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  Thanks to one of our readers for submitting the photo that mentioned chifforobes.  

John S. Elder Was Early Settler At Ooltewah

The Elders were among Tennessee's earliest pioneers and were well acquainted with Davy Crockett. John S. Elder and his nephew, Robert S. Elder, made their way to Hamilton County at an early date. The family traces back to Samuel Elder, who in April 1796 paid $200 for 150 acres in the "County of Greene Territory of the United States of America South ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Genealogical Society To Meet Feb. 6 At Walden Town Hall

The Signal Mountain Genealogical Society will meet at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at the Walden Town Hall, 1836 Taft Hwy. The meeting begins with refreshments, followed by a brief business meeting and program. In preparation for the Signal  Mountain Centennial, which takes place in 2019, Jim Douthat, a widely recognized historian and member of the Society, will deliver ... (click for more)

City's Top Traffic Reconstruction Expert: "Man, This Truck Just Creamed A Dozen Cars"

The Chattanooga Police Department's top traffic reconstruction expert testified Tuesday that when he first viewed the scene of an horrific crash at the Ooltewah exit he thought "Man, this truck just creamed a dozen cars." Officer Joe Warren told a jury from Nashville that, according to his calculations, Benjamin Scott Brewer was traveling at 81-82 miles per hour when he struck ... (click for more)

Taji Webb, 26, Shot And Killed Monday Night; Shooter Will Not Be Charged

Taji Webb, 26, was shot and killed Monday night. Police said they have determined that the shooting was justified and the unidentified shooter would not be charged.   The Chattanooga Police Department responded at 10:43 p.m. to a person shot call in the 1500 block of Ryan Street .  Upon arrival, officers located Webb lying on the ground suffering from a gunshot ... (click for more)

Dismal Educator Teaching At UTC - And Response

Roy Exum,  People are talking about the inability of UTC to turn out high quality teachers. Well, should any university be expected to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse? We all know how our school system students fail miserably on national scholastic aptitude tests as a whole.  Forget Tcap tests, those are teacher tests not meant for measuring student progress, but ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Making A Difference

It was about 50 years ago when the late writer Loren Eiseley penned an essay called “The Starfish Thrower” so it’s been one of my favorite stories for almost as long. It tells about a man who walks up to a young boy on a beach, this just after a strong storm had washed hundreds of helpless starfish onto the shore. The boy was picking up the stranded starfish and, one at a time, ... (click for more)