31 May 2012

Chickamauga, Tennessee, a Short History

(Significant revision 17 May 2019)

For more than a century, the large area of Hamilton County which goes by the name of East Brainerd (as opposed to the smaller area formerly called Concord) went by the name of Chickamauga.  Even after this part of the county began dividing into smaller communities, as a whole it was called Chickamauga well into the 20th century.  The name Chickamauga dates from the Cherokee occupation of the area, though the word itself is not Cherokee. 

Though many others have speculated that the word “Chickamauga” (along with “Chattanooga”) is derived from one of the Muscogean languages, James Mooney stated in one of his reports to the Bureau of Ethnology that it is Shawnee.   After all, it was a delegation of Shawnee to the Cherokee who recommended the location to the militant Cherokee during the American Revolution in the first place.   That location is in the Whorley-Wrinkletown-Shepherd area from South Chickamauga Creek to the airport.

The former community of Chicamacomico in North Carolina and Chicamacomico Creek in Maryland were in areas inhabited by Indians speaking languages from the Algonquian family, to which Shawnee belongs.  There is another Chickamauga Creek on the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River in northeast Georgia.  In nearby Polk County, Tennessee, is a ford over the Hiwassee River called Savannah Ford, one of the names of the Shawnee.

Prehistoric period

Even though most people are more familiar with Cherokee occupation of the Hamilton County region because it continued well into written historical times, their residence was comparatively short and arrival very late.  For centuries, even millennia, the area was occupied by speakers of what became Muscogean (Creek) languages.

The first humans in East Brainerd proper of which there were any remains lived during the Woodland period (1000 BCE to 1000 CE).  Unlike the later Mississippian period, mound complexes during the Woodland period served strictly ceremonial purposes and were almost never inhabited.  Instead they were central to groups of hamlets and villages.  Hunting, gathering, and small-scale horticulture fed inhabitants.

In the East Brainerd-Graysville area, there was a ceremonial complex in the area where Council Fire was built with at least four sizable burial mounds, each at least twelve feet high, three on the former Blackwell farm and one on the adjacent former Julian farm.  The mounds were destroyed long before the subdivision and golf course were built.

Downstream, near the mouth of South Chickamauga Creek, was another Woodland period ceremonial complex, of which one remains, the Roxbury Mound.  A larger and much more significant Woodland mound complex lies on West Chickamauga Creek near the Crystal Springs in Chickamauga, Georgia. 

When archaeologist C.B. Moore published his study of Southeast archaeology in 1913, he counted over 300 such mounds in Hamilton County.  Only a handful remain.  Of the Woodland mound complex at the foot of Moccasin Bend, only the base of Pine Breeze Mound remains.

The Late Woodland period (500-1000) in Hamilton County was the most important phase of the Woodland period not only because that was its most populous phase, but because it developed its own cultural complex which spread to other regions in the Southeast.

A handful of sites in the eastern U.S. document the in-situ transition between the Woodland period and Mississippian periods.  The land where Heritage Landing now lies was one such site before construction of the townhouses there now.  Its former inhabitants most likely crossed the river and became the founders of the substantial site at Citico.

During the Mississippian period (900-1600 CE), the population grew exponentially largely due to advances in agriculture and introduction of maize.  Social structures became more complex and stratified.  Villages became towns which were palisaded. 

Burial mounds still existed but were less important, and were included inside towns.  The newer, larger platform mounds replaced them in importance and dominated each of the towns.  These were used for religious ceremonies with burials inside them only occasionally.  They within the palisade at the head of the town plaza.  Generally, there was one large platform mound per town, but some few had more than one, as was the case in the Chattanooga region at Hiwassee, Citico, and Long Island.

These towns with platform mounds were the dominant political entities of the Mississippian world.  Usually smaller villages and hamlets were subordinate to them, and they were governed by a highly-stratified upper class.  Chiefdoms were hereditary.  Groups of chiefdoms were in turn dominated by paramount chiefdoms, of which there were only a handful.  The middle phase in particular also saw the rise of the priestly class, with the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex spreading across the region from the Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico.

These features were true for the Early (900-1200) and Middle (1200-1400) phases of the Mississippian period. 

Important area towns in the Early and Middle Mississippian periods were at the Hiwassee Island, Sale Creek, Davis (half mile upstream from Harrison), Hixson (Chester Frost Park), Yarnell (later town of Harrison), Citico, Talimico (Williams Island), Sequatchie, and Long Island sites.  There may have also been a Middle Mississippian town at the David Davis site where the Vulcan Recreational Center and FedEx shipping center are now, which also contained evidence of extensive Woodland period occupation.

Of these, the Citico on the Tennessee-American Water Company property was by far the most important and longest lasting, physical and historical evidence demonstrating continued occupation at least thru the contact period.  There is no question among archaeologists that is was the dominant town politically and culturally in the region, maybe in all of East Tennessee and North Georgia, during its heyday. 

The Hiwassee  Island, Yarnell, and Talimico sites also show some evidence of continuing Late Mississippian habitation.

The Davis, Hixon, and Yarnell (or Dallas) sites demonstrate consecutive occupation, meaning the same group established Davis, moved across river to Hixon (coinciding with the rise of the paramount chiefdom at Etowah), then returned to the south side of the river to the Yarnell, or Dallas, site. 

Hiwassee Island shows continuous occupation from the earliest Woodland years to historic times.  Talimico on Williams Island was occupied during the Early and Middle Mississippian periods, the population then shifted largely to Hampton Place on Moccasin Bend, though a small contingent remained.

During the Middle Mississippian phase, the towns of North Georgia, Southeast and East Tennessee, and Northeast Alabama were dominated by the paramount chiefdom at the Etowah Mounds site.  De Soto’s chroniclers called the abandoned town of Talimachusi, its inhabitants, the Itawa, being much reduced and relocated several miles downriver.

With the collapse of Itawa, the town of Coosa rose up in its place to dominate the towns it formerly dominated.  Coosa was located at the Little Egypt site which the Cherokee had called Coosawattee, or Old Coosa Place.  It is now under Carter’s Lake.  In historical times, the Coosa, relocated to North Alabama, merged with the Abhika town of the Muscogee Confederacy.

In the Late Mississippian period (1400-1600), towns grew smaller, there was less to differentiate social classes, and platform mounds vanished entirely unless their original sites were still in use.

During this final phase of the Mississippian period, a sizable town occupied the west bank area of what is now Elise Chapin Wildlife Sanctuary at Audobon Acres.  Other town-sites in the area known to have been occupied at the time of contact were the then much-reduced town at Citico (a reoccupation rather than a continuation), the Hampton Place site on Moccasin Point, and the Talimico site of Williams Island.  In addition, another town lay at the David Davis site in the vicinity of the FedEx Freight complex on Shallowford Road, which archaeology demonstrates traded with Coosa but with none of its neighbors in the area.

From the chroniclers of the journeys into the interior of Tristan de Luna from what they called Ochuse (Pensacola) in 1559 and of Juan Pardo from Santa Elena (Parris Island) in 1567, we know which towns they were.  In De Luna’s expedition, the Spanish journeyed into the Hamilton County area as allies of the town of Coosa, the paramount chiefdom of Northwest Georgia-Southeast Tennessee-Northeast Alabama.  They and their Coosa allies came to put down a rebellion by the Napochi, who had stopped paying tribute.

When they came upon the town at the Audobon site,  it had just been abandoned, so they burned it.  The two groups chased the refugees to the town at Citico, where they and the inhabitants fled across the “big water” (Tennessee River) above Maclellan Island.  Once across, those in flight joined confederates from the Hampton Place town on the north bank.  In the end, the rebellious “Napochis” agreed to resume paying tribute and the conflict ended.

The Late Mississippian site at Hampton Place has produced more 16th century Spanish artifacts than the entire rest of the United States east of the Mississippi combined.

