Grundy County
Historical Society
P.O. Box 1422
              Tracy City, TN 37387
All articles contributed by
David Patton,
Palmer Town Historian

All articles contributed by David Patton, Palmer Town Historian

While at the Grundy County Hearld we wrote a monthly weather report and I think you'll enjoy it on the GCHS website as well.

The Weather" is always a topic of conversation and rightfully so.  It can make us happy or it can make us miserable.  And, in extreme cases it can even kill us.

"Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day."  That has been the battle cry of Grundy county so far in 2013.  A friend told me that in July he heard a Chattanooga TV weatherman say that if they didn't get another drop until Thanksgiving they would be okay as far as normal yearly rainfall.

the Big Creek Utility District dam in Coalmont is a official reporting station for the National Weather Service and our good friend Wally Nolan measured 9.96 inches of July Rainfall with the With the big rainfall event of the month on the 10th with 2.28 inches.  He had .81 inches of July 4th.  with a high temperature of only 71 degrees.  Eat your heart out Texas Sharon! The High for July was 88 degrees on the 17th.

People as so used to air conditioners these days that they seldom cut them off and raise the windows but you could in the mountains Grundy County even in July.  Wally says we had 10 mornings in the 50's with the low temperature on the month coming on July 28th with 52 degrees. 

Here in "rainy Palmer"  I had 11.1 inches of July rainfall and in the first week of the month alone had 5.7 inches of course rainfall amounts vary and on July 23rd Michelle Travis ran into a "gully washer" from the Palmer bank to Greg Mcbee's Auto Parts but I didn't get a drop at my house near Palmer School.

Grundy County has valleys as well as mountains and Mr. David Taylor of Pelham had 6.67 inches of July rainfall.  thanks to Wally, Michelle, and Mr. Taylor for your assistance.

David Patton snapped this photo of Tennessee State Representative Lane Curlee during his visit at Palmer City Hall in January 1990.
Tullahoma Mayor Lane Curlee will celebrate his 58th birthday on August 20th.  He was born on that date at Woodbury, TN in 1955.  For the past 30 years Curlee has been in public office for much of that time.  He was elected Tullahoma city Alderman in 1982, to the Tennessee State House of Represenatives in 1984 where he served eight years, and became Tullahoma mayor in 1993.  In 2011 he again was elected Tullahoma mayor for a three year term.

Mayor Curlee and wife Evelyn are members of the Church of Christ at Cedar Lane.  They are the parents of a son Rob and a Daughter Rosalyn.
If you would like to send a card the address is Mayor Lane Curlee,707 Twelve Oaks Rd., Tullahoma, TN 37388.

Jerry Harrison is pictured with his granddaughter Brittany Green and her son Bo as the family breaks green beans for canning in the summer of 2009.  Brittany is a R.N.
Mr. Jerry Harrison of Palmer will celebrate his 72nd birthday an August 29. He's the son of the late Hershel and Willie Mae Sissom Harrison and grew up on Burnt Orchard Hill which is now known as Burnt Orchard Circle.
Jerry and his wife Judy Anderson Harrison have been married for over 50 years.  The couple live on the site of the "old" Palmer School and actually lived in the old school itself in the early days of their marriage.  This school preceded our current Palmer Elementary School which opened in 1927.
They are the parents of four daughters; Renee, Rhonda, Tresea, and the late Jerri Harrison Cannon.  He is retired form AEDC in Tullahoma as a union carpenter and enjoys gardening and being with his family.
Palmer town historian David Patton said, "Jerry's a fine man and we always enjoy visiting with the Harrison's.  He's very "Good hearted" and always willing to help others." If you would like to send a card the address is Mr. Jerry Harrison, 257 East Lee Dr., Palmer, TN 37365.

Tom and Carrie Whitman Coffelt in the early 1960's.

