Brown's Tavern Was Haven For Early Travelers
Submitted by June Cooper
Early travelers on their way through Indian territory by the Tennessee River in the shadow of Lookout Mountain often stopped at the log cabin of John Brown. It was built on a knoll along an ancient trading path where cattle and other supplies were brought up to the hinterland from the coast at Augusta, Savannah and Charleston. Historic "Brown's Tavern" still stands and is one of the area's oldest residences.
The Great Indian Warpath crossed the North end of Lookout Mountain opposite Moccasin Bend, and the Federal Road (Georgia Road) was built about 1805 in this vicinity. One branch went along Lookout Creek in the area of today's Reflection Riding, but another route went to Brown's Tavern.
John Brown operated the inn, which was a popular stopping place for travelers, including the many "drovers" who moved large herds of horses, mules and cows along the primitive trails.
The house was erected in 1803 by Caspar Vaught, a talented carpenter who came from Blount County to do work for William Lewis Lovely, an Indian agent who was stationed at Lookout Creek.
The Brown house was built of heavy logs and has two stories. There is a porch across the front facing the river and a "dog trot" in the middle. Huge stone fireplaces were erected at both ends. The chimneys are over eight feet wide on the outside and can accommodate logs five feet long. There is also a boxed-in staircase leading to the second floor, which is divided into three oversized rooms.
The Brown place also had a hewed-log kitchen, a smokehouse, log stables, a log barn, a mild house, a hen house, stables, fenced orchards of pears, apples and peaches and fields.
John Brown is listed in early documents as a "half-breed," whose father was apparently a white trader who had married an Indian woman. William Brown and James Brown were other half-breeds who were leaders in the Cherokee Nation. The wife of Chief John Ross, Quatie, was also a Brown. Chief Ross and Quatie are said to have spent their honeymoon at Brown's Tavern.
John Brown is said to have gone west at the time of the Indian Removal in the 1830s, but later returned to his beloved homeplace. He was supposedly buried on his farm.
The place remained in the Brown family until 1847 when it was sold to William Cummings. This included the tavern and 308 acres. It was sold by Elizabeth Brown, administrator of the estate of John Brown. She was apparently his second wife.
William, in 1857, sold the Brown place to Jeremiah Fryar, Jr., and the Fryar's were occupying it at the time of the Civil War.
Edgar Boydston purchased the Brown place from Sevier Fryar in 1903, and the tavern and 130 acres were sold to the West Chattanooga Land Co. in 1911. The property was bought in 1952 by Dr. and Mrs. S. S. Marchbanks and they began its restoration. It is now owned and occupied by Joan L. Franks, who maintains John Brown's historic home much as it was in the pioneer days.
John Wilson Chattanooga News-Free Press