In Juan Pardo’s second expedition, while stopping on his way to Coosa from Satapo (on the Little Tennessee River), he is told that two days away is the town of Tasqui and beyond that Tasquiqui, and a town called Olitifar that had been burned.  

“Olitifar” can only be the Audobon site, and the name in the Spanish chronicles is almost certainly a corruption of the Muscogee Creek name Opelika, which was the post office in the vicinity of the later Graysville, Georgia, after the Cherokee Removal until 1849.  As in the case of Running Water, Tennessee (now Whiteside), Opelika had been the Cherokee name for their dispersed settlement in the East Brainerd-Graysville area.

De Luna’s expedition with the Coosa ended Late Mississippian occupation of Audobon and the later Chickamauga.  When Pardo’s expedition passed thru East Tennessee on its way to Coosa, Opelika clearly had not been reinhabited.  Large scale habitation in the did not reoccur in the Chickamauga-East Brainerd area until the American Revolution.

As for the Napochi, the French trader Charles Levasseur lists a town by that name among the Upper Creek in 1700, and there was also an Upper Creek town of Opelika.

Early historical period

At the beginning of the 1700s, the immediate region around Chattanooga-Hamilton County was largely deserted, except for its periphery.

To the northeast, the Cherokee who had previously inhabited only the towns of Great Tellico and Chatuga in the late 17th century had moved into the Little Tennessee Valley and along the middle Hiwassee River.  Nearly all the towns of the Late Mississippian period such as Coosa at Carter’s Lake in Murray County, Georgia, had been abandoned for a century as those peoples moved west and became the founder of the Muscogee Confederacy.

The Cisca (formerly of the Cumberland River and before that on the Choctawhatchee River), a band of Yuchi, occupied the town of Chestowee on the south bank of the lower Hiwassee River.  Smaller settlements sat at Euchee Old Fields in Rhea County and on Hiwassee Island at the confluence of the Hiwassee and Tennessee Rivers.  Contemporary maps call them Tongoria.

Those Tuskegee (Tasquiqui) who had not migrated northeast to join the Cherokee of the Overhill Towns on the Little Tennessee River lived on the island which later bore their name before it became Browns then Williams Island.  The Tali lived on Burns Island.

At some time between the journeys of Pardo and the 18th century, the Coushatta lived along the Tennessee River at Nickajack, which derives the Cherokee Ani-Kusati-yi, or Old Coushatta Place.  Several witnesses from the early 1700s place them at the head of Long Island, at the site of the former large town of the Middle phase of the Mississippian period.

When first encountered by Europeans (De Soto’s expedition), the Casqui dwelt in the lower Missouri Valley and were in constant warfare with the Pacaha.  By the French explorations of the Mississippi Valley in the late 1600s, the Casqui had crossed the bigger river to live at the mouth of the Tennessee River.   In the early 1700s, known then by the name Kaskinampo, they lived at the foot of Long Island and later merged with the Coushatta.

Driven south by the chaos of the Beaver Wars, the Chillicothe and Kispoko bands of Shawnee lived in the Cumberland Basin from the mid-1600’s.  However, a new influx of Shawnee from the Hathawekela band formerly on the Savannah River into the region in the late 17th-early 18th centuries threatened the balance of power.  The Chickasaw and Cherokee therefore joined forces to drive them out and had done so by 1729.

By agreement with the Cherokee, a group of Shawnee from the Pekowi band moved to the Cumberland Basin in 1746, but the Chickasaw drove them out by 1756.  This helped precipitate the Cherokee-Chickasaw War (1758-1769), which began during the French and Indian War (1754-1763), which in turn  included the Anglo-Cherokee War ( 1758-1761).  The Cherokee-Muscogee War (1753-1755) took place around the same time.

As a result of all these wars, the peoples living along the Tennessee River below Chattanooga fled to other parts.  The Tuskegee and the Tali joined the Muscogee Creek Confederacy and became part of the Upper Towns.  The Coushatta, who had by then absorbed their Kaskinampo neighbors, split, one part joining the Creek, another living in an independent town called Coosada at the later Larkin’s Landing south of Scottsboro, Alabama.

During the French and Indian War, a party of Upper Creek under Big Mortar had reoccupied the old town-site at Coosawattee in support of the pro-French among the Cherokee, but after the latter’s defeat in the Anglo-Cherokee War had abandoned it again.

Regarding the Yuchi in the lower Hiwassee Valley, they deserted their towns in 1714 after a war party of Cherokee from Great Hiwassee destroyed Chestowee.  The Cherokee did so at the instigation of two English traders named Long and Wiggan.  After intervention by South Carolina authorities, peace was almost immediately restored, but the survivng Yuchi moved south to live along the upper Chickamauga, Conasauga, and Pinelog Creeks.

In the meantime, the French were intent on pressing their claims to La Louisane against those of the Spanish to the northern regions of La Florida and the English to Carolana (as opposed to Carolina), the territory between the Carolinas and New Spain.  At the Great Salt Lick on the Cumberland River, they founded Fort Charleville in 1715, with a forward post on Long Island between the Coushatta and Kaskinampo.  These were abandoned at the end of the French and Indian War.

The Cherokee-American Wars, 1775-1795

The first engagements between Cherokee warriors and American rebels against the crown took place in December 1775.  Learning of an encampment of Loyalist militia deep within the territory of the Lower Towns of the Cherokee, Col. Richard Richardson of South Carolina sent 1300 Whig militia supported by Catawba scouts to root them out.  During this campaign, only the Catawba scouts engaged with Cherokee warriors.

In 1776, a delegation of northern Indians led by Cornstalk of the Shawnee (who by now had all gathered in the Ohio country) visited with the Cherokee in the Overhill Towns on the Little Tennessee River, convincing at least a part of them, mostly the younger warriors, to join the fight against the colonials.  The headman of Great Island Town, Dragging Canoe, led the warriors who answered their call.

Dragging Canoe and his warriors fought as allies of Great Britain as well as members of what later came to be the Western Confederacy.  The British war effort was aimed at keeping control of their colonies.  The nations of the Western Confederacy fought against encroachment by settlers extending or leaving the colonies.  The Cherokee’s foremost Indian allies were the Upper Muscogee and the Shawnee.

In their plan of attack, warriors from the Middle, Valley, and Out Towns of western North Carolina targeted the Carolinas and warriors from the Lower Towns in northwest South Carolina-northeast Georgia targeted those two colonies.  The chief targets of the warriors from the Overhill Towns were the settlements in the Districts of Washington (on the Watauga and Nolichucky Rivers) and Pendelton (North-of-Holston and Carter’s Valley). Because their plans were betrayed to the settlers by Nancy Ward, the attacks proved disastrous for the Cherokee.

In the aftermath of the debacle, the militant warriors and their families, not only from the Overhills but also from the Middle, Valley, Out, and Lower Towns made the decision to relocate.  The Lower Towns were evacuated entirely, their former inhabitants shifting west to North Georgia, where they founded new towns such as Conasauga, Ustanali, and Etowah.

The Chickamauga Towns

The region to which Dragging Canoe’s band relocated was chosen at  the suggestion of their Shawnee allies.  In all there were eleven “Chickamauga Towns” established in 1777.  John McDonald, assistant to Alexander Cameron, Britain’s Deputy Superintendent for Indian Affairs (Superintendent at the time was John Stuart), had already transferred to the area, where he ran a trading post and supply depot on the grounds that later became Brainerd Mission.  The post served as a relay station between the British West Florida capital at Pensacola and the interior.  Cameron came with the Cherokee.

Four of the new towns lay along Chickamauga River (South Chickamauga Creek), including the town of Chickamauga in the area of Brainerd Heights-Wrinkletown across the stream from McDonald’s commissary where a branch of the Great Indian Warpath crossed it.  Upriver were Opelika in the East Brainerd-Graysville area and Buffalo Town in the vicinity of Ringgold, Georgia.  Dowriver lay Toqua at its mouth on the Tennessee River.

