B. White

111 Spring Street (Sanitary Barber Shop, Sports News Billiard Parlor): Our many prosperous merchants are highly pleased to note the successful season this business is enjoying. Among the most prominent is S.(Samuel) B. White, the well-know stove and tinwork merchant, who is hauling a complete line of china and queensware, including lamps and common and anti-rust tinware.

General repair work is also done in spouting and guttering. Fancy china is sold all over the city and county. Mr. White's business has increased by 30 per cent since January 1st. The Comet recommends this store as first-class in every respect with which to do business. Mr. White also does furnace work on a large scale.

Johnson City Foundry and Machine Works

Cherry Street and corner of Earnest Street: The Johnson City Foundry and Machine Works, organized in 1884, has the distinction of being the second established industry in Johnson City and has been closely identified with its present growth and perpetuity. At this great foundry, wood-working machinery, water wheels, brass and iron castings and forgings are manufactured. General repair work is also accomplished.

The abundance of raw material within easy access and an unlimited fuel supply makes this city an unsurpassed manufacturing location. Johnson City Foundry and Machine Co. was among the first manufacturers to observe and reap advantage from this fact. The great plant, which they erected, covers an area of over two acres. This results in 75 men gaining steady employment and a pay-roll, which represents $550 per week, is considered most liberal.

The company is daily in receipt of large contracts from every part of the South, and the plant is in continual operation. The officers are as follows: J. Allen Smith, president; G.W. Sitton and general manager; W.B. Johnson, secretary and treasury; and B.J. Sitton, master mechanic. All are local men and to their united and individual efforts, a great measure of the city's progress and success is due.

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Today's column is the first of three dealing with early 1900 Johnson City enterprises; others will appear on the history page over the next few months. I attempted to identify the location of each one, plus provide (in parenthesis) some later recognizable businesses that occupied that identical site.

Unaka National Bank

201-03 E. Main (Anderson Drug Store, Freiberg's). The Unaka National Bank, one of the strongest financial institutions in upper East Tennessee, is growing with every passing year, not only in fact but also in public esteem. It is the outgrowth of a state bank organized in Johnson City in 1896 by John D. Cox of Jonesboro and his associates. S.C. Williams became Vice President.

Although the beginning was a modest one, the bank's future success was assured from the onset by the character and financial standing of its promoters. In 1901, a national banking charter was established and the name, Unaka National Bank, adopted. The intent of management is evident by their building a surplus fund of $10,000 within two years. 

The bank has a corps of officials who give it their best efforts; the active management may be said to have never changed since the bank was launched in 1896. One of the most popular and efficient bankers, Tate L. Earnest, was cashier with Adam Crouch serving as assistant cashier.

Annual deposits for 1897 through 1903 were:

1897- $22,105.24

1898- $51,346.15

1899- $72,936.16

1900- $113,430.24

1901- $140,013.22

1902- $145,834.58

1903- $191,837.49.

M.I. Gump Wholesale Grocery

220 N. Roan Street near the Southern Railway tracks. Without exception, every mercantile, wholesale or industrial house in Johnson City is conducting a lively business. In wholesale circles of East Tennessee and North Carolina, the M.I. Gump Wholesale Grocery is a recognized leader. Mr. Martin Independence Gump established his wholesale house in 1898, and his books show a steady yearly increase.

All goods handled by Mr. Gump are of the highest quality and will be found to be exactly as represented. Large consignments are daily sent from their wholesale house to all parts of the state and North Carolina. The operation is entirely a local one, Mr. Gump being a native of Johnson City and employing three local men in various capacities in his businesses.

Exum Furniture Manufacturing Co.

Located in the vicinity of ET&WNC and CC&O depots. One of the most enterprising industries in our city is that conducted by Mr. E.W. Exum. This concern specializes in the manufacturing of medium and cheap grades of furniture, which is shipped to all parts of the South and especially the State of Tennessee. A large workforce of workers receive liberal wages.

Mr. Exum was a former mayor of Johnson City (1898-1900), a position he held for several terms and proved to be an able officer for the city. He is a firm believer in the welfare of our city and always takes an active interest in city affairs.

Hardy Millinery Co.

237 E. Main Street (Kinkead's Flowers) and Spring Street. Of the many handsome stores which beautify Johnson City's principal streets, one of the most attractive is the elegant millinery emporium of Miss Addie K. Hardy and Miss Mary W. Hardy, Johnson City's fashionable milliners. They reside at 100 Pine Street. The impressive ladies have been conducting a most thriving business for the past two years and their fine taste and execution are well-known and implicitly relied upon by their many customers.

