Dust Jacket Summary:
Old Money-New South
The Spirit of Chattanooga
—By Dean W. Arnold

   “Chattanooga is a money town . . . more of a controlled city,” says Walter Williams, the town’s first elected African American judge, who contrasts this New South City with its neighbors Atlanta, Nashville, and Birmingham. The judge points to Chattanooga’s prominent families as a unique feature. “Names run it now [and] clearly in the past ran Chattanooga,” he says.

   A northern elite joined southern families to create a modern aristocracy of sorts that lingers to this day. Chattanooga arguably gave more philanthropic dollars than any other city in the South during the 20th Century. Thanks to a number of fortunes, including several amassed by bottling Coca-Cola (a concept started by Chattanoogans), the city now boasts three of the nation’s most prestigious prep schools, one of the largest Christian foundations in the world, and, in the past century, perhaps the most concentrated wealth in a few hands in any town, anywhere.

   Those families, who today live primarily on Lookout Mountain, were forged into a benevolent force by the unusually strong presence of the Presbyterian Church. Worldly wealth is important not only for saving souls, but also for improving the community on this side of heaven, they were told.  Meanwhile, those in “the valley” struggle to interpret the actions of their prominent neighbors as positive rather than paternalistic or even self-dealing. As the influence of Presbyterianism declines, the community looks for other solutions to bridge the gap between Mountain and Valley.

   Journalist Dean Arnold—author of America’s Trail of Tears—provides a portrait of this extraordinary Southern city through interviewing fifty of its leading personalities, leaders, politicians and prominent family members. He also weaves a number of historical insights from the Civil War to the Trail of Tears (launched from Chattanooga) to ancient Indian settlements and discussions on the meaning of “Chattanooga.” All this, along with the engaging conversational style, helps to make Old Money-New South:The Spirit of Chattanooga an enjoyable and enlightening read.

Chapter Summeries for The Spirit of Chattanooga

What does the word Chattanooga mean?  This question is woven throughout the fabric of The Spirit of Chattanooga and though it is not the theme of the book, it is a gentle reminder of how the city is unique all the way to its very name.  The history of this city is peppered with exceptional occurrences and people which shaped Chattanooga into what it is today.  Yet, the question still remains, what makes Chattanooga so distinctive?  The Spirit of Chattanooga asks that question over and over and attacks it from various angles such as the geographical layout, the Native American heritage as well as the powerful families who are said to run the city.  From beginning to end, the theme continues to lend itself to each aspect of Chattanooga as a great city with unique characteristics taken from a diverse history that can be compared to no other.

Chapter 1 – The Spirit of the Fathers

Lupton, MacClellan, Brock, Probasco, Decosimo: these are some of the most prominent names in the history of Chattanooga and even still today.  Every nation or group can trace its origins to a select group of people; people that were considered great leaders or visionaries in their day and provided the foundations for future growth.  Chattanooga is no different in that sense in that the city has its fathers.  However, more than one hundred years later, there is still a sense that the same families are still in power.  Is this fiction that is perpetuated by the perceived separation between mountain people and valley people?  Although the entire book deals with certain aspects of that question, you must begin at the very fundamentals of what gives Chattanooga its unique qualities.  From Coca-Cola to the world’s largest Christian foundation, Chattanooga provides you with a story like no other.

Chapter 2 – The Spirit of the Mountain: Coke, Cliffs, Keys, and the Carter Boys

What makes “The Mountain” the mountain in Chattanooga?  From references that the city’s name was taken from the formation over the river to the idea that “Mankind is typically drawn to higher ground,” Lookout Mountain stands as an icon in the city of Chattanooga, recognizable to people around the world.  The mountain has many claims to fame from the invention of miniature golf to a garden of rocks while being the residence of the city’s wealthiest families.  What is it about Lookout Mountain that helps us understand the nature of Chattanooga and her residents, past and present?

Chapter 3 – The Spirit of the River: the Renaissance and the Recognition

What does a city like Chattanooga do when it is called “the dirtiest city in America?”  They start by “going back to the river.”  Chattanooga is now well known for many things like that Aquarium, the river walk, and more; yet it used to be known for things far more sinister.  Over the years, Chattanooga has been transformed from an environmental beast to a bastion of environmental consciousness.  What it took was action from key people and a decision to make use of one of the city’s great treasures.  Today, Chattanooga no longer resembles its former self as public and private interests have worked together in an unprecedented way to bring about great change.

Chapter 4 – The Spirit of the Valley: Ancient Crossroads and Classes

Sometimes, a few hundred feet is all it takes to perpetuate the idea that there is a difference.  That difference is the perception of many who live in the valley of Chattanooga.  The Spirit of the Valley gives us the background to the importance of the area formed by the Tennessee River as it bends illogically through Chattanooga.  Chattanooga then moved into an age of importance with the development of the rail system as well as her natural resources which are found in abundance.  But all this importance in the valley has not changed the perception that there is a divide between people who live in the valley and those who live on the mountain.  Is this perception reality, or is it just perpetuated by a lack of understanding or willingness to do something?