The Great Indian Warpath was the chief north-south route travelled by Eastern Indians for centuries, from Mobile to Newfoundland.  Not a single trail but rather a network of trails, it entered the Chattanooga region from the west over the lap of Lookout Mountain.  Once in Chattanooga Valley, it continued to the Mississippian period (900-1600) site at the mouth of Citico Creek, where it split, the northern branch along what became Chattanooga-Cleveland Pike (later Bonny Oaks Drive) heading toward Dead Man’s (Julian) Gap past Ooltewah.

The southern branch headed across the valley, ascending the west side of Missionary Ridge, where it forked again.   One fork went to the Shallow Ford (at Lakewood Memorial Gardens East), rejoining the first northern route about where Jersey Pike intersects with Bonny Oaks Drive.  The other fork followed the later Bird’s Mill/Brainerd Road until fording South Chickamauga Creek where Bird had his Mill.  Once across the Chickamauga, it kept to the route now followed by Chickamauga and Airport Roads until intersecting with the trail from the Shallow Ford.

The Cherokee  also occupied the prehistoric sites at the mouth of Citico Creek and on Tuskegee (Williams) Island, Black Fox (in Bradley County), Ooltewah, Sawtee (on North Chickamauga, or Laurel, Creek), Chatanuga (St. Elmo), and Cayuga (on Hiwassee Island).

Along with Great Tellico and Chatuga, the towns along the Hiwassee unanimously supported the dissidents.  Some of the Hiwassee people occupied the Coosawattee town-site as a base along with other Cherokee.

Later referred to as Old Chickamauga Town, the chief town’s headman was Big Fool, though Dragging Canoe made his headquarters there.  Because of this, the entire surrounding region became known as Chickamauga, and the militant Cherokee often referred to as Chickamaugas, though they were never at any time a separate tribe.  The Chickamauga Towns were nothing more than another group of Cherokee towns like the Overhills, Middle, and Valley Towns.

In 1779, while Dragging Canoe and McDonald were leading the Cherokee and 50 Loyalist Rangers in attacks on South Carolina and Georgia, militia from the Upper East Tennessee settlements led by Evan Shelby and John Montgomery attacked the area.  They burned all eleven towns and McDonald’s depot, destroyed much of their food stores, and confiscated what they could carry.

After they were finished, they crossed the Tennessee River and marched north until the trail crossed a large creek.  Here, they camped to divide the goods, putting the most prized up for auction.  And that’s how Sale Creek got its name.

The returning warriors and their families quickly rebuilt their towns and they exchanged with their Shawnee allies contingents of 100 warriors each as a sign of faith.

In 1782, an expedition of frontiersmen under John Sevier destroyed all the Chickamauga towns east of South Chickamauga Creek south to Ustanali.  However, all the towns were completely deserted because the militant Cherokee had already transferred to new homes.  The area remained devoid of permanent habitation until the end of the wars.

It’s important to note that the expedition never crossed South Chickamauga Creek and that there was no “Last Battle of the Revolution” on the slopes of Lookout Mountain.  That idea was ridiculed at the time it first surfaced by no less than President Theodore Roosevelt and came out of a real estate development scheme.  Such a skirmish did, in fact, take place, but later in 1788 rather than 1782, and it was the frontiersmen who were routed rather than the Cherokee.

The Five Lower Towns

The area to which the Cherokee relocated soon became known as the Five Lower Towns, because initially there were five, though later there were many more.  The initial five included Running Water (at the modern Whiteside), Nickajack, Stecoyee (at Trenton, Georgia), Long Island, and Crow Town at the mouth of Crow Creek on the Tennessee. 

Some of the later Lower Towns were Willstown (near Ft. Payne, Alabama), Turkeytown (near Centre, Alabama), Creek Path (near Guntersville, Alabama), Turnip Town (7 miles from Rome, Georgia), and Chatuga (at the site of Rome).

As his headquarters, Dragging Canoe chose Running Water.  Its headman was Bloody Fellow, who was later succeeded by Turtle-at-Home, Dragging Canoe’s brother.  Cameron and McDonald, now Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent, also made Running Water their base of operations.  Not long after their move, their frontier antagonists began referring to them as the Lower Cherokee rather than as Chickamaugas. 

After the Treaty of Paris in 1783, McDonald, by then Superintendent, relocated his own base of operations to Turkeytown to be closer to his newly-acquired Spanish supply lines to Pensacola.  Spain still had ambitions on inland La Florida.

Dragging Canoe died in 1792, and John Watts succeeded him as leader of the Lower Cherokee, moving his base to Willstown.  The Nickajack Expedition in September 1794, led by James Robertson and composed of U.S. Army regulars, Mero District (Middle Tennessee) militia, and Kentucky volunteers, became a massacre which forced an end to the Chickamauga Wars with the Treaty of Tellico Blockhouse in November.

Cherokee Nation East

In the years after the wars, the Cherokee were once again divided into five groups of towns: the Lower Towns, with their seat at Willstown; the Upper Towns, with their seat at Ustanali; the Overhills, with their seat at Chota; the Hill Towns, with their seat at Qualla; and the Valley Towns, with their seat at Tuskquitee.  True, there was a National Council that met regularly at Ustanali, but the real power was in the regional councils until 1809.

The former Chickamauga towns were quickly reinhabited after the wars, including Toqua, Opelika, and, of course, Chickamauga, which was the most important.  These reoccupied settlements were grouped among the Lower Towns of the Cherokee.  Tuskegee moved from the island into what is now Wauhatchie, Tiftonia, or Lookout Valley.

A Cherokee named John Jolly was headman of Cayuga town on Hiwassee Island, which was called Jolly’s Island for decades after the Cherokee Removal.  His adopted son Sam Houston lived there for a time.

Several notable Cherokee made their homes in the East Brainerd-Graysville area, among them one of the Fields brothers and Alexander McCoy, secretary of the National Committee.  The farms were strung out mostly along Mackey Branch, which they called Tsula Creek.

The Cherokee who lived there called their strung-out settlement Opelika, after the town which stood at the Elise Chapin Wildlife Sanctuary at Audobon Acres site until burned by Juan Pardo’s Spanish troops and their Coosa allies in 1560.  The settlement included a stick-ball court where Heritage Park is now.

Besides Chickamauga and Opelika, there was another settlement along Hurricane Creek in the Parker’s Gap and Rabbit Valley neighborhood.

In 1805, the federal government built a road from Athens, Georgia, to Nashville, Tennessee that passed through Ross Gap north into Chattanooga Valley.  John McDonald, who had returned to his former trading post to operate a farm, built a house and trading post in the gap and made his residence there.  His house still exists, mistakenly called the Chief John Ross House.  In fact, John Ross never lived there.

Coming south from Old Washington in Rhea County, the post road from Knoxville crossed at Vann’s Ferry, between the later Dallas and what would become Harrison.  From Harrison, it followed Hickory Valley Road south until reaching the later point where Altamede later was built, then crossed from the west side of the valley to the east.  From there, it followed Concord Road to the South Chickamauga, crossing at Lomenick’s Ferry.  On the other side, it followed the route of Frawley and Scruggs Roads until connecting to the Federal Road.

The regional councils were abolished in 1809 and the National Council given real authority as the national government of the Cherokee.  The office of Principal Chief likewise gained more authority and recognition.

In 1817, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions had established a mission on McDonald’s farm on the South Chickamauga.  The mission included a school for both male and female students, a grist mill somewhat upstream, and a church officially called the Church of Christ at Chickamauga, while the facility as a whole was called Brainerd Mission. 

The road from Ross’ Landing on the Tennessee to the new mission became known as Brainerd’s Road, and from there following what is now East Brainerd Road and Graysville Pike down to what was then the Federal Road (now US 41).

Hamilton County was formed out of Rhea County in 1819, comprised of the modern county north of the Tennessee.  Its seat was the town of Dallas, which lay where Chester Frost Park is now, at the point where the post road from Old Washington in Rhea crossed at Vann’s Ferry.

