Fraziers Date Back To City's Earliest Days

Monday, May 13, 2002

Dr. Beriah Frazier was Chattanooga's second mayor, though he later moved away to a farm near Knoxville. His nephew, Samuel Joseph Abner Frazier, had interesting experiences here during the Civil War and later returned to help develop North Chattanooga into a thriving suburb. Another kinsman was James Beriah Frazier, a Chattanooga lawyer who became a governor and U.S. senator.

The Fraziers traced back to Samuel Frazier, who was of Scotch descent though his family was in France when he was born in 1749. This Quaker family made its way to North Carolina, where Samuel Frazier in 1771 married Rebecca Julian. She was "a Huguenot of great beauty and culture." She was from Guilford County, N.C.

Samuel Frazier fought with John Sevier at King's Mountain, and he was an officer attached to the army of Gen. Nathaniel Greene. After the
end of the Revolution, he moved his family to the lands available to veterans in western North Carolina (the later Tennessee). He settled in the section that became Greene County. Samuel Frazier helped organize the New Hope Meeting in Greene County in 1795. The Fraziers had arrived at Greene County about 1789 and they moved on to Knox County soon after 1800. Samuel Frazier was a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1796 when Tennessee gained statehood. He was later a state senator representing Greene County. Samuel Frazier died in 1839 when he was 90. His wife had died the previous year -also at the age of 90.

Samuel and Rebecca Frazier had seven children, including Abner, Samuel Jr., Beriah, Rebecca, Julian, Thomas and Barbara White. Abner married Mary Edmondson, and their children included Beriah Frazier, who was named for his uncle when he was born in 1814 in Greene County. He studied at Greeneville College, then at the Philadelphia College of Medicine.

Dr. Beriah Frazier set up his medical practice in Hamilton County, first practicing near Harrison. There he met Cynthia Mynatt, whose twin brother, J.C. Mynatt, was the clerk and master. They were children of John and Frances Clark Mynatt. Dr. Frazier and Cynthia Mynatt were
married at Knoxville in 1841. Dr. Frazier was mayor at the time, after first serving as alderman. He is said to be the only Chattanooga mayor to have married during his term of office. Dr. Frazier was an elder in the city's Presbyterian church and he was junior warden of Chattanooga's first Masonic lodge. But he decided to move to Knoxville, and he was living there at a farm on Beaver Creek at the time of the Civil War. Dr. Frazier was a delegate from Knox County to the East Tennessee Union Convention that met in Knoxville in May of 1861. Just after the war, the Unionist was a state senator from Knox County. He was later a trustee of East Tennessee University (University of Tennessee) and was president of the Tazewell Pike Company. He had partially completed a history of the Civil War at the time of his death in 1886. Cynthia Mynatt Frazier died in 1880. Dr. Frazier had no children.

Rebecca Frazier Moore, a first cousin of Dr. Frazier, settled at Chattanooga with her husband, Thomas Antipass Moore. The Moores had a farm on the side of Missionary Ridge. Rebecca Frazier Moore was a daughter of the elder Beriah Frazier and his wife, Barbara Gibbs. The first wife of Beriah Frazier was Annie Reece, whom he married in 1795. Their children included Samuel, who was born in 1796 and married Pacify Tinsey Gibbs. A son, Julian, was born in 1798 but died the following year. A daughter, Mary Ann, was born in 1801. She married William Moore and then the Rev. William Gannaway. Beriah Frazier's marriage to Barbara Gibbs was in 1806. She was born in 1789 in Orange County, N.C. Beriah and Barbara Gibbs Frazier lived in Knox County until 1818, when they moved to a 500-acre farm at Frazier Bend of the Tennessee River in Rhea County. It was about eight miles south of Old Washington. Here they reared their 11 children. They were George Washington who lived from 1807 to 1830 and did not marry, Rebecca who lived from 1808 to 1883 and married Thomas Antipass Moore, Paulina who lived from 1810 to 1858 and married Richard R. Gist, Nicholas Gibbs who lived from 1812 to 1850 and married Hannah Minerva McKamey, Ann who lived from 1814 to 1895 and married Valentine Allen, Sarah Jane who lived from 1814 to 1895 and married Jacob Harvey Love and then Joseph E. Parks, J. Emily who lived from 1819 to 1852 and married Hercules Whaley, Abner White who lived from 1821 to 1893 and married Mary Craighead, Maria Louisa who lived from 1824 to 1893 and did not marry, Barbara Sophia who lived from 1826 to 1857 and married John L. Ramsey, and Beriah Jr. who lived from 1832 to 1858 and married Louisa Ella Lillard.

