All articles contributed by David Patton, Palmer Town Historian
P.O. Box 1422
Tracy City, TN 37387
Palmer Town Historian David Patton reminds everyone that he sees more snakes in September while out walking than any other month. Patton says that, "If you don't think snake bites are serious business please read my September 2006 article "Snakes! Copperheads, and Rattlers!" on my page. It will make a believer out of you.
THE ORANGE LEMON MYSTERY- SOLVED!
This special story is dedicated to the memory of Mr. A. Irvin Hilchey of West Gore, Nova Scotia. He never forgot the American with the unusual name of Orange Lemon who came to Canada over 100 years ago. Now, here in 2013, those remembrances he passed on to his son Paul have triggered a chain of events unraveling this mystery and forged new friendships between the people of America and Canada.
“Handsome Young Man”
Mr. Orange Lemon Northcut is pictured as a young man over 100 years ago.
“Canadian Patriot” World War I began in 1914, eventually involved 29 nations, and was called “The Great War.” The British Empire joined the fight in 1914 and the United States in 1917. An idealistic young man with strong ties to Canada, Mr. Northcut joined the Canadian Army before his own country of America declared war on Germany in 1917.Loss of life and destruction was so great that World War I was also called “The war to end all wars” but tragically just a generation later World War II began
“Maritime Bible and Literacy College”
(West Gore, Nova Scotia-faculty and students 1912)
First row from left: Viola Wallace, Edith MacDougall, Ada Sim, Alice MacDougall, Rose MacPhee, Dorothy MacInnis, Lorine MacDougall, Evelyn Sim, Winnie Cameron, Verna Cameron, Mabel Tallman, Hallie Tallman with Avononelle.
Second row from left: Munroe MacDougall, Gaston Collins, Winnie Rogers, Pearl Wallace, Myrna MacDougall,Merta Mason, Bernice MacDougall, Gladys Harvey, Eva MacInnis, O.E. Tallman, O.H. Tallman.
Third row from left: Nora Tallman, Merle MacDougall, ________ MacPhee, StellaMacDougall, Lois MacDonald, Clyde Harvey, Guy Wallace.
Fourth row from left: Loney MacDougall, Orange Lemon Northcut, Earl MacDonald, Erma Burgess, Nellie Brison, J.W. Hayter, Loran Wallace, Fred Wallace, Gordon MacPhee.
Mr. Paul Hilchey of Conquerall Bank, Nova Scotia grew up in West Gore and says, “about 1909 The Church of Christ Disciples in West Gore decided that a Bible and Literacy College should be built in our village. The Minister, O.H. Tallman had letters written to churches, schools or other ministers whom he knew in both Canada and the United States. He encouraged students to come to West Gore to attend our college. It seems a few students came from Tennessee.”
“West Gore is a small community where everyone knew everyone. I imagine that being a young man at the time, Orange Lemon would have boarded with a member of the Church of Christ (Disciples) of West Gore. There is much more information available about the Bible college if you “Google”: “The Maritime Bible and Literacy College” by Geoffery Ellis. The college lasted from 1909 to approximately 1915.”
O.H. Tallman and his brother O.E. Tallman were famous preachers in Church of Christ circles some 100 years ago and are still remembered In Grundy County. Minister Ray Winton, 83, of Coalmont, TN says that, “I’ve heard my mother talk about the Tallman’s preaching in Northcut’s Cove and Grundy County. They didn’t just come to the mountain but preached in the valley’s too. Orange Lemon’s brother, Vernon Northcut, would take preachers like that around all over the area to hold services.”
“The Pretty Bride and Parents”
In 1948 Patsy Northcut of Palmer, daughter of Orange Lemon and Clara Northcut, married James “Jamie” Marler of Tracy City at Palmer Church of Christ with Bro. Lester Massey officiating. Bro. Massey was a well-known Chruch of Christ preacher and later married Ray and Doris McCormick Winton of Coalmont, Tennessee.
