1929 HISTORY OF TULLAHOMA BY MAYOR W. J. DAVIDSON
TULLAHOMA is the only town in the United States bearing a name not
applied to any other place, thing or personr and the name being a
singular one it may be of interest to those familiar with the town to
learn when and by whom the name was applied to this little city. The
site upon which Tullahoma is built and for many miles adjacent was
originally owned by Benj. Decherd, Dr. T. A. Anderson, Pierce B.
Anderson, Volney S. Stevenson, and William Moore, the most of these
men, having immigrated to tlis seclon from Eastt Tennessee about 1848,
men prominent in their day and being among the first peopIe to settle
in this immediate vicinity en February 8, 1850, these men entered into
an agreement to found the town of Tullahoma and Pierce B. Anderson, of
Civil and Mexican War fame and one of the owners of the land was
engaged to survey and map out the territory for the town site. Other
emigrants, mostly from Jonesboro, Tennessee, were gradually moving into
this section of the State, and Tullahoma was becoming quite a little
village, and up to this time was without a name.
About the time the town site was surveyed, John C. McLemore of Memphis,
Tennessee, made a visit here to one of his old friends, Dr. T. A.
Anderson, and in discussing a name for the town he proposed the Indian
words "Tulla Homa" meaning red dirt, as a name for the little village.
The peculiar yellow or red color of the soil suggested the name, and
this name was adopted and the town has since been known as Tullahoma.
The above plain statement of facts contradicts the many beautiful
allegories that have been written about the name of the town, in which
pretty Indian maidens bore a conspicuous part, but the facts were
related to the writer twenty. five years ago by the late Honorable L B.
Morgan, a son-in-law of Dr. Anderson, and who was living here when the
town was named.
The Nashville, Chattanooga &: St. Louis Railway was completed
through Tullahoma in 1855, and the village had then become quite a
trading center, . there being a number of stores and anInn here. . In
1866 the town boasted of nine stores, a livery stable and a hotel. The
first newspaper was published in Tulhoma in 1868, by the late Geo. W.
Davidson, Jas. G. Aydelott, and M. R Campbell the direct descendants of
these men being among the few who are now living here whose parents
were residents of the town immediutely after the Civil War. The paper
was a small weekly, and was called "The Appalachian," and was edited by
Geo. W. Davidson. Several copies of the paper are .still preserved by
the writer, who is , son of the editor.
Tullahoma is a. beautiful little city with its extraordinary broad .
streets, and myriad shade trees, and is best known for its wonderful
shade and splendid water. The town is clean and well drained. It is
1,070 feet above sea level, giving cool nights during the hottest
summer weather. Tullahoma is furnished water from deep wells with a
pumping capacity of about one million gallons per day. This water is
analyzed every thirty days by the State Board of Health and invariably
is endorsed as good water. Typhoid and malaria are unknown in
It has always been known as a delightful place to spend the summer,
owing to its cool nights and splendid water. At one time Tullahoma was
the best known summer resort in Tennesaee, and hundreds of guests spent
the summer here, there being at that time hotels at Pylant Springs and
Miller Springs, both within five miles of' the city, as well as the
hotels in town.
Among its recreations the city has a modern nine-hole golf course, and
an enthusiastic Golf Club membership. The golf course is owned and
furnished to the Golf Club free by Captain B. H. Wilkins, Tullahoma's
benefactor and best known citizen.
Ovoca, the State home of the Knights of Pythlas, is located near
Tullahoma! and provides excellent swimming and fishing facilities in
lake Calanthe, and also courts for tennis and volley ball. Located on
these grounds is the famous Cascade Falls, one of the natural beauty
spots of the State. Lake Tullahoma, Inc. a new project under way, when
completed, will be one of the finest summer resorts in the South. Camp
Peay, training grounds for the Tennessee National Guard, is located on
a 1,000- acre tract of land within one mile of the city, furnished by
the N., C. & St. L Ry.
Tullahoma has three scbools, the Tullahoma High School, a modern
$75,000.00 school building, and the Grammar School located on a
beautiful twelve-acre campus, and Davidson's Academy, a negro Grammar
and High School.
Tullaboma has excellent banking facilities, with three substantial
banks with plenty of capital to finance every clean businesa and
willing to co-operate with all industries on a businesa basis. No town
in the South offers more inducements to manufacturers than does
Tullahoma. Tullahoma offers everything. that any other town has and
many things other towns do not have. We have well established freight
rates to all points and bave many desirable sites for factories and
warehouses along the railroad fronts, affording excellent shipping
facilities. All industry is operated on the open shop basis with a good
supply of highest class native labor, both male and female, at a living
Tullahoma boasts of one of the finest musical aggregations in the
South, a band composed of thirty-six instruments, organized by the
local American Legion Post and equipped by the United States Army. It
is one of the three such bands maintained by the Army in the United
States. . Tullahoma has eight churches Christian, M. E. Church; M. E.
Church, South; Church of Christ; Episcopal Church; Baptist Church;
Presbyteria Church, Cumberland Presbyterian Church, as well as six
negro churches. Tullahoma has a free public library organized and
maintained by the Business and Professional Women's Club, the library
being well equipped and conducted in the club's own library building.
Ovoca, the Knights of pythias Home, has become a well known convention
center for churches and Sunday schools. Ten conventions have made
arrangements to hold their conventions at Ovoca this summer. When the
State decided to erect the Tennessee Vocational School for Girls,
Tullahoma was selected as the most suitable location for this
institution, and a large tract of land was selected for the main
beautiful limestone buildings erected just outside of the town.
Tullahoma boasts of one of the best hotels any small town afords, this
being the King hotel near the heart of the city. The Nashville,
Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway has an office building here which
is headquarters for the officials of the Huntsville division of the
road, and the road also has yards and shops here repairing the engines
and cars used on this division.
The first manufacturing plant of any kind was established here about
1870 by the late M. R. Campbell, this being a hub and spoke factory.
This manufacturing concern is still in business here and has grown into
the most important industry of the city, operating at present in
Tullahoma two large manufacturing plants. This concern is now known as
the M. R. Campbell, Inc., and is owned and operated by the sons of the
founder. The Campbell interests employ about two hundred men in the
factories. The factories are woodworking plants and make more than a
hundred various articles in the way of hubs, spokes, golf sticks, base
ball bats, hockey sticks; etc., but the chief output of the factories
are golf sticks and base ball bats. One of the factories manufacture
automobile parts, buggy shafts and hardwood flooring.
The town now boasts of around four thousand inhabitants and has a
number of manufacturing plants upon which it depends for its prosperity
more than it does upon farming interests.
Among the successful concerns operated here is the 'fennessee Overall
Company, owned and operated by Capt. B. H. Wilkins, and which has been
a success from the beginning. About one hundred people are employed in
this factory. Another successful concern is the-Middle Tennessee
Milling Company, manufacturers of high-grade flour, operated by R. L.
Robertson and brothers. This is one of the few flour mills that run
night and day, but this mill has a record of never closing except on
Sunday. The output is sold in the Southern states.
The Lannom Manufacturing Company, manufacturers of all kinds of base
balls ie from the major league balls to the cheap balls, as well as
hand balls and volley balls. This is one of the leading industries of
the city. This plant is now preparing to erect a modern brick factory
building, the contract having been let to a Nashville contractor. The
Lannom Manufacturing Company ships balls to all points in the United
States and has quite an extensive trade in Cuba and have made car load
shipments at various times.
Among the important concerns here are the Tullahoma Lumber Company, the
Upstairs Cabinet Company, the Tullahoma Cabinet Company, Campbell
Lumber Company, McDowell Lumber Company, Builders Supply Company, Inc.,
and the Tennessee! Glove Company, manufacturers of cloth and leather
gloves; the latter have contracts to keep their machines going
throughout the next six months.
Other industries are the Tullahoma Co-operative Creamery, Tullahoma Ice
Factory, Banner Ice Cream Company, and also two wholesale grocery
concerns, they being theSmotherman-Henderson, Womack Company' and the
J. M. Garney Wholesale Company.
Tullahoma has a modern post office building located near the N., C.
