By John L. Kiener,
Washington County Sessions Judge
Jonesboro in the 1850s was on the east-west stagecoach line. The culture of the “Old South” was undergoing change. Captain Ross Smith, in the book Reminiscences of an Old Timer, privately printed in 1930, wrote: “I remember the old stagecoach that used to stop at the Kinney Hotel for breakfast and to change horses after a night’s drive from Blountville or Abingdon. The body of the coach was hung with heavy leather straps. The coach carried four to six passengers, often being on the high seat with the driver. The luggage was carried in a large leather case behind in what was called the boot.”
I remember well the speaking in behalf of the preservation of the Union of the States by Thomas A.R. Nelson, Sr., for the Union, and Landan C. Haynes, for secession. One was a Whig, the other a Democrat. The question of secession was on, and the passions of the people were high.
“Our town itself was pretty equally divided. In the fifties there lived in the old town several influential men who figured most honorably in the affairs of the State of Tennessee, and there was an atmosphere of culture and refinement such as pervaded the South.”
With Captain Smith’s introduction in the above paragraphs, let us go back to the Phoenix Hotel and return again to the “City Directory” portion of Reminiscences of an Old Timer.
Now back to the Phoenix Hotel and, going south on old Cherokee Road, I will take both sides of the road:
Joshua Babb, laborer; two-story brick and frame. Four sons: Newton, Cabeb, James and Henry; three daughters, Elsie, Adalade, and Amanda, James went to Kentucky, where he joined the Federal Army and was killed in a railroad collision. Now the home of S.S. Tucker.
Daniel Coleman, laborer; two-story brick and frame. Two daughters; Ellen and Mary. Now belongs to Aden Gray.
D. Hill, Magistrate; one-story frame. Two sons; D. Jr. and Augustus. Building now torn away.
Mary Graham, wash-woman; two-story frame on hill above mill spring. Now a vacant lot.
Mike Clem, tanner, contractor, and slave owner. Two sons, John and William. Site now of the home of Mrs. S.C. Smith. Clem’s tan yard was located where now lives I.W. Becket.
Saw and grist mill belonging to John Green, grist Mill, two-story stone and frame. Sites now occupied by the Mill Spring Supply Company.
John and Joel Butler, stone masons; one-story frame. Now the home of Miss Lucy Swanner.
J.B. Frazier, tobacco trader, two-story brick and frame. Now known as the old Babb property.
The road from the Butler property to Sheriff Pritchett was not opened until about the year 1856 or 1857.
Ben Chance, laborer; one-story frame. Now belonging to Land Swanner.
Starnes Home, long two-story frame. But little is remembered of this family. Now replaced home of Lewis Walker Cord.
Then comes Jesse Mathes, shoemaker, and Robert Mathes, stone mason, in small frame shacks.
Daniel Salts, miller; two-story log. Three sons; Henry, the engineer, Thomas, the tinner; and James, the printer; two daughters. Site now of the colored school building.
(In Part VII, a discussion of the use of the word “colored” was noted. The term is used to keep the original work as written with the understanding that neither Judge Kiener nor Captain Smith used the term in a manner that was intended to offend anyone).