East Tennessee is not only the home of America’s favorite national park, the Great Smoky Mountains, but it also boasts a rich history of businesses, several of which are celebrating a century or more of success. These centennial establishments have stood the test of time and endured many challenges, including world wars, the Great Depression, natural disasters and the pandemic.
TNECD is paying tribute to many of these companies, beginning with those located in counties that were designated by the Appalachian Regional Commission as distressed in 2019. Through their resilience, innovation and commitment to their communities, the below companies have contributed significantly to the growth and development of East Tennessee over the last 100+ years.
Learn more about the companies we visited in Scott and Morgan counties.
Whitehead Insurance group
Crossville, Jamestown, Oneida, Alcoa/Maryville, TN
Photo Credit: Whitehead Insurance Group, Oneida, TN
Whitehead Insurance Group is an independent agency with offices in Crossville, Jamestown, Oneida and Alcoa/Maryville, Tennessee. The company was founded by C.G. Black on April 21, 1903. It started as the Black Agency, then switched to Brown after being purchased by Frank Brown in 1946, and finally, it became Whitehead Insurance Group when Charles Whitehead bought it in 1980.
This independent agency sells all types of personal and business insurance.
To learn more, visit whitehead-insurance.com.
R.M. Brooks Store
Photo Credit: R.M. Brooks Store
R.M. Brooks Store, a National Register of Historic Places landmark in Rugby, Tennessee, was established in 1917. Through the years, the store has been the center of social interaction and commercial exchange for both locals and visitors. Today, the store is a living museum of country life. Patrons are greeted with rocking chairs on the front porch, and once inside you’ll find the pot-bellied stove, original 1880s Rugby Post Office and other historic memorabilia. The store is also a restaurant that serves good, old-fashioned, southern country cooking.
To learn more about R.M. Brooks Store, visit rmbrooksstore.com.
First National Bank of Oneida
Photo Credit: First National Bank of Oneida
First National Bank of Oneida is the oldest and only locally owned back in Scott County. It started as Scott County Bank in 1904, but in 1905 its name changed to Scott County National Bank until 1919, when it officially became First National Bank of Oneida.
Since its start in 1904, the bank’s leaders and employees have played a major part in community improvement by aiding in the development of utilities, improved schools, new businesses and industries and better roads, making it a leading force in terms of local economic and educational growth. The bank has had multiple homes over the years, but in September 2022 it moved into its current location at the corner of N. Main Street and Alberta Street in Oneida.
To learn more about First National Bank of Oneida, visit fnboneida.com.
Lay Family Furniture, a family tradition since August 1920
Photo Credit: Lay Family Furniture
Founded in 1920 by 23-year-old Arlie M. Lay, Lay Family Furniture was a staple in the early growth of Oneida, Tennessee. Now in its 104th year, the store is possibly the oldest continuously operated retail establishment in Scott County and continues to be run by the Lay family.
To learn more about Lay Family Furniture, click here to visit the company’s Facebook page.
The Bledsonian Banner
The Bledsonian-Banner is a weekly newspaper for Pikeville and Bledsoe County, Tennessee, that has been in operation for more than 100 years.
To learn more about the Bledsonian Banner, visit www.thebledsonian-banner.com.
First Farmers & Commercial Bank
First Farmers & Commercial Bank was established in Pikeville in September 1913 by farmers, merchants and businessmen to meet the financial needs for families, individuals and businesses. The bank has had several homes in Pikeville through the years, but today it has a presence in Bledsoe, Cumberland, Sequatchie and Rhea counties to meet its customers’ needs and provide the financial services to grow and expand businesses in East Tennessee.
To learn more about First Farmers & Commercial Bank, visit www.ffandcb.com.
Putnam-Reed Funeral Home
Putnam Funeral Home Inc. is one of the oldest businesses in the Sequatchie Valley. It was established by Mr. R.G. “Roscoe” Putnam with one of the early locations being in the back room of Putnam Grocery Store in Pikeville. Putnam also established locations in Dunlap and Whitwell. Putnam died in 1951 leaving the business to his son Jack, who operated the business until 1979. It was then purchased by George and Treva Reed. Since their passing, the business has been handed down to their children, Eric Reed and Heather Reed-Poston.
To learn more about Putnam-Reed Funeral Home, visit www.reedfamilyfh.com.
Dutch Maid Bakery & Cafe
Tracy City, TN
Photo Credit: Dutch Maid Bakery & Café
Founded in 1902 by John & Louise Baggenstoss, Swiss immigrants who moved to Tennessee in the 1880s, the Dutch Maid Bakery is Tennessee’s oldest family-owned bakery. Cindy Day, the Executive Chef and Baker is only the third owner of the Dutch Maid and has continued the traditional baking of the Dutch Maid from scratch.
The Dutch Maid was rebuilt in the 1920s after the bakery burned down, but many of the ovens, mixers and other pieces of equipment are the same that ones that have been used since then.
To learn more about the Dutch Maid Bakery & Café, visit www.dutchmaid.net.
The Marugg Company
Tracy City, TN
Photo Credit: The Marugg Company
The Marugg Company was founded in 1873 by Martin Marugg, one of the early Swiss settlers of Gruetli, a small town in Grundy County. It specializes in the mail-order business of Austrian scythes, a hand tool used for cutting crops, and it may be one of the oldest mail-order businesses in the state. Around 1891, the company moved to Tracy City, and in 1904 the current building was constructed.
To learn more about The Marugg Company, visit www.themaruggcompany.com.