Jim Bowman provided some treasured memories about his employment at King’s Department Store at S. Roan and E. Main in the late 1950s. Bowman further talked to three long-time employees of the firm: Louise Curtis; Ellen Sells whose husband, Sam Sells, owned the establishment; and Rose Cooper) to tap into their reminiscences. Another source of information was an interview of Mr. Sells conducted by former Press writer, Alice Torbett, just prior to the store closing in 1984.
Today’s column is the fulfillment of a column that was initiated with Beverly Smythe Jackson just a few weeks before her passing this summer. Her parents, W.F. Burgess “Shorty” and Florence Smythe, once owned Smythe Electric Company in downtown Johnson City. Three grandchildren of the storeowners, Senter Jackson, Susan Wilson and Carol Burleson, shared treasured memories about the business. Mr. Jackson furnished me with three old city directories containing references to the store’s beginning.
A March 24, 1940 Johnson City Press-Chronicle newspaper clipping alleges, “Bluff City Probably Had Section’s Pioneer Plant - Hat Factory Operated in Sullivan Before Area’s Present Industrial Centers Developed.”
Saturday, October 20, 1917 brought news of the death of General John Thomas Wilder, a prominent industrialist who lived in Johnson City between 1884 and 1892. It saddened residents all over the country, especially those in the State of Tennessee.
My aunt, Doris Anderson, gave me a cache of old letters dating between December 1911 and June 1949 that were written to her mother (my grandmother), Mrs. Neva Cox. They came from her husband, Earl; mother, Molly; and others.
I love to read old newspapers because I never know what I might come across. Such was the case when I examined an article in an April 1931 Johnson City Staff-News titled “Major Lyle Is Chief Speaker for Kiwanis - Old Resident Describes Development of City from Days of Long Ago.”
In 1909, the year Henry Ford introduced his Model T Ford to the public, there were understandably no automobile dealers or repair shops in Johnson City. Instead, numerous livery stables existed such as Edward S. McClain (W. Market near Boone), Marion McMackin (Locust near Roan) and City Stable (125 W. Market).
Summers Hardware and Supply Company has had a long convoluted metamorphosis as it migrated through several decades, store locations and individuals into the business that is today located at 400 Buffalo Street.
One piece of exciting news in 1912 was the opening of Jones-Vance Drug Company at 121 Buffalo at Tipton. There were just four doctors in town then - Dr. Elmore Estes, Dr. J.H. Johnson, Dr. W.G. Matthews and Dr. J.H. Preas.
A 1915 Chamber of Commerce publication offers a concise analysis of The Bee Hive Department Store that was once located at Fountain Square in downtown Johnson City: