published Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Marker sought at site of 1927 fatal shootout in South Pittsburg

This is the scene in 1927 after a shootout involving law enforcement officers from the Marion County Sheriff's Department and South Pittsburg, Tenn., police in which six law enforcement officers were killed. This photo appeared in the Nashville Banner.
This is the scene in 1927 after a shootout involving law enforcement officers from the Marion County Sheriff's Department and South Pittsburg, Tenn., police in which six law enforcement officers were killed. This photo appeared in the Nashville Banner.

SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — Members of the South Pittsburg Historic Preservation Society want to commemorate a violent event in the city's history.

On Christmas Day in 1927 a yearlong labor dispute ultimately led to a gunfight involving the Marion County Sheriff's Department and South Pittsburg police at the corner of Cedar Avenue and Third Street. Six law enforcement officers were killed.

Recently, society Chairman Bob Hookey asked the South Pittsburg City Commission for permission to erect a historical marker near the site.

The board voted unanimously to support the project.

"We think this is noteworthy," Hookey said. "Just because we want one doesn't mean [the state] is going to approve it, though."

The commission's endorsement is just one step in a complicated application process, he said, and placement of the marker must be approved by the Tennessee Historical Commission.

Mayor Jane Dawkins said the application and marker would come at no cost to the city.

"I want to thank the Historic Society for all they do," she said. "It's just incredible what these folks have done for the city for years."

Hookey said he has discussed the marker's probable placement with business owners, and they are "in favor of it."

Over the years, some descendents of those killed have requested a memorial, he said.

"A lot of people don't know about this," Hookey said. "It was a tragic thing in South Pittsburg. We're not glorifying it or anything like that. We're just telling the history. We think it would be a welcome addition to the city."

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