Real governmental reform came to the Cherokee Nation in 1820, with the establishment of a bicameral legislature, with a National Committee as the upper house and the National Council as the lower house.  In addition, the Cherokee Nation was divided up into eight judicial and legislative districts.  Most importantly, government was centered at a new capital named New Echota, freshly built upon the former town of Conasauga in the Calhoun, Georgia area.

Everything in the counties of Hamilton and Marion Counties south of the Tennessee River and Ooltewah Creek, most of Northwest Georgia, and a tip of Northeast Alabama east of the Tennessee fell into the Chickamauga District, including the last capital of the Cherokee Nation East at Red Clay.  Its seat was not, as one might think, at the town of Chickamauga, but at Crawfish Springs, where the Georgia town of Chickamauga has been since 1891.  Each district had its own judge and court and its own legislative delegation.

The judge for the Chickamauga District was John Brown, owner of Brown’s Tavern, Brown’s Ferry, and Brown’s Landing (some distance upriver from the ferry).  Judge Brown owned most of Moccasin Point as well as Tuskegee Island, which came to be called Brown’s Island.  After the treaty of 1819 which ceded the land north of the Tennessee River upon which Hamilton County was founded, Brown maintained a 640-acre reserve on Moccasin Point which he later sold to Ephraim Hixon.

Judge Brown became one of the Old Settlers in the 1820s, those Cherokee who voluntarily removed westward long before forced removal became a question.  In 1839, he served for a few months as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation West.

The first post office in the region, even before Hamilton County (created in 1819 out of Rhea County and at the time comprised only the territory north of the river) had one, was called Rossville in 1927.  It ran out of John McDonald’s trading post along the Federal Road, with Joseph Coody as postmaster, then Nicholas Scales, before it transferred to the mission and became Brainerd.  That post office ceased existence in 1838 when the U.S. Army began rounding up Cherokee for removal and the mission closed.

 Without getting into the politics of it, there were two concentration camps in Hamilton County for Cherokee awaiting Removal.  The largest was near Ross’ Landing and was called Camp Cherokee; it was located where the current Scrappy Moore Field and Manker-Patten Tennis Courts are now.  The other was Camp Clanewaugh at Indian Springs (at Parkwood Nursing Home).  The soldiers were housed at Fort Wood, located where the school building now housing Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences is.

Between the Cherokee Removal and the War

After the Removal was complete, people hungry for land poured across the Tennessee River to lay claim to plots in what surveyors called the Ocoee District.  This included everything in Bradley and Polk Counties, and Hamilton and Marion Counties south of the river.

The seat of Hamilton County moved from Dallas north of the river to Vannsville south of it in 1839, which became Harrison in 1840.

Soon after frontierspeople or less adventurous settlers moved into a new area, they often continued referring to it by the names its previous inhabitants had used, such as Opelika for the later Graysville, Georgia, and Running Water for the later Whiteside.  Chattanooga derived from the name of a Cherokee settlement in the Saint Elmo area.

The name Chickamauga disappeared from Georgia when citizens of that state began pouring lands distributed by the Georgia Lottery.  However, when the citizens of Walker County first met they did so in the former courthouse of the Chickamauga District, before the county seat was moved to the city of Lafayette.

Though it disappeared entirely from Georgia, the new incomers in Tennessee applied the name Chickamauga to churches, post offices, and communities due to the prestige of those who carried out the Cherokee resistance.  This began even before the Removal when Ephraim Hixon supervised a post office north of the Tennessee called North Chickamauga in the early 1830’s.

When people began to settle in what had been Old Chickamauga Town, the community there came to be known as Vinegar Hill.

Downstream, at the mouth of Chickamauga River/South Chickamauga Creek on the Tennessee River, the land east and south the confluence of the two rivers for an undefined distance took on the name Toqua.  It was so named after the Cherokee settlement there before the Removal, which itself occupied the site of the Dragging Canoe era town of the same name.  John D. King, brother-in-law to Thomas Crutchfield, owner of Amnicola on the left side of Chickamauga River, also called his home and farm by the name.  The name stuck until 1884, when it was taken over by King’s Point.

Unquestionably, the greatest landowner in Hamilton County east of South Chickamauga Creek was Col. Lewis Shepherd, who built a mansion he named Altamede on the west side of Hickory Valley and owned 6400 adjacent acres plus numerous detached plots.  Altamede stood inside the circle formed by Dupree Road and Mary Dupree Drive until 1977.  Col. Shepherd chose the point at which the post road, later stage road, turned to cross the valley, establishing a post office called Hickory Valley there in 1840.

The first Baptist Church in Hamilton County was founded in April 1838 called Good Springs Baptist after the Silverdale Springs.  It was established on land donated by Col. Shepherd across the main road from what later became the village of Tyner.

Some five months later, a second Baptist Church was founded, next to Taliaferro Spring near what became Kings Point, and named Chickamauga Baptist.

At the afore-mentioned Silverdale Springs was a campground shared by both Cumberland Presbyterians and Methodists was called Cumberland Camp Ground at least through the Civil War.  In 1839, the first group organized Chickamauga Cumberland Presbyterian.  Five years later, the Methodists built House’s Chapel at the campgrounds.

Though his main residence was in McLemore’s Cove in Walker County, Georgia, Philemon Bird bought the old mission and all its “improvements”, including the Missionary Mill, which was on West Chickamauga Creek.  The grounds of the mission became a farm, while Bird constructed a larger mill on South Chickamauga Creek closer to the main road, which now became known as Bird’s Mill Road.  In addition to being renamed, the road extended further eastward well into the heart of Concord community.

The richest man in the Concord community after Col. Shepherd was Anderson S. Wilkins, whose mansion stood where the I-75/East Brainerd Road cloverleaf is now. 

According church records, unorganized Baptists began meeting in a small log cabin in 1838 which doubled as a school house.  In 1848, they formally organized as the Baptist Church of Christ at Concord and moved into their new building on land donated by Mr. Wilkins.  The church and Concord School continued until 1863.

Before the War, there was another establishment in Concord of the type euphemistically called a meeting house, at approximately the spot where East Brainerd Church of Christ now stands.  In reality, it was a tavern, but more like a community pub than a dive.

In the Opelika community, which straddled the state-line, Methodists had been meeting periodically since William Blackwell made his home in 1832 at what is now Council Fire subdivision and golf course.  In 1849, his son Lyndsey, whose house stood at what is now the corner of Julian and Davidson Roads, donated a parcel of land upon which to build a church, which became Blackwell’s Chapel Methodist.

The same year, Opelika became the home of one of the most important industrialists in its history, as well as that of city of Chattanooga, the state of Georgia, and the railroad industry in the South.  By 1849, John D. Gray’s company had built or been involved in nearly all of the railroads built in Georgia.  He moved his family to Opelika while he was building the section of the Western & Atlantic Railroad between Dalton and Chattanooga, even before his company had started the tunnel through Cheetoogeta Mountain.

Naturally, the stop at Opelika was named Graysville, which became the name of its post office as well as of the company town which Gray proceeded to build.  Gray Mining and Manufacturing eventually operated a lime mine and kiln, a furniture factory, a barrel factory, and a gristmill. In 1850, the tunnel through Cheetoogeta Mountain was completed, as well as the rail line to the city of Chattanooga. 

The first station in Hamilton County on the line coming from Graysville, Georgia, was built in an area known to residents as Pull Tight.  At first, the depot and its post office were named Finley, after the former owner of the land on which it was built.  In honor of local history, however, the stop soon adopted the name Chickamauga. 

In the meantime, the community of Poe’s Crossroads (now Daisy) on the right/north side of Tennessee River voted to adopt the name Chickamauga that same year.

A village quickly grew up around Chickamauga Depot, and by the Civil War it contained the Finley General Store, Ellis Bros. General Store, a grocery, and a saloon.  The post office contributed to use of the name Chickamauga for the local area well into the 20th century.

