Contributed photo by Mickey Robbins/This marker highlights Meharry Medical College gradaute Dr. Emma Rochelle Wheeler, who owned and operated Walden Hospital.

Almost 200 years ago, the Tennessee General Assembly chartered Hamilton County from portions of Rhea County and Cherokee Nation lands. The founders chose to honor the memory of Alexander Hamilton, former aide-de-camp to Revolutionary War Gen. George Washington and the first Secretary of the Treasury, in their selection of a name for the new county.

On. Oct. 25, Hamilton County will celebrate its 200th birthday with a series of events — leading up to the slicing of a birthday cake — will take place to commemorate the county's founding in 1819.

As a part of the 200th celebration, the committee has created a Hamilton County birthday Bingo card, encouraging families to explore our community through visits to local historic sites.

Imagine the fun of sharing these historic sites with children or grandchildren as a series of family outings. Your family will be creating memories while learning more about Hamilton County's legacy.

To get you started thinking about the contest and our local history sites, here are just a few of the "places in time"' you might choose to visit:

POE'S TAVERN: In 1818, Haston Poe built Poe's Tavern in a location then known as Poe's Crossing, now known as Soddy-Daisy. Poe's Tavern was the site of the first Hamilton County Court and is considered to be the first county seat of government. The original tavern was one of the oldest structures in Hamilton County and a site for the gathering of the Cherokee before the departure on the Trail of Tears while later serving as a hospital for both Union and Confederate troops, at different times, during the United States Civil War.

THE CHIEF JOHN ROSS BRIDGE: While most residents refer to this unique bascule bridge as the Market Street Bridge, its official name is the Chief John Ross Bridge. Opened in 1917, the bridge was named for the longest-serving Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation and Chattanooga's founder.

Explore history

As part of the celebration of Hamilton County’s 200th birthday on Oct. 25, a Bingo game card has been created to encourage families to explore the county’s history.

The game card is posted on the Hamilton County government website and also is available by emailing localhistory

Each of 23 historic sites occupies a square on the card along with a free center square and a ‘Choose Your Own Historic Site’ square. To Bingo, visit five sites (or four if including the free square), pose for a selfie and then insert all photos on a page along with your name, phone number and email. Email the one-page entry to

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger will select the winning entries during a blind draw on Oct. 25.


ENGEL STADIUM: Built in 1930 by Joe Engel as a home for the Chattanooga Lookouts, this beautiful stadium witnessed the skills of baseball greats including Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays and Harmon Killebrew — along with Chattanooga's own Jackie Mitchell.

ABBY CRAWFORD MILTON HISTORICAL MARKER: One hundred years ago, Abby Crawford Milton was crisscrossing Tennessee as the president of the Tennessee Women's Suffrage League, seeking votes for the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting equal voting rights for women. After its passage, she became the first president of the Tennessee League of Women Voters.

BETHLEHEM-WILEY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH: Located on a site that served as an important community center during the early 19th century, the earlier church building was used as a military hospital for the Confederate Army and later as a Union military prison during the Civil War. The current building, completed in 1886-1887, was the site of the first African Methodist Episcopal congregation in East Tennessee.

BROWN'S TAVERN: Constructed near both the Great Indian Warpath and the Federal Road, Brown's Tavern, operated as an inn by John Brown, is noted by many historians as the oldest structure in Hamilton County. The Tavern serves as a historical link between the Cherokee Removal and the Trail of Tears, the Battles for Chattanooga during the Civil War and the modern recognition of these historic events.

THE WALDEN HOSPITAL HISTORICAL MARKER: Founded by Dr. Emma Wheeler, a graduate of Meharry Medical College, Walden Hospital served Chattanooga's black community from 1917 until 1952 and trained nurses of color for more than 20 years.

Intriguing sites and enthralling history await you on an exploration of Hamilton County. From Point Park to Orchard Knob and from the Connor Toll House to the Chattanooga National Cemetery and other sites on the bingo card, come explore our local heritage.

Linda Moss Mines is the Chattanooga and Hamilton County Historian, chairwoman of the 200th Birthday Celebration and regent of the Chief John Ross Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

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