Some Early 1900 City Enterprises Spotlighted, Part 1

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.