Interesting Dugger Family Lived At Several Locations At The Foot Of Cameron Hill

Tuesday, July 5, 2022 - by John Wilson

Several members of the interesting Dugger family made their homes near the foot of Cameron Hill. They were some of the last occupants of the historic Whiteside home.

"Los" Dugger, like Sam Houston, ran away from home which still in his teens and took up with the Cherokees, living in the wilderness the unfettered Indian lifestyle.  Dugger eventually wound up at Ross's Landing, and when  it became Chattanooga he was one of its political leaders for several decades.

William Lawson Dugger was born in 1823 when his family lived at Watauga County, N.C. A short time later they moved to Carter County in Tennessee.  From here, at age 13, W.L. Dugger left home with a party going west.  He went with them to Athens, Tn., and proceeded on to Ross's Landing, where he worked under Chief John Ross.  The white youth rode pony races and "held his own" with the Indian competitors.

The next year he took up with Chief Joe Vann, who had a fine house at Harrison.  Dugger went west on a steamboat with Chief Vann during the Indian removal, but the steamer blew up on the Arkansas River.  Chief Vann and six of his followers were killed, while many others were critically injured.

W.L. Dugger was only slightly hurt, but the frightening event was cause enough for him to retreat to Chattanooga, where he was joined by his younger brother, Benjamin F. Dugger.  The two brothers made the acquaintance of the daughters of the early Hamilton County settler, George R. Cannon. W.L. Dugger married Cynthia Cannon and B.F. Dugger married Jane Henderson Cannon.

B.F. Dugger operated a grocery, and he later had a farm next to his father-in-law at Harrison.  W.L. Dugger was a carpenter and a "born mechanic."  He had a love for the river and was a prominent figure in early steamboating.  When the railroad began to supplant the steamer, he became an engineer for the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad and later for the Wills Valley line.

When the war talk began, the Duggers were "of Union sentiment."  B.F. Dugger fought with Federal troops, while W.L. Dugger remained in Chattanooga and helped in the Union cause.  When the Confederate ship "Paint Rock" was sunk, it was dredged up and refitted.  W.L. Dugger operated it on many hazardous blockade running trips to Bridgeport, Ala, to help bring up supplies.

The B.F. Duggers moved in 1864 across the river to the Wiliam J. Rogers place.  This was along the road that went from the Cowart farm to Moccasin Bend opposite Brown's Ferry.  But their house was one of those washed away in the great flood of 1867.

B.F. Dugger passed away in October 1868, leaving his wife with seven children to raise - William L., Hester A., Mary J., Sarah J., Eliza L., James L. and the baby Cynthia M. Jane Dugger afterward lived at 310 Poplar St. as did her son, William L., who was a boilermaker. When Jane Dugger died in 1901 at her daughter's house on Manning Street in North Chattanooga, all seven children were at her bedside.  They were William and James, Mrs. Robert H. Maddux (Eliza), Mrs. George Lord (Sarah), Mrs. Charles Messick, Mrs. Robinson Nail (Mary) of Rhea County and Mrs. George Trobaugh of Morristown.

W.L. "Los" Dugger was an alderman in city government at the start of the war and during Reconstruction.  He also held the post for many terms until the 1890s. He was successful in dealing in real estate after the war.

W.L. Dugger was influential in convincing the Federal government to pay for damages to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church so its edifice could be rebuilt after the war.

During the yellow fever epidemic in 1878, W.L. Dugger used his steamboating knowledge to refugee his family on the river near the present Lupton City.  The party included his daughter, Mary, and her husband, J.P. Kindrick, and daughter, Eliza, and her husband, A J. Gahagan.  The family amused themselves with games and plays during the long epidemic.  Also, W.L. Dugger piloted the R.M. Bishop steamer up and down the river, gathering food supplies and delivering them at the Chattanooga wharf for the remnant remaining in town.

W.L. "Los" Dugger lived for many years at 305 Pine St. as did his sons, Collin C. Dugger and Jesse T. Dugger. Later the family acquired the old James Whiteside place at 415 Poplar St. Jesse T. Dugger, who was a city fireman and later the city electrician, lived there before moving to Battery Place. Then Collin Dugger, who was at one time a sand dealer, moved to the Whiteside home. He had married Anne Lee Calder, daughter of John Calder who as a young man came from Scotland on a sailing vessel. The Collin Duggers were living at 415 Poplar when Collin was killed in a fox hunting incident. He left behind children Alice Carey, Richard and Nancy. Alice stayed on several years in the landmark home, then moved to 217 W. Sixth by 1923.  

When W.L. Dugger died in 1908, he was said to be Chattanooga's oldest citizen.  Items mentioned in his will included in interest in Ross's Towhead, and island near Chattanooga Creek that is now underwater. He gave his memories of the early Ross's Landing steamboating days in a scrapbook known as the "Dugger manuscript" that was kept for many years by his son, Jesse Tyner Dugger, but which was later lost.

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VIDEO: County Commission Meeting 8/10/2022

A man on Rotary Drive told police his ex-girlfriend had moved out and had contacted him regarding retrieving her possessions. The woman requested her items be placed “outside on the porch”. The ... (click for more)

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Latest Bradley County Arrest Report

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