A Spiritual and Educational Legacy Including McCallie School and Girls Preparatory School
The businesses that employ members of your family. The scenic spots where you bring your out of town relatives. The route you ride your bike on Saturdays. The hospital that helped your kids get well. What these aspects of our daily lives have in common is that they were all made possible by people who founded not only some of Chattanooga’s most enduring businesses, but a large part of the makeup of our city as we know it today.
The men and women featured here didn’t just create profitable, lasting companies and institutions. They shaped the history, infrastructure, and culture of our city, overcoming challenges such as the Great Depression, personal illness, and shifting economies, to make a positive impact on the lives around them. They might not have known in the early years and the lean years if their businesses would survive, much less change the fate of the little boom town on the river. But by daring to start new business ventures, creating charitable organizations, opening tourist attractions, preserving land, and building iconic buildings, they became not just a part of Chattanooga’s history, but integral to its future.
By Meghan O’Dea
Thomas Hooke McCallie was just 3 years old when he arrived by flat-bottomed boat at Ross’ Landing in March of 1841 with his father, Thomas McCallie, and mother, Mary Hooke McCallie. His father, a prosperous man, continued his previous work in the mercantile business after their arrival, and the family promptly moved to their new home on what is now McCallie Avenue on the corner of Lindsay Street.
McCallie eventually went on to receive theological training at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He returned to Chattanooga after the death of his father in 1859 and immediately took charge of his family. In January of 1862, right after the American Civil War had broken out, he married Ellen Douglas Jarnagin, daughter of former United States Senator Spencer Jarnagin, and accepted a call to the Presbyterian Church (now First Presbyterian Church) in Chattanooga. He continued as a pastor and spiritual leader in Chattanooga until his death in 1912.
Described as a “commanding figure in religious and civic life, interested and active in all that contributed to the welfare of the city and state,” McCallie recognized Chattanooga’s proximity to river and rail made it not only a strategic location in the war, but also a location from which institutions that would affect the South could be built. He and his wife had 16 children, with eight living into adulthood. These talented and devoted children included the founders of McCallie School, the founder of Girls Preparatory School, a City of Chattanooga chaplain, a longtime teacher at Bright School, and more than one businessman.
“My great-grandfather’s values were faith, family, and service with an emphasis on education,” says Thomas H. McCallie III. “As I see it, his progeny have carried those values well.”
To Read About More of Chattanooga’s Founding Fathers, click the following links:
Robert H. Siskin
Leo & Ruby Lambert
Garnet & Frieda Carter
Thomas Hooke McCallie and Descendants
Harry S. Probasco & Descendants
Rody Davenport & Sons
O.D. and Ruth McKee
William Emerson Brock & William Emerson Brock Jr.
Zeboim Cartter Patten