EDITOR'S NOTE - The following article is taken from the pages of Dusty Bits of the Forgotten Past, a local history written by H. Clay Smith an published by the Scott County Historical Society.
JIM OWENS had built a two-room log cabin on the corner of Main and Depot Streets where the First National Bank is. Later, he built a new home, Dr. DICK, on first coming to Oneida, moving into the log house. Dr. DICK erected a home across the railroad where the A. Z. LONG one is now located, later leaving it to move into the GEORGE CHANDLER house, as previously noted.
The doctor's home across the railroad went to ERIE SLAVEN and was thereafter known as the "Erie Slaven House." It was there that Oneida had its first gun battle.
The old house on the corner went to RANS MARCUM, who ran it from 1890 to 1899. Rans started to keep boarders and travelers, the writer's mother carrying milk and butter to this boardinghouse and his second oldest sister, OLA, being named after MARCUM's wife.
WILL PARROTT came to Oneida and bought out a small store adjoining this old "Oneida House", the store having been built as a blacksmith shop by one "Billy" SMITH, of Kentucky. "Jim" OWENS had bought it and built an addition on the back of it. WILLIAM N. PARROTT, the new owner of the store, cleaned it up and began to prosper right from the start.
Later on, he married, his wife's name being CASSIE. Mrs. H. C. SMITH, Sr., liked to tell about attending the wedding at the First Baptist Church and hearing Mr. PARROTT sing the song, "Tomorrow Night I Will Be at My New Home," and Cassie repeating after him, "So will I."
Their son, PAUL, was born in this old "Oneida House" and became known for naming the famous "Polly Parrott" brand of shoes. The elder PARROTT was killed July 23, 1901, in his store, and Mrs. PARROTT sold "The Oneida House" and the store and moved with her son to Harriman.
The new buyer, Mr. ELI COOPER, immediately began to work on the hotel and changed the name to "City Hotel", also going to work in the store, then later he had BEN HAIL run the hotel for him, BEN also having Oneida's first restaurant in it.
In due course, Mr. COOPER turned the hotel and restaurant over to JOE BLEVINS. The latter had married the daughter of REDMOND FORBIS, who came from Sequatchie Valley about 1875. This girl had developed some kind of tumor and Dr. McCANDLESS, who had come to Oneida, decided to operate on her for its removal, using her dining room table for the purpose. The writer's Aunt NANCY BEETS assisted at the operation, which was unsuccessful, the patient dying.
The City Hotel (the old "Oneida. House") then went into the hands of a Mrs. SWAIN, a relative of the Coopers, and she put in a taxi service, the first such in Oneida. FRED COOPER, better known as "Seed Tick", and related to her, driving it for her. Later, "Stub" DAVIS, who had lost both legs just above the knees, ran it, first for her, then subsequently for himself.
This hotel continued to run until 1921, when it gave way to the First National Bank. It had had many "firsts" in the county, along with some interesting stories about killings near, and many others very nearly happening in it.
A third floor was added to the hotel, making it probably the only three-story structure in the county; and it was on this third story that there was a "glassed in room on the front verandah. When in 1914, there was an epidemic of smallpox in Scott County, many of the patients were put on this third floor of the City Hotel to immunize the well people against the disease, a Mr. BYRD, who had been brought in from the Norma mill, being one of these patients. Mr. BYRD was a good deal of a show to the youngsters, who watched him sitting in that cage-like room with his whiskers reaching out, in LEE KING's description, "as long as a pony's tail."
Then, there were the boys who had been called up for service in World War I and had had to come in early in order to leave town the next day, who pitched rousing parties and staged many fights. Some of these fellows had been able to get flags and, as they left town on the evening train, one of them, "Jeems" PHILLIPS, stuck his head out of the coach window, waved his flag and declared he was going to Germany to bring back Kaiser "Bill".
PHILLIPS, pepped up with "John Barleycorn," lost his flag on the mail crane just outside South Oneida. Incidentally, he didn't get the Kaiser, but he did receive the Purple Heart and other special mentions for bravery on the battlefields of France, as did many others who had stopped over in the noted City Hotel, including the famous ALVIN YORK, of Pall Mall, Tennessee.
This inn had also accommodated well-known politicians, such as "Dick" AUSTIN, Senator JOHN COOPER of Kentucky, and his father and certain judges; and it was from its verandahs, as well as from the depot platforms, that children and grownups lined every foot of space to see and hear President-elect HARDING as he stopped his political train at the station to make a short speech.
This City Hotel corner, Main at Depot, was noted as the place where so many incidents started that led to killings at other spots in town. It is the location that Police Chief REASON WEST and the police used to view up Main Street and up and down Depot Street, as well as across the railroad tracks.
Long live the memories of that old hotel and the old corner telephone pole that stood there so long holding up both the sober and the drunks, the latter clinging to it until they could sober up; and that pole made the best place to tack up notices of things that were going to happen in town and was the choice spot for the county politicians to post their likenesses. The writer has seen as many as ten or more pictures plastered from the ground level to fifteen feet up the pole.
FNB Chronicle, Vol. 9, No. 4 - Summer 1998
First National Bank
P.O. Box 4699
Oneida, TN 37841
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