Mr. James T. "Tom" Coffelt will celebrate his 70th birthday August 17.   He was born on that date, right in the middle of World War II, in 1943.  He's a son of the late Irvin "Irv" and Agnes Roberts Coffelt.
On July 18, 1964 Tom married Carrie Whitman of Beersheba Springs and they celebrated their 49th anniversary last month. The are the parents of Palmer Postmaster Rosanna (David) Cleek, James Allen (Sandy Kelly) Coffelt, and the Late Michelle Coffelt.  The Coffelt's have six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.  the couple attend First Baptist Church of Palmer which is Pastored by his brother Rev. John Henry Coffelt.  Tom worked for 30years at TVA and in his retirement enjoys fishing and watching his great-grandchildren.
Carrie's parents were the late Marshall and Lucille Green Whitman of Beersheba Springs and many of you know her brother Lonnie "Bud"  Whitman who ran a store there for years.  Palmer town historian David Patton said that,"Tom and Carrie both come from fine families and I got to know them years ago at the home of the late Mamie Geary where we would all sit around and talk ad visit like people used to do."
If you would like to send a card the address is Mr. James T. Coffelt, P.O. Box 134, Palmer, TN 37365

Do you remember the old song, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken, In the Sky lord In the Sky." Hopefully not, but the earthly bond has been broken.
Pictured from left at the Palmer Elementary School 80th birthday celebration in 2007 are Martha Carroll Cox Hensley of Weeki Wachee, FL and Anna Lou Hill Hatfield and Dolly Dyer Shadrick both of Jasper, TN.
Many of you will remember their brothers who are all deceased now and includes Ronnie and John Allen Cox, Johnnie Hill, and Bobby "Shakey"
These "Girls" grew up together in Palmer and went to Palmer School.  Dolly passed away at age 73 earlier this year and Martha Carroll told Palmer town historian David Patton recently that, "Dolly and I met when we were 5 years old and starting our first year in Palmer School (The Primer) with Miss Hayesel Goforth as our teacher.  I came back to Tennessee for her funeral.  I miss her!"
Anna Lou and Martha Carroll grew up "In the hood" over in Chiggertown and she says, "Anna Lou's mother, Clara Hill, was at our house the night I was born.  We lived in the house where Herschel and Ruby Finch later lived as the Hill's lived across the street."
Clara Parsons Hill was a well known school teacher and the grandmother of Johnnie Michael Hill and Dr. Kim Hill Taylor, FNP.


When Ethan Meeks graduated from  Grundy County High School on May 23, 2013.  the dream of a lifetime came true for the Meeks Family of Gruetli-Laager, TN.
He's in cap and gown and pictured with his brother Jared Meeks and sisters from left Brittany Barrett, Sarah Meeks, and Rebecca Meeks.
As the last of five to graduate the baton was passed to Ethan.  He was expected to complete the Meeks family tradition of "perfect attendance" and what a nerve wracking senior year it must have been for him.


