The Company was founded as the Chattanooga Medicine Company on February 21, 1879. It began operations in a small unpretentious 2-story brick building located on a muddy, unpaved road called Market Street in the heart of downtown Chattanooga. At the time, the city of Chattanooga consisted of fewer than 10,000 people whose occupations often centered around the railroad and thriving river port.
The principal founder of the Chattanooga Medicine Company was Zeboim Cartter Patten who originally came from Illinois to Chattanooga by way of the Union Army. He was joined by four other charter members including Fred F. Wiehl, H. Clay Evans, Lew Owen and Theodore G. Montague, all well known Chattanooga businessmen during the period. Partnerships were common in a variety of business ventures during the period as this made it easier to amass working capital. H. Clay Evans, also a Union soldier, and Zeboim Cartter Patten had previously formed a partnership with Thomas H. Payne in the stationary business. Fred F. Wiehl began a partnership with Harry Probasco to form American National Bank & Trust while Theodore G. Montague had helped to establish the First National Bank just a decade earlier. Even today, these same names remain prominent in Chattanooga business circles. The Chattanooga Medicine Company began with $25,000 in capital which was divided into 25 shares of $1,000 each.