The W&A line into Chattanooga crossed the South Chickamauga beyond Chickamauga Station, and the point on the west bank at which it crossed the Harrison Turnpike became home to  Boyce Station.  A thriving village whose industries relied on water power soon sprang up.

The point at which Bird’s Mill Road crossed the tracks of the Western & Atlantic Railroad in Vinegar Hill came to be known as Ellis’ Crossing, a name locals used interchangeably with the former for the local community into the late 19th century,

One of the early leaders of Hamilton County after its organization in 1819 was Samuel T. Igou, who among other enterprises owned a ferry across the Tennessee.  After the Removal, he made his home in Rabbit Valley at the foot of Whiteoak Ridge near Igou Gap, the next gap north of Parker’s Gap.  In 1851, local inhabitants founded West View Cumberland Presbyterian upon land that Igou donated, naming their church after his large farm.  They had previously been holding meetings at Chickamauga Campground, which later became Ryall Springs.

Henry Massengale donated a plot of land in the village of Boyce on the west bank of the South Chickamauga to Chickamauga Baptist Church in 1856.  The church was across the turnpike from the station, between the railroad and the creek.

John D. Gray finished construction of the Chattanooga-Cleveland link (officially called the Chattanooga Extension Railroad) to the East Tennessee & Georgia Railroad in 1858.  The station in the community of Good Spring took the name Tyner after the railroad engineer who built it.  At the time the war broke out, Tyner was also home to Varnell General Store, Rawlings General Store, Springfield Bros. Grocery, and a saloon.

Gray’s plans for the Harrison-Lafayette Railroad were interrupted, permanently it turned out, by the advent of the Civil War, robbing Concord community of the Johnson whistle-stop which had been planned for it (though it did serve the U.S. Military Railroad during the war).  Gray was also instrumental, by the way, in construction of the Nashville & Chattanooga, Memphis & Charleston, and Wills Valley Railroads into Chattanooga.

The War of the Rebellion

In this section, keep in mind that the Army of Tennessee named for the state is Confederate, while the Army of the Tennessee named for the river is Union.

Men of the Fifth District of Hamilton County, which then covered Chickamauga, Tyner, and Concord, made up significant parts of five Confederate units and one Union unit.

PACS = Provisional Army of the Confederate States
ACSA = Army of the Confederate States of America
PAT = Provisional Army of Tennessee

Confederate

Bird Rangers, Tennessee Cavalry organized under Capt. John F. White at Knoxville on 24 August 1861, with men from the Fifteenth Civil District of Hamilton County (southeast corner, east of Ooltewah Creek), Tennessee, North Georgia, and North Alabama. 

On 7 January 1862, it became Co. F, (Roger’s) 1st Tennessee Cavalry, PACS.  On 12 August 1862, it became Co. A, 13th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion, PACS.  On 16 December 1862, it became Co. A, (McKenzie’s) 5th Tennessee Cavalry, PACS. 

On 9 April 1865, the regiment was with Hampton’s Cavalry Command, but surrendered with the Army of Tennessee as part of Wheeler’s Cavalry Corps at Durham Station, North Carolina, on 26 April 1865.

Co. H, 1st East Tennessee Rifles, PAT, organized under Capt. Isaac B. Nichols in Hamilton Co. Tennessee, in August or September 1861 with men from the Fifth and Fifteenth Civil Districts (southeast corner, Concord, Chickamauga, Tyner, Zion Hill) and from North Georgia. 

On 26 October 1861, it was redesignated Co. H, 7th Tennessee Infantry as part of a temporary brigade under Brig. Gen. William H. Carroll, the regiment’s former commanding officer.  In December 1861, the unit’s designation was changed to Co. H, 37th Tennessee Infantry, PACS.  On 9 June 1863, the 37th Tennessee Infantry consolidated with the 15th Tennessee Infantry as the 15th/37th Tennessee Infantry.  On 28 September 1864, the 15th/37th Tennessee Infantry was consolidated with other regiments as the 2nd/10th/15th/20th/30th/37th Tennessee Infantry. 

At the end of the war, the unit was part of the 4th Consolidated Tennessee Infantry (2nd, 3rd, 10th, 15th, 18th, 20th, 26th, 30th, 32nd, 37th, 45th regiments), which surrendered under Lt. Alexander P. Stewart at Durham Station, North Carolina, 26 April 1865.

Tyner’s Company, Tennessee Cavalry organized at Tyner under Capt. John S. Tyner with men from Tyner, Harrison, and Ooltewah in Hamilton County, Tennessee. 

On 1 April 1862, the company joined with three other Tennessee companies, two Alabama companies, and Major Henry Clay King’s Kentucky Cavalry Battalion as the (2nd) Co. K, 1st Confederate Cavalry, ACSA (also known as 12th Confederate Cavalry) organized at Spring Creek, Madison County, Tennessee.  Ultimately it became part of Wheeler’s Cavalry Corps, then was detached from the regiment as Tyner’s Company of Sappers and Miners. 

The company later transferred to Forrest’s Cavalry Corps, PACS, and surrendered under Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest at Gainesville, Alabama, 9 May 1865.

Lookout Battery,  Tennessee Light Artillery, also known as Barry’s Company, organized under Capt. Robert L. Barry at Chattanooga on 15 May 1862 with men from Hamilton Co., Tennessee.  Attached to several brigades and sometimes operating independently, on 12 June 1864, it became part of Myrick’s Artillery Battalion. 

It surrendered under Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor as part of his Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana on 4 May 1865.

Osborne’s Scouts organized under Capt. Thomas Osborne in what was then the Fifth Civil District, Hamilton Co., Tennessee (Spring Creek, Concord, Vinegar Hill, Chickamauga, Tyner), in 1863.  The unit operated in the Appalachian Mountains under the Department of East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and Western North Carolina. 

Their staunchest foe was the 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry, USA, commanded by Col. George Kirk made up of western North Carolinians, East Tennesseans, and 25-30 Cherokee Indians from the Eastern Band, probably from Cheoah Town. 

When Osborne was killed in June 1864 during a raid by Kirk’s 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry, the unit became known as Jenkins’ Scouts after its new leader, Capt. Lafayette Jenkins, operating into the spring of 1865.  Jenkins’ Scouts surrendered under Gen. Joe Johnston as part of the Division of the West.

Union

Co. C, 5th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, USA, organized under Capt. Charles McCaleb at Harrison, Hamilton Co., Tennessee on 25 February 1862 with Unionists from all over the county but mostly from its southeast regions, Harrison, Tyner, Chickamauga, Concord, Zion Hill, and Ooltewah.  It mustered into service 28 March 1862 and mustered out 4 April 1865.

The Chattanooga Campaign

This series of actions began with the shelling of Chattanooga on 21 August 1863 and ended with the Battle of Ringgold Gap on 27 November 1863, and included the two biggest and bloodiest engagements of the Western Theater, the Battle of the Chickamauga (Battle of Mud Flats to the Confedrates) and the Battle of Chattanooga.

The War effected the Chickamauga, Tennessee community only indirectly before 1863, at least in terms of destruction from combat.  Both railroad bridges over the South Chickamauga (of the Western & Atlantic and the East Tennessee & Georgia Railroads) were burned in November 1861, and a Confederate guerrilla group first known as Osborne’s Scouts and later as Jenkins’ Scouts operated in the general area through at least part of the war.

The first two redoubts guarded Tyner Station, the second two Chickamauga Station, which was also protected by another redoubt on the hill to the north of it.  In addition, one of the brigades of Cleburne’s Division built the redoubt guarding the county seat of Harrison.

Silverdale Confederate Cemetery contains the graves of around 155 soldiers who died in field hospitals in the area while the (Confederate) Army of the Mississippi stayed in the area 23 July-28 August 1862.