I  the summer of 1990 Palmer town historian David Patton snapped this photo of the Meeks sisters standing atop the big cement foundation of the flagpole at Palmer Elementary School.  Pictured from left are Rebecca, Brittany, and Sarah.
Major renovations several years later changed things and this flagpole that so many remember has been moved as has the fire hydrant.
Earlier this year one of the great success stories in American Education, and I did say American Education, not just Palmer or Grundy County, happened right here in our own back yard.
When Ethan Meeks graduated from Grundy County High School back in May that meant that all five children of Dewayne and Pam Henry Meeks completed grades K-12 with perfect attendance.  That's a total of 65 years of not missing a day of school!  The tradition continues with the next generation when Rebecca's son Paul Allen Wise starts fourth grade this fall at Palmer Elementary with his own perfect attendance streak going.
Success is just not for the "Rich and famous" and this working class family proves that.  Dewayne has worked at the Rock Tenn factory in Chattanooga for 28 years and Pam has been a teachers Aide and Bookkeeper at Palmer Elementary School since 1990.
'I've always told my kids that they have to work for what they have and that nobody owes them anything,"  Pam said.  "I've had people tell me that perfect attendance wasn't important and it was okay to miss a day of school.  When we had the Swine flu scare I was afraid that would his us but the shot apparently kept it away."    
Longtime Grundy County educator Mr. Rick Rust of Coalmont, TN retired at the end of the 2012-13 school term after 40 year career and said, "I was the principle at Grundy County High School for the last seven years and I could tell that Ethan was really focused and conscious about coming to school every day and not being late or leaving early."
The proud Grandparents of the Meeks kids are Richard Meeks of Gruetli-Laager and Gladys Tate Ross of Michigan along with Hobart and Willie Mae Ruehling Henry of Davenport, Iowa.  Many of our older citizens will remember their great-grandparents, the late Hubert "Hube" and Gladys Davis Henry.
Bringing much honor to Grundy County, the Meeks family was featured in the June 1,2013 edition of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.  What a wonderful job of parenting Dewayne and Pam have done and I'm sure the late Jackie Kennedy Onassis would agree.  She once said that, "If you fail with your children nothing else really matters."  What a better world it would be if more parents remembered that.
Palmer town historian David  Patton (left, with hat) watches the activities while Jack Smedley (with hat) and Charlie "Steamboat" Layne, the father of undertaker Dale Layne, talk old times in this photo snapped by the late James "Burr" Rogers.
Patton says that, "this year the celebration will be on September 2nd. 

Labor Day over the years has usually been dry but the last two years have been awful.  The rain cancelled the celebration 2011 and rain caused a lot of problems in 2012. Let's hope for good dry weather this year.  I do believe we'll have it."
Bufard Jones Building Supply is a landmark business in Gruetli-Laager where Michelle Travis snapped this photo recently.
"The "Blame Game" has become one on the most popular in America today.  Whether it's "my kids wouldn't do that" or "it's not my fault"  as the character in a old TV show used to say, refusing to accept responsibility for your actions is a self defeating attitude of far too many.

Click here to add text.

It's 7:00 P.M. in old Palmer Town and I'm doing what any true hillbilly would be doing on a Saturday night.  Listening to the "Grand Ole Opry" on the legendary 650 WSM from Nashville.  It's America's longest running radio show.  How did WSM get those call Letters?  They stand for "We Shield Millions," the slogan of the Insurance company that founded WSM.  
Tonight is August 10th and Jim Ed Brown is celebrating 50 years on the Grand Ole Opry.  Years ago he and his sisters were a famous singing group in country music.
Our friend up in Nova Scotia, Mr. Paul Hilchey, says he visited Tennessee several years ago and went to the Grand Ole Opry.  One of his fellow Canadians, the late Hank Snow, was a famous singer in country music and will forever be remembered for his big hit, "I'm Moving On."  That song was very popular here and the late Melvin "Poss" Pocus of Palmer used to sing it.
What a rainy year we're having here in the metroplex (Griffiths Creek-Palmer-Gruetli-Laager).  Our webmaster Miss Sharon Goodman out in Round Rock, TX knows all about the "Metroplex" Texas style.  A lot of places in America and the world would fall to their knees and give thanks if they had our rainfall so let's remember that.
Have you seen any snakes?"  That's what Palmer town librarian Susan Faye Sissom asked me recently.  Her husband, Jeff "Smokey" Colston, spoke up and said he got rattlesnake bit as a little boy coon hunting in Layne's Cove in Pelham Valley and still has the scar.  Gives you the creeps and if you really want a scare read, our article, "Snakes! Copperheads and Rattlers," on this website.  Smokey is A Grandson of the late Grundy County High School English teacher Ethel "Ma" Colston.