Samuel Frazier, older brother of Dr. Beriah Frazier, graduated from Washington College, then was an early settler at Rhea County. He
was a lawyer and was district attorney general. His wife, Ruth Clawson, lost her sight at the birth of a son, Samuel Josiah Abner Frazier, in 1840.

S.J.A. Frazier grew up in Rhea County with his blind mother, after losing his father when he was five. He opened a law practice at Rhea
County, but he found himself in Chattanooga in the midst of the war turmoil in 1863. As the Federal army was approaching the town, Frazier helped set up Confederate pickets at the foot of Lookout Mountain. He was inside the Presbyterian church with his cousin, Beriah Frazier Moore, when a shell hit the top of the church on Aug. 21. Due to an injury, he stayed some weeks at the home of the Rev. T.H. McCallie. Milo Smith and P.D. Sims helped treat a dangerous wound to his windpipe by passing a silk handkerchief through it and removing the clotted blood. Beriah Frazier Moore was killed during the battle of Missionary Ridge not far from the doorway of his home. His brother, Nicholas Gibbs Moore, was badly wounded.

After the war, S.J.A. Frazier first lived at Old Washington in Rhea County. He was chosen attorney general - the same position his father had held. In 1871, he married Ann Elizabeth Keith, a granddaughter of Judge Charles Fleming Keith of Athens, Tenn. Her parents were Col. Alexander Hume Keith and Sarah Ann Foree Keith. S.J.A. Frazier decided to purchase a large tract at the old Cowart farm across the river from Chattanooga. The North Chattanooga hills were still mostly in timber at that time. In 1882, Frazier began to lay out the "Hill City" suburb. The Fraziers moved into the old Cowart home, "The Cedars." The street that went in front of The Cedars was named Frazier Avenue. The Cedars survived until a fire on March 13, 1923, destroyed all but the four chimneys. Another street in the suburb took the name of Dr. R.W. Colville, a Frazier associate from Rhea County who joined in the project.

James Beriah Frazier was a younger cousin of S.J.A. Frazier. He had studied law under his father, Judge Thomas Neal Frazier. Judge Frazier
was a brother of Dr. Beriah Frazier and of Samuel Frazier of Rhea County. He had been an attorney at Old Washington, then clerk and master of Bledsoe County. He practiced law at Pikeville and became a circuit judge in 1861. On the Union side during the war, he later was a criminal court judge at Nashville. J.B. Frazier joined in a law partnership with Lewis Shepherd, who was married to one of Frazier's cousins. The Chattanooga lawyer became Tennessee governor in 1903 and he later was named to the U.S. Senate. He also married into the Keith family of Athens. His marriage to Louise Douglas Keith took place in 1883. She was a sister of the wife of S.J.A. Frazier.

James Beriah Frazier Jr. was a longtime Third District congressman. He succeeded Estes Kefauver and was in turn succeeded by Bill Brock. Earlier he had served for 16 years as U.S. attorney for East Tennessee. He married Elizabeth Hope. Their daughter, Elizabeth, married attorney Thomas McCallie III, a descendant of the minister who helped save the life of S.J.A. Frazier during the Civil War.

Two of S.J.A. Frazier's children were in the state House of Representatives. They were Alexander F. Frazier and Sarah Ruth Frazier. Neither ever married. Sarah Ruth Frazier was a leader in the fight for the right of women to vote and she was a talented writer. Very active in Confederate veteran reunions, she was buried in Chattanooga's Confederate Cemetery.

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