In the summer of 1863, the Army of Tennessee (redesignated from the Army of the Mississippi) stayed in the area from 4 July to 9 September. During this time, Maj. Gen. Pat Cleburne’s Division built a number of redoubts in the area, one of which still stands in the former village of Tyner.  Three others formerly stood on Tyner Hill where the middle school is now, on Stein Hill exactly where the water tower stands, and on Dupree Hill where Grace Works Church is now.

Meanwhile, Forrest’s Cavalry Corps was headquartered at Bird’s Mill.

It was during this time that Cleburne and several others met at Gray’s Mill to form the fraternal Comrades of the Southern Cross.  This order became the forerunner of the United Confederate Veterans, parent of the later Sons of Confederate Veterans.

When Union general Wilder’s forces began shelling Chattanooga 21 August 1863 and attacking isolated landings and hamlets from Dallas to Old Washington in Rhea County, Bragg sent Cleburne’s Division to cover all the fords and ferries on the Tennessee River from the mouth of South Chickamauga to the Hiwassee River.

To help the beleaguered Army of Tennessee, Joe Johnston, general commanding of the Department of the West, sent two divisions to supplement its forces.  Walker’s Division arrived 27 August and was sent to Chickamauga Station.  Breckenridge’s Division arrived 2 September and was sent to Tyner’s Station.

In the retreat of the Army of Tennessee from the area on 7 September, Bragg sent the army’s newly created Reserve Corps, William Walker commanding, and Buckner’s Corps down the road to Ringgold via Graysville, right through the heart of the modern East Brainerd.

Highlighting the extent to which the name Chickamauga had disappeared from Georgia, the Confederates called the engagement which took place near Crawfish Springs in 1863 the Battle of Mud Flats, following their habit of naming battles by the nearest community.  The Union, on the other hand, tended to name battles after nearby streams and called it the Battle of the Chickamauga, referring to West Chickamauga Creek.

During the siege of the Army of the Cumberland by the Army of Tennessee between the Battles of Mud Flats (of the Chickamauga) and of Chattanooga, the single-most important supply station for the Confederates was at Chickamauga Station.  Tyner Station served primarily as a departure point for troops joining the siege of the Army of the Ohio at Knoxville.

What most people don’t know about the action on 25 November 1863 is that the charge by the Army of the Cumberland which drove the Army of Tennessee from Missionary Ridge was supposed to be a feint.  It was intended to relieve Sherman’s augmented 15th Corps of the Army of the Tennessee, which had been repeatedly driven back by Cleburne’s Division at the north end of the ridge called Tunnel Hill.  To the end of the war, Cleburne’s “Blue Flag Division” carried a banner with “Tunnel Hill, Tn.” as one of its victories.

The first post-Missionary Ridge engagement occurred that evening, between forward elements of
Philip Sheridan’s 2nd Division of the 4th Corps of the Army of the Cumberland and unknown elements of the Army of Tennessee, including artillery. 

After leaving the ridge, Sheridan’s division followed the trail over the ridge well past nightfall.  In that time, Bird’s Mill Road followed Talley Road until it veered north, then ran down what is now Old Mission Road (referring to the former Brainerd Mission).  At the point where the road ran over Gillespie Hill in the Sunnyside area of Brainerd, Confederates from the rearguard had set up a number of cannon and a line of infantry, which slowed Sheridan’s pursuit enough that he and his division had to stop for the night at Bird’s Mill and the old mission.

* * * * *

The next day, 26 November 1863, was by coincidence the first national Thanksgiving Day of those institutionalized to be celebrated annually on the last Thursday (fourth Thursday of November since FDR) of November.  Its institution as a national holiday superceded Evacuation Day on 25 November, the commemoration of the day in 1783 when the British army pulled out of New York City and Washington led the Continental Army into it.

The vanguard of the Union pursuit was Brig. Gen. Jefferson C. Davis’ 2nd Division of the 12th Corps of the Army of the Cumberland.  Behind him came the 11th Corps of the Army of the Cumberland under Maj. Gen. Oliver Howard (for whom Howard High School and Howard Elementary are named).  When he learned from scouts the troops of the Confederate reaguard were the Kentuckians of Lewis’ Brigade, Davis made his 1st Brigade under James D. Morgan, also Kentuckians, the forward element of his division.

The first encounter between the two opposing units of Kentuckians took place at a hill north of Chickamauga Station, the same which Polk’s Brigade of Cleburne’s Division had held the day before guarding the rear.  After a brief skirmish, the Confederate Kentuckians withdrew to Chickamauga Station, where soldiers of Maney’s and Gist’s Brigade were vainly attempting to burn everything while stuffing as much food as they could wherever they could.

When Morgan’s Brigade reached the outskirts of Chickamauga around high noon, the Orphan Brigade covered the withdrawal of their comrades in the second encounter of the day.  Once Maney’s and Gist’s Brigades were gone, the Orphans withdrew to Milliken Ridge.

On two knobs on Milliken Ridge, Dupree Hill to the north and Stein Hill on the south, soldiers of Cleburne’s Division had built two redoubts overlooking the station that summer .  Here, the Orphans made their third stand against their fellow Kentuckians, then withdrew.

The fourth and final stand of the Orphan Brigade that day took place in Hickory Valley, which at that point ran between Milliken Ridge on the west and Concord Ridge to the east.  In this, the Orphans held postions on the ridgeside while Morgan’s troops dug in along Hickory Creek, which the Union commanders dubbed Shepherd’s Run.  Margaret Shepherd, widow of Col. Lewis Shepherd and mother of late Judge Lewish Shepherd, came out from Altamede (the Shepherd mansion patterned after James Vann’s Diamond Hill) to scold the Union soldiers for ruining her flowerbeds.  When the Orphans withdrew again, probably along Igou Road, Davis gave the soldiers of Morgan’s Brigade a break.

* * * * *

While this was going on, Howard moved his corps to the left of Davis’ division to sweep wide and prevent straggling Confederates from escaping.  To cover his own left flank, Howard used the 55th Ohio Volunteers (2nd Brigade, 2nd Division) under Capt. Charles B. Gambee.  Gambee and his troops encountered the Orphan Brigade’s 4th Kentucky Infantry under Col. Thomas Thompson at Tyner’s Station.  After a brief encounter from which their opponents swiftly withdrew, the 55th Ohio captured a 1st lieutenant, four privates, and two teamsters.  Howard then moved the corps south down the valley roughly along what’s now known as Silverdale and Gunbarrel Roads.

* * * * *

The largest engagement of the day, and one which could definitely be called a proper battle, due to the number of soldiers involved, took place in Concord, or East Brainerd proper.  From the descriptions in various letters and reports of the commanders, this battle can only have taken place east of Concord Ridge, near Mackey Branch.  Sam Watkins of “Co. Aytch” in Maney’s Brigade refers to the stream as Cat Creek while the Union officers called it Shepherd’s Run under the mistaken impression it was the same as Hickory Creek. 

Several references to the encounter’s proximity to Graysville, Georgia (“about a mile”) leave no other option.  The Union Army Cyclopedia of Battles, in fact, gives its location as Graysville, but it was clearly a bit north of there.

Facing their opponents across the creek and fields from a stretch of woods in hastily built rifle pits and breastworks, Maney’s Brigade lined up in what they thought was going to be a suicidal last stand facing Davis’ division.  At the last moment before the battle, units of Grigsby’s Brigade (its three Kentucky regiments) appeared, and settled down to fight alongside Maney’s troops dismounted.  They were supported by one of the Mississippi field artillery units, most likely (by process of elimination) Stanford’s Mississippi Battery.

Seeing the opposition, Davis sent forward his 2nd and 3rd Brigades under Brig. Gen. John Beatty and Col. Daniel McCook respectively.  Supporting them from Concord Ridge were guns from Battery I of the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery.  Davis kept Morgan’s Kentuckians in reserve.  After the engagement had begun, Howard’s 11th Corps arrived from the north.  Howard sent his 2nd Division under Brig. Gen. Adolph Steinwehr to Davis’ right and put his 3rd Division under Maj. Gen. Carl Schurz in reserve.