& St. L. railway station. Until about eighteen years ago around
Tullahoma was thought to be worthless for farming purposes and could be
bought for practically nothing, but it was found that the land could be
made very productive by the use of lime and turning under cover crops
and many splendid farms now surround the town. Tobacco is one of the
chief crops and many farmers have made as much as $250.00 per acre by
growing it. The man who first started growing tobacco around Tullahoma
was Doak Aydelott, and the town is deeply indebted to him for the time
and money he spent encouraging the growth of the weed in this county.
Mr. Aydelott brought many families here frem the Dark Tobacco District
at his own expense and kept them on his farms until be got the farmers
started to growing tobacco.
Mr. John W. Harton has also promoted the town in many respects and has
had much to do with -the growth of farming interests. The town has
never had a boom, but has experienced a normal .. growth during the
past fifteen years.
A sketch of Tullahoma would be incomplete without mention of the water
and light plant, municipally owned and the pride industry of the city.
Basing its valuation upon its net earnings at 6 per cent, the plant has
a valuation of around $700,000, but could not be purchased for that
amount in cash, as it is too profitable to the taxpayers to be disposed
of. The original investment was $35,000, all additional extensi( and
growth having been made from profits of operation of the :plant. The
growth of the plant and increase in revenue during the last five years,
under the supermtendency of Capt. Sam Cook, have proven the great
benefits that can be derived from a well managed municipal water and
light plant. . Both flat rates and meter rates will compete with any in
Among her native-born sons of whom the citizens are proud are Hon. Ewin
L. Davis, congressman from this district; Paul M. Davis, of Nashville,
and Hon. Norman H. Davis of New York, and James M. Cowan, connoisseuer
and collector of fine arts of Chicago, and many others who were born
and reared here and who have made good in the big cities. Tullahoma is
called the "Queen City of the Highland Rim" and "The Hub of Four
Counties," owing to its altitude and its location with respect to
adjoining counties and is the highest point between Nashville and
W. J. David.on
Truly a friend of the people is W. J. Davidson, now serving his third
term as mayor of Tullahoma. Day in and day out no one has given more
service to his town, always ready to consider any request from the
civic bodies, the soldier boys or the humblest citizen giving to them
freely of his time and labor. Of kind and sympathetic nature, he
listens to and lends assistance to the citizen in trouble, sorrow or
distress. As a native son, he loves Tullahoma, is proud of its progress
and advancement. He has for years been a conscientious and earnest
member of the Coffee county court, of efficient service as U. S.
Commissioner and is now local representative for the weather bureau of
the government. Mr. Davidson is a vestryman of St. Barnabas Protestant
Efiscopal Church and is a most faithful and loyal churchman.
John W. Harton
Tullahoma realtor, land developer, and premier booster, Mr. Harton is
one of Tullahoma's outstanding citizens. He is a former mayor of the
city, an- expresident of the Tullahoma Rotary Club, and is always found
on the firing line when the welfare of this city is at stake. He is
deeply interested ,in all matters pertaining to the welfare of the
Tullahoma territory, whether it be industrial, commercial or
agricultural. He is president of the Monteagle Development Company, and
promoter of the Lake Tullahoma project. Recently he was honored with
the election as secretary-treasurer of the Tennessee Hotel Association.
Mr. Polk Ross
Mr. Ross is one of the outstanding men in the community and a most
ardent worker in all civic undertakings, being a member of the Rotary
Club, Parent-Teachers Association, Chamber of Commerce and secretary of
the State Press Association.
W. J. Sanders
W. J. Sanders, Jr., is one of Tullahoma's five state organization
officers. Mr. Sanders is president- of the Tennessee Retail Lumber,
Millwork and Supply Dealers Association. He has served as a director in
this association for the past two years, and has been active in Its
affairs since its organization. Mr. Sanders is treasurer of the
Builders Supply Company, Inc., Tullahoma, Tenn.
G. W. Steagall
Tullahoma is justly proud of its native son, G. W. Steagall, the
present commander of The American Legion Department of Tennessee,
having been elected at the 1928 convention. Since the organization of
the Department 01 Tennessee in 1928, Commander Steagal has been one of
the most active Legion naires in promoting the welfare of tht Legion.
