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Dr. Hezekiah Hankal

Born in 1825, Dr. Hezekiah B. Hankal is often referred to as one of the founding fathers of Johnson City.  A preacher, teacher and a skilled physician, Hankal opened Johnson City’s first African American School in the late 1860s in a log cabin on Roan Hill. Hankal later served as supervisor of Washington County “colored” schools and helped establish Langston Normal School in 1893. 

His teaching certificate by the state was issued in 1873, and it is believed that Hankal was the first black man certified to teach in Tennessee’s public schools. Hankal was later elected to the Johnson City Board of Alderman on March 23, 1887, becoming the first African American elected to public office in Johnson City. Before that, his skill as a physician helped treat patients struck by a deadly cholera outbreak that hit Johnson City in July 1873.  His treatment tactics were so successful that he helped serve as an advisor, to both black and white physicians, during the epidemic.

Hankal was also a Washington County religious leader who was ordained to the Christian ministry in Feb. 1866 by Boones Creek Christian Church.