Labor Day Memories of Chattanooga Medicine Company

Saturday, August 31, 2013 - by Harmon Jolley

On Labor Day, we celebrate workers and the value produced by our labors. The Bible recognizes the importance of our career choice, and of doing well in our work,  in Ecclesiates 9:10.

Whatever the activity in which you engage, do it with all your ability, because there is no work, no planning, no learning, and no wisdom in the next world where you're going.

Last year over Labor Day weekend, I shared with Memories readers a portion of a pictorial history of American Lava.  Both my mother and my uncle had worked at the local plants on Williams Street and on Manufacturers Road. 

This year, the workplace scene is the Chattanooga Medicine Company in St. Elmo, with the photographs being found in a seventy-fifth anniversary booklet from 1954.

Chattanooga Medicine is today known as Chattem.   Their history may be found at  The company was founded in 1879 by Zeboim Cartter Patten.

Though workers have made many other products over the years, the Black Draught, Cardui, and Soltice medications are known from advertisements on the Porter Waggoner show.

If you have memories of any of the subjects of these images from Chattanooga Medicine, please send me an e-mail at  Also, if you have old photographs of Chattanooga’s workers at work, please contact me.

Reader Feedback

Both my mother and aunt worked at Chattanooga Medicine when they were young.  I gathered from them that was "the place" to work then.  My mother also played on the tennis team and won a small silver tray.  I don't know what happened to it,  but I remember seeing that little tray when I was a child (long time ago).  My grandfather had deserted my grandmother when my mother was about 2 or 3. There apparently wasn't much work for older women like my grandmother, so  all 4 of the children had to work to support the family as soon as they were able.


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