He is a charter. member 0: Memorial 39, Post No. 43 of Tu:Ia. homa, and
served as ita Commandel during the years of 1921-1922-1923 He has also
served the State Department in the following capacities: Statt
Committeeman, Fifth District, 192~ and 1928; Vice-Commander of Middlt
Tennessee in 1924, and Department Commander in 1929. Commander Steagall
has attended thE following National Conventions of thE American Legion
as a delegate: New Orleans, La. ; San Francisco, Cat; St. Paul, Minn.;
Omaha, Nebr.; Philadelphia, Pa.: San Antonio, Texas. Represented the
American Legion of Tennessee at Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the 1924
Convention of the South. eastern Departments of the American Legion.
Graduating from the First Officers' Training Camp at Fort Oglethorpe.
Georgia, in 1917, was commissioned 8 Secolld Lieutenant of Infantry.
Overseas from August, 1918, to July, 1919. Participated in the
Meuse-Argonne offense. Was discharged July 14, 1919. as a .First
Lieutenant of Infantry, and now holds a commission as First Lieutenant,
823rd Infantry Organized Reserves.
TULLAHOMA PERSONAGES IN RECENT PICTORIAL REVIEWS Statesman-Soldier-Fiddler-Hog Caller
Norman H. Davia, of Tullahoma, president of the Woodrow Wilson Memorial
Foundation, presenting to Colonel Lindbergh the Woodrow Wilson Peace
Award, at dinner given at the Hotel Astor.
Corporal Henry Cardwell, of Tullahoma, Company D., 117th Infantry at
Ballou, Sarthe, France, Jan. 22, 1919, being decorated by General
Pershing. Corporal Cardwell and his buddy, Carl Lee, of Osage, Iowa,
who was also decorated at the same time, had captured 12 German
soldiers and 3 machine guns.
Bunt Stephens, of Tullahoma, winner of the Henry Ford contest for the best old-time country fiddler in the United States.
Carl Penn, undefeated "hog-calling" champion.Penn was the first
prizewinner in the United States, for "hog calling" contests, that have
since become country-wide. was started by the secretary of the
The eighth wonder of the world to the writer of this brief sketch is
Davidson Park, a reclaimed plot of ground eighty by three hundred and
twenty feet, fronting the passenger station and the business section of
Tullahoma on Atlantic street. The removal of the freight depot and
switch tracks, which made this park possible, was due largely to the
intense interest and effort of Mayor W. J. Davidson, who enjoyed the
hearty co-operation of all of the railroad officials. At all seasons of
the year this park is attractive and especially so during blossoming
springtime. It is regretted that the picture cannot give the beauty in
detail, the restfulness of green and fresh fragrance of the flowers. It
was a happy thought of both citizens of Tullahoma and of railroad
officers to dedicate this park in honor of Mayor Davidson, for he is an
active son, who makes it a labor of love to work for the beautification
of Tullahoma, and when funds are not available does not hesitate to go
deeply into his own pockets.
Through the loyal help of Sam Cook, superintendent of the city light
and water plants, two blocks south of the Davidson Park have been made
attractive, part of the block north, and in time the entire two-mile
stretch of Atlantic street and railroad right-a-way will be parked and
beautified' with grass, flowers and shrubs.
The Dairy Industry Around Tullahoma
Tullahoma. has a wonderful opportunity for a large dairy industry. It
is surrounded by a territory which will grow good pasture of Lespedeza
and grass, and has unlimited supply of pure freestone water. The
climate is mild for the winter months, affording practically year-round
The Tullahoma Co-operative Creamery will. average over 16,000 pounds of
butter per month during the year and serves the farmers within a radius
of 16 miles of Tullahoina. It operates 12 cream stations, and a large
number of farmers bring their own cream to the plant. The month of
April was one of. the best months in the history of the creamery and a
number of new patrons have been added to the list. The quality of the
butter is shown by the fact that the creamery won first prize at the
State Fair at Nashville and third prize at the National Dairy Show at
Memphis last year.
