The story of the Kingsport Bottling Company actually has its roots in the opening of the Holston Ordinance Works which produced munitions for the United State Army from 1942-1945. Robert A. Wellons, a lawyer, and I. W. Stewart, the president of a Charlotte bank, both of Charlotte, NC obtained a contract from the Fraser-Brace Engineering Company, Inc., the general contractor at the ordinance works, to operate the Kingsport Canteen Company for which Roy C. King was the manager.(2) The partners were responsible for operating the canteen, commissaries, bunkhouses, and similar services.(2) These same two partners had also operated similar establishments at Camp Ozark, Granada, Mississippi, and the Clinton Engineer Works near Knoxville.(2)

They leased what was the Nesbitt-Fleenor Bottling Company in the name of Stewart's son and Wellons' wife.(2) They renamed it the Kingsport Bottling Company with John L. Palmer as manager, and William M. Fleenor as bottler.(1) The actions taken in association with the operating of this bottling plant would help lead to charges of fraud being filed by the US Government against Wellons, Stewart, and King in March 1944.(2) The contract provided for graduated commissions depending upon the gross receipts from sales made.(2) They exaggerated the expenses of operating the canteen thus decreasing the excess profits which the company should have made.(2) The profits from which should have gone to the United States Treasury. The excess money was used to purchase unauthorized amounts of gasoline.(2)

The partners were also receiving secret kickbacks from the vendors who they were purchasing large amounts of supplies from.(2) On top of that they were transporting the soft drinks to the canteen using government trucks.(2) They had leased the bottling company for one year allowing their option to renew to lapse by September 23, 1943.(2) I don't know what they were bottling; however, it is possible that they continued bottling Nesbitts, Squirt, and Fleenorís flavor line. The case against the partners was heard before the Federal Circuit Court in Greenville, Tennessee in September 1944.(2) I haven't been able to ascertain what the verdict was for these three men, but I doubt they were acquitted.

The location of the Kingsport Bottling Company

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(1) Baldwin's Kingsport, Tenn City Directory

(2) The Kingsport Times News