The fight lasted but an hour as darkness was falling, and at dusk the Confederates gratefully withdrew.  Brig. Gen. Maney was severely wounded in this encounter and remained out of action until returning to command a division under Hardee during the Atlanta Campaign.

The next day, of course, Bragg’s army retreated to Dalton through Taylor’s Gap, with Cleburne’s Division successfully holding the narrow passage against those of Hooker’s Corps.

* * * * *

That winter, the Army of the Cumberland wintered in and around Chattanooga, including the eastern Chickamauga Valley.  Several churches found themselves appropriated as hospitals, including Concord Baptist and Cumberland Baptist, both subsequently burned.  In Concord, many of the Union dead were buried in what was then Wells Gray’s front yard, right about the spot where the Kimsey house now stands.

The forward base camp of the Department of the Cumberland remained in Chattanooga through 1866, first as the Post of Chattanooga, then as the District of the Etowah, and finally as the District of East Tennessee.

As part of its improvements and upgrades, the Pioneer Brigade, the Cumberland’s combat engineers, constructed a junction of the East Tennessee & Georgia Railroad with the Western & Atlantic Railroad just west of where the two crossed the South Chickamauga Creek.  From thence, when heading west, trains went through the Missionary Ridge Tunnel going into the town of Chattanooga.  Its builders named it Chickamauga Junction.

As part of the defenses of the railroads, particularly the bridges, several blockhouses were contructed on the Chattanooga to Nashville line and the Chattanooga to Cleveland line.

Post-war developments

Like everywhere that the war had touched, the Hamilton County area needed time to recover, and Chickamauga, Tennessee was no exception.

Since the post office of the southern Chickamauga had been discontinued with Union occupation, the residents of the Chickamauga community in the north (the former Poe’s Crossroads) had adopted the name Chickamauga for their new post office in 1866.

In 1867, a new church had been built in the village (as opposed to the wider community) of Chickamauga called Chickamauga Chapel Baptist.  Since the name Chickamauga was already taken, the post office at this location, revived this same year, became Chickamauga Station.

Concord and Chickamauga Baptist Churches were rebuilt in 1869, the first in its former location and the second back on the east side of the South Chickamauga at Thrower Springs, in the neighborhood then called Flint Hill.  Concord School resumed sessions the same  year.

The formerly thriving community of Boyce had been entirely destroyed by the war.  Its station was rebuilt five miles closer to Chattanooga, and the community that grew up around it at first incorporated as Boyce, later becoming the town of East Chattanooga.  At the site of Old Boyce, the Western & Atlantic built a depot named Kings Bridge in the later 19th century, around which a tin community grew.

In 1871, greater Chickamauga, Tennessee became the easternmost section of Hamilton County when everything to the east seceded (legally) as James County.  The new county line fell just west of Summit and at the state-line came to Blackwell’s Ford just west of Graysville, Georgia, which gave it a sliver of Concord.

The previous year the county seat had been moved from Harrison to Chattanooga, and the former seat went with the new county hoping to retain its status.  Unfortunately for that town, the citizens of James County chose the town of Ooltewah as its seat.

Also in 1871, Afro-American children in the greater Chickamauga community gained a venue for their education when Chickamauga School was established on Chickamauga Road half a mile south of the depot and village on land now occupied by Whispering Pines Mobile Homes.

After the war, John D. Gray had returned to Graysville and rebuilt many of his industries, including Gray’s Mill.  Soon, the community and the neighboring Concord thrived.  To be closer to its congregation, the members of Blackwell’s Chapel moved their church to the town and became Graysville Methodist in 1873.

In 1876, Chickamauga Cumberland Presbyterian changed its name to Pleasant Grove in order to match that of the school which had been meeting there for the previous two years.

In 1878, Hamilton County established a school on the property of Dr. Joseph Mackey where Heritage Park is now, which became known as Mackie School.

Also in 1878, the community of Chickamauga north of the Tennessee River changed its name and that of its post office to Melville, so the name of the Chickamauga Station post office reverted to just plain Chickamauga.

House’s Chapel moved to its present location and became Tyner Methodist in 1880.

The East Tennessee, Virginia, & Georgia Railway established Jersey Station couple of miles west of Tyner at about the place where Jersey Pike crosses the tracks.  The land was purchased from the estate of Capt. C.S. Peak named Bonny Oaks.  Sometime later the same railroad built McCarty Station on the west bank of the South Chickamauga at the end of its bridge near Lightfoot’s Mill.

West of the South Chickamauga along Bird’s Mill Road, communities grew up around the Sunnyside farm of Judge R.B. Cooke, the Belvoir farm of Col. W.R. Crabtree, and the Dutchtown dairy of Jacob Kellerhals.  Towards the end of the 19th century, a village grew up just north of these called Hornville.

The Flint Hill School which Chickamauga Baptist was sharing quarters with burned down in 1888, and the church began meeting in Kings Point School.  The Kings Point village had just recently been built by John King, owner of the Toqua plantation on the east bank of the South Chickamauga across from the Amnicola plantation of the Crutchfield family.  Chickamauga Baptist now served both communities of Kings Point and Jersey.

Walnut Grove School, direct antecedent of the modern East Brainerd School, began classes at its original location on what’s now South Gunbarrel Road in 1889.  Walnut Grove superceded Concord as the name for the community shortly thereafter.

In the same year, Pleasant Grove Cumberland Presbyterian got a close neighbor with the founding of Silverdale Baptist. 

Also, Chickamauga Quarry and Construction began operations; Vulcan Materials of Louisiana bought it in 1956.

The year 1890 was pivotal for the Chattanooga region and for the wider Chickamauga community of Hamilton County.  In that year, a bilateral group of Union and Confederate veterans obtained a charter for a national military park at the battlefield in Walker County upon which so many from both sides died 19-20 September 1863.  Since Union veterans from the Society of the Army of the Cumberland had taken the lead, it became Chickamauga Battlefield, which has a better ring than Mud Flats.

In 1891, the Chattanooga, Rome, & Columbus Railroad built a station near the small village of Crawfish Springs which it named Chickamauga, despite the much older like-named station still operating on what was by then the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railroad.  At the same time, the village of Crawfish Springs incorporated itself as Chickamauga, Georgia.

A railroad engineer named W.T. Worley, who lived in Concord community in a house he named Worleyanna where the old tavern had stood, laid out the streets for a new village near Ellis’ Crossing in 1897 as well as a post office and whistle-stop on the Nashville, Chattanooga, & St. Louis Railway.  Both took his name, in the form of Whorley, as did the local Masonic lodge organized at Concord Baptist.  Whorley Lodge survived much longer.

Though the original Chickamauga Station continued operating under that name well into the 20th century, its post office changed its name to Shepherd P.O. in 1898. 

In that year, the residents of Lizard Lope east of Concord frustrated with the distance to Walnut Grove School, which had replaced the more centrally-located Mackie School, started Morris Hill School, so named for the family which donated the land.

The following year, 1899, Chickamauga Baptist moved out of Kings Point School to a new home at the corner of Harrison Turnpike and Shot Hollow Road.  At the other end of the latter road, close to its intersection with the road between Tyner and Harrison, an Afro-American farming community had grown up under the name Shot Hollow.

On Hickory Valley Road north of Chattanooga-Cleveland Pike (now Bonny Oaks Drive), lay another Afro-American community called Hawkinsville.  On the Tyner-Harrison Road was an Afro-American community called Black Belt.

Directly north of Shot Hollow, along the Tennessee River, was the incorporated Afro-American town of Turkey Foot, which had its own churches, businesses, town hall, and public school.  The land was previously owned by the Shepherds of Altamede.

The 20th century

At the dawn of the 20th century, Jim Crow was in full force across the South and school segregation was the law in Tennessee.   Turkey Foot School was for Afro-American children, as were the long-established Chickamauga School (Colored), Magby Pond School, Tyner School (Colored), and Harrison School (Colored). 

