Noah C. Melton And Melton's Barbecue Pit

By Nell Morisette
NewsTribune Special Columnist

It's time to say hello again and hope all are well. I am tired of going to school, let's dismiss for awhile and write about something else. May go back to school later as I have a few more.

This week will be about Noah Calvin Melton and Meltons Barbecue Pitt.

Noah Calvin Melton was born on September 3, 1875 to John and Lovinia Melton. John was the son of Etheldred and Mary Ann Arnold Melton. Lovinia was the daughter of John Wesley Melton Jr. and the former Mourning Melton.

Little is known about Noah's early childhood. As a young boy he is said to have begun working in a store in the Way community in the Harmons Creek section of Benton county. He later located in the community of Eva and from there to Camden.

Noah married Julia Pearl Myers June 27, 1897. The first four children born to this couple died in infancy. The first child to live was Lester. Second child was Noel. He drowned in the Tennessee River at Old Johnsonville at the age of 16. The third child, Gretchen, married Laymon Cuff, they ran a grocery store, around the corner from the Camden Cleaners on E. Lake St. The next child was Lorene, and their last child was Carnell.

In 1921, Noah was operating a general merchandise store in Eva near the depot station. In 1928 Noah sold the store in Eva to Albert Cherry.

After moving to Camden, Noah clerked in various stores. One of the stores was owned by E.D. Davidson and another owned by Lindsey Melton. He later opened his own grocery store at the foot of the hill below Camden High School. While operating the store the "great depression" hit, causing Noah to go into bankruptcy. It is to his credit that Noah later paid all of the debts canceled by the bankruptcy, even though not legally to.

In 1932 Noah was working in a barbecue restaurant owned by John Hudson. This restaurant was located on the corner of court square what is now part of the Post Office parking lot. He was working there when Franklin Roosevelt was elected. One of the first acts of the new administration was to legalize the sale of beer. John Hudson applied for and was issued a license. Very few people now living are aware that beer was legally sold on the court square. Noah quit his job after a dispute with his employer. He then began to make plans to open his own barbecue restaurant. Mr. Reed, operator of a lumber shed located on the corner north of the present Post Office, encouraged Noah to open his own restaurant and offered a line of credit. Using a line of credit and money provided by his daughter, Lorene, Noah constructed a building on land belonging to Commie Hawley. This building was located between the present post office and what was formerly known as the Commerce Union Bank.

Noah Melton, opened his business July 4, 1933, at the age of 58 and Julie was 51. He called the restaurant "Meltons Barbecue Pit," but was often referred to as the "Pig Stand."

The building that was constructed was rather a crude one. When the business first opened the inside walls were not covered. Only a few windows were in place, they were covered only by screening. The outside of the building was covered with brick embossed tin. Customers were served seated at homemade counters on benches and cane bottom chairs. The part that was used for the kitchen was unfloored, as there wasn't enough money. For the business to survive it was necessary to operate as cheaply as possible. All of the labor was done by family members. Noah and Julie ran the kitchen, Gretchen and Lorene waited on customers and Carnell carried water from a public hydrant in the courthouse yard.

Later the restaurant was operated by Laymon and Gretchen Cuff, Jack and Lorene Ott and in 1943 or 1944 Lester took over the management, he and wife, Jessie ran it until about 1968. Following is the menu and prices in 1939.

Sausage Sandwich - .05
Hamburger - .05
Chili - .10 bowl
Soup - .10 bowl
Barbecue Plate - .15
Plate lunch - .25, included 3 vegetables and 1 meat.
Breakfast of 2 eggs, 2 bacon or 2 sausage and coffee - .20

Noah and Julie Melton in front of Melton's Pit Barbecue
Noah and Julie Melton in front of Melton's Pit Barbecue

Most everyone called him Uncle Noah, his wife, Julie was really my aunt, so he was for sure my "Uncle Noah." Aunt Julie died November 4, 1950. Uncle Noah died, March 9, 1958. They are buried in the family plot in the Flatwoods Methodist Cemetery. This plot contains the remains of their four infant children, son Noel, their daughter and son-in-law, Lorene and Jack Ott.

Services Held For Noah C. Melton

Funeral services for Noah Calvin Melton were held Monday afternoon, March 10, 1958, at the First Methodist Church with the pastor, the Rev. D. W. Anderson, assisted by the Rev. A.E. Hold of Union City, officiating.

Mr. Melton died Sunday morning at a local clinic. He was the son of the late John and Lovina Melton. He was a member of Camden Methodist Church and a Mason. He was married to the former Julia Myers, who died several years ago.

Mr. Melton owned and operated Melton's Cafe from 1932 until a few years ago. He formerly had operated a store in Eva.

Surviving are two daughters, Mrs. Gretchen Cuff, Camden, and Mrs. Lorene Ott of Miami, Fla.; two sons, Lester Melton, Camden and Carnell Melton, Humboldt; three grandchildren, Kelton Cuff of Nashville, Mrs. Madeline Sharpe, Camden, and Hal Melton of the U.S. Air Force.

Thought for the Week:

Dreams are illustrations...from the book your soul is writing about you.


If you have suggestions and/ or additions for these pages, please feel free to write County Host

Brian Nichols

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