The business's parlors are always well-stocked with seasonable hats, chapeaux and bonnets of most attractive design and a large stock of ribbons, silks, flowers, veils and dainty accessories to the feminine toilet are always on hand. Their trade is drawn from the most select circles of Johnson City and the surrounding country. The two ladies extend a cheerful welcome to visit their shop. 

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The annual Spring Style Revue of the Hart and Houston Store, located at 315-17 E. Main (future site of F.W. Woolworth and Hands On Regional Museum) displayed their colorful models for the spring of 1925.

The Hart and Houston Store That Once Stood in the 300 block of East Main 

The Majestic Theater (221 E. Main) stage was aptly set and decorated, with a garden scene for suits, coats and afternoon costumes and a drawing room for evening gowns. In each one, uniformed members of the high school orchestra formed the background.

A pleasing program of entertainment was interspersed with readings, songs and dances by artists from Milligan College and by popular local talent. Styles were arranged in attractive order: sport models, coats, suits, children's' department, afternoon dresses, coats, and ensemble suits and evening scenes with an elaborate display of millinery.

The styles, colorful and attractive and exhibiting completeness lines handled by the store, were made even more appealing through the arrangement of the program and the display by numerous models.

The children’s department was arranged and directed by Mrs. Ethel Johnson and Mrs. Lena Henderson. It contained an unusual appeal through the beauty of the garments and the delightful natural impulses of the dainty young models. The revue was said to be the most attractive one yet.

The Hart and Houston organization combined forces with Miss Daisy Moore (costuming), Mrs. R.E. Long (millinery), Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Henderson (children’s department). Each member took part in the staging of the successful revue. Fred W. Hoss made announcements and introduced those on the program.

George W. “Hap” Anderson was in charge of handling professional details to assure everything went well, entertaining and displayed in a pleasing, attractive manner. He sang the popular ballad, “On the Banks of the Brandywine,” with Leon Gunn at the piano.

Graceful models taking part in the displays of the new styles were Mrs. Kyle Slaughter, Mrs. W.T. Kennedy, Miss Nita Rigby, Miss Della Spencer, Miss Bonita Burkett, Miss Evelyn Cox, Miss Sara Cass, Miss Helen Knudsen, Miss Bernice Lauff, Miss Mary Hart, and Miss Dotty Westmoreland, with snappy fire in the role of “The Flapper.”

Juniors included Miss Martha Cargille, Thelma Long, Elma Jean Simms, Helen Sims, Ida Miller, Nancy McLaughlin, Louise Susong, Harrison Marshall, Martin Smith, Jane Houston, Katherine Whitehouse, Florence Greenway, Helen McGhee Summers, Jo Jimmie Biddle, Josephine Cooley, Anne Cass Carr. Models for larger women were shown by Mrs. Griffin and Mrs. Farnham of New York City.

A touching number at the opening of the children’s program was a lullaby sung by Mrs. D.R. Beeson, dressed in flowing white, as “Madona,” holding in her arms Jerome, the tiny baby of Mr. and Mrs. J. Freidman.

Masters John Lamb and James Beckner served as pages, bearing announcement cards to each side of the stage as the numbers were presented. The program opened with a pleasing reading, “Smile,” by Miss Bernice Lauff.

Following this, an announcement of the opening of the style show, a retrospective scene, “The Old Fashioned Garden,” was presented in costumes typical of two score years ago, by Miss Nita Rigsby and Fred W. Hoss. Accompaniment to a charming reading to music was made by Miss Dimple Hart, Director of Expression at Milligan College.

A gorgeous background was formed for the scene by four “living flowers”: Misses Nataline Channcey, Bernice Cavtrell, Elizabeth Davidson, and Lara Blackburn, dressed in representation of popular blossoms. In contrast, a modern “flapper” was introduced, snappily enacted by Miss Dotty Westmoreland.

Additional entertainment was interspersed within the program by Miss Macon Johnson, Mrs. Beeson, Louise Susong, Miss Lauff, Miss Nan Holiday, Bayard Aginsky (of Milligan), Mr. Anderson, Miss Nannie Cantrell (Milligan College) and Miss Iva Jones. The revue was said to be highly successful.

I hope my readers can recognize some of the names in this article.

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