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More Mountain City History

While looking through some old Tomahawk newspapers recently, I came across an article dealing with Mountain City and some of its unique history. The late Tom Gentry, longtime Johnson County Historian, contributed the article. The headline was “Mountain City Celebrates Its 100th Birthday.” The date of the paper was July 16, 2003 and the 100-year mark was figured from the date of the first recorded town council meeting on January 29, 1903. According to the Tomahawk article, there was no indication that town council meetings were held nor minutes taken before that date. That first meeting of the Town of Mountain City was held at the law office of Donnelly, Butler & Donnelly with Mayor E. E. (Edward East) Butler presiding. Aldermen J. W. Wright, J. A. Wilson, R. A. Long and R. E. Donnelly also attended the meeting. Using the 1903 date, the town would be 109 years old this year.
If you consider the date the town’s name was changed from Taylorsville to Mountain City, the town is 127 this year. The name change was in 1885. I like to think of the age of the town from its beginning as Taylorsville in 1836. Using that date, the town is 176 years old. The town was purchased and laid out in 1836 and named Taylorsville to honor Col. James P. Taylor, a prominent Carter County citizen. Anyway, apparently the decision was made to celebrate Mountain City’s 100th year in 2003. As it turns out, when that issue of the Tomahawk was published, I had retired as the Tomahawk Sports Editor only a few days before.
Deed registered October 18, 1836 included the purchase of 25 and one half acres for the town of Taylorsville. The land for the town was bought from William P. Waugh by the public building commission consisting of Greene Moore, chairman, and commissioners John Ward, James Brown, James B. Morly (sic) and Ezekiel Smith. Of course the town has expanded a lot in the last several years. The town was laid out in lots and Andrew L. Wilson purchased lot number one for $116. That was no small sum of money in that day. According to the deed, the entire 25 and one half acres bought for the town site cost $2,000.
Gentry’s article chronicles some of the business conducted by the town council in 1903. In the original January 29, 1903 session R. N. Donnelly was elected Town Marshall at a salary of $27.50 per month. On January 31, Edgar E. Parry (age 27, Lawyer) was hired as city recorder at $50 per year. On February 4, the city council voted to check on the Recorder using the county sheriff’s office with upstairs being used for a calaboose (Jail). It is interesting to note that Charles R. Potter who investigated the Lilly Shaw murder was sheriff in 1903.
On February 1903, the City Recorder was told to start collecting privilege tax. Also in February 1903 J. A. Wilson and R. E. Donnelly were chosen to draw up the first city budget and set the tax rate. Noted in the August 31 and September 9, 1903 minutes was the hiring of Miss Pile for music class with salary not to exceed $30 per month. F. M. Vincil was hired as principal at the Masonic Institute. Dan Crosswhite was hired as janitor for $2 per month. The first school expenditures included two buckets, two dippers and two brooms.
Anyway, I found the business of the town council in the early 1900s to be interesting. I hope you have too.