The Historic Read House was the site of the 120th Tennessee Division United Daughters of the Confederacy 2016 Convention. The convention was sponsored by the Jefferson Davis Chapter 900 of Cleveland.
The chapter tried unsuccessfully to locate a place to hold the Convention in Cleveland, but could not find a place with enough space to hold such a convention. After a long search, The Read House was chosen because of its rich history pertaining to the war.
All the meals were served in the Silver Ballroom. Three of the meals were decorated to fit the Convention Logo which was Rocks, Rails, Rivers and Remembrance.
During the convention, military service awards were presented on the opening night in the Terrace Room. One presented was to Mrs. Jeremy Russell Yauck for his service in the War on Terror. Mr. Yauck was scheduled to receive the award, but could not attend because of Hurricane Matthew. Irvin French Kinser Jr. of Cleveland received an award for his service during the Vietnam Conflict. Debbie Riggs of Cleveland received three posthumous awards for her father, Benjamin Leuty Riggs for his service in three wars, WWII, Korean, and Vietnam.
After the award ceremony a reception was held in the hotel courtyard. Awards were presented to the UDC Chapters across the State of Tennessee for their historical, educational, benevolent, memorial and patriotic activities during the 2015-2016 year. The local Jefferson Davis Chapter received 21 awards, nine of which were first place awards.
Noon brought the Magazine Luncheon, and the roaring Catechism competition. Then it was back to business to hold the division elections. Two local ladies now hold division offices – Lisa Morrison Pritchett of Old Fort, Tn. is the state treasurer and Marilyn Kinser Kinne of Cleveland was elected registrar for the Tennessee Division. Both ladies will serve for the years 2016-2018.
After another dinner in the Silver Ballroom, the chapter presidents spoke for two minutes about the accomplishments of their chapters during the last year. Returning to the Terrace Room for the Historical Evening, H.K. Edgerton, an African-American activist for Southern Heritage and also an African-American member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, gave a rousing talk about the current events surrounding the “Stars and Bars” as it pertains to current events. He also recognized and praised the United Daughters of the Confederacy for their benevolent and educational work. At the end of the meeting the new officers were installed by former Division President Mrs. Nancy Todd.
The convention ended with everyone singing ‘Blest Be the Tie That Bind”.
History of the Read House:
The Tennessee Civil War Trails states the following about the Crutchfield/Read House hotel in Chattanooga, located on Broad Street. After the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, Union Gen. William S. Rosecrans retreated to Federal-occupied Chattanooga. It was a strategically vital rail center, where Confederate General Braxton Bragg laid siege from Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. Union General Ulysses S. Grant took command in October and began his efforts to break the siege. Bragg detached forces under General James Longstreet to attack Knoxville as a diversion. After General William T. Sherman reinforced Grant in November, the Federals attacked the heights and Bragg retreated. The Union army held the city for the rest of the war.
On Jan. 21, 1861 Jefferson Davis traveling home to Mississippi after resigning from the United States Senate, staying at the Crutchfield House. It was Chattanooga’s first major railroad hotel, having opened in 1856. Located in the city’s center across from the Union Depot, the hotel served travelers on both the Western and Atlantic and the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. It was a focus of Chattanooga’s bustling economic and social activity. Davis delivered a speech there on the sectional crisis described by others as brief and moderate.
As he left the room, William Crutchfield, brother of hotel owner Thomas Crutchfield and an “uncompromising Union man,” made a heated reply in which he called Davis a traitor and denounced secession. Davis returned to find pistols drawn and tensions high. Seeking satisfaction, Davis asked if Crutchfield was “responsible and reputable.” No duel took place, but the incident was reported as an example of the tensions that tore the nation apart.
During 1862 the hotel served as a Confederate headquarters for the garrison in and around Chattanooga. The commander, General Samuel Jones, turned the hotel into a hospital in the winter. When Union troops occupied the town on Sept. 9, 1863, the 92nd Illinois Mounted Infantry planted its regimental colors “on the third story of the Crutchfield House, the first to float over the evacuated town.” During the occupation, the hotel served as a hospital for Union soldiers wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga.
The Crutchfield House survived the war but burned in 1867. In 1926, Dr. and Mrs. John T. Read constructed the ten-story Georgian Revival-style Read House Hotel on the site of the Crutchfield House hotel.