Annexation, 1962

Copyright 2007 * All rights reserved
J.C. (Jim) Tumblin, OD, DOS
3604 Kesterwood Drive, East
Knoxville, Tennessee 37918-2557
(865) 687-1948

Fountain City Events That Made A Difference

Fountain City’s Funeral

(Annexation, 1962)

Photograph Courtesy of WBIR-TV-Channel 10

Forty-five years ago this month "Funeral Services" were held for Fountain City.

John Adair’s frontier outpost, established in 1788 only two years after James White’s Fort, had blossomed into the largest unincorporated community in the United States.

In the same pioneering spirit Adair had shown, the estimated 30,000 inhabitants had supported their own water and sewage utility, garbage collection company and fire department. With occasional help from the Knox County Sheriff, patrolman Curt Brock provided police protection.

A private water utility organized in 1931 with 200 subscribers had grown to 5,700 households served by 140 miles of mains by the 1960s. Many homes still used septic tanks, but the Fountain City Sanitary District served 1,600 homes.

In 1942, the Fountain City Fire Department had placed its newly arrived truck with 1,200 feet of hose and a 400-gallon booster in service. The 2,000 subscribers in Fountain City, Smithwood and Inskip paid $6 per year.

Another independent body, the Fountain City Park Commission, chaired by Judge John W. Green, had maintained perhaps the finest public park in the county for more than 20 years. Under the late Dr. A.L. Jenkins’ leadership, the Fountain City Recreation Commission had provided a comprehensive sports program for our children and youth since 1953.

Is there any wonder then that, when Knoxville City Council began proposing annexation in 1959, there was much resistance?

John Brothers conducted a mail poll that year and received letters or cards indicating that 1,796 were opposed and 112 for annexation. His initial observation was, "If the city worked out a program in a calm and reasonable manner and with a proper schedule for extension of services, opposition would lessen considerably."

After instituting a lawsuit, a committee including John T. Brothers, Carl L. Butcher Sr., Ross T. Stuart and Robert H. Temple worked with attorney Clyde Key to negotiate with city law director T. Mack Blackburn, on behalf of the mayor and Knoxville City Council, to secure the best arrangement possible.

Finally, it was agreed that Fountain City would become a part of the city on Feb. 11, 1962 at Midnight after the 1962 tax assessment deadline. In essence this assured almost a full year moratorium on city taxes. However, at the city’s discretion, some city services could be provided that first year with streetlights and a new fire station to have priority.

Photograph Courtesy of WBIR-TV-Channel 10

At an 11:30 a.m. "Funeral Ceremony" on Monday, Feb. 12, 1962, Stuart handed over a symbolic sword to Mayor John Duncan and Fountain City became a part of Knoxville. Some 350 mourners accompanied the hearse and the casket down Broadway to a plot on Old Broadway at Dutch Valley Road in the shadow of Scandlyn’s D-Lyn Court.

During the procession, the Central High School band played the solemn march "Pomp and Circumstance" while several citizens carried banners with slogans such as these:

Six pallbearers—John Akridge, Fred Graves Jr., C.M. Hill, Sam Cook, Jack Easton and Bill Beckler—assisted "Reverend" Harry (Hop) Hitch with the services. They were all dressed in black and wore Abraham Lincoln-esque black stovepipe hats. Prior to the service the "viewing" disclosed a giant yellow key to the city in the coffin, which was presented later to Mayor Duncan.

As he passed a replica of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s sword to the mayor, Stuart said, "As the surrender of Gen. Lee at Appomattox heralded a united nation, so this 100 years later we herald the unity of our community with yours."

Mayor Duncan responded, "No city can be great unless its citizens are great. We can make no progress unless as a great, united community we wholeheartedly support a program of progress. We cannot have that self-confidence and optimism in our future unless all our citizens share in that spirit. United, forward-looking, one for all and all for one, this great city can go forward."

Mayor Duncan read the provisions of a "deed" prepared by Stuart, which conveyed to the citizens and residents of Fountain City the following:

Then a bugler played "Taps," signaling the end of one era and the beginning of another. Now, forty-five years later, few would question the wisdom of our city fathers. However, Fountain City has maintained its own identity with immense community pride. If that isn’t a win-win, what is?

Dyer-Gram by Bill Dyer, Knoxville News Sentinel, February 11, 1962

Photograph Courtesy of WBIR-TV-Channel 10

(Author’s Note: Thanks to "Our Stories" and WBIR-TV-Channel 10 for providing the photograph and to Bill Beckler, Sam Cook, Fred Graves Jr. and Robert Temple. Thanks also to Carol Springer for her expertise with the graphics. )

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