Carriage-making ran into difficulties in 1900, with several consolidations and closures in Clarksville. The reason is unclear, but Clarksville was a tobacco town and tobacco prices were down – driven down by the efforts of the American Tobacco Company, a monopoly that was the sole purchaser of tobacco grown in the United States/ monopoly. Over the next several years, farmers would revolt in several ways as a strategy to prop up prices, and effort known as the Black Patch Tobacco Wars.
In December of 1900, the same month that Katie and John married, 41-year-old CL Bradley bought out his partner, James Holleman, and then formed Bradley, Gill & Baker the first part of 1901 at his old shop on Third Street. The business dissolved in less than a year, until January of 1902. When it dissolved, Bradley became a druggist with his son. Somewhere between September of 1902 and June of 1903, Gill & Baker split, as well. Gill went to work for the new Cumberland phone company in town, and John moved to his brother’s hometown of Huntsville.
But business problems weren’t John’s only worry. Katie became pregnant just a few months after their marriage. Then, in the very same week of early 1902 in which Bradley, Gill & Baker dissolved, Katie gave birth to a child who died right after birth.