The following books are ones that I used and found very helpful as I researched the daily pieces of Johnson City history. They are listed in alphabetical order, and I’ve written a bit about each book; most of this information has appeared in a previous “Community Voices” column.

A Beacon to Health Care subtitled “The Story of The Johnson City Medical Center Hospital by Ray Stahl” is a well-researched book. Printed in 1989, this book traces hospital history back to 1911.

Buddy, subtitled “The Life and Good Times of Thomas Folsom Beckner, Jr.” by Thomas Beckner is privately published. Betty B. and Bob Cooper loaned their copy to me, and I am so grateful. For nearly a century, Beckner’s was an institution in downtown Johnson City; this book provides a fascinating family history.

East Tennessee State University, (Campus History) by Don Good is a wonderful resource if you’re focusing on the history of ETSU, dating back to when it was the known as the Normal School. Dr. Good has filled the book with captioned photographs.

Greater Johnson City subtitled “A Pictorial History by Ray Stahl” details the area history from as early as the 1670s and continues until around 1985. The book is rich with drawings and photographs. This book is difficult to locate; I am hopeful the Stahl family will allow for a reprinting. Having this valuable resource electronically would be nice. (Mr. Stahl passed away several years ago.)

History of Johnson City and Its Environs by Samuel Cole Williams was published in 1940 by The Watauga Press; it was copyrighted in 1954 and reprinted by the McGowan-Mercer Press in Jackson, Tennessee. Judge Williams’ work traces the history of this area back to the 1600s. I am indebted to Dean Larry Calhoun for loaning me this work; he obtained it from Dr. William Bridgforth. If you are interested in reading this booklet, my best suggestion would be to look for it in the reference section of a local library.

History of Washington County Tennessee compiled and edited by Joyce and W. Eugene Cox, is an absolute treasure trove. This book doesn’t have nearly the photographs the other books have, but the contributors have provided many details about the history of Washington County from the 1770s until the late 1990s. I purchased my copy from the Overmountain Press on West Walnut Street; I believe it was about $20.

History of Washington County Tennessee 1988 by the Watauga Association of Genealogists provides much detail about both Washington County and Johnson City. I located a copy in the Johnson City Public Library. To my knowledge, the book is not available for sale except on the internet.

In the Footsteps of Faith printed by the Watauga Avenue Presbyterian Church is subtitled “A Tour of 14 of Johnson City’s Century-Old Churches.” Printed in 2005, I am thankful to Julia Herwig Beeson for loaning it to me. If this particular facet of Johnson City is of interest to you, your best bet to locate a copy would probably be in your church library or perhaps on the bookshelves of a member of one of the churches spotlighted in the booklet.

Johnson City by Sonya Haskins is part of the “Images of America” series. This book is filled with captioned photographs; many of those are recognizable today. Johnson City truly illustrates the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Johnson City by Tom Roberts is part of the “Postcard History Series.” The book is beautiful, and was published in early 2019. I have been so impressed with it that I’ve purchased several copies as gifts.

Johnson City and the People of Northeast Tennessee, Volume I was published by the Johnson City Press and Mountain States Health Alliance in 2006. The book is filled with captioned photographs, many submitted by the newspaper readers. While most of the book centers on Johnson City, you’ll find pictures from Elizabethton, Erwin, Hampton, Jonesborough, Milligan College, Piney Flats and Roan Mountain, as well as additional locales. This book is available from both Amazon and the offices of the Johnson City Press; if purchased from the newspaper, the $5 price goes toward the Christmas Box, a charity run by the Johnson City Press for the less fortunate of our community.

Johnson City Country Club by Tony Ferro was published to celebrate the club’s first century in 2013. Filled with beautiful pictures, this book provides a unique perspective of Johnson City history.

Legends and Lore of East Tennessee by Shane S. Simmons contains a wealth of information about Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone.

Remembering Johnson City by Bob Cox is a wonderful resource. If you like Mr. Cox’s “Yesteryear” column in the Johnson City Press, you will love this book. It’s filled with history and supplemented by photographs.

The Railroads of Johnson City by Johnny Graybeal was originally published in 2007, but was updated in 2019. Replete with pictures, this book is a recent discovery for me, and very valued.

100th Anniversary History and Directory 1871-1971, First Christian Church, Johnson City, Tennessee. Compiled and written by Mary Hardin McCown and Josephine Carpenter Owen. My minister, Ethan Magness, has been gracious enough to loan me his copy of this book, which was printed for church members. I have not seen any copies in either the Johnson City Public Library or the Archives of Appalachia.

If you have any documents you believe would be of interest for “Today in Johnson City History,” email Sam Watson at or call 423-722-0549.

Rebecca Henderson of Johnson City is an author and community volunteer.

Rebecca Henderson of Johnson City is an author and community volunteer.

Rebecca Henderson is a contributing columnist for Johnson City Press.

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