Sometime between the publishing of the 1923 edition of the Beverage Blue Book and the 1925 edition the Chero-Cola Bottling Company of Cleveland, VA is established.(4) The 1925 edition lists C. B. Jesse and E. J. Jesse as proprietors of the company.(4) Yet Kathy Shearer author of Cleveland on the Clinch says that the Gilbert family operated the soft drink plant in the 1920’s and early 1930’s.(2) Unfortunately while the 1930 edition of the Beverage Blue Book lists the company, it doesn’t list the owners. This leaves me with more questions than answers, and only able to wonder what exactly is going on with this company.

We have two possible theories that fit the facts that we do know, one is that the two owners listed in the 1925 Blue Book sold the company to the Gilbert family at some point. The other is based on the fact that Shearer’s exact words are that the Gilbert family “operated” the plant, rather than owned.(2) She goes on to list the positions of some of the family members, Bruce as salesman, Paul as bookkeeper, and Haney as a delivery driver; however, there is no mention of a President or Vice President in the Gilbert family members mentioned.(2) Is it possible that C. B. Jesse and E. J. Jesse hold the positions of President and Vice President, but may not have even lived in Cleveland, and with Paul being a “bookkeeper”, which sounds more like the usual Secretary Treasurer position which might make him a partner in the corporation, maybe he ended up hiring other members of his family to help operate the plant. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that the owners of the corporation live in another town, and someone else is running the physical plant.

The company was located near the railroad tracks, and may very well have been located in the building that now houses the town hall; it certainly looks like a typical 1920’s era bottling plant. The only bottles known from this company are the pyramid style Chero-Cola Soda Water bottles, shown below, which the parent company started using for their flavor line when they were forced to rethink their sales model after Coca-Cola successfully sued them for infringement of trademark.(3) The first two flavors they came up with were Orange Melo, and Grape Melo, which were soon replaced by the Nehi flavor line.(3) It is interesting that on a receipt from this company dated August 31, 1927 we find that these two Melo flavors are being bottled alongside Nehi Strawberry, and Nehi Lemon Lime, thus showing that these two brands actually overlapped. The Chero-Cola Bottling Company of Cleveland, VA was still in operation as of July 1931(1); however, Shearer's source confirmed what I expected all along, that the Depression ended this company as it did many others.(2)

Chero-Cola Soda Water bottle from Cleveland, VA, date unknown

This page is only part of a much larger site. To see the rest then just click TAZEWELL-ORANGE.COM and the contents on this site are copyrighted by Joseph T. Lee III except where otherwise noted see Terms of Use.


(1) "University of Virginia Record Extension Series: An Economic & Social Survey of Russell County" By Leland Burdine Tate July 1931

(2) "Cleveland on the Clinch" By Kathy Shearer 2009

(3) "There's none so good: The Story of Chero-Cola" By Dennis Smith 2005

(4) The Beverage Blue Book