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History of The Tomahawk Mountain City Tennessee

The Tomahawk originally began as a small one-page single sheet paper printed by the Berry family in the late 1860s to early 1870s. In 1874 Mr. W.R. Keyes started to publishing a paper in Johnson County.

It was called The Taylorsville Reporter. In 1885 when the town was renamed Mountain City, the newspaper was also renamed The Tennessee Tomahawk. In those early days, the newspapers were printed from handset type.

On October 11, 1882, Taylorsville Reporter reported it was published every Wednesday, by Keys and Craig.

October 22, 1886, the paper was called the Tennessee Tomahawk, and W R Keyes was the Editor. During this time, Mr. Yarborough came to Mountain City and began publishing another newspaper called The Mountain City News. This paper lasted a short time.

In 1915 E.E. Barry began publishing the newspaper. He purchased a linotype and more modern equipment to print the newspaper and called it The Johnson County News.

February 20, 1918, the Editor was E. E. Barry and the publisher was Wallace Berry.

In the early thirties, Joe MacKenzie began publishing the Mountain Herald. This paper only lasted a few months. N.D. Ward was regarded as one of the best typesetters in the business. He retired in March 1943.

After Barry’s death in 1943, his widow began publishing the newspaper but only lasted a couple of months until she sold to J.N. Blackburn.

In March 1943, Blackburn was the editor and published under The Johnson County News.

In June 1943, Blackburn was the editor, and D.M. Christy was the publisher. Blackburn then sold it to D.M. Spurgeon.

In September 1943, D.M. Spurgeon was listed as editor of the newspaper.

In November 1948, another newspaper was started by McQuown Wright called the Johnson County Bulletin, which grew from a small beginning to a full-fledged newspaper with a large subscription base.

In May 1951, Wright purchased the Johnson County News from Spurgeon and combined the two to form the Johnson County News–Bulletin and published by McQuown Wright Editor.

In July 1954, Johnson County Publishers and Spurgeon Just the Printer built a new building one block off South Church Street on Illinois Street near the back of the new tobacco market after a turn at the Dodge-Plymouth garage. Spurgeon repurchased the newspaper from Wright and began printing the paper as The Tomahawk.

R.D. Fritts purchased the paper from Spurgeon in 1959 and printed it in the same location. He then sold it to Derl H. McCloud.

McCloud moved the offices of The Tomahawk to its present location on South Church Street.

The locations where The Tomahawk was printed are as varied as the Owners/Editors and the Publishers.

Keyes published it on Main Street while Barry was next to the Grayson Hotel. He also had a location in his home off Butler Street.

It was also published in the basement of Blackburn’s Supermarket as well as the McDade building and at Silver Lake Store.

It has remained in its present location since 1972. Other businesses were located along South Church Street, but we will save that information for a later day.

Current Publisher of The Tomahawk Newspaper, Bill Thomas, left, is joined by his staff including Tamas Mondovics (Editor), David Holloway (Office Manager), Rick Wallace (Advertising Manager), Lewis Chapman (Graphics Designer), Chris Slay (Advertising Assistant). The small newsroom team is dedicated to carrying on the more than 147-year-long tradition of publishing truthful, reliable, and relevant local news to its readers.

The Tomahawk Newspaper on South Church Street in Mountain City, TN in March, 2020.