From the founder of Picnooga, David Moon, Chattanooga Then elevates and shares Chattanooga’s history through photographs, postcards, and other historical artifacts.

Adolph S. Ochs letter

Over the years, I’ve handled several original Adolph Ochs documents, including some early construction receipts for work done on an annex of the Chattanooga Times Building. However, this letter is most fascinating, as it’s addressed to Major Shipp. Sherrif Joseph F. Shipp would some years later be indicted for, in effect, aiding and abetting the lynching of Ed Johnson in 1907. It would be a decision that resulted from the only criminal trial in the Supreme Court’s history. Shipp would get thirty days in jail and after was welcomed home to Chattanooga with a hero’s celebration.

“Joseph F. Shipp was born on February 3rd, 1845, in Jasper County, Tennessee. On April 12th, 1861, he ran away from home and enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private. His father was able to find him and take him home, but Shipp was later allowed to rejoin the Army of Virginia.

In the Battle of Malvern, he was severely wounded. For his numerous acts of gallantry and bravery in the face of danger, Shipp was promoted to the rank of captain, a title he held throughout the war. Later in his life, he joined the United Confederates Veteran’s Association and served as the organization’s Quartermaster General until his death.

At the end of the Civil War, he was discharged from the Army and returned to his home in Georgia. There he became involved in many successful business ventures.

On August 12th, 1866, Shipp married Lily Eckles, and they moved to Chattanooga, where he became involved in the manufacturing business. By 1893, Shipp was known as one of the wealthiest citizens in Hamilton County.

In the early 1890s, Shipp was appointed Coal Oil inspector by Tennessee’s Governor Peter Turney. In 1900, he was elected as tax assessor, serving until 1904, when he was elected as sheriff of Hamilton County. Shipp also served as a member of the Board of Alderman and on the Board of Education, though he had little formal education. In addition, Shipp was active in the Board of Trade and the Chamber of Commerce. After serving two terms (1904 to 1908) as Hamilton County Sheriff, he was again appointed Coal Oil Inspector on April 18, 1923.

After a brief illness, Shipp passed away on September 18, 1925, at his home on Lookout Place. He was laid to rest in his Confederate uniform.”

Other names mentioned are Messers. Whiteside and Barton.

Hugh Whiteside

Judge Hugh Whiteside, a former mayor of Chattanooga, is most likely the Whiteside addressed in the letter. You can find his bio here.

Barton is probably R. M. Barton, Jr. He was an attorney and city council member instrumental in funding the construction of the Walnut Street Bridge.

I could not find this specific railroad shops project through my research, or if they were successful in their endeavors. R. M. Barton had talent in raising funds, although Hugh Whiteside would die a year later after accidentally shooting himself in the foot with a shotgun, succumbing to blood poisoning after doctors amputated his leg.

Certainly, this letter demonstrates Ochs’ and others, interest in politics and the progression of Chattanooga’s infrastructure. Whether it be for the citizens of Hamilton County, their own interest and legacy stories, or all of the above.


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