We got a visit today from Ricky "Rock" Layne and his son Lebron.  They both grew up in Palmer but live on Colony Road near Altamont now.  Ricky's a son of the late Roy and Louise Geary Layne.  Lebron's one of the finest young men in Grundy County.  He's an excellent worker, always helpful, and a friend to all.
Welcome Back:  Ellis Magouirk Jr. has moved back to Palmer after living in North Carolina in recent years.  He's staying with Jerry Cannon right now.  Junior's a U.S. Navy veteran and the brother of Mrs. Charles Edgar (Betty) Sanders.
What's the world coming to?"  I knew I was old fashion and behind the times but when Palmer Postmaster Rosanna Coffelt Cleek told me "you're the only one that still buys postcards" I was shocked and it made feel like a T-Model in a Volkswagen or Toyota world.  Rosanna's a fine young woman and a lot of our older readers will remember her late Grandparents Irv and Agnes Roberts Coffelt.
Tim Tate of Gruetli-Laager has retired after some 40 years at Signal Mountain Cement Company.  He's a nice fellow and we wish him well.  Tim grew up in Coalmont and people everywhere knew his late father Clifford Tate who worked for Big Creek Utility District.
Jack Benny Morrison was banged up in a 4-wheeler wreck recently but didn't break anything.  He left Palmer in the 1960's and lived in Illinois for years.  He came back several years ago and lives in the old P. T. Nunley house and is a son of the late Little Ben and Jessie Tate Morrison.
Ouch that Hurts." I hadn't been stung by a wasper in years but I got careless and got popped recently.  Now people say "wasp" but years ago they said wasper in these parts and a home remedy was to take a little wad of chewing tobacco out of your mouth and put on the sting to relieve the pain.
Louise Pirtle Hargis has retired after many years as a secretary at Swiss Memorial Elementary School in Gruetli-Laager.  She and her twin sister Lucyle Pirtle Hampton, grew up in Tracy City and their late father Bill Ed Pirtle was once chairman of the Grundy County School Board.  She's a nice lady and we wish her well.  Louise is married to Jack Hargis and Lucyle is married to Glenn "Rip" Hampton and she has been Grundy County Trustee for years.
I What's for supper? picked some green beans up at Jerry Harrison's and cooked them in a little pot with a small potato or two on top and several pieces of smoked hog Jowl thrown in for seasoning.  Then I cut up some tomatoes and cucumbers from my backyard garden and peeled an onion.  Talk about "hog heaven."  It doesn't get any better.
Mike, Gary, Laura and Amy Bouldin of Brentwood, TN were among those attending the wedding of Nathan Bouldin and Morgan Lorance in McMinnville, TN on July 27th.  Nathan's  a son of Wade Allen Bouldin.  Mike, Wade Allen, and Gary are sons of the late Wade and Connie Casey Bouldin of Gruetli-Laager.  Laura is Mike's wife and Amy is his daughter.  Connie Bouldin was once Postmaster in Gruetli-Laager.
Queen of Big Mine Road:  If you went to Grundy County High school in the mid 1960's you probably remember Becky Taylor Morrison who graduated in 1968.  She was a fiery redhead then but old man time has swatted her and that once shiny red hair is now white.  She's a daughter of the late Everett "Broad" and Edna Caldwell Taylor and is married to Teeter Morrison.  They have a son Patrick Morrison and two grandsons, Brody and Blake Morrison.
The Grundy County High School class of 1953 had their 60th year reunion last month at the Gruetli-Laager Community Center.  Among those present were Margie Sanders Ramey, Mary Cannon Stinnett, Joyce Grooms Scruggs, Sis Cannon Layne, Betty Magouirk Sanders, Joyce Roberts Hargis and John William Greeter.  Wayne Cannon was President of the class, Billy Ray McGovern was VP, Billy Ray Fults was secretary , and Betty Nan Schaerer Church was the reporter.  Wayne and the two Billy Ray's are all deceased and Betty Nan still lives in Tracy City.  Other deceased members are Lee Doug Ross, Fred "Sonny" Morrison, and Betty Sweeton Rogers of Palmer.
Palmer Church of God had their homecoming July 21th.  Some 150 - 200 attended and the homecoming sermon was preached by Bro. James Scott of Florida and he did a good job according to Mrs. Eddie (Rita) Crabtree.  Ruth Crabtree Bouldin Nunley played the piano there many years ago and she and her husband Billy Ray Nunley enjoyed the day.  The couple married in 2012 after the deaths of their spouses.  He's a son of the late Graham and Sara Cannon Nunley.
Mrs. Parthenia McHone Fults of Palmer was in her 90's and the oldest member of the Gruetli Chruch of God when she passed away this summer.  She was the widow of Wesley Fults and sister of the late Bill McHone.  Many of you know her daughter, Mrs. Horace Ray (Zella) Slatton, and we extend our sympathy to the family.
Former residents Vernon Givens, Martin Smith, and Raymond Hargis were here due to the death of Herby Caldwell.  We regret to report that Herby's widow Bonnie Cook Caldwell has been seriously ill since his death.
We enjoyed talking with Mamie Cox McPherson and her cousin Melinda Nolan who were having lunch at Traders Market and Deli recently.  Cindy LeCroy, daughter of James McCullough, and her daughter Gabrielle run this popular spot in Hwy. 108 next to Bufard Jones Building Supply.  Melinda and Mamie are first cousins through the Nolan's and Marshall was Melinda's dad.  Mamie is the former wife of MacArthur White McPherson.
Wanda Hampton Meeks is 84 now and the widow of J. T. Meeks.  She and her first cousin Naoma Patrick Price attended a reunion last month for the descendents of Smartt Hampton near Tracy City.  He was their grandfather and the only child of of Smartt Hampton living now is Weldon Hampton of Ohio who was present.  Naoma's mother Veola Patrick was the sister of Wanda's father Rev. M. C. "Bud" Hampton.
I always liked Wanda." that's what Dennis Wideman said upon hearing of the death of his Palmer School classmate Wanda Patton Sweatt.  She was the daughter of J. R. and Alma Overturf Patton and we hope to have details later.  Sympathy is extended to the family.    "
It's good to be back on the Grundy County Historical Society website and let us hear from you.  From right here in the middle of "where the good people live" we'll say good bye for August.  IF the crick don't rise we'll see you in September.