“Pillars of the Community”
Mr. Orange Lemon Northcut (April 3, 1886- March 21, 1971) and wife Mrs. Clara Woodlee Northcut (April 30, 1901- January 29, 1974) are pictured in their twilight years.The Northcut’s were prominent citizens of theTown of Palmer and Grundy County , Tennessee. He was an Electrician and Carpenter for Tennessee Consolidated Coal Company and she was a nurse for Dr. Oscar Howell Clements at his “Clements Clinic” and later a nurse for Dr. Walter Huling at the “Palmer Clinic” which opened in 1956 and is still going strong today. The couple were the parents of two daughters, Wilene and Patsy, and a son Leon. Wilene and Patsy are deceased and Leon has lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee for many years.
“Granny’s House” –Precious Memories
This photo of the Orange Lemon Northcut home on Big Mine Road in Palmer was probably taken in the 1960’s. It still stands and is now occupied by Mrs. Michelle Campbell Travis.
“Precious memories, how they linger,” as the song says and the old home place does hold precious memories for the Northcut’s granddaughter Becky Marler Brandt of Ooltewah, Tennessee.
Becky’s an Art teacher at Boyd-Buchanan High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee and you can sense the deep love she felt for her grandparents in her conversations about them.
The Story Begins……
My interest in this story began several years ago when I ran across a copy of Mr. Orange Lemon Northcut’s obituary and read that he served in the Canadian army in World War I. This fascinated me because why would a member of a prominent Grundy County family not have served in the American army?
The volunteer history work done by myself and other small town historians is fun and exciting but also time consuming so I vowed to look into the matter at a later date and moved on.
In 2012 I was contacted by Mr. Paul Hilchey of Conquerall Bank, Nova Scotia. He remembered his father talking about an American named Orange Lemon who was quite a slugger at the plate and a fine baseball player and worked at a wood shingle mill. Mr. Hilchey also discovered a photo of a Church of Christ College in Canada and Orange Lemon was pictured as a student. This made sense because the Northcut’s are a well- known Church of Christ family in Grundy County.
The key to solving any “History Mystery” is finding that one person who will go out of their way to help you and I found a gem in Becky Marler Brandt. She not only provided information on the Northcut’s but also came up with these amazing photos that have added so much to this story.
Becky is the daughter of the late James and Patsy Northcut Marler of Tullahoma, Tennessee. She gave me the following information on the family.“According to my brother, David, our grandfather, whom all the grandchildren called “Pop-Pop,” served in the Canadian army because when he got ready to serve the United States had not entered World War I yet. Pop-Pop had family in Montreal and went through them to enlist.
My mom had a remembrance book and had notes that he was a sergeant, served in the Canadian army for 9 years, and was injured. She did not know how he was injured but that might explain why he never served in the United States.
Mom also wrote that her dad was born in Grundy County , Tennessee. He went to Irving College in Tennessee and later to a Christian College in Bowling Green, Kentucky. O.L. Married Clara Woodlee June 9, 1921 in Tracy City, Tennessee. They were married in what is now Foster and Lay Funeral Home.”
Mona Brittingham of Nashville, Tennessee had articlenumber 1028 about the Northcut’s in the Grundy County Heritage Book and said that Orange Lemon’s parents were William Elihu and Clara Fults Northcut of Northcut’s Cove and that they were the parents of six sons and two daughters. Two of Orange Lemon’s brothers were Gordon Northcut who had a store in the Camp 4 community just outside of Palmer and Vernon Northcut of Altamont who had a successful lumber and sawmill business near Altamont, Tennessee.
The name “Orange Lemon” drew instant attention and some thought it wasn’t his real name. The late Rudolph Schild was a stern mathematics teacher at Grundy County High School in the 1940’s and had a short fuse in the class room.
At the start of the new school year he would have the students introduce themselves and tell everyone who their parents were. The story was told that one of the Northcut girls was in the class and when she said her father was Orange Lemon he said, “young lady, I’ll have you to know that I don’t put up with any foolishness in this class!”
Becky continues and says, “Pop-Pop came from a large family. They were living in Florida when he was born and must have ran out of names.” Here’s a guess that (David Patton) I have. The state of Florida is known for citrus and could that have been where they got the idea for the name Orange Lemon?
