Moore: How the St. Elmo community got its name

Augusta Evans Wilson, author of "St. Elmo." (Courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Located at the site of an ancient Native American crossroads, St. Elmo was Chattanooga's first suburb.

Following the removal of Native Americans in 1838, large tracts of their land were sold by the state of Tennessee, including 5,000 acres purchased by James Whiteside, encompassing most of the northern end of Lookout Mountain.

Realizing the potential for tourism, Whiteside built a turnpike up the mountain and the grand three-story Lookout Mountain Hotel. Opening in 1855, the hotel and surrounding area became a popular tourist destination.

One of these visitors was Augusta Jane Evans. Born in Columbus, Ga., to a wealthy family who had fallen on hard times, Evans was 20 years old and had recently published her first novel, "Inez: Tale of the Alamo," written while her family was living in the frontier town of San Antonio, Texas.

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