Chattanooga Was a Thirsty Town: the Marble Hall and Fletch Catron

Monday, June 30, 2014 - by Tom Carson

The 800 Block of Market Street of Chattanooga was home to four saloons in 1901.  In an earlier article, The Stag Hotel and Saloon was featured.  This article will discuss what little I know about the Marble Hall and Fletch Catron.

In the clipping files of the Chattanooga Public Library, there is a handwritten listing of Fletch Catron’s occupations from 1896-1914.   In 1896 and 1897, he was listed as a bartender for C. R. Fawkes.  In 1898 to 1904, he is listed as Proprietor of Marble Hall Saloon at 817 Market Street.  The photograph shows the Marble Hall marquee with Fletch Catron at the bottom. In 1904 – 1906, he is still listed as proprietor of the Marble Hall Saloon but also dealer in and bottle of whiskies, wines and liquors.

The clipping files of the Chattanooga Public Library have an interesting undated letter from George W. Wallace of Hixson, TN detailing his recollections of the liquor industry in Chattanooga.  He was a descendent of E.R. Betterton, mayor and owner of White Oak Distillery.

There is one real collector's item of White Oak Whiskey.   Under Theodore Roosevelt’s administration, the Food & Drug Administration was started. They were pressured by the large Bourbon interests to rule that any filtered whiskey was not pure. This barred the small Tenn. industry from labeling their product whiskey.

I had an empty bottle of White Oak labeled E. R. Betterton & Co. (large letters), formerly (very small letters) White Oak Whiskey (large letters). This was used about the last year in office of Teddy Roosevelt.  When William Howard Taft (1909-1913) took office, the Tenn. distillers sent a barrel of their best to the White House.   It was delivered by several Tenn. distillers, and in a few months the Pure Food & Drug Administration reversed their ruling and Tenn. Whiskey again became whiskey.

Fletch Catron was caught in the Pure Food Act and his whiskey bottle shows it.  Right under Corn Whiskey, is GUARANTEED UNDER PURE FOOD LAW. Until the Pure Food Act, the only regulations on alcohol were taxes.

The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was an act for preventing the manufacture, sale, or transportation of adulterated or misbranded or poisonous or deleterious foods, drugs, medicines, and liquors, and for regulating traffic therein, and for other purposes.   The act was geared toward adulterated or misbranded liquors. This brought up the question of definition of whiskey.  I am not sure how long liquor was regulated this way.

Fletch Catron was out of the liquor business before Prohibition hit, but left us nice collectables.

Tom Carson tcarson@ewkm.net.

 

 



Montagues Led In Chattanooga Banking, Industry; Fine Homes Were Knocked Down On Cameron Hill

One of Chattanooga's first banks opened after the Civil War's end was a project of two Northerners, who had first eyed Cincinnati for their First National Bank. The First National opened Nov. 15, 1865, in an unpretentious brick building between Third and Fourth streets. The founders were Theodore Giles Montague and William Perry Rathburn. They had moved on to Chattanooga because ... (click for more)

Remembering The Park Hotel

(The Park Hotel is again in the news as the county is vacating it and it will be offered for private redevelopment) I wasn’t familiar with the Park Hotel when I ran across an old postcard of it recently. Judging by the relatively level surroundings in the picture, one might think that it was located on one of the flat streets in downtown, such as Market or Broad. However, a ... (click for more)

State Comptroller Says More Control Over Spending Needed At CVB

The state Comptroller’s Office is recommending the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) board of directors take steps to adopt detailed policies concerning how the CVB spends its money.   The Comptroller’s Office has completed a review of Hamilton County’s hotel/motel taxes which are all forwarded to the CVB. The annual report is required by Public Chapter ... (click for more)

County Commission Votes 7-2 For Rezoning For C&D Landfill At Harrison

The County Commission on Wednesday voted 7-2 to approve rezoning for a Construction and Debris landfill at Harrison.  Voting in favor were Greg Beck, Warren Mackey, Sabrena Smedley, Greg Martin, Tim Boyd, Randy Fairbanks and Jim Fields.   Opposed were Chester Bankston and Joe Graham.  Commissioner Boyd said it was just the first step in permitting for ... (click for more)

Vote No On The Rezoning For A New Landfill In Harrison - And Response (3)

County Commissioners, please consider the following facts when voting on the rezoning request for a new privately-owned C&D landfill in Harrison.  Use of this property for a landfill has been rejected by the county three times in the past (1971, 1984 and 2007).  In 1971 and 2007 the County Commissioners unanimously rejected the proposal.  In 1984 the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Mom Don’t Have…I Do’

It’s hard to know what goes through the mind of a five-year-old, particularly one who watches her mom go in and out of jail due to drug addiction. But little Sunshine Oelfke is obviously being raised right by her grandmother because the other morning, the five-year-old came into the kitchen before leaving for kindergarten with a baggie full of coins from her piggy bank. “I asked ... (click for more)