Grundy County Historical Society
P.O. Box 1422
              Tracy City, TN 37387
David Patton, Palmer Historian

Due to time constraints, Mr. Patton regrets that he cannot personally respond to every comment and inquiry.  Like most small town historians, he is an unpaid community volunteer and makes no claim of “knowing everything” about local history.  For a detailed account of Grundy County history, he recommends that you consult your copy of the Grundy County Heritage Book.

However, if you have information you would like to share, you may write him at
50 Dogwood St.; Palmer, TN 37365, and he will attempt to respond through this page as time and circumstances allow.  Your courtesy and understanding will be appreciated.  Ms. Susan Sissom and other volunteers will be assisting Mr. Patton in transmitting this material, but have no personal knowledge as to the veracity of its contents.


Old Sayings & Figures of Speech in Grundy County, TN
This used to be a regular feature on our website.  We haven't done it in quite a while, so let's do so this month.

1.  "old girl"  People used to say this when angry or irritated about something. 
Recently, an older woman and a younger woman had an argument.  The older woman said "old girl, I'll show you."  The younger woman replied, "old woman, I'll do this or that or whatever."  This surprised me, and I'm sure infuriated
the "old woman".

2.  "I-zeer"   What in the world is this?  A new plant or animal or something? 
No, it's what people used to call anyone named "Isaiah".  We got tickled at when an old person said "I-zeer" recently.  Years ago old man "I-zeer" Layne was a well-known Palmer man.

3.  "Look what the dogs drug in."    Years ago dogs roamed free and were always dragging junk or a dead animal in someone's yard.    A person could go to visit someone and if they hadn't seen them in a while, the visitor might get teased by his friend saying "Look what the dogs drug in." 

4.  "It got gone."   A person would go to the "smoke house" to get a shovel or other tool and wouldn't be able to find it.  "It got gone."  they might say meaning someone probably stole it.

5.  "Bring me a yard stick."   Years ago this was an important device that about every household had to measure things.  Hardware stores would give them away as an advertising tool with their company name or a paint company's name on them. 

Jerry Harrison said Mr. Raymond Hargis carried one as he patrolled the halls as principal at Palmer Elementary School from 1955-1958.  Mr. Hargis maintained discipline and had a great staff of teachers such asFayna Nunley, Margaret Brown Coppinger, Frances Conry, Martha Hampton, Rachael Geary and Nelly Geary to work with.  He will be remembered as on of the greatest principals in the history of
Grundy County's oldest school. 

6.  "He drives like a bat out of hell."   I've not heard this in a long time.  Have you?  It meant the person drove their car absolutely too  fast.  It didn't necessarily mean the person was drunk.  Some people just drive too fast. 

The prolonged heat wave this summer has eased up a tad and do you realize that the first day of fall is just a month from Sunday?

“Shall We Gather at the River,” and the words continue, “the beautiful, beautiful, river, that flows by the throne of God.”  What a beautiful old song.  On August first Shawna Worley, granddaughter of Bobby and Ima Jean Geary, was baptized by Pastor Brett Meeks in Elk River at Pelham.  You seldom hear of this anymore, but years ago before churches had their own  inside baptisteries, creeks, ponds, and rivers were the only places.  The “Cat Hole” on Mill Creek was a famous baptizing spot in Palmer as was the “Blue Hole” below the railroad near the old Scott Cannon place.  Where were you baptized?  Tell us about it.

Happy Birthday greetings go out this month to Joyce Conry, 84; Sara Bouldin Grooms, 82; James McCullough, 70; Jerry Harrison, 69; Johnny Brewer, 61; Mrs. Teeter (Becky Taylor) Morrison, 60;  Mrs. Bruce (Gail Bryant) Coffelt, 60; John Rogers, longtime teacher at Swiss Memorial Elementary, 46;  our new Grundy County Mayor Lonnie Cleek, 42; and the “young pup” of the group, Josh Meeks turns 20.  He is the son of Pastor Brett Meeks.

“Rock “Layne (Ricky) told me you had some of the best pink tomatoes he’d ever eaten.  I’d like to  buy some from you.”

