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Today in Johnson City History: March 9

Rebecca Henderson and Johnson City Press • Mar 9, 2020 at 7:00 AM

March 9, 1870: The Haynesville post office changed its name to Johnson City. Henry Johnson was the postmaster. Before the name was Haynesville, it was Johnson’s Depot; the name had been changed to Haynesville on Oct. 8, 1859.

March 9, 1922: The Johnson City Chronicle reported “Mr. D.B. Wexler of the Free Service Tire Company, returned yesterday from Kingsport, where he was coach for the High School basket ball game on Tuesday evening.”

March 9, 1924: The Chronicle-Staff had headlines on “Local Interests Starting to Make City’s Best Year” and “Big Projects Are Under Way.” Much of the recent building “boom” was “attributed to the confidence of the people in the development of the city… since the taking of the recent interim census showing the city to have grown nearly 50 per cent in population during the past three and one-half years. It is realized that the demand for more business was the prime cause.”

March 9, 1930: About 25 people in Washington and Carter counties had recently been stricken with either partial or complete paralysis in their legs. Physicians were puzzled by the suddenness of the illness. Patients reportedly were responding to treatment, and only one person had been confined to bed. The Johnson City patients were “being isolated from the rest of their families and their cases are being carefully observed.” A physician further stated that “Tests have been made but none of the reports from the state laboratory reveal the cause of the malady.” The disease progression began with “a head cold, followed by throat infection, numbness and then partial paralysis of the feet and legs. The patient experience extreme pain when they attempt to walk or stand.” The illness was what became known as “Jake Leg.” The cause was linked to consumption of a patent medicine known as Jake — Jamaica ginger extract. While this so-called medicine was sold legally under Prohibition, it packed the wallop of four jiggers of scotch. At nearly 85 percent alcohol, Jake was mostly consumed by the urban poor in small cities. The cause of Jake Leg was suspected to be a plasticizer — triorthocresyl phosphate — added by the manufacturer to get around federal regulations restricting alcohol content.

March 9, 1936: The Johnson City Press and Staff-News reported that more than 500 people were expected to attend that night’s annual banquet of the Chamber of Commerce. J.E. Coad, the secretary-manager of the Chamber, was slated to “make his first local appearance as a public speaker when he delivers the principal address.” The theme was “Believe in Johnson City.” Mayor Marion Sell previously issued a proclamation “setting the evening aside as “Believe in Johnson City Night.’”

March 9, 1947: A location on Austin Springs Road, also known as the Old Bristol Highway, was being considered for the Memorial Hospital project. The proposed property was south of and adjoining the Girl Scout camp. It embraced four city blocks, running back from Austin Springs to Broadway. Today, that section of Austin Springs is part of East Oakland Avenue.

March 9, 1963: The Training School’s Junior Bucs defeated Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett 40-34 to win the Region 1 Tournament in boys basketball.

March 9, 1975: Despite a few inches of snow on the ground, Johnson City Schools operated on a regular schedule. 

Sources: History of Washington County Tennessee 1988; Johnson City Chronicle; Johnson City Staff; Johnson City Press and Staff-News; Johnson City Press-Chronicle

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