About Us

John Linn Building

John E. Linn, was born and raised in Chattanooga, the son of John  and  Mabel E. Self  Linn.

John was a past president of the McMinn-Meigs  Bar Association and was a member of the BPOE Lodge #1927.  He was a  graduate of the University of Chattanooga and the University of  Cincinnati School of Law with a J.D.  

John started his legal career as a  Title Attorney for TVA, and then opened his private firm in Athens  in 1969. He practiced until his retirement in September 2015.

John was also our uncle, and while all of the above are true facts, they don't come close to telling all there is to know about Uncle John and how dearly he was loved. Uncle John was highly intelligent but never spoke down to anyone. He was as at home with the weakest as he was with the strong. In his work he met and made friends from all different walks of life and was a true and gentle friend to all.

Uncle John loved to cook and socialize. He had a great smile and laugh. With as many nieces and nephews (and then the greats and the great-greats) as he had, he needed a good dose of patience and humor and he had both.

Uncle John was soft spoken and easy to get along with but he was no pushover. He just genuinely loved people and was known to help anyone in a time of need. 

Uncle John also loved to shop for household items and especially kitchen items. For months after his passing we found things he had purchased and put away! He loved all the latest kitchen gadgets and was known to buy more than one of an item if he really liked it. 

Uncle John was a huge animal lover and a supporter of the Humane Society. His pets, neighbor's pets, strays....he loved them all.

Our store could not exist without Uncle John. He was as generous as he was loved and it is our pleasure, privilege, and honor to keep his memory and love alive by naming the building he called his office  for nearly 50 years, The John Linn Building.

Uncle John passed away on March 19, 2017 at the age of 79.

The Battle of Athens

The Battle of Athens, Tennessee was a true event which took place August 1-2, 1946.

While much has been written about the Battle in recent years, there is no article or report that can be written in the present day that explains the happenings of that hot, muggy, 24-hour period as correctly and as discerningly as visiting our local museum and library where one can learn the true history of the Battle by those who actually took part in it or lived through it as a bystander.

The Battle happened as result of a long-term political machine in McMinn County. When the GI's returned from WWII, they were unhappy with the events happening in their town. They set out to correct it by forming a ticket, known as the GI Ticket, to run against the Political Machine.

Our freedom and liberties do not come easy and the fight for justice in Athens was a hard fought battle.

Please visit The Tennessee Overhill for more information.

Click the "Learn More" button below.

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115 N Jackson St - The 11th Precinct

Our building served as the 11th precinct on August 1, 1946. At the time, 115 N Jackson St was the home to the Water Company. What follows is a brief summary taken from several sources, most especially newspaper reports at the time. 

Tom Gillespie was a black farmer who came to Precinct 11 to vote. The Sheriff's men watched over Gillespie's shoulder and informed him he was voting incorrectly and that he needed to leave. The excuse given was that he was voting at the wrong precinct. Gillespie protested, as he knew this was his correct precinct. Deputy Windy Wise hit Gillespie with brass knuckles and shot him in the back as he tried to leave. Mr. Gillespie was taken away by the deputy sheriffs for what  they termed as treatment. (Mr. Tom Gillespie survived the shooting and remained living in Athens until his death in July 1980).

There were 6 white women who were ordered to leave the polls. They too protested, saying it was their right to watch the ballots being counted. They were forced to leave.

4 GI's were assigned to watch the 11th precinct. Two, Charley Hyde and J.P. Cartwright, were ordered to sit in the front of the building. Complaining they were unable to see the counting from that position, they left, leaving only James Edward Vestal and Charles Scott, Jr to watch the counting. 

Vestal and Scott were later ordered to take seats in the front of the building. They demanded to either be allowed to watch the counting of the votes or be allowed to leave. They sat. A few minutes later they told the men counting the ballots they were leaving. This resulted in the political machine men barricading the two men behind a counter and locking the door.

According to Mr. Vestal: "We jumped on the counter, climbed over it and tried to get out. The door was locked and Charlie hit it with his shoulder. They were right at us and trying to slug us with knuckles and their guns. He broke the glass and stumbled through. Charlie was cut around the shoulders. I got cut a little too, and fell down coming through the door." The door was plate glass set in a wooden frame. 

The deputies followed with guns drawn. Vestal and Scott put their hands in the air and walked slowly across the street to the crowd of onlookers. Though Deputies Windy Wise and George Spurling aimed their guns on the GI's backs, another deputy kept them from firing. The deputies retreated back into the building to the sound of Vestal and Scott inviting them to throw down their guns and come into the street to fight man for man.

Soon after, Chief Deputy Boe Dunn drove up with five deputies who proceeded to make a pathway from the car to the precinct. Dunn went in and removed the ballot box. While guns were drawn on the citizens of Athens, the deputies drove off with the ballots and took them to the jail, essentially setting the scene for the battle. 

Scott and Vestal were treated for their wounds at the Foree clinic. 

(Note: Due to the remodeling of the building, the back room and the door will be re-positioned. The counter the men jumped over, however, will remain).