of La Follette
Information from this article
was extracted with permission from Dr. Miller McDonald's book
Campbell County Tennessee USA: A History of Places, Faces,
Happenings, Traditions, and Things, Vol. 1.
From 1806, the area of Campbell County presently
known as La Follette was a primitive and unsettled area. By the
middle 1830s, activities were centered around a trading post operated
by Moses F. Rainwater. He opened a post office on July 24, 1835
which he named London after the capital of his native country. By
1836, the trading post failed, and the post office was discontinued.
However, the small community continued for the next 25 years under
the name of London.
Before the Civil War broke out, the name Big
Creek Gap replaced the name London. United States maps during this
time period showed prominent geographical features of the area.
Among them were Roger's Gap, Walker's Gap, and Big Creek Gap. On
April 18, 1875, another post office was established in the area
and named Big Creek Gap. The post masters were
Every small community has its focal point
where people gather to socialize. Big Creek Gap was no different.
Its focal point seemed to be the Ausmus Flour Mill built and operated
by John Franklin Ausmus in about 1885. Ausmus was born in Speedwell
in 1862 while Big Creek Gap was under occupation during the Civil
War. His father was Thomas Ausmus, who was killed by an Indian named
Anninias Honeycutt. After the death of his father, John and his
brother went to work caring for their widowed mother and young sister.
Eventually, they were able to buy a 700-acre farm known as the Betty
Van Bebber Farm in Speedwell. Construction on the Flour Mill began.
Due to the large farm area of that day, wagons of grains would be
lined up outside and waiting outside the mill. Some days as many
as six to eight wagons were lined up waiting. The mill was prosperous
until about the mid 1920's when Ausmus got caught up in the depression
and lost the mill.
In 1892, Harvey and Grant La Follette came
to Big Creek Gap from Thorton, IN and organized the La Follette
Coal, Iron and Railway Company. Harvey served as the president and
general manager while his brother, Grant, served as director and
assistant treasurer. In 1895, the residents passed around a petition
to have the name of the town changed from Big Creek Gap to La Follette.
In order for the town to grow and prosper, Harvey realized that
railroads were needed. In 1897, he linked La Follette to the Southern
Railway Line by completing the track from Vasper, TN to La Follette.
On March 13, 1894 the name of the post office
was officially changed from Big Creek Gap to La Follette. The postmasters
- John F. Graves, April 16, 1875 - March 24,
- Martin L. Sharp, Mar 25, 1878 - May 21,
- William S. Bowman, May 22, 1879 - March
- Isaac M. Ayers, March 22, 1883 - June 11,
- John W. D. Douglas, June 12, 1884 - April
- William W. Burket, April 9, 1889 - November
- James H. Wright, November 24, 1891
- William H. Wright, August 21, 1893 - March
On May 10, 1904, tragedy struck the small
town when a fire broke out at the Cumberland Inn and destroyed most
of the town. It was believed that that fire broke that the fire
started in closet at the front of the Inn. This closet, located
under the entrance steps, was full of mops, lanterns, and brooms.
- Alvis J. Carr, Apr 7, 1896 - Jan 17, 1899
- George W. Graham, Jan 18, 1899 - Mar 14,
- Evan T. Warner, Mar 15, 1902 - Jan 6, 1905
- James W. Taylor, Jan 7, 1905 - June 25,
- John P. Rogers, June 25, 1910 - Jan 23,
- William H. Delan, Jan 24, 1912 - June 5,
- A. M. Riggs, June 6, 1914 - May 6, 1919
- William Mozingo, May 7, 1919 - January 22,
- James D. Miller, Jan 23, 1920 - Jan 31,
- Alfred F. Agee, Feb 1, 1922 - Oct 4, 1933
- Irene Miller, Oct 5, 1933 - Nov 3, 1952
- Charles H. Russell, Nov 4, 1952 - May 20,
- Alan T. Murray, May 21 1953 - Apr 24, 1954
- Joe M. Carden Apr 25, 1954 - Aug 7, 1958
- William F. Parrott, Aug 8, 1958 - Aug 8,
About 5:15 in the morning, Dr. Louis Winkler,
who owned Winkler's Drug Store near the Cumberland Inn, was making
ice cream for the day's trade. When suddenly, he heard a commotion
and someone yelled "Fire!" The commotion and the blaze awoke patrons
of the Cumberland Inn. Dr. W. C. Adams broke his leg jumping from
the third floor of the building. J. H. Heinrichs left the inn in
an old fashion dressing down and clutching his eight-month-old son.
During the course of the fire, some 220 men working at the La
Follette Coal, Iron, and Railway Company rushed over to fight
the blaze. For most of the day, the men worked fervently to put
out the blaze. Of the 35 buildings destroyed, thirteen of them
were saloons. It was a miracle that no lives were lost.