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1878 Thomas J. Carlisle


TJ Carlile 1877(Lived 1832 - 1878)

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Thomas Carlile joined the Union Army in 1861.  Carlile fought in the Battle of Chickamauga before being transferred to the Quartermaster’s Department in Chattanooga.  Carlile served the remainder of the war in Chattanooga and after mustering out in 1865 he remained in the city. 

Elected mayor in 1877, Carlile took the reins of the city as it entered its brightest time since the Civil War.  The administrations of Mayors Fort and Wight had improved the city’s finances and set the city on a course of prosperity.  However, another threat of great devastation was about to hit the city.  As other cities across the south began reporting outbreaks of yellow fever or malaria, Chattanooga began to take actions.  On July 9, 1878, the mayor asked the board of alderman to pass a law restricting wildlife from roaming the streets and asked that money be appropriated to clean the sewers.  On August 24, at a specially called meeting, Mayor Carlile asked for funds to create a Citizens’ Relief Committee to begin working with the refugees flooding the city as the yellow fever epidemic spread across the south.

Due to the yellow fever epidemic becoming so wide spread in Chattanooga, the mayor and board of aldermen discontinued their regular meetings.  As the city emptied of people trying to escape the spreading illness, Mayor Carlile remained and worked among the sick of the city.   Mayor Carlile contracted yellow fever and died in late October.  When the board of aldermen reconvened on November 5, it passed a  resolution calling Mayor Carlile a hero for his efforts in the face of yellow fever.

Photo by Phillip Stevens and Matt Lea