“I remember that Pop-Pop worked for the electrical company at one time (Tennessee Consolidated Coal Company had their own power plant and furnished electricity to the company houses and this could have happened when Mr. Northcut was an electrician for them) and while on an electrical pole, they accidentally turned the power on. Workers had to go up and get him. Mom said that was why his hair turned white at such an early age. He raised Boxwood Bushes behind his house and was always very proud of them.
My parents married in 1948 and Mom (Patsy) told me her dad (Orange Lemon) sat on the front porch of their home and cried the night before she got married, because she would be moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana right after the service. My dad (James Marler) worked for the railroad in Indiana. Mom and Dad got married at Palmer Church of Christ and had the reception on the front porch of “Granny’s House” which is what we called it.
When my brother and I were young we pulled up little pine trees across from Granny’s house and took them to Tullahoma to plant. Mom pointed to the end of the back yard for us to plant them, thinking they would not live. The giant trees are still standing today.
I remember my granny (Clara) being a nurse and she was well-known for delivering a lot (most) of the babies in Palmer and even helped name a great deal of them. I do not remember them living anywhere else other than Palmer except after Pop-Pop died and granny came to live near Mom and Dad in Tullahoma until she died of cancer. Even in old age my Granny never had to dye her hair. It stayed dark.”
Mary Katherine “Mary Kat” Campbell Gifford of Columbia, Tennessee grew up in Palmer and remembers Mrs. Northcut very well. As a young girl she remembers going with her father Alexander “Alec” Campbell to the Northcut home. All these years later, she still remembers how dark Mrs. Northcut’s hair was, and that it was braided and in a bun a common hair style of that day.
“After a stroke took away his speech, my Pop-Pop carried a small note pad and wrote scriptures to us. He was an elder in the Palmer Church of Christ and read his Bible every day.
Mom worked for Dr. Roles in Tullahoma for many years as his office manager. My Aunt Wilene and Mom both died in February 2002. My Dad died that same month also. Tough month!”
Mr. James McCullough, 73, of Gruetli-Laager, Tennessee grew up on Big Mine Road in Palmer as a neighbor of the Northcut’s and says, “ if we had any electrical problems at our house Mr. Northcut would fix them. I remember that the Northcut’s would play croquet in their yard on Sunday afternoons Mrs. Northcut was a nurse and they were a good family.”
“Unsolved Mysteries” was a hit television show that many of you remember. At the end of each show the host, Robert Stack, would say, “For every mystery, there’s someone, somewhere, who has the answer.” Remember that when you’re trying to find answers and keep on pushing.
We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Paul Hilchey, Becky Marler Brandt, Michelle Travis, Ray Winton, Janelle Taylor and Sharon Goodman in bringing you this story.
Paul Hilchey sent David Patton an email responding to David's questions. Below is his email.
Hello David and Michelle,
I believe that there is an interesting story here that many of your readers will enjoy.
It is true that I remember my Dad (A. Irvin Hilchey, 1909-2005) mentioning Orange Lemon on many occasions over the years. However, I am afraid that like many, I did not ask enough questions when there was someone who may have been able to answer them. Dad played baseball as long as he was able and always enjoyed watching the game around our area or on television. All that I recall him saying was that Orange Lemon was quite a slugger when he was at the plate and a fine player. Dad lived almost all of his life in West Gore and died in the Colchester Hospital in Truro, Nova Scotia. You asked if my father served in the Canadian Armed Forces. Dad was, of course, only five years old when WWI began. When WWII started he was 30. He went to enlist, but as he was a dairy farmer, he was told that he should stay on the farm as his two younger brothers had enlisted and there was no one else to take care of the cattle in his absence.
Until I saw your articles, David, I had no idea where Mr. Northcutt was from.
West Gore, Hants County, Nova Scotia is a small community where everyone knew everyone. I imagine that being a young man at the time, Orange Lemon would have boarded with a member of the Church of Christ (Disciples) of West Gore.