We were sitting on the porch the other day when a white van drove up and it turned out to be Vincent Scott, owner of Scott’s Grocery in Barker’s Cove. Mr. Scott said he had an inoperable aneurism on his aorta and we’re sure he’d appreciate your prayers.  He also said his brother Ralph was in a Spencer, TN, nursing home.  We just have a little backyard garden and don’t have enough to sell, but were happy to give him some of our “Pink Girl” and “German Pink” tomatoes.  They are very tasty this year.

Ethel Mae Cantrell’s home burned July 25.  She is 96 now and has been in a nursing home and living with relatives.  The “Tyke” Partin home burned August 1.  He had a newer home where the old “Huke” Slatton place was near the place of the late Lewis “Poose” Tate.

Our July rainfall was 45/8”.  Many of our older people worry constantly that we’re not getting enough rain.  They watch the Chattanooga weather reports and don’t realize that their “official” total is just what falls at the airport.   We have had more than enough rain in Palmer and Ann Creighton said her sister Carolyn called and said it had been a rainy summer in the Anchorage, AK, area.

“For Whom the Bell Tolls:  Come home.  Come home.  It’s supper time.”  Who was the singer years ago that had a big hit with the song “Come home.  It’s super time”?   Seems like it was Red Foley.  (David, it was Jimmy Davis)   Anyway, have you ever seen the big bell on a stand in Clayton Hargis’ yard?  “I paid Roy Neal $75 for that bell years ago,” Clayton said.  “When our kids were little, we’d ring it at suppertime, and you’d see little heads pop up everywhere as the neighborhood kids came in to eat with them.”

Teresa Shrum, daughter of Joe and Mary Turner, is teaching third grade this fall at Swiss Memorial Elementary.

“Where you headed?”  “Just out walking.  I’m an old man. What else can I do?”  That’s what Joe David Tate, 77, said last week as we ran into him walking by the Harold James home.  It must be working because he is still “slim & trim” among so many fatties and pot bellies.

A retirement dinner was held August 4th for Palmer Elementary Principal Sadie Carrick Smart.  Among the guests were Phyllis Lusk form the central office of the Grundy County Board of Education, Charles Edgar Sanders and his sister Margie Ramey, Larry and Gayle Crabtree, and Dale “Undertaker” Layne, owner of Layne’s Funeral Home.  The “Undertaker” lives in Coalmont and was recently appointed as a commissioner on the Coalmont City Council.  Mrs. Smartt’s 1996-2010 stint as principal was the longest in school history, and we wish her good health and happiness in her retirement years.

Happy anniversary wishes for August go out to Crandel and Ethleen Sitz McNabb, their 74th, Harold and Betty Grimes Kilgore, their 59th, Mike and Laura Bouldin, their 36th, Jackie and Norma King Henry, 27th, Dale and Sudonna Nolan, 24th, Kyle and Christel Nolan Shrum, 15th,  Rev. Andy and Wendy Stiefel Lockhart, 12th. 

“I worked for Cullen and Nelmon Savage for $2 a day and my dinner from sun-up to sun-down, hoeing and doing farm work.  I’d have a jug of water sitting in the shade at the end of the rows.”  And, I’m sure he was glad to get the work in those hard times.  Rev. John A. “Junior” Creighton visited us recently to bring a copy of a photo made about 1939 at the old ”Union Tabernacle” which stood near where Palmer First Baptist is today.  In the photo was Hub and Pearl Smith and Pearl’s sister Stella Cannon and many others gathered a prayer “rock pile” outside the church. 

Junior, in his late 70’s, continued on with memories of the good old days. “I also worked for Uncle Will Meeks as an off-bearer at his sawmill for 75 cents an hour.  If you got all your hours in, you could make $30 a week.  Later I worked in a  sawmill for Oscar Rhea of McMinnville.  Back then you had to come in early to get the equipment ready for work, and you didn’t get paid for that.  We all drank water from the same jug, and I don’t know how we kept form catching something.”