Mr. Bruce E. Coffelt of Gruetli-Laager, TN, departed this life on July 27, 2013.  He was the oldest child of the late Dan & Rosa Nell (Brewer) Coffelt and grew up in the Tatesville Community of Palmer.  Bruce and his wife Gail had celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary just a week or so before his death.  They were married all those years ago by his brother, Rev. Danny Coffelt, who is now the pastor of Tracy City First United Methodist Church.

It must have been around 2006 that I was walking down Hwy. 108 in Gruetli-Laager when someone in the front yard of a home asked,  “Are  you David?”  When I replied, “Yes”, the lady said, “Would you go in and talk to Bruce?”   It was his sister Sherry (Coffelt) Layne. 

At one time active in sports and a hunter, for the last several years of his life Bruce was a “shut-in” suffering from a number of health problems.  Since we walked by his house weekly anyway, we made it a point to stop for a few minutes, drink a Coke, eat some crackers, and talk about this and that and memories of days gone by. 

One of Grundy County’s most well - known veterans, Bruce was interested in all things military and watched the  History Channel almost constantly from his bed and liked to discuss it with visitors.

Bruce served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam in the 1960’s and in the 1980’s when the Tennessee National Guard organized the 212 the Engineering Company in Grundy County, he joined up and served with the unit as a sergeant in Desert Storm.

The 1960’s was a decade of turmoil not seen before or since.  If you lived through it, you have never forgotten it, especially if you were in uniform in that far off place with the strange sounding name of “Vietnam”.  One of the last requests Bruce made to me was to gather the names of local people who were over that and to find out how man and who had died since coming home from the war. 

My point in writing this story is to encourage everyone to visit those who are sick, shut-in, and forgotten.  You don’t have to stay all day.  If you claim to be a Christian, stop and have prayer with them.  Even if you just stop for a few minutes once or twice a year, it will do a world of good. 

This story may also be viewed on the Grundy County Historical Society website at www.gchs.homestead,com .

Click here to add text.