Do you enjoy reading about the history of Northeast Tennessee and surrounding area? If so, welcome to "Bob Cox's Yesteryear" website, containing my local history columns and features, most of which have appeared on Monday's History/Heritage page of the Johnson City (Tennessee) Press newspaper:
Since new articles are being added weekly, check back frequently. Also, use the "Search this site" button at the left or click on "article catagories" to find subjects of interest. Use quotation marks to narrow your search. Click on the photos along the right side and the corresponding article will be shown.
Subjects deal with the glorious beginnings of this beautiful Appalachian mountainous region.
My focus lies mainly within Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina, with particular emphasis on Johnson City. Click on any photo along the right side and you will be directed to the corresponding article. I am currently in the process of adding many new photos to my articles.
Click on "Photo Galleries" at the top left to preview all the photos contained in my articles. The rotating questions at the top can be answered by clicking on them, which takes you to the article that contains the answer. So now ... sit back, relax and return with us to those glorious carefree days of yesteryear. I can be reached at
Occasionally, I delve back into my childhood to revisit cherished memories of yesteryear. My favorite radio show of the early-to-mid 1950s was, without question, "Big Jon & Sparkie." The program ran from 1948 until 1958.
In the past, I wrote about several carnivals and circuses that came to Northeast Tennessee. They included the Mighty Haag Railroad Shows, Gentry Brothers, Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, The Great New York and New Orleans Zoological and Equestrian Exposition, John Robinson's Circus and J.J. Page Carnival. The latter wintered in Johnson City along Love Street.
In 1888, a Johnson City newspaper correspondent wrote an article for the paper describing the condition of the city that year. "This ends the year in this locality and we will try to sum up the items of most interest. We had three elections, one in March to elect a mayor and aldermen, another in August to elect county officers and one in November to appoint state and national officials."
Jay "Terry" Prater, an avid fan of the Johnson City History/Heritage page, has been in the ministry for over 50 years. He has pastored churches in several states, along with East Park and Oakland Avenue Baptist churches in Johnson City. He recently shared some photos from his early years in Johnson City.
In my unvarying search for Northeast Tennessee history, I often uncover attention-grabbing material. Recently, I spotted something from the late 1800s that aroused my curiosity because it pertained to Davy Crockett, a favorite theme of mine. It concerned an actor from Kentucky who became rich and famous for his on-stage portrayal of the noted hunter and storyteller.
Governor "Our Bob" Taylor often commented about the John Robinson Circus that he occasionally visited. It was the first one that he ever witnessed, never forgetting the lingering memories of it. Bob speculated that he would always remain young as long as this circus would fill his memories of those special days long passed by. He was convinced that it was the best tonic old men could ingest.
I attended the first grade at West Side School (1949-50) and grades two through six at Henry Johnson School (1951-55). PTA was held on the third Wednesday of each month. We usually decorated the rooms for each meeting, which usually consisted of posters we researched for assigned projects. I had some really great teachers for my grammar school years. Let me briefly comment on those at Henry Johnson.
Many people likely recall the 1952 polio epidemic that spread throughout the nation, paralyzing individuals and putting many in "iron lungs," large machines used to control breathing. Several folks cancelled travel plans for fear of contracting the dreaded disease. Several vaccine tests, developed by Jonas Salk, were administered around the country with encouraging results.
In January, 2010, I wrote an article about the collapse of White Rock Summit on Buffalo Mountain that occurred Jan. 25, 1882. A few newspapers from around the country and one from Mexico began to slowly report the news.
In March, 1954, the Press-Chronicle launched its sixth annual "Johnson City Cardinals (Appalachian League) Batboy Contest." Four judges, Ralph Cox, Tom Lyons, Bill Miller and Jimmy Smyth, selected six boys as finalists: Joe Ward Booth, Sammy Broyles, Bill Dyer, Dana Lyon, Ronnie Rickman and Richard Teaster.