Allisons Were Among Cameron Hill's Earliest Residents; Stayed Through The Civil War

Tuesday, August 9, 2022 - by John Wilson
The Allisons lived at the corner of Pine and Seventh streets. This view is on Pine Street looking north from Seventh.
The Allisons lived at the corner of Pine and Seventh streets. This view is on Pine Street looking north from Seventh.

In Chattanooga's early days, Cameron Hill resident James Reeves Allison was the city's chief silversmith and watchmaker. During the trying days of the Civil War, the Allisons were one of the few families to remain in town.

The Allisons were early settlers in Upper East Tennessee. James Reeves Allison was born in Greene County about 1816.  He made his way to Murray County, Ga., along with many other settlers after the Indian removal. Allison arrived in Chattanooga in 1852.

His first wife, Jane, died here on June 4, 1858. She was buried in Citizens Cemetery.

The following year, J.R. Allison took a young wife. He was married to Sallie Ellen Lipp, a native of Culpepper County, Va., who was just 17. He was 43. The ceremony was performed on May 31 by the Rev. W.E. Munsey at the residence of the bride's family. Sallie was the daughter of Henry William and Frances Jane Hoffman Lipp. The following year, Henry Lipp died in Atlanta. Frances Lipp then came to Chattanooga, and she married Frederick Divine in 1871. The Allisons lived on the side of Cameron Hill at the corner of Pine and Seventh streets near Dr. L.Y. Green. The Allison shop was on Market Street near Fifth. It was near the Kennedy House.

During the war, the Allisons stayed put though the city was repeatedly shelled and one army after the other held sway. They endured the terrible siege in the late summer of 1863, when food could scarcely be found. The family was forced to obtain permission from the military authorities to use the water from their own well. At the height of the siege, streams of thirsty soldiers made their way to enjoy the cold Allison well water. At one time, the Allisons were told that they would have to vacate their home to allow its use by a captain as his headquarters. James Allison wrote a letter to military authorities in protest, saying he was caring for a family of 16 and had been limited to use of just two rooms of his house. He said the family included his aged mother, and he said his wife "is now in very delicate health.'' Allison noted his loyalty to the Union, citing several Chattanoogans who could vouch for him, including Postmaster James R. Hood and Sheriff George Rider. The Allisons were allowed to keep their house.

At the time of the Battle Above the Clouds, the Allisons climbed to the top of Cameron Hill and
tried to watch the fighting through the fog. On another occasion, future president James A. Garfield stopped by the Allison home. It is said that he saw a white linen coat hanging on a hook and asked if he could use it. "The request was promptly and willingly granted.''

James R. Allison was an alderman representing the Third Ward during the early part of the war. He went into office in June of 1861 after Rufus Tankesley resigned to go fight for the Confederacy. At the time the aldermen were getting paid $35 a month, but they protested this rate and were raised to $60. Allison served through a portion of 1863. At the end of the war, he was an election judge for the city on several occasions. Allison on Dec. 4, 1864, registered for military duty in the Union's Civic Guard at Chattanooga.

The first Allison child by his second wife was Joseph, who died at a young age. A daughter, Nora Louvenia, was born just before the war. Another son, Marcellius Blucher, arrived Feb. 24, 1862 - after the war had started. James Wright was born on Jan. 19, 1865, just before the war's end. The other children were Istallena B. and John Henry Francis.

J.R. Allison kept his Market Street shop open for a number of years after the war. But he felt
Chattanooga was so lawless during the post-war years that it was no place to raise children. He
bought a farm at Birchwood about 1876 and moved to a dog-trot farmhouse there. The family
would still visit Chattanooga on occasions, and they often would ride the steamboat. To alert the captain to pick them up, they would wave a towel in the daytime and a lantern at night.

Nora Allison married Stephen C. Pyott, a Rhea Springs, Tn., native who was a clerk on one of the boats that plied the river between Chattanooga and Knoxville. Then he was a deputy revenue collector for eight East Tennessee counties. He was sheriff of Hamilton County from 1884 to 1886. The Pyotts lived many years at 501 Cedar St. on the side of Cameron Hill.

