Unintentional Time Capsule

Digital Donation: Rob H. Bentley

Uncovered History...
Documents dating to as early as the city's incorporation.


During a recent 'demo and buildout' of two historic downtown buildings, a construction crew found documents that had been boxed-in by previous remodeling efforts. Among them were very old canceled bank checks. Robert Parks, president of the T. U. Parks Construction Company, noted that one was made out to a current day vendor, the T. T. Wilson Company and dated in 1888, when the company was a newly established business in Chattanooga.

The documents were retrieved by T. T. Wilson's Rob H. Bentley, who immediately recognized their historical significance.

  • H.C. Beck's signature appears on several documents as Hamilton County Register of Deeds (elected in 1874 at age 21). In 1887, Henry Clay Beck founded the Chattanooga Abstract Company. In 1907, it would become an adjacent building to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. (B. P. O. E.) Lodge #91, known today more commonly as The Elk’s Club.
  • In 1973, the Elks moved and the building was occupied by the county offices and known as the Mayfield Annex.
  • In 2016 a division of the venture incubator Lamp Post Group bought both properties for development space.

More documents will be posted here as they are processed, as well as historical insights gleaned from them.

1888 Check