Thursday, June 27, 2013

How Johnson City Got Its Name

Johnson City, TN presents an interesting case.  It's the county seat of Washington County' and it's where East Tennessee State University is located.  You can ride the Tweetsie Railroad excursion train if you go there.

It has a quaint law that prohibits merchants from using drums to advertise their goods.  Kazoos and banjos, alas, are not prohibited.

Also, it has a "Barney Fife" law, in which allows the local police to draft into service as many of the town's citizens as necessary to aid police in making arrests and in preventing or quelling any riot, unlawful assembly or breach of peace.  Presumably, each is given one bullet.

As for where it got its name, there are three versions:

1.  It was named after former President Andrew Johnson.  This is usually assumed by outsiders.

2.  It was named after Henry Johnson, a developer who developed the original settlement and was its first mayor.

3.  It was named by the local girls in honor of some attributes of the local guys, which they appreciated.

In Tennessee, they like 'em long!


  1. "Johnson - "penis," 1863, perhaps related to British slang John Thomas, which has the same meaning (1887)."

    You learn something new everyday.

  2. Last time I passed through Johnson City I did not think of the implications.

    I had no problem when I saw Whacker Street in Chicago.

  3. The origin of the name is improbable, but funny.

  4. The use of 'johnson' seems of more recent vintage.

  5. You might like to someday visit French Lick, Pennsylvania. Or not.