“A Glance Back”

Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Well, friends, throw another log on the fire and then sit down and read this “Glance Back.”

This one is from the North Grundy Star dated January 14, 1960. John George Greeter, age 91 years, founder of the Greeter Lumber Company and a prominent Grundy County businessman, died about five o’clock Friday morning at his home in Altamont. Mr. Greeter was born on Long Island, NY on September 4, 1869, the son of the late John J. and Christine Worling Greeter who came to this country from Switzerland.

At the age of three he and his parents moved from Long Island, NY to the Swiss Colony near Gruetli. While enroute by train, a kindly gentleman gave the small lad an apple. When the gentleman reached his destination, he was enthusiastically welcomed by a large crowd of people. This aroused Mrs. Greeter’s interest in the identity of the man and inquiry revealed that he was General Robert E. Lee. When he was seven years old, the family moved to Beersheba Springs and he later settled near Altamont with his parents when a lad of 12.

As a youth Mr. Greeter worked as a blacksmith apprentice, first at the Von Rohr Blacksmith Shop near Gruetli and later at the Ruch and Knies Blacksmith Shop near Winchester. In those days it was necessary for him to walk to Winchester by way of Pelham on Sunday, to work during the week, then walk home on Saturday. When Mr. Greeter married Miss Annie Stoker on September 22, 1894, they began to make their home at the same location where he died. At first the house had only two rooms, but it was added to in the years that followed.

For years Mr. Greeter operated his own blacksmith shop on the location of the present office of the Greeter Lumber Company. Friday was gristmill day and on that day the people came from miles around to have their grains of all kind ground. Mr. Greeter’s pay was the small amount of the finished flour or meal, which he kept as his toll for the grinding. Another public service, which he rendered to the community, was the building of caskets. He kept on hand metal handles and bolts of cloth and no bit of excelsior which came to hand was ever thrown away but saved for use as padding in the caskets.

During the funeral service held Sunday afternoon at the Altamont Church of Christ, A.J. Rollings of Athens, Alabama, recalled memories of Mr. Greeter’s service and good example as an industrious worker beginning with his own memories when the Rollings family moved to Altamont 43 years ago; of the parallel between Mr. Greeter and the hero of Longfellow’s poem concerning the village blacksmith, when Rollings was one of the school children who looked in at the open door; of the kindness and understanding of the Greeters’ when the Rollings children lost their mother; and further applying PS 90:9, “We spend our years as a tale that is told.” Preceding the sermon Dr. L. F. Littell read the 90th Psalm and offered prayer. Several selections were sung by a group of young people from Athens, Alabama. Rev. Ben Walker, pastor of the Baptist Church in Altamont, was in charge of the graveside rites. The great number of beautiful floral arrangements and the large number from over the county attending the funeral showed in some measure the great respect and love with which Mr. Greeter was regarded. Pallbearers were Malcolm Fults, Arthur Edmister, Fritz Flury, J.B. Killian, Hallis Northcutt, Wade Bouldin, Stanley Meeks, and Charlie Boyd. Burial was made in the Greeter plot in the Altamont Cemetery with Foster and Son of Tracy City in charge of arrangements. Mrs. Williams had tenderly cared for Mr. Greeter when his health failed, as Mrs. Greeter had passed away in 1935. He was also preceded in death by two brothers, Fred who died in 1926 in Altamont, and Willie who died in Waterloo, Illinois in 1956. Survivors are one daughter, Mrs. H.B. Williams and three sons, Harvey, Leo and Werner Greeter, and their wives, all of Altamont; seven grandchildren, Reuben Williams, Altamont; Mrs. Claude Henley, Pelham Valley; Mrs. Eugene McGovern, Chattanooga; John William Greeter, Altamont; Mrs. Robert Daulton, Cincinnati, Ohio; Mrs. A.B. Scaglia, Jr., West Lafayette, Indiana; and Mrs. John Fletcher, Chattanooga, and seven great grandchildren.

Now there are three birthdays I would like to tell you about: Clarence “Buddy” Kilgore, Jr. has a birthday on February 14 (is that right, “Buddy?”); George “Coon” Smartt has one on February 15; and Carolyn Yarworth has one on February 16. So “Happy Birthday” from “A Glance Back.”



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