Remembering the Tennessee Red Cedar and Novelty Company

Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - by Harmon Jolley

Cedar chests were once popular graduation or wedding gifts, and have been handed down through generations.   The oils in the cedar wood were said to repel moths, though some scientists say that this is overrated.   However, if the claims are true, then there once must have been very few moths flying around East Fourteenth Street where the Tennessee Red Cedar and Novelty Company once made furniture.

Chattanooga city directories listed the cedar chest manufacturer in the 1921 through 1952 editions.

  The company’s address was East Fourteenth Street at the Belt Railway that connected many of the city’s factories.

In addition to cedar chests, the workers at the factory crafted chifforobes and wardrobes.  Those two items of furniture were frequently used in houses which lacked closets. 

The founder of the furniture maker was Thomas C. Betterton, who also was connected to the Tennessee Coffin and Casket Company.  Mr. Betterton was born at Falling Mills, Virginia in 1867 and moved as a young boy with his family to Chattanooga.  His father became a leading distiller.

 In addition to his business pursuits, Thomas Betterton was active in the movement that led to Chattanooga’s change from an alderman to a commission form of government in 1910.  He served as fire and police commissioner for eight years beginning in 1911.

Other members of the Betterton family helped in the management of the company, both before and after Thomas Betterton’s passing in 1930.  E.R. Betterton, brother of the founder, was listed as company president in the 1940 city directory.  Like his brother, he served as fire and police commissioner.

If you have additional memories of the Tennessee Red Cedar and Novelty Company, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@bellsouth.net.  Thanks to one of our readers for submitting the photo that mentioned chifforobes.  



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)

Jury Clears Juvenile Judge Philyaw Of Discrimination Charge In Dismissal Of Openly Gay Magistrate

A federal jury deliberated about an hour on Tuesday afternoon before ruling in favor of Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw, who had been sued by an openly gay magistrate that he dismissed. Judge Travis McDonough had dismissed the other two defendants - Court Administrator Sam Mairs and Hamilton County - from the case at the close of the proof. Judge Philyaw said, "I thank the ... (click for more)

Attorney Elliott Says City Council Action On Mountain Creek Zoning Case "Highly Irregular And Highly Illegal"

The City Council on Tuesday night took action on a Mountain Creek zoning case, though attorney Sam Elliott said it was "highly irregular and highly illegal." The council voted 7-2 to instruct the city attorney to file a new zoning case on a section of the former Quarry golf course against the wishes of the owner of the property and the developer who plans to buy it. Attorney ... (click for more)

Why Can't Someone Unstop The Water Buildup Problem At The I-24 Cummings Highway Exit? - And Response

Exit 174 on westbound Interstate 24 is closed again as is the westbound entrance ramp. Cummings Highway is shut as well. I inquired at TDOT on Dec. 28, 2015, why this continues to happen. The engineer’s response was that the drain from ground west of the interstate runs under private land and cover over it has caused that pipe to collapse. Obviously flow still goes through, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘We’ll Lose The Senate!’

A guy who I admire and respect wrote me yesterday. He had just read my story defending Bob Corker for honoring “The Code” due to his true friendship with Phil Bredesen. He is also no stranger to my vivid dislike of the Republican choice to replace Corker in the Senate. Marsha Blackburn is no match against Bredesen on any tier and it is clearly the Republican Party itself that has ... (click for more)