Johnson City native Bob Cox is a longtime contributor to the Johnson City Press. He shares his vast knowledge of his hometown's history with readers each week. Reach Bob Cox at boblcox@bcyesteryear.com or www.bcyesteryear.com.

webster porrter (Cox 8-31-20)

Webster Porter

The following article details a picnic and meeting at the St. Paul A.M.E. Zion Church sometime before 1939. To encourage participation from nearby towns, the railways discounted ticket prices.

The main speaker was Webster Porter, editor of the East Tennessee News, which was an African American newspaper with circulation of almost 5,000.

“Arrangements have been made with the C. C. & O. Railway Co for cheap rates over their road from Dante, Va., to Johnson City, and from Unaka Springs to Johnson City. The Southern Railway has also consented to furnish excursion rates for the same purpose.

“We are going to have Barbecued Mutton, Pork, Beef, Chicken, Veal, Soft Drinks, Ice Cream, Watermelons and all other fruits of the season will be abundantly on hand.

“At night all will retire to St. Paul A.M.E. Zion Church, corner of Wellborn and Millard Streets, to hear the Orator of the Occasion, Webster L. Porter, Editor of the East Tennessee News in Knoxville. His subject is titled: “Oppression, the Springing Plank to Success,” supplemented with cornet solos by J.S. Scott, M.D.

“At the conclusion of the program, under the light of Japanese lanterns on the church lawn, refreshments will be served such as were served on the picnic grounds.

Committees On Barbecuing and Serving Meats

Frank Bell, W.N. Erwin, W.L. Gentry, Mrs C.L., Mrs. Mary Houston, Mrs. Mattie Carson and Mrs. Melvine Fain.

Waitresses To Serve At Night

Mrs. Lucy, Mrs. Bailey Spurgeon, Mrs Butler Taylor, Mrs. Mary Ervin, Mrs. Sallie Johnson, Miss Mildred Bird.

On Drinks

Martin Stover, George Carson, and James Young.

On Cream

Jackson Greenlee, John Cook, Mrs Minnie Love, Mrs. George Carson, Mrs. Nannie Estes.

On Watermelons

Mrs. Ollie Scott, Mrs. Bessie Vaught, Nathan Scott,Frank Bailess, W.A. Ayers

On Bread, Cakes And Pies

Mrs. Bessie Vaught, Nathan Scott, Frank Bailess