For white children, there were Walnut Grove School, Tyner School, Silverdale School, Kings Point School, Jersey School, and Harrison School, most of them one-room. 

In 1902, Chickamauga Chapel Baptist became Chickamauga Station Baptist.

Chickamauga School (for white children) opened in 1904, built on land donated by James B. Boyd on Middleton Road, the main road of Boyd’s Addition to Chickamauga.

Also in 1904, Rural Free Delivery (RFD) service out of Whorley P.O began.

The region’s first secondary school was Tyner High School, built on top of one of Cleburne’s redoubts in 1906.  It added 7th and 8th grades in 1932.

In 1908, Chickamauga Station Baptist became Shepherd Baptist.

That same year, Whorley P.O. closed and service transferred to Shepherd P.O., including the rural free delivery.

A Baptist congregation began meeting in Morris Hill School in 1909.  That same year, the residents of Hornville adopted the name Eastdale.

The Afro-American community of Hawkinsville organized a congregation of the Missionary Baptist Church in 1910.  Hawkinsville’s children attended Tyner School (Colored).

In 1911, William T. Walker donated a plot of land across Bird’s Mill Road from his home (where Heritage Funeral home is now) for a new building for Walnut Grove School, which was dedicated in October 1912.

Morris Hill Baptist moved into its own building in 1914.  The school moved east down Parker’s Gap Road to become West View School, across from the Cumberland Presbyterian church.

Around the same time, Thomas Ryall, son of Lizard Lope/Morris Hill resident Liam Ryall, established a resort community called Ryall Springs at the old Chickamauga Camp Ground.

Dixie Highway, the most significant development in land transportation to arrive since the railroads, opened up in 1915.  A community quickly grew up along the stretch of the road between Missionary Ridge and the state-line along its route, formerly a stage road now known as Ringgold Road.

Two years previously, in 1919, James County went bankrupt and folded back into Hamilton County.  Its last courthouse, built in 1913, still stands in Ooltewah.

In 1921, residents of Smoky Row, Nickel Street, and Penny Row incorporated as East Ridge.

In 1922, another major automobile route came through the area as Robert E. Lee Highway.

Shot Hollow community, whose children had been attending Turkey Foot School, finally received its own educational facility in 1924, when Booker T. Washington School was built.  Washington School was, in fact, a consolidation of the separate schools at Turkey Foot, Magby Pond, and Tyner.

Olde Towne, Sunnyside, Dutchtown, Belvoir, and Mission communities organized themselves into a single unit in 1926, which they named Brainerd.  It boundaries were defined as Missionary Ridge, South Chickamauga Creek, Eastdale, and East Ridge.   Bird’s Mill Road adopted the name of the new community, adding the prefix East on the other side of the creek, though some had already been using the name Brainerd Road for several years.

Walnut Grove School immediately adopted the new name of the road running through its community and became East Brainerd School.  The side road next to it retained the name Walnut Grove Road until 1968, when it became North Joiner Road.  At the same time, the community adopted the same name.

Upon its 1926-1927 school year, the students of Chickamauga School (Colored) moved into a brand new facility provided by the Rosenwald Foundation. It remained on Chickamauga Road (now Airport Road) until 1953.

In 1927, Chickamauga Baptist became Oakwood Baptist and Shot Hollow Road became Oakwood Drive.

Across the tracks from Chickamauga Station, Lovell Field airport opened in 1930 to replace the much smaller Marr Field in East Chattanooga.  It was built on the farm of Dr. J. B. Haskins, and its southern boundary met the northern edge of Boyd’s Addition to Chickamauga and the yard of Chickamauga School for white children.

The same year Pleasant Grove church became Silverdale Cumberland Presbyterian.

Also in 1930, Booker T. Washington added a high school, which also took in rising pupils from Chickamauga School (Colored) and Harrison School (Colored).  Chickamauga School (Colored), until then serving students in grades 1 thru 8, switched to 1-6.  Four years later in 1934, a single building housed both the elementary and high schools of Washington School.

It was in the 1930s that the Brainerd Heights development was built atop Whorley village as well as Wrinkletown across Lee Highway.

In 1935, Lovell Field expanded south and took out the Chickamauga School for white students who were then distributed to Tyner and East Brainerd, along with Boyd’s Addition.

Tyner and Silverdale Schools were consolidated in 1937 as Bess T. Shepherd School, as were Kings Point and Jersey Schools as Kings Point-Jersey School (now Hillcrest Elementary).

In 1938, Harrison School (Colored) merged into Washington School.

The town of Turkey Foot was lost when the Chickamauga Dam constructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority closed its gates in 1940, along with the community of Bartlebaugh.

Also in 1940, the U.S. Army removed the community of Hawkinsville and the main part of the village of Tyner (north of the railroad) to make room for its TNT plant.  Hawkinsville relocated to Pinewood Drive and Kelley Road.  Tyner residents moved either slightly to the south or eastward to Silverdale.  Other communities erased from the map included Magby Pond and Black Belt.

In 1948, Kings Point-Jersey moved into a new building as Hillcrest Elementary.

In 1953, the surviving Chickamauga Elementary School moved to Shepherd Road.

Louisville & Nashville Railroad, which had a controlling interest in Nashville, Chattanooga, & St. Louis since 1880, closed several of its local stations in the mid-20th century.  In 1955, it shut down Chickamauga Station.

Shepherd P.O. likewise closed and its operations transferred to Chattanooga.  Chattanooga P.O. opened a branch in the newly built Brainerd Hills Shopping Center and named it Chickamauga Station on the advice of later postmaster Frank Moore.

Also in 1955, Oakwood Baptist moved to its current location on Bonny Oaks Drive.

Booker T. Washington School, whose community had by then taken on the name Washington Heights, moved into a brand new building in 1958.  In that same building, Washington Alternative School now operates.

Due to growth in the nearby area and construction of Lake Hills and Murray Hills subdivisions, Lakewood Elementary for white students was opened in 1959, the last segregated school put into operation in Hamilton County.

In late 1961, Southern Railway shut down its tiny whistle-stop depot Tyner Station.

Desegregation of the schools in both Chattanooga City and Hamilton County (then separate systems) began in 1962 and was, theoretically, complete by 1966.  In the process, the high school at Booker T. Washington was closed and its students transferred to Tyner and, later, to Central.  Its primary school was integrated, as was the other remaining Afro-American primary school in the area, Chickamauga Elementary.

In 1972, the U.S. Postal Service closed its station at Tyner.  Postal service from Tyner moved to Chattanooga, which routed its mail through its branch at Chickamauga Station in Brainerd Hills Shopping Center.  That Chickamauga Station moved to its current location on East Brainerd Road in 1984.

Chickamauga Elementary School closed its doors in 1987, the same year that Hamilton Place Mall opened its doors.  At the time, it had been the one of the oldest continuing schools in the county, second only to Howard School.

The branch of Chattanooga Post Office called Chickamauga Station still operates, though its delivery service has been transferred to the Eastgate Postal Center.

East Brainerd Road, the main road through Concord/Walnut Grove/East Brainerd, has been known by many names throughout its existence.  Remember that at one time, there was no Robert E. Lee Highway; what are now Brainerd and East Brainerd Roads were one long continuous path.  During Cherokee times, at least after the mission was founded, it was known as Brainerd’s Road from Ross Landing to the Federal Road south of Opelika (the later Graysville).  Later it was called Chattanooga-Graysville Pike and Bird’s Mill Road.  Later, it carried the last name until a T-junction with Jenkins Road, from which the latter continued as Graysville Pike, which turned south after its junction with Parker’s Gap (later Ryall Springs) Road.  It became East Brainerd Road from its Y-intersection with Brainerd Road and Lee Highway in 1926.

Another road with many names is Gunbarrel Road.  I always loved that one when I was a kid.  Its earliest name may have been Graysville-Harrison Pike, a name noted on deeds in the 19th century.  By the later part of that century, it had become known as Silverdale Road.




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