The Norton Bottling Company appears to have started in 1899 when owner Thