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1878 Andrew Jackson Gahagan

Capt AJ Gahagan 1878(Lived February 23, 1844 – November 17, 1929)

Born in North Carolina, Andrew Jackson Gahagan withdrew from college in 1862 to enlist in the Federal Army at the age of 17.  As a member of the Union army’s First Tennessee Cavalry, Gahagan participated in several major battles, including Chickamauga, Kennesaw Mountain, Franklin and Nashville.  Gahagan mustered out of the army on April 15, 1865 and returned to his home in North Carolina, although he did not remain there long.  Gahagan rejoined the army, was assigned to the Quartermaster’s department, where he served in Nashville and Atlanta before arriving in Chattanooga in January 1866.  In 1867, Gahagan entered private business in Chattanooga.  He partnered in a mercantile business for a few years before joining Loomis & Hart, the city’s largest lumber firm.  Gahagan served as president of Loomis & Hart for thirty-five years.

It did not take long for Gahagan to establish himself in Chattanooga.  In 1874, Gahagan began his first term as alderman, a post he kept for five terms.  He became assistant postmaster in 1877, in 1878 served as county treasurer and in October of 1878, after the death of Mayor Carlile, Gahagan was appointed acting mayor.  Though he served less than a month, Mayor Gahagan led the city through the end of the yellow fever epidemic that killed 366 people in Chattanooga.

At the end of his term, Mayor Gahagan returned to private business and again served as county treasurer until 1882.

Photo by Phillip Stevens and Matt Lea