Today, the poor old man has a “cushy” job driving a patrol car and escorting funerals for the Grundy County Sheriff.  Dogs and cats live a more comfortable life today than people did back in the good old days.   saved at the July 25 service at Laager Independent (Cotton’s) Methodist.  Rev. J. Darrell Turner, Herby & Bonnie Caldwell with their daughters Patty and Cyntiha were among those atten ding the August 2 service. 

Jacquelyn “Jackie: Cantu, granddaughter of Jack Sissom, was on the dean’s list recently at Vanderbilt.  Her twin sister Alex is a student at Berea College in Kentucky.  Both were brilliant students at Palmer Elementary and GCHS. 

“You’re not Mike James are you?”  Ricky Layne’s the luckiest fellow we know about running into people he hasn’t seen in a long time. When he called an anonymous number on the GCTV trade line, that’s what he heard.  It turned out to be an old friend, Jimmy Meeks, son of the late Francis Huh Meeks.  Jimmy lived in the Chattanooga area for years and was a well-known musician.  He moved back recently and lives close to the Gruetli-Laager Post Office.

“I used to live in Palmer myself.” Rick called another anonymous number and it turned out to be Lois Slatton who lives on Harrison Ferry Mountain near McMinnville.  She’s the sister of Robert Earl Slatton and daughter of “Cobby” Slatton. 

August was homecoming month at Palmer First Baptist with former pastor Bob Ruehling returning to preach the service.  Among those present were Charles Edgar and Betty Sanders and former members Oma McNabb and Wilma Smith Adkins.  Wilma lives in the Jasper, TN area, and her son don Adkins, Jr. was recently elected a Marion County commissioner.  He’s married to the former Dusty Geary, daughter of Donna Gifford Basham.

Good eating is the main event of any homecoming and Mary Ruth Rogers said,  “Oma Lewis’ cherry cobbler was the best I’ve ever tasted.  Dorcas Shadrick Coffelt’s dumplings were good too.”

On July 28 Ethleen McNabb and her daughter Janice McAnally came up from Dunlap and we rode out to Tracy City and toured the new HQ of the Grundy County Historical Society.  We were very impressed by the renovation work being done on the old bank building and hopefully by the end of the year it will be completely finished.  While there Jackie Layne Partin talked with Ethleen about old days in Tracy City.  Jackie’s doing wonderful work by going near and far interviewing our senior citizens.  Keep up that important work, Jackie!

When we got back to Palmer Ethleen got to visit with Joyce Hargis and Mary Cannon Stinnett, two of her former students at Palmer Elementary and also with Joyce’s sister Nancy. 

Becky Ivey Teague and her sister Dola visited the Coal Miners Museum recently and we’re so sorry we missed them. 

“Dan Coffelt and I are double first cousins.” I walked up Big Mine road recently and visited with Buck and Kat Coffelt Brewer.  We talked about old times in Palmer and Kat said her mother died of leukemia in 1947.  “That was the 1940’s and it was the first case of leukemia we’d heard of,” Buck said.  He’s had a stroke in recent years and doesn’t get out much, but they’re still in their home and that’s the main thing when you get old.

Faces in the crowd:  We stopped at the Guilt-Laager Senior Citizens to get some water while walking and saw Kenny Payne, Lavaughn Reeves, Charles Totherow, Dave Borne, an Leon Crisp gathered around a table talking.  They’d been eating watermelon and enjoying the fellowship.  The center is a wonderful place for our seniors and for many it’s a big part of their lives.

Mary Ruth Rogers said she ran into Carmelia McCullough while at the Kimball Wal-Mart.  Carmelia works there and lives in Marion County.

On sick call:  Doris Hargis at last report was recovering well from hip-replacement surgery and Mrs. Raymond (Nell) Long was recovering well from double-knee replacement surgery.  Joe Willard Fults suffered a broken hip and Junior Roberts and Allen Hobbs had surgery.  KIevin “K.T.” Mainord, son to the late Corky Mainord, suffered a serious burn at work.  A few years back he was a star football player for GCHS. 

I’m giving you all more news than you have a right to expect, but that’s all for August here “where the good people live”.  Happy Labor Day to all!  Get out and enjoy it!