This week John Wilson of the Chattanoogan.com introduced the first of a fascinating series of articles on Samuel Williams. Mr. Wilson describes Williams as the “father of Chattanooga”. Williams came to Ross’s Landing in 1833 and with his brother established a mercantile store on the banks of the Tennessee River – what is now called Chattanooga. Williams joined with Col. James A. Whiteside in buying up much of Chattanooga. In 1838 a young man on his way to Mississippi stopped in Ross’s Landing and ended up working for Samuel Williams and marrying his daughter, Elizabeth.
That young man was John Lowery Divine, was my great-great-grandfather. Working with Williams, John L. Divine recognized the potential of Chattanooga and formed the South Chattanooga Land Company acquiring much land – including Moccasin Bend, much of South Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge. In the 1870 Divine acquired a flour mill investing heavily into new equipment. That flour mill became Dixie Portland.
Divine’s wife Elizabeth died after having two children and Divine married Rachel Vincent James. They had seven children, one of whom, Sarah, my great-grandmother, married Robert Burch Cooke, who with his father Col. James Burch Cooke and brother Thomas Henderson Cooke practiced law in Chattanooga from the firm’s founding in 1866 until 1941. RB and Sarah Cooke’s daughter Rachel, my grandmother, married John Cessna Sharp, whose father had moved from Meigs County in 1870 and established the L J Sharp Livery on the block of MLK and Georgia Avenue. L J married Nell Gillespie, whose family arrived in Chattanooga from Roane County before the Civil War and established itself as a leading business family in Chattanooga. Cessna Sharp in 1905 established the Moccasin Bushing Company – that continues today under the name of Southern Centrifugal.
In 1951 Joe Decosimo, having married Rachel Divine Sharp, moved to Chattanooga and after working with his father-in-law and beginning his accounting career established the Decosimo accounting firm in 1971. My mother continued the tradition of Chattanooga women bringing strong business-minded men to Chattanooga.
We are proud of the business heritage Decosimo Corporate Finance continues in Chattanooga – beginning in 1833.