Chapter 5 – The Spirit of Scotland: Earliest Settlers and Ruling Elders

Sessions – Boards…Elders – Board Members.  The Highlanders of Scotland were the first to settle here.  The Lowlanders of Scotland were the next.  With them came a zealous Presbyterian background and an idea of how the church body is governed.  It is quite possible that the unique nature of Chattanooga and how things work today can be derived from the fact that these first settlers were Scottish.  Interestingly enough, the land that they inhabited had ties to their origins across the Atlantic.  It is said that those who settle first in an area are key in how that area develops.  Today, Chattanooga has an unusually large number of boards that essentially run the city.  Is this a result of the huge Presbyterian influence seen throughout the history of Chattanooga and can it also be seen on a more national level?  Maybe that’s why King George called the American Revolution a “Presbyterian Revolution.”

Chapter 6 – The Spirit of The New York Times: Adolph Ochs and the Competition

What do the Chattanooga Times, the New York Times, and a New Year’s Eve tradition with a large illuminated globe in New York’s Times Square have in common?  Adolph Ochs is responsible for each one of them.  As a boy trudging through the streets of Knoxville delivering papers to a young man publishing an innovative newspaper and finally owning the most well-known newspaper in the world, Adolph Ochs’ life story is something movies are made of.  The path that he took in his life provided him opportunities to make a lasting difference in the world today, over 100 years later.  Yet, how he achieved many of these things is still a mystery today as no one seems to know how he pulled off some of his dealings.

Chapter 7 – The Spirit of the Bible Belt: Family Values, Fundamentalists, and “Holy Fools”

If there is a Bible Belt, that belt must have a buckle.  Chattanooga may very well be that Buckle of the Bible Belt.  One example is that Chattanooga is the largest city in America without an abortion clinic.  Then there was a prayer vigil that brought somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 people with the threat of a lightning storm looming on the horizon.  Chattanooga is considered by many to be the most conservative area in Tennessee.  Yet, most would not call Chattanooga a Christian city, but instead a city with a Christian ethic.  Even looking at the vast array of street preachers that have made their mark on a national scale gives you some idea that there is something different about the city of Chattanooga, in a spiritual way.

Chapter 8 – The Spirit of the Luptons: the Last Vestiges of Aristocracy

It will surprise many that one of the most significant events in the history of Chattanooga is a piece of plaster falling from the ceiling of First Presbyterian Church on to the Lupton pew.  This family, whose great wealth can be attributed to entrepreneurship in Coca-Cola bottling, has helped shape many aspects of the spirit of Chattanooga.  Yet, it was one event that is looked at as a possible turning point in their involvement in the development and leadership of this community.

Chapter 9 – The Spirit of Ninth Street: African-Americans and the Bell of Freedom

In his great speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. challenged people to seek racial harmony and to live together in peace.  While cities around Chattanooga had their share of dramatic racial uprisings, Chattanooga seemed to remain relatively peaceful.  Was there some formula or was race never an issue in Chattanooga or was it something else?  Ninth Street, which is now known as M.L. King Blvd, can be found at the center of this topic as well as a key aspect to African Americans around Chattanooga.  It has stood for many years as the cultural center for blacks in this community.  Interestingly enough, it is the naming of the street that created one of the greatest sparks of controversy.

Chapter 10 – The Spirit of T.H. McCallie: Schools and Other Legacies

In a city where almost a quarter of the students are educated privately, one man can be credited with having an impact on virtually all aspects of education in the area.  Although he was a preacher, his influence can be seen in many of the private as well as public schools in the vicinity.  Although he did not have influence on how it would develop, the nature of education in Chattanooga lends itself to the overall spirit of the city and why it is so unique. 

Chapter 11 – The Spirit of the Ancients: Earliest Peoples and the word “Chattanooga”

How did the city of Chattanooga get its name and what does it mean?  A look into the area’s past residents shows us many things and piles more questions onto questions.  From Cherokee to Chickamauga to tribes seldom heard of, the ancient ancestry of Chattanooga provides the reader with an understanding of the importance of the landmarks which are recognized by resident and visitor alike.  Discovering the rich history to the simple name, Chattanooga, sheds more light on a distinction between mountain and valley and why this city has developed as it has.

Chapter 12 – The Spirit of the Bridge: Passing the Power to the Next Generation

Building the next generation of leaders should be the task of each generation currently in power.  Using the metaphor of the bridges that span the Tennessee River, the question is asked how the city will bridge from one generation to the next.  City leaders see the importance of passing the torch as the book comes to a close and offer some great insight as to what will happen in Chattanooga as the future unfolds.

Send samples to:
Dean Arnold
PO Box 2053
Chattanooga, TN 37409

First Twelve Pages

Cover Sample




copyright 2005 Chattanooga Historical Foundation