Istallena Allison married Franklin W. Blair, who was in the lumber business. His sawmill was at Douglas Street near the river. The Blair family lived at 799 East Fourth St. 

Marcellius Blucher Allison was a railroad engineer. He married Mary Catherine "Molly" Abston, who was from Roane County.

James Wright Allison worked at the Blair saw mill, then later he was a railroader. He married Nancy Ann Samples. Their children were Ethel, James Reeves who married Della Louisa Pendergrass, Martha Ellen who married Jesse James Pendergrass, John A. who married Minnie Jane Priddy, Malissa who married Jeff A. Roark, Nannie Lena who married Willie Clivo Bower, Rodney Elmer, Stephen Caywood who was killed in World War II, and Thomas who married Lillian Bell Roark. The James Reeves Allisons lived at Cleveland, Tn. He was living at Birchwood when he died in 1969 at the age of 79. 

John Henry Francis Allison had a farm at Sherman Heights. He later lived at Birchwood. He married Margaret Tennessee Beavers. Their children were Sarah, Ed, John Henry who married Icie Eldridge, Thomas Jefferson, Clifford Francis, Margaret Tennessee, Lenny Mae, Malissa Estelle and Leanna.

J.R. Allison was residing back at Cameron Hill with his daughter, Mrs. Pyott, at Fifth and Cedar streets when he died in early June in 1892. He had fainted while walking near the home about a week earlier. His burial was at Citizens Cemetery. He was "an honored citizen and a man of sterling worth, whose friendship was everlasting.'' Another said he was "a well-known man for a considerable period after the war. He enjoyed a wide range of friendships.''



Police Blotter: Woman Loses Her Mother's-In-Law Car; Woman Thinks Neighbor Stole Her Lawn Chair

PHOTOS: Baylor Stops McCallie

California Congressman With Clean Energy Focus To Visit Chattanooga


A woman was at Bargain Hunt at 5230 Highway 153 and was using her mother's-in-law vehicle. The woman was shopping with her daughter. She said the keys were set down while they were looking at ... (click for more)

U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, the Silicon Valley Congressman known as the driving force behind the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, is visiting Chattanooga to learn more about the city’s burgeoning clean ... (click for more)



Breaking News

Police Blotter: Woman Loses Her Mother's-In-Law Car; Woman Thinks Neighbor Stole Her Lawn Chair

A woman was at Bargain Hunt at 5230 Highway 153 and was using her mother's-in-law vehicle. The woman was shopping with her daughter. She said the keys were set down while they were looking at sunglasses. When she went back to find them they were no longer there. The woman said she looked for approximately two hours before having someone come to pick her up, while leaving the vehicle ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Baylor Stops McCallie

Opinion

The Not-So-Gay Pride Week

Thank you for the Chattanoogan article excerpting comments expressed about "Pride Week" at the Chattanooga City Council meeting this week. Apparently now June is LGBT Pride Month but now October has been declared LBGT History Month, in case you did not get enough of it in June. There have been strong objections raised about events targeting "youth" after videos of very young ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden In October

The frost has yet to get to my garden but as I collect orchids and onions for an October delivery it is downright chilly. Thank goodness for the afternoon sun as we prepare to plant our winter rye grass seed and wish for more rain. As is my monthly custom, there is an abundance of orchids and onions to deliver on this first day of October so let’s get going … AN ORCHID to Dr. ... (click for more)

Sports

10th Ranked Mocs Travel To In-State Rival ETSU

The 10th-ranked Chattanooga Mocs stay on the road for week 5 traveling back into Southern Conference play. It’s Rail Rivalry time with ETSU on the docket. It’s a tale of teams trying to do similar things but in very different positions at kickoff. The Mocs are 1-0 and tied with Mercer, Furman and Samford atop the SoCon standings. The Bucs are 0-2 and need a win to turn their ... (click for more)

Coach Poppie, Chattanooga Women Begin Practice

Chatter bounced across the walls, mingled with dribbling basketballs as the Shawn Poppie Era of Chattanooga women’s basketball got underway. With the tip-off of the 2022-23 season just under six weeks away, the Mocs hit the court, full of energy, ready to get the 49th season of Chattanooga basketball underway. “It’s a different feeling, being ‘first official day,” Mocs ... (click for more)