Brick Store That Later Served As Civil War Prison, Seat Of Government, Was Built For Williams Brothers (13th In A Series)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - by John Wilson
Brick building at Fourth and Market was among city's earliest stores, then was Civil War prison and later a seat of government
Brick building at Fourth and Market was among city's earliest stores, then was Civil War prison and later a seat of government

A three-story brick building at the southwest corner of Market Street at Fourth was another of the business interests of Samuel and George Williams.

According to the Williams lawsuit that was found last year in an old building, it was built for them by Thomas Crutchfield, a master brickmason who arrived in Chattanooga at an early date. He also built a fine two-story home for Col. James A. Whiteside on Poplar Street. However, Crutchfield himself curiously lived in a collection of log - not brick - buildings at Ninth Street that were known as "The Cabins." His sons, William and Tom Crutchfield,joined with him in erecting the Crutchfield House hotel that was nearby across from the Union Station. William Crutchfield was a member of Congress and a "water witch" who famously challenged Confederate leader Jefferson Davis at the family hotel. A later descendant, Ward Crutchfield, was a prominent politician. 

The records tell of the Williams family selling the building to the partnership of McCallie and Hooke. Like Col. John P. Long, Thomas McCallie floated down the river to Chattanooga, coming from Old Washington in March of 1841. He had married a Hooke and was in partnership with his brother-in-law in a store business at the promising settlement. McCallie built a two-story frame house east of town on the road that led to Missionary Ridge. This road came to be known as McCallie Avenue. Later McCallies established a boys school along the road at the foot of the ridge as well as a school for girls known as Girls Preparatory School. 

Col. Whiteside, the attorney and business partner of the Williams brothers, said, "The book accounts which Thomas Crutchfield owed G&S Williams at the time of death of G.W. Williams were all paid by Crutchfield in the building of the brick store house sold by S. Williams to McCallie and Hooke. Expenses of three-story brick building at Chattanooga - the same sold to McCallie and Hooke. I solicited John Bridgman to take a part of the building. When the building was completed every interest in Chattanooga was much depressed. At the end Crutchfield told Bridgman he was owed $1,800 more, Bridgman told him to take his portion of the building, but Crutchfield refused. I furnished much of the lumber and materials for the building. Williams had furnished some."

In another place he said, "The north fourth of Lot 25 on Market Street, Chattanooga, was sold to McCallie and Hooke. Thomas Crutchfield had built the house on it for G&S Williams. Under the contract, I understand, McCallie and Hooke were to give Crutchfield what was coming to him. He received between $2,000 and $3,000. In the payment, Williams lifted many claims that McCallie and Hooke had on G&S Williams." 

Another record said Samuel Williams in 1843 paid Jeremiah Sloan $35 for painting a brick house he sold to McCallie & Hooke and $15 to George D. Foster for items for the house. The sale of the brick house to McCallie & Hooke brought $3,200. This house was on the north fourth of Lot 25 on Market Street on which there was a brick storehouse. Payment included some notes on G&S Williams and an 80-acre tract on the Tennessee River below Chattanooga. McCallie & Hooke were to have possession the following spring, but it was not finished until that October. The river property was said to be nearly all good bottom land. It was worth $25 to $30 per acre. It was then not cleared, but by 1850, "almost every foot of it was in cultivation." The land was conveyed to Fryar for $1,470.

There was a recording of a sale of a brick house to Hooke & McCallie for $3,200.

Crutchfield and Williams afterward were involved in much litigation. One depositions says, "G&S Williams has a considerable account against T. Crutchfield. They had considerable dealings. Crutchfield claimed they owed him considerable sums. T. Crutchfield brought suit in Hamilton County Circuit Court."

The three-story brick building at Fourth and Market long stood and was used as a prison during the Civil War and afterward as a seat of government.

The former store, with its sturdy brick walls, was put into use as a prison during the Civil War. Afterward, the city made use of it as City Hall. When the county needed a temporary site for a courthouse the city moved out and the county moved in. When a new courthouse was ready in 1878 on Courthouse Hill, the city again occupied the old building. It was also placed in use as an armory.

Unfortunately, this ancient landmark harking back to just after the Ross's Landing days was razed in the early 1900s.

* * * * * * * * * *
 
A demolition project on Walnut Street unexpectedly turned up documents from Chattanooga's earliest days in March 2018.

Rob Bentley, a young man who has developed a love for Chattanooga's history, said he got a call from his friend Robert Parks about the discovery. His company, T. U. Parks, was doing the demolition and build-out of the former Elks Building at Walnut and Seventh and the small adjacent former Title Guaranty and Trust building.

Mr. Bentley, who works at the venerable Chattanooga firm of T.T. Wilson and Company, said, "When they were demoing the old vault the workers found the old documents. Robert went to look at them and a check made out to T.T. Wilson was on top of the pile so he called me to let me know what he had found. I asked him if they would stop the demo of the vaults so i could come take a  look at the papers.

"By the time I got to the job site some of the documents had already been thrown into the dumpster and destroyed. I loaded up all the documents I could save out of the dumpster and the ones not yet thrown away into my truck. I went home and organized them the best I could."

The cache included many other checks to pioneer Chattanooga businesses.

The retrieved items included some 800 pages of old documents related to a lawsuit against Chattanooga pioneer Samuel Williams. Some of the documents date to well before the Indian Removal and to the earliest days of Hamilton County.

Mr. Bentley later met with Sam Hall, who has been saving thousands of old Chattanooga photos and documents through his Deepzoom Chattanooga website (now ChattanoogaHistory.com).

Mr. Hall was excited about the find and began scanning the Williams legal documents. He scanned a large group that was saved before some were thrown in the dumpster. Those retrieved from the dumpster, he photographed. Portions of those documents had water damage so that about a fourth of each page cannot be read.

Some of the documents bear the signature of H.C. Beck, one of the founders of Title Guaranty and Trust. The title company later built a much-larger headquarters next door. Both are directly across from the County Courthouse.

Through the years, the upstairs portion of the initial Title Guaranty building was rented to attorneys, including Lewis Coleman, a protoge of Coca Cola bottling magnate Jack Lupton. It is believed that the papers that were located were from one of the attorneys renting the upstairs office or from the Title Guaranty operation itself.

Later the small building was merged with the Elks Building next door. The county named the pair of buildings the Mayfield Annex. The county in recent years vacated the buildings and they are being renovated by Lamp Post Properties, which has been restoring several downtown historic buildings for new uses.

The Williams documents can be read on ChattanoogaHistory.com. They are in two files - the undamaged scanned ones and the photographed pages with water damage. 

The links to the Williams papers on Sam Hall's website are here.


The Cabins where Thomas Crutchfield lived
The Cabins where Thomas Crutchfield lived

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