Quite a number of farmers are selling whole milk to the Carnation plant
at Manchester and Murfreesboro and to the plants of the Borden Milk Co.
at Shelbyville and Fayetteville. Regularly operated milk routes make
delivery easy for the producers. There is another Co-operative Creamery
at Winchester, which draws some patronage from this territory, as well
as a whole milk station at Bell Buckle and a number of other cream
stations. A cow census made by the Tullahoma Rotary Club showed about
9,000 cows within a 15-mile radius of Tullahoma with prospects of more
cows being added very soon. The milk received by the Carnation Company
from Coffee county runs at a uniform test, and shows a low fluctuation
between summer and winter months.
C0FFEE COUNTY has an area of 448 square miles, and a population ot
18,000. It is located at the foothills of the Cumberland mountain range
on the eastern Highland Rim. Agriculture is the principal industry,
much attention being given to dairying, tobacco and cotton, as well as
the usual grain and hay crops. Coffee county corn won first prize at
the St. Louis World's Fair. Manufacturers include a large variety of
wood products, baseballs, gloves, wearing apparel, etc., and one of the
highest grade lime plants in the South is located in the county. The
lime, manufactured at Summitville, is largely used In the sugar
refineries of Louisiana and Cuba, and the water supply of the city of
New Orleans Is purified with Coffee county lime.
The main route of the Dixie highway, from Chicago to Miami, runs
through Coffee County, and the new projected national highway from
Washington to New Orleanl will also run through the county, touching
Tullahoma, Manchester and Summitville. The county has 60 miles of
hard-surfaced state highways, and the county highway commission is now
planning the construction of several additional miles of highway in the
The county offers unusual opportunities for dairying, tobacco growing,
cotton raising, truck farming, and other agricultural pursuits. The
truck farmer will find two large cities within, only two or three hours
drive from Coffee county; the dairyman and cotton raiser will find good
markets for their product within the county and the nine railroad
stations in the county insure easy accessibility to any other markets
During recent years, much attention has been given to the growing of
sweet potatoes, and this crop haa proven very profitable. A curing
plant for this crop is located at Manchester.
Principal towns in the county are Tullahoma with a 3,500 population;
Manchester with 2,000, and Summitville with 750. All of these towns are
served by the N., C. & St. L. Railway.
Tullahoma is one of the few, if not the only, city of its size that can
boast of a flying field with electric lights and water, including fire
protection, telephone service, and twenty-four-hour paid attendant
service. The field is now under construction and will be completed
within sixty days from the time this goes to press. The field is
located just one mile from Tullahoma, on a state road, and embodies
thirty-five acres of effective landing area, with three hundred-foot
approaches on three sides. Drainage tile has been laid in the low
places, assuring pilots of safe landings in all kinds of weather. A
co-operative weather bureau is maintained at the City Hall. with
telephone service to the field for purpose of giving pilots the weather
forecasts, which is so necessary in this method of modern travel.
Tullahoma is .splendidly represented by many denominations with as good
Christian people as could be found anywhere upon. the earth. The
Methodist Episcopal Church, South, is having plans made for a $25,000
additional improvement. A fund is being created for the building of a
community hospital on the property of the St. Barnabas Episcopal
Church, and it is reported that the First Christian Church may this
year erect a handsome annex upon the lot recently purchased.
Tullaboma as Inspiration
During the Civil War, Bragg's army . dropped back from Murfreesboro to
Tullahoma and remained during the winter, constructing Fort Raine,
digging of rifle trenches, railroad block houses and the felling of
trees, cut high from the ground and limbs sharpened, forming almost an
impenetrable rampart. So well were the fortification established and
physical improvement of men noted, that the wily Rosecrans disobeyed
orders to attack Bragg at Tullahoma, but by flank movement preceeded to
At the time, Tullahoma was known in army movements as "Braggs Clearing"
and as a friendly wag has said that ever since it has been "Clearly
From the N. C. & ST. L. RY. NEWS ITEM Volume XI, No 5 May 15, 1929
as printed in the Tullahoma Time-Table October 1985 Edited by Angela B.
Arnold and provided to me by Marjorie Collier. Proeceding is the first
4 pages of this 20 page article.
RLY Note ---- The optimism and devotion of Mayor Davidson is
noteworthy. Such feelings by many of Tullahoma's leading citizens have
resulted in the fine community we enjoy today.