The dates that Orange Lemon lived in West Gore is probably unknown unless his family has this information. The West Gore College as I have always heard it called existed only between 1909 and approximately 1915. If Orange Lemon was here during this period, then my Dad would have only been six years old as he was born in 1909. David, you found out that Orange Lemon enlisted with the Canadians during WWI. Is it possible that he returned to this area after the war ended? Possibly so, if he married a local girl.
These were "boom years" for West Gore and surrounding areas. Around 1880, antimony was discovered in West Gore. Later it was discovered that there was gold as well. A mining operation started about 1885 which brought in many new people to the community. Production varied from year to year, but with the beginning of "The Great War" production increased considerably at least for the period to 1917. I was told that antimony was used to stabilize certain explosives, but could not confirm this information at this time.
My renewed interest in Orange Lemon began with a book that had been written by a cousin. Gwen Lefton wrote "West Gore to 1950" in 1987. The picture of "College Faculty and Students" of 1912 which includes Orange Lemon is one of the pictures included in this book. (I do not know who might have this original picture. Gwen interviewed many of the people from West Gore for this book and as you can imagine most were older folks who have passed on since then. In this book, it states that Orange Lemon was working at a shingle mill which was owned by Foster Brison at some time after 1903. I began making a list of the people mentioned here with their pertinent dates when available. The 1921 Canadian Census is now available, so perhaps that will give us more information.
There is much more information available about the Bible College if you google: "The Maritime Bible and Literary College" by Geoffrey Ellis. The current minister of the church is Reverend Angus MacDonald. Rev. MacDonald or some of his congregation would probably have more information about the Bible College. I was told that Gwen Lefton is presently enjoying retirement in Florida.
Thank you for your interest. If I can be of further assistance, please let me know. When your article is written, I would enjoy receiving a copy.
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We’re coming to you this month on September 11th. Lately, I’ve been “going like fighting fire,” and didn’t even realize it was time to pause and remember the victims of the terrorist attacks on “9/11” until I heard it on the radio today.
Where were you on that nice and sunny Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001?
About 4:00 A.M., I caught a ride with Dewayne Privett who was going to work in Chattanooga and got out up on top of Palmer Mountain near the old fire tower. When daylight came, I started walking back down the mountain home while picking u cans and when I got here I flipped on the TV and fixed a snack. A plane had hit the World Trade Center Tower in New York. We all knew it was something major but at that point didn’t know why or who was involved.
Exhausted, I went to bed, and when I got up a few hours later and turning on the TV again, America and the world was a different place than it had been when the morning began. Now, twelve years later, we’re still dealing with aftermath of 9/11 and will be for the foreseeable future.
Palmer Elementary School students and staff showed their respect on 9/11 this year by wearing red, white and blue colors.
“Rocking Chair Days”: Jimmy Rogers, son of Mary Ruth Mayes Rogers and the late James “Burr” Rogers, retired just a few months ago. He spent his entire career teaching in the Chattanooga public schools. Jimmy lives in Tray City now, and his brother, John Rogers, is also a teacher. John is still teaching at Swiss Memorial Elementary where he had spent his entire career, and he lives in Gruetli-Laager.
Rev. Brett Meeks of Palmer pastors Campground Freewill Baptist Church in Pelham and is the only child of Wanda Hampton Meeks and the late J.T. Meeks. Homecoming was on August 17th. and the featured singers were the famous “ Dusty Road Boys” from Bowling Green, Ky.
“I love coming to the Palmer Labor Day Celebration.” That’s what Mr. Rick Ruehling told us recently , and he also said, “My wife, Vicky, and I go over to the Methodist Church fish fry, get a plate then walk over to the Ball Field, talk to people and listen to gospel music.” Rich works for Ben Lomand Direct (telephone company) and is a former Mayor of Gruetli-Laager. He’s married to Ralph Burnett’s daughter, and many of you know his brother, Rev. Bob Ruehling.
