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Niota, Nigh Onto Heaven
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Permission was granted for use of this material
by author
Effie Lones.

Homer and Effie Lones
50th Wedding Anniversary, November 1, 1985.

In Memory of Mrs. Effie Lones

Mrs. Lones, passed away January 5, 2002.
She was a very talented and respected lady
and will be missed by many family and friends.

Mrs. Lones lived in her beloved Niota and
dedicated this book to her late husband, Homer.
Mrs. Lones used the vast research of James E. Burn
and resources from many others in the writing of this book.

I have used excerpts from Mrs. Lones' book with her consent
and I am very grateful to her for allowing me to do so.
She still has the book for sale and if you would be
interested in purchasing a copy you may contact Niota City Hall for pricing.

Niota City Hall
201 E Main St
Niota, TN 37826
Phone (423)-568-2584
Fax (423)-568-3026

Niota in the late 1800s

Niota's original name was Mouse Creek and later became Niota through a
very interesting way.
Before Niota was renamed there was also a town named Mossy Creek, now
Jefferson City, Tennessee. With growth of the two towns problems arose with
mail and freight between the two towns often being mixed or delayed.
Both towns knew something had to be done, but didn't know just what to do.

While the problem was still being considered, a wedding took place in
Mouse Creek. Ice Cream was ordered for the reception. All went well and the
wedding took place but when the people gathered for the reception
there was no ice cream. It had been ordered from Knoxville or Chattanooga
and would come in on the train. Our local dairy, Mayfield's was not close at
that time. Days later it was learned that the ice cream had been left in
Mossy Creek where it sat on the freight wagon and melted.

This was the straw that broke the camel's back!
The "town dads" went to work. They contracted the Superintendent of
Railroads and asked that Mouse Creek Station be changed.
He asked for suggestions. The men gathered at the depot and made
their suggestions. The Stationmaster, James L. Burn, suggested Movilla.
He was accustomed to using Morse Code and MO was the call for Mouse Creek.
He added villa, and came up with Movilla.

After all the suggestions were placed in an envelope, John Boggess, the postmaster,
came with his suggestion. He had been reading a novel in which there was
an Indian Chief, Nee-o-ta. He put this name in the envelope.
When the answer came back from the Superintendent of Railroads,
he had chosen Mr. Boggess' suggestion and had changed the spelling to Niota.

Mouse Creek Station became Niota April 15, 1897.

Research has not found the meaning of the Indian name Nee-o-ta. In a news
article in the Athens Post several years ago, it was stated that Attorney
Tom Taylor, a prominent Athenian, had said he thought it meant
"nigh onto heaven."

Mr. Harry T. Burn had the name changed to City of Niota while
serving as a member of the State Legislature.

Niota has had its' share of famous and not so famous people
that have done wonderful things for Niota and in some cases for the United States.
Harry T. Burn played a very important part in the movement for
Equality for Women and the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment which
gave women the right to vote.

Harry T. Burn, Sr.
Born November 12, 1895
Died February 19, 1977

Harry Burn had been elected as State Representative
for the counties of McMinn, Monroe, Polk, and Bradley.
He was the youngest member of the Legislature,
being only 22 years of age when elected.

The Nineteenth Amendment, Woman Suffrage,
had been passed by Congress but had to be ratified by
thirty-six of the forty-eight states before it could become a law.
Thirty-five states had ratified it and in the summer of 1920
four states were asked to call special sessions and vote on the issue.
Three of the states refused to call special sessions,
but Tennessee agreed to do so. This session was called to meet in August 1920.

Mr. Burn had planned to vote "nay" but a letter from his
mother, Febb Ensminger Burn asking him to vote "aye" changed his mind.
After much debating and arguments the vote was 48-48,
his vote broke the tie.
He asked to speak to the House the next day and told them he
changed his vote because his mother asked him to and he had been
taught that "a good boy always does what his mother asks him to do."

In my opinion he may have cast the vote, but the women of the United States
have his mother to thank for raising him with those beliefs.

On October 1, 1988 six women were elected to run the city government.
Effie Lones was elected as mayor, Mabel Young, Billie Gilliam,
Grace Forrester, Nellie Finley, and Boots Snyder were elected as commissioners.
The last four named commissioners ran as write-in candidates.
None of the women had served before on the city board.
The women were on national and international television and the town
was recognized as having the only female board in the country at that time.
The earliest all-female board known about was in New Albany, Kansas in 1935.

Niota has its' share of old homes, some are on the National Register
of Historical homes.
The Niota Depot is the oldest depot left in Tennessee and houses City Hall.
It is also used as a community gathering place for special events.

Today, Niota is still considered by its' residents to be "Nigh onto Heaven"
and has grown with new homes and businesses.