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1840 James Enfield Berry


(Lived April 5, 1790 – October 2, 1879)

The State of Tennessee granted the charter for the formation of the City of Chattanooga in 1839.  That charter mandated that seven aldermen be elected and that they vote among themselves to elect a mayor.  James Berry was one of the seven aldermen elected by the men of Chattanooga in December 1839.  The seven aldermen met for the first time on the first Monday of January 1840 and elected Berry as the new city’s first mayor.  Mayor Berry served for one year, as the city charter dictated.  Little is known about Mayor Berry’s term in office, but as the city was only recently opened for white settlement, all aspects of developing a town on the frontier must have been dealt with.

Before arriving in Chattanooga, Berry served as postmaster in Maryville, Tennessee, where he married Rebecca McChesney in 1818.  Mayor Berry and his wife were founding members of the Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, and when she died in 1841, Rebecca Berry was one of the first citizens buried in the Citizens Cemetery. (Citizens Cemetery, the city’s oldest cemetery, is located between Third Street and the UTC campus.)

Photo by Phillip Stevens and Matt Lea