We enjoyed meeting a very nice young lady recently who was driving around looking for a lost dog. Amanda Fults is married to “Topper” Fults who is a son of Clifford Fults. She told us she was either the daughter or grand-daughter of the late Harley Braden, I can’t remember which. Over the years in public office, Mr. Raymond Hargis knew just about everyone, and I’d say he knew Harley.
What’s a “Buck Moon”? I’d never heard of it, but Billy Wade Taylor of Gruetli-Laager says that’s what the full moon in July is call because deer are putting on new antlers. He’s a longtime hunter, fisherman and logger and a son of the late Everett “Broad” Taylor.
Let’s rewind the tape and wish Happy July Birthdays to: Dr. Byron Harbolt (90), Mrs. Howard (Oma Lee Boyd) Lewis (89), Allie Jean “Shorty” Sanders (80), Joe David Tate (80), Mrs. Doodle (Bonnie Gipson) Payne (79), Horace Ray Slatton (70), Larry Crabtree (65), and John Doug Shrum (64).
Let’s rewind the tape just a little more back to August and wish Happy Birthday to Clara Bone Landon (93) who is the widow of George Landon, Jerry Harrison (72), Horace Ray Slatton (79), Tom Coffelt (70), and Gail Bryant Coffelt (63).
Now, we’re caught up, and let’s wish the following a Happy Birthday in September: (All are good friends of mine.) Mrs. Calvin (Charlotte Long) Finch out in Riverside, California turns 89. Her husband Calvin is the last surviving member of the large John and Carrie Partin Finch family, and many of your remember Calvin’s brother, Herschel Finch Sr. who was a neighbor of Mr. A. J. Layne over in Chiggertown.
Bobby Lynn Stinnett turns 77 up in Newburgh, Indiana. He’s married to Mary Cannon Lovell Stinnett, and they still have a Palmer home next to Mary’s old home place (Scott Cannon place). They grew up as neighbors in Palmer and married some 20 years ago after their spouses passed away.
Ethleen Sitz McNabb turns 97 over in Dunlap, Tn. She taught at Palmer Elementary in the late 1940’s, and after she and her husband Crandel moved to Marion County she made it a career. Crandel turned 100 back on June 9, 2013.
Joe Willard Fults turns 86 out in Coalmont, Tn. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1943 at the age of 15 and served overseas in the Pacific Theater of World War II. His wife, Jean, is the daughter of the late Clayton Worley, and Joe’s a son of the late Theron Fults.
Keith McBee turns 55 down in Gruetli-Laager, Tn. He held the office of Grundy County Trustee for several years before deciding not to run again. For a number of years now he has worked for Ben Lomand Direct. He’s a son of Alyene Layne McBee and the late Jim Dave McBee.
Tommy “Lemons” got hisself a “motorsickle”. That’s Hill Billyese for Tommy “Layman” got himself a “motorcycle”. Years ago around here the Layman or Laymon family was pronounced “Lemons” and a motorcycle was often called a “motorsickle.” I heard the terms September 9th. for the first time probably in years. The famous Chattanooga radio personality, Luther Massingill used to get a good laugh on the air occasionally by calling a motorcycle a motorsickle.
“What’s For Supper?”
We hadn’t seen William Randal “Pig” Harrison in years until we ran into him at the home of his brother, Jerry Harrison. Pig is married to the former Glenda Britton, and she makes a dish that sounds really good and that I’m going to try.
Glenda Cuts up green tomatoes, potatoes, squash, okra, or anything else you might want to add and fries it with cut-up Spam in it. I’m going to add some onion and maybe cabbage.
Retired from Signal Mountain Cement Company, Pig lives today at Cumberland Heights near Altamont. He’s a U.S Army veteran who served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and is a 1962 graduate of Palmer Elementary.
Continuing on with “What’s For Supper?” Janelle Taylor and her daughter, Megan Benton, came by recently and brought me six pints of beets from Janelle’s garden. I’ve eaten them before, and Janelle makes delicious pickled beets. They live in Pelham and were on their way to attend the annual reunion of the Buddy and Lucy Green Payne family. Buddy was a sister of Janelle’s late mother, Mrs. Ebb (Elsie Payne) Layne.
“Where’s Miss Ruby?”
As you go up Hwy. 108 past Burnt Orchard Hill and start up Palmer Mountain, you’ll see a house on the right across the Hwy. from the old Ernest Dishroon home. The late Dibrell “Dib” and Ruby Land Henry lived there for years, but both are deceased. Their sons and a grandson, Eddie Henry, live there now. Eddie says earlier this year a stranger drove up and asked, “Where’s Miss Ruby?” Eddie told her, “Why, Ma’am, she’s dead.” The lady was Clara Ruth Nunley Tate who is the widow of Billy Holt Tate. Back in the coal mining days Clara Ruth was a neighbor of Ruby’s up 0here and didn’t know she had died. This was probably 60 years ago, and like so many others there the, the Tate’s moved “up north” to Michigan to find work.
The family of the late Pat and Mable Dishroon Morrison gathered the Sunday before Labor Day for their annual reunion. The Morrison’s children are: Helen, Mary, Robert, Randal, Wayne, Carl “Teeter”, James “Dutter, and Shelva Jean who is deceased.
“Nancy Brown, where are you?” Retired Palmer Elementary Principal, Miles Thomas, visited Mary Ruth Rogers recently and asked her whatever became of Nancy Brown who was a teacher when he was there. Mr. Thomas now spends most of his time in Bangkok, Thailand, but still has a home in Altamont.
Welcome Back: Drema Roberts, daughter of the late Gene and Opal Roberts, has moved back to Grundy County and lives next to the Baptist Church on Hwy. 108 in Gruetli-Laager. Drema, I think, has probably lived in Chattanooga most of the time since graduating from G.C.H.S. in the early 1960’s. She grew up in Palmer, and on August 13, longtime friend, Donna Gifford Basham, took her to dinner to celebrate her birthday. Donna’s brother, Mike Gifford, gave her a gift for her home to welcome her back.
Mrs. Mike (Mary Ruth) Shaddrick has been canning pickles this summer. She’s a daughter of the late David and Ruby Nell Davis Phillips. Mike retired this summer, but still has plenty to keep him busy around the home and his church. He’s a former Mayor of Palmer and was a very good one.
Long Time No See: We ran into Dana Cleek recently, and hadn’t seen her since she was a little girl. She’s the daughter of Paulette Coppinger Cleek and the late Cleston Cleek. Her brother is Grundy County Mayor, Lonnie Cleek.
We also saw James Knight. He’s a son of Hallie James Knight and the late “Gid” Knight.
We also talked with James McCullough at Traders Market and Deli. His daughter, Cindy, runs the business. It’s located next to Buford Jones’ Building Supply on Hwy. 108 in Gruetli-Laager. The place is very popular with good food and looks like a 1950’s diner with the little tables. The posters and old photos will take you back in time. If you haven’t been to Palmer in a while stop by to visit. James is 73 now.
Wanda Meeks and her sister-in-law, Kathy Hampton, of Jasper had lunch there recently. Wanda said they saw Delbert “Cooney” Sweeton’s widow Reggie and her son, Vince Sweeton, and Jason Coffelt who is a grandson of the late Dan Coffelt. Kathy’s the widow of Melvin Hampton.
“Don’t Give Up Driving:”
Wanda Meeks is 84 now, and it must have been around two years ago that she broke her leg and had surgery and a long recovery period. After that, she decided not to continue driving and let her license expire, but that was a huge mistake. “I just made a mistake,” she said. “I could still be driving to the store and places here on the mountain.” Wanda started driving as a teenager, and I’m sure wishes she could still be independent and not have to depend on others. So, let’s repeat it again, unless you absolutely have to, “Don’t Give Up Driving.”
Friends and Neighbors, I’ve gotten carried away this month with all this news, and my typist is going to get me if I don’t wrap it up.
So, from right smack dab in the middle of “where the good people live,” we’ll say good bye for now. We should have some nice fall weather in the weeks ahead so get outside and walk awhile. Let’s all plan to meet right back here in October, the good Lord willing.