Relive The History Of Knoxville Tennessee’s Reverend Isaac Emory

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Despite contributing a great deal to society, some people will go long forgotten. This is the tale of one such case. This is the tale of Knoxville, Tennessee’s Reverend Isaac Emory. Reverend Isaac Emory was born in Fulton, New York in the 1830s. Emory was a graduate of Lane Theological Seminary. He traveled to Knoxville after 1865 as an American Sunday School missionary.

Emory was very active in churches throughout the mountains of Eastern Tennessee. During his time in Knoxville, Emory acquired a substantial amount of land. In 1890, he provided the city with a right-of-way for a short-line steam railway, which was set to run from Knoxville to Fountain City. The small train left near Broadway at a location close to Gray Cemetery and ran to the park in Fountain City.

It functioned more like a streetcar line and was thus called the “dummy line”. The land included in the right-of-way was supposed to be returned to the Emory family, if it was no longer going to be used for the railway. The city eventually converted the railway to a true streetcar in 1906. The land was not returned and this led to a dispute between the city and the Emory family.

The dispute was not settled until the late 1960s. The dummy line proved to be very popular among Knoxville residents. During his time in Knoxville, Emory was outspoken in the community. In 1879, Emory spoke out in favor of prayer in schools. He said that no superintendent should open a school without prayer.

Reverend Emory was accredited with establishing more than one thousand Sunday schools throughout the state of Tennessee. On September 24, 1904, Reverend Emory was killed during the legendary New Market Train Wreck. Two Southern Railway passenger trains were travelling at great speed when they collided head on near New Market, Tennessee.

In total, more than 54 individuals were killed in the collision. 120 were badly injured. Among those killed in the incident include Ralph Mountcastle, Richard Parrott, Roscoe King, William Johns, eight Italian immigrants and Isaac Emory. An enquiry into the incident was unable to determine why the engineer and fireman on the Number 15 train had not stopped at the side track near New Market. Both were killed by the collision and the engineer may have been asleep at the time. Many of the victims were decapitated or horribly mangled.

Between 1922 and 1923, Charles Emory decided to change his occupation from farming to real estate, because the hefty city taxes made farming unfeasible. Between 1924 and 1926, he converted the family farm into the Fairmont-Emoriland neighborhood. Charles laid out streets and surveyed lots. Then, he sold them in public auctions. In 1924, he sold 43 lots for a total of $25,000. At the time, it was a record for the auction company responsible for the sale.

Two years later, Charles Emory founded the Emory Construction Company. In 1927, he constructed a new house for his family at 103 Emoriland. The family house is now listed on the Knoxville Historic Register. Charles Emory passed away on November 17, 1933 of stomach cancer. The family house remained in the family until 1996.

Charles and Reverend Isaac Emory are now laid to rest in the historic Old Gray Cemetery in Knoxville, Tennessee. The historic Emory Place in Knoxville is named after Isaac Emory and his family.

December 2, 2017 |

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