Today in Johnson City History: December 17th | Life


December 17, 1869: The East Tennessee Union Flag has announced sad news. “We learn that a little girl, daughter of Hester Fitzgerald, who resides with widow MA Smith, near Jonesboro, accidentally fell into the spring near her residence and drowned. She was about eighteen months (sic) of age.

The East Tennessee Union Flag was a newspaper headquartered in Jonesborough, which was spelled under the heading of the publication. However, the town was spelled as Jonesboro in the article referenced above.

December 17, 1874: The Herald and Tribune reported a theft of corn. “A few nights ago a man … was caught stealing corn from Mr. Bryant Stephens’ crib. A son of Mr. Stephens shot the intruder, who was critically injured. Better to beg than to steal, and not half so dangerous.

The Herald and Tribune was, and still is, a Jonesborough newspaper, spelled as such in 1874.

December 17, 1885: Le Comet reported: “Mr. DR Nevin, of Johnson City Wood Bending Works, departed on Monday on an extended business trip to the New England States in the interests of the company.

December 17, 1891: Readers of The Comet learned of the results of the 1890 census. Johnson City had a population of 4,161, according to the report. In 1880 the population was 685.

December 17, 1896: One hundred and twenty-five years ago today, The Comet reported: “The work of the University of Tennessee Law Department has progressed this fall with unusual success. Each class devoted two hours a day to classroom work (sic), and in addition a weekly mock tribunal, chaired by the dean, Justice Ingersoll, was maintained. The preparation and argumentation of cases in court is of great value to students and has been more thorough than ever before. Some students take a special course in these branches which will enable them to be businessmen (sic). This class of students is likely to increase in number. There is no better training for a businessman (sic) than a good course in Mercantile Law, accompanied by work done in a business school. These benefits can now be easily combined by any student in Knoxville. Some students generally join the law department around January 1. A special class will be formed this year for those who are beginners.December 17, 1903: The Clay Center Dispatch told an interesting story with a date from Johnson City. “Shift. William H. Garland, 94, died at the home of the National Soldier (sic) here. He had shaken hands with every President of the United States except Washington. He was part of the company of sea cadets that accompanied Lafayette on his second visit to America in 1822 and he conversed at one point with Napoleon on the island of Saint Helena. Major Garland’s wife and children were drowned in the Evansville, Indiana, flood in 1884. He was for many years a Baptist minister.

The “National Soldier’s House” referenced in the article is now known as the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center.

The Clay Center Dispatch was and still is a Clay Center, Kansas newspaper.

December 17, 1918: The Johnson City Daily Staff reported: “Lieut. Lee Harr, having been honorably removed from his post, returned home recently. Young Harr spent several months in the war zone and was later sent back to the United States as an instructor in the training camp.

December 17, 1926: The Chattanooga Times reported, with a date from Johnson City, “Alma Tipton, confessed 12-year-old killer Novella Winkle in Greeneville last August, was today found insane by the Supreme Court (sic) considering her appeal from the twenty “Eight-year sentence imposed by jury. She will be immediately transported to Lyons View Hospital (sic) in Knoxville. Her husband, Bob Tipton, has been jointly convicted and named, as an appeal pending.”

The Chattanooga Times is now published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

December 17, 1926: The Anniston Star reported news of an interesting reason for a new phone number for the Johnson City Police Department. With a date line from Johnson City, readers learned, “Because so many people in Johnson City are talking through their noses, it has become necessary to give the police department two phone numbers. Excited people calling five-seven, the department’s number, often rebuffed it, resulting in nine-seven, a private phone being called. Today, the telephone company, weary of complaints, assigned the two numbers to the police department. Now you can use the nasal pinch and get a cop all the same. “

The Anniston Star was, and still is, a newspaper published in Anniston, Alabama.

December 17, 1930: The Johnson City Staff News reported on the snow that had recently hit Johnson City. “Johnson City has been busy all day Wednesday digging its way through the heaviest snow of the year which started to fall Tuesday night around 11 am. The snow was six to nine inches thick and resulted in the suspension of streetcar service in parts of the city as well as a considerable disruption in general traffic.

December 17, 1940: The Johnson City Chronicle reported: “Miss Florence Burns, daughter of the Acting President and Mrs. CE Burns of Milligan College has been placed on an honor roll chosen from among nurses who recently passed a State Council exam. “

The article continued to state: “Of 298 exam candidates, only 10 ‘made’ the honor roll. “

In addition, “Miss Burns received her pre-nursing training at Milligan College.”

Milligan College is now known as Milligan University.

December 17, 1959: According to the Johnson City Press-Chronicle, “Two men from Johnson City are scheduled for recruit training today at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC”

The article continued: “They are Ralph Wood of 313 W. Main St., and Kenneth W. Burchfield, son of Mr. and Mrs. Conlow Burchfield, of … Alabama St.”

The West Main Street address is now home to a business, and the Alabama Street address is close to Tweetsie Trail.

December 17, 1967: The Johnson City Press-Chronicle reported that Robert Ritchie, who was 4 years old and lived on Southwest Avenue, had recently been treated and released at Johnson City Memorial Hospital. The young boy received a dog bite in the face. The dog belonged to him, however, according to police reports.

December 17, 1970: Readers of the Johnson City Press-Chronicle saw a photo of the new Miss Steed College. In a captioned photo, it was reported: “Saturday night capped a week of focused effort by the students at Steed College to help their school. Over $ 1,500 was raised during the week. Mayor Richard Machamer crowned Linda Taylor, a Steed freshman and 1970 Boones Creek High School graduate, among seven other contestants in the annual Miss Steed pageant. Another student action set to resume after the Christmas break to reach the goal of $ 40,000. ”

Fifteen hundred dollars in 1970 is worth about $ 10,692 today, while $ 40,000 in 1970 is now worth just over $ 285,000. (Source:

December 17, 1980: “Dr. Roy S. Nicks, chancellor of the State Board of Regents, said Wednesday that his support for the East Tennessee State University medical school had not waned,” according to the Johnson City Press-Chronicle.

Dr. Nicks became president of East Tennessee State University in 1993 and held that position until his retirement in 1997.


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