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A look at an old newspaper

One of the most requested topics for my column is how it used to be in Johnson County and Mountain City. Many older folks that I meet when I’m out and about like to discuss the way it was in Johnson County in their day. Being older myself I like to reminisce about Johnson County as it was during my growing up years.
Since I began writing this column in 2003, people have been very generous in giving me some of their old newspapers and magazines. I really appreciate it because those publications have a wealth of information about our great county and town that I have been blessed to pass along to the readers of my writing efforts.
While browsing through some old Tennessee Tomahawks recently, I found of interest some of the ads and stories that were featured. You may recall that the Tennessee Tomahawk was the second flag carried by the local newspaper (in newspaper talk the flag is the stylized signature of a newspaper that appears at the top of page one). The Tennessee Tomahawk was originally called the Taylorsville Reporter. Of course, that was when Mountain City was named Taylorsville. The name was changed to Mountain City in 1885.
Getting back to the Tennessee Tomahawk, subsequent names were Johnson County News, Johnson County News-Bulletin and finally The Tomahawk as it is named today. I consider it an honor to have been associated with The Tomahawk for almost 40 years — over 30 years in full time employment.
The Tennessee Tomahawk that I found most interesting was dated Thursday, April 13, 1905. That was quite a while ago. It was customary to have advertizing on the front page in that day. Consequently, there were several ads by lawyers, doctors, dentists, and others. One of the stories featured on the front page was about Theodore Roosevelt’s son, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., visiting White Top, Virginia. He, along with his cousins Monroe and Stuart Robinson, also visited Abingdon, Virginia. According to the story, the boys camped on White Top Mountain a few days to do some hunting and fishing. The article further says that President Roosevelt’s brother had lived in Abingdon but returned to New York before his death. Some other features of the paper that caught my eye included display ads as well as a few business card size ads on the front page. At the time of publication of that paper there was a drug store in Mountain City with the name Mountain City Pharmacy. The business had a two-column by 4¼-inch advertisement that proudly announced that it now had a new soda fountain. Further copy in the ad said, “The fountain that was selected for exclusive use at the World’s Fair, St. Louis, because of its absolute protection to health.” There was a three-column ad for Mountain City Clothing Company featuring ladies boots for $3.00 per pair. The brand name of the shoes and boots was American Lady Shoes.
Among the small ads were ones for, “Butler & Treadway, Physicians & Surgeons” with an office east of the courthouse; “T. R. Donnelly, D. D. S;” and “D. A. Swift, M. D., Physician and Surgeon, Mountain City, Tenn.;” Dr. Swift’s ad continues “Calls promptly attended. Office over McDade’s drugstore.”
So, it was very interesting to read advertisements and stories in that old newspaper. Just as in that time, business men and women today work to get the word out about their respective businesses in order to sell their products or services. Local newspaper advertising is an effective way to do that. The year 1905 was a long time ago, but The Tomahawk has continued to feature stories of interest to Johnson County citizens during all those years.