Remembering Jo Conn Guild

Tuesday, May 6, 2008 - by John Shearer

One of the unique local residents of the past was Jo Conn Guild Jr.

As a businessman, he was successful, and as a personality, he was quite colorful.

Josephus Conn Guild Jr. was born in Chattanooga in 1887. His grandfather, George Guild, had been a Confederate Civil War veteran and later mayor of Nashville.

Jo Conn Guild’s father, Jo Conn Guild, was considered an engineering genius. He had helped develop the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway and the waterpower plant at Hales Bar Dam.

The dam, the first on the Tennessee River, was built in 1913 through the efforts of the elder Mr. Guild, Chattanooga millionaire C.E. James and a wealthy New Yorker named Brady. The three had organized the Chattanooga and Tennessee River Power Company to build the dam.

The area in Marion County where the construction workers lived became known as Guild.

The elder Mr. Guild was also a close friend of John Roy Baylor and helped finance the construction in 1899 of the new Baylor School campus on Palmetto Street in Fort Wood, a facility that was later used by Girls Preparatory School.

Mr. Guild Jr. attended Baylor for eight years – from 1897 through 1905 – until enrolling at the University of Virginia. He later studied engineering at Vanderbilt and eventually helped in the construction phase of Hales Bar Dam.

He soon began building up his resume by going to work for the power company, becoming general manager in 1915. The company merged with Chattanooga Railway and Light Company in 1922 to become the Tennessee Electric Power Company, also known as TEPCO.

Mr. Guild continued to help grow the combined firm as vice president. In 1933, he was elected president. (The firm’s landmark Market Street office, which later housed the Electric Power Board, was recently torn down.)

The Chattanoogan knew how to succeed in the business world, but he ran into a greater challenge in the realm of government bureaucracy.

The U.S. government decided to take over the company’s power system by eminent domain and make it part of the government controlled Tennessee Valley Authority.

Mr. Guild vehemently – but unsuccessfully -- fought the move. One of his allies was another utility company president named Wendell Wilkie. Mr. Wilkie ended up being the unsuccessful1940 Republican presidential nominee against Franklin Roosevelt.

Mr. Guild held on to the railway phase of the business and reorganized it as Southern Coach Lines. It converted from using streetcars to buses about the time of World War II. He retired as president in 1961.

Besides helping Chattanoogans stay on the move, he kept on the go himself through the numerous sports cars he owned. At his home at 264 Stephenson Ave. on Lookout Mountain, he had a Jaguar, a Ferrari, a Lancia, a British-made Metropolitan and a Fraser-Nash, which had been specially made to fit his tall and large frame.

Seeing him go up and down the mountain in these cars – even in his later years -- was a familiar sight to residents of that time period.

Besides the fumes from these speedy cars, this man known as a natural storyteller also created smoke at his Lookout smokehouse, where he cured hams and sausage from his 320-acre cattle and hog farm near Columbia, Tenn.

He reportedly used some old family recipes.

His recipe for life was apparently to work hard and enjoy it to the fullest. He was a member of a number of social clubs and civic groups.

His 28-year marriage to Sarah Lamb Nichols produced one daughter, Mrs. Rupert Colmore Jr., and three grandsons, Rupert, Jo and John Colmore.

Mr. Guild had divorced his first wife in 1940 and remarried May Bondurant Young in 1942. She died in 1967.

Late in his life, Mr. Guild was confined to a wheelchair due to arthritis brought on by an old hunting accident.

Death for Mr. Guild came on June 26, 1969, at the age of 81. His obituary in the Chattanooga News-Free Press ran next to a funeral story about noted actress Judy Garland, who had died four days earlier.

His services wee held at Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church on Lookout Mountain, with the Revs. Harold E. Barrett and M.C. Nichols officiating.

Burial was in Forest Hills Cemetery.

Jcshearer2@comcast.net



Burma Shave Signs

Years ago my uncle Alf (A.T.) Connelly, a WWII vet, upon returning to civilian life, worked as a sign painter for the then Atomic Energy Commission in Oak Ridge, Tn. He painted miniature sets of Burma Shave signs. Attached is a photo of one of those sets. The signs read as follows: “They missed the turn, Car was whizzin’, The fault her’n, The funeral his’n, Burma Shave”.  ... (click for more)

Brooks Family Was Among Earliest Settlers Of Sale Creek

Joseph Brooks was one of the earliest settlers at Sale Creek when it was part of Rhea County. Three of his nieces along with their husbands were Hamilton County pioneers. Joseph Brooks and his brother, Moses Brooks, were sons of John Brooks, who was born in Ireland about 1730. He made his way to Philadelphia and lived a short time in Pennsylvania before going with the tide of ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Police Arrest Robbery Suspects Within Hours Of Holdup; Citizen Takes Quick Photo Of Suspect Vehicle

Chattanooga Police officers arrested two suspects involved in an armed robbery within hours of the incident. Officers responded to an armed robbery call at 5966 Brainerd Road  at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. The victim told police she was exiting her vehicle when she was approached by a white male pointing a handgun at her demanding her purse and cell phone. The victim ... (click for more)

WACKER-Charleston Taking Initial Steps To Restart Polysilicon Production After Explosion Shut Facility Last September

WACKER-Charleston announced Thursday it has resumed operations for the production of polysilicon. Using a phase-in approach, WACKER has begun the initial start-up of the site, beginning with distillation. The initial production of polysilicon is targeted to begin in the next few weeks. WACKER anticipates the Charleston site will reach full capacity in the fourth quarter ... (click for more)

Keep The Gifted Program In The Hamilton County Schools - And Response (2)

I currently have a daughter in fourth grade at Lookout Valley Elementary and a daughter in the eighth grade at Lookout Valley Middle High School. Both of my daughters are very good students, as well as being very good people. I am writing today with a concern. I was made aware that the Hamilton County Department of Education is considering cutting the gifted program ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A True Tennessean

“Last week I told some Republican friends who have held high office, traditional and true Republicans, who like you are both conservative and compassionate, Christians in their personal faith and public service,” the email began. “These are Tennessee Republicans that I have known for decades, and whom I'd trust with my life and my wife … I told them that my views and values make ... (click for more)