From Beginning To End Of Cooley's Grocery

By Nell Morisette
Camden, Tennessee

Edward Cooley

Dear Tribune readers: hope all are well and ready for a nice Christmas. Thanks to Brenda Couthen Griffith for going with me down memory land to Harmons Creek and Cooley's Grocery.

Cooley's grocery, one of the unforgettable landmarks of Harmon's Creek, was originally established in 1958 by William Edward Cooley. Before he build the store, Mr. Cooley was a farmer on property in the Halls Valley Community and farmed land with his parents, William Calvin and Mary Lou Farmer Cooley.

In 1910 William Edward married Lou Gather Melton. They set up housekeeping in the Halls Valley Community until they TVA flooded the area. Ed and Gather moved with their four children to the Harmons Creek community on land that Gather's father Thomas Jefferson Melton owned. He deeded 10 acres to Gather and 10 acres to her brother Grover Melton, who married Ed's sister Maude Cooley. These families lived side by side and raised their children, farming for a living. Ed built a house of logs and after some years, the original house burned. It was the last house on the Harmons Creek Church road before crossing the bridge going to the church. He rebuilt, again with logs, on the same spot. The house remained there into the 80's when it also burned.

After Ed Cooley quit farming, he worked at the Harmons Creek Boat Dock, running a little store for the fishermen. The store was built on a barge and was off shore so the fishermen could dock their boats there and go inside for a bite of lunch and a cold drink.

In 1958 when Mrs. Cooley became ill, Ed quit the Boat Dock Store and built a little store on Harmons Creek road, just across the road and down a few yards from where the Cooley's Grocery building is now. Later, when Gather had a stroke, he built a small living quarters adjoining the store. By this time, their daughter Irene and her Husband Bob Cauthen had bought the old Felt Farmer place and were able to see to Gather. Mr. Ed Cooley continued with Cooley's Grocery until his own ill health in 1966. He and Father moved to town to live with their daughter Irene in the late 1966.

In 1967, Mr. Hershel Cooley, son of Ed and Father, bought the old Cooley homeplace on Harmon's Creek Church Road, and moved the store down there. It remained at the location until 1972. Hershel had bought the Cauthen house from his sister Irene and moved there. He built a new store just across the from his house.

If the walls could talk, how interesting the conversations would be. About the BIG one that got away and how the hunter just missed a 12 pointer. The store was a check-in point for deer, ducks, and geese for years on end. The largest deer to be checked in was a 10 point buck, field dressed at 191 pounds. It was killed by a young boy from Memphis while hunting with his father. Deer season was a time of year that always brought excitement to mr. Hershel, hearing stories about "the one I almost got." He would always tease the ones who had a close miss by telling them, "Well, we will have to cut our shirt tail off and tack it on the wall." One young man took him serious and said, "Oh, no, you don't cut my new shirt tail off!"

The little kitchen table that set in the back corner was always a welcome sight for the weary hunters fishermen, as they knew they could buy a hunk of Elm Hill bologna and a big slice of cheese and some crackers and that was the best meal of the day. At least one newly married couple had their wedding breakfast at Cooley's grocery. No doubt it consisted of a bologna sandwich, a coke, and a candy bar.

It always seemed that Cooley's store had all the necessities that one needed to survive and on a cold day men would gather around the store, sit back in their chairs and tell all their tales and remember the good ole days. Young and old have some memories of she little country store. Well, this day those memories are the Good Old Days, days that are long gone now, but I dare say that in the new few decades, the name Cooley's Grocery will still bring back fond memories. There will never be another little country store that is so rich in history and memories. Mr. William Edward Cooley passed away in 1970 and Mr. Hershel Cooley passed away in 1992.

Thought for the week: Love is God, His love paid our final cost, when His son Jesus died upon the cross.


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Brian Nichols

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