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1859 Thomas Crutchfield, Jr.

THOMAS CRUTCHFIELD 1849-1859(Lived May 17, 1830 – March 29, 1886)

Upon his father’s death in 1850, Thomas Crutchfield, Jr. took over operation of Chattanooga’s largest hotel, the Crutchfield House.  Mayor Crutchfield became mayor at a time when Chattanooga faced tough financial times.  The city’s investment in so many railroad projects and officials refusal to levy taxes against its citizens had drained the city’s coffers throughout the mid-1850s.  Though 1859 saw the completion of the Union Depot, the city’s financial future looked dim, forcing the Mayor and alderman to secure a $50,000 loan from a New York bank.  The terms of the loan pledged the “property and faith of the city” for security.

In the late winter of 1861, as the country approached the Civil War, Thomas Crutchfield sold his hotel. Following the Civil War, Crutchfield opened a general merchandise store along Market Street.  Unlike other southern businessmen, Thomas Crutchfield maintained enough capital following the Civil War that he was able to become a shareholder in the First National Bank when it incorporated in Chattanooga in the fall of 1865.

Photo by Phillip Stevens and Matt Lea