James David Weaver Family’s Impressive City Building Construction

Paul Gill sent me some material from his Weaver family genealogy that offered an insight into early Johnson City. His great grandfather, James David Weaver, was an influential builder in Johnson City. David, as he was known, was born on May 23, 1854 in Kingsport, Tennessee and later became an important businessman in Johnson City.

David attended Princeton School on what is now Princeton Road in North Johnson City. During his life, he became a blacksmith, contractor, architect and restaurateur. A Millard family who owned a farm located at 611 Mountcastle Drive raised him.


Paul recalls seeing the house before it was demolished. He described it as a beautiful two-story mansion consisting of 13 rooms that featured such upscale items as green marble fireplaces, leather wainscoting, covered ceilings and carved cherry woodwork. The red brick edifice featured a colonnaded veranda that was kept cool by several hundred-year-old oaks that surrounded the main house, carriage house and slave quarters. Even when the house fell in disarray a century later, it’s neglected and ruined finery still conveyed the quintessence of ante-bellum prosperity.

According to Weaver family genealogy, David is credited with constructing the Arlington Hotel, Jennings Building, Pardue/Windsor Hotel and the rectory of Munsey Memorial Church.

Weaver’s sons eventually followed in their father’s footsteps. One son, Charlie, built St. Johns Episcopal Church, Mayne Williams Library and Unaka Avenue Baptist Church, which he also helped establish. Another son, Fred, served as Johnson City’s building inspector for many years.

David Weaver co-owned and operated the Windsor Restaurant located at the intersection of the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad depot and Market Street. This site was likely situated where Idol Inn Café and later Byrd’s Restaurant stood. His business partner was James Wesley Scalf, an ancestor of Gladys Ledford Weaver.

David sold the eatery on Nov. 17, 1890. The deed read in part: “Know all men by these presents, that we, J.D. Weaver and Company of the town of Johnson City, Washington County, Tennessee, parties of the first part, of and in consideration of the sum of seven hundred two dollars and ninety eight cents, paid and to be paid as hereinafter stated, by L.O. Strain and W.H. Hallum, parties of the second part, of said sum, two hundred dollars in this day paid, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged and the remainder to be paid in eight equal monthly installments …

The deed contained a surprisingly detailed listing of all property included in the transfer: “four sauce pans, one colander, nine pudding pans, six fry pans, two cake turners, one fryer, two flesh forks, two 14 quart beating bowls, one bed, one spring, one mattress, one pair blankets, one pair pillows, four comforts, one mirror, two washstands, one round table, two shades, three 10-foot extension tables, 46 chairs, two tables, two shades, one galvanized iron flue, one gasoline stove and three burners, one coffee boiler, one sauce pan, one dipper, one frying pan, …

“one large spoon, one cake turner, one dishpan, one six-quart bucket, one tea pot, one half-gallon cup, one large flesh fork, one potato masher, one half-gallon oil can, one rolling pin, one biscuit cutter, one meal sifter, five large spoons, one tin bucket, one bread pan, four joints of stove pipe, one heating stove and eight joints of pipe, one zinc stove board, two six foot show cases, 112 yards of carpet, seven dozen seven-inch plates, six dozen seven-inch deep plates, seven dozen fine hotel cups and saucers, seven dozen three-inch flat dishes, four dozen cream dishes, …

“one dozen sugar dishes, six dozen butter dishes, seven dozen five-inch plates, one-third dozen ice pitchers, seven dozen band tumblers, six dozen 26-inch trays, one crumb brush and tray, half-dozen cracker bowls, one-fourth dozen of mustards, two dozen peppers, two dozen salts, five-sixths dozen vinegars, five-sixth dozen syrups, one dozen pickles, half dozen celery stands, one dozen preserve stands, half dozen fruit stands, one-third dozen cake stands, two dozen egg cups, one dozen pat meals, six dozen ice creams, two 18-inch sq.meats and one half-dozen tooth pick holders.   

The deed concluded with the words: “In witness whereof the said parties of the first part have hereunto set their hands this the 17thday of November 1890.” Weaver died on March 3, 1924 and was buried in Johnson City’s Monte Vista Memorial Gardens. Paul Gill is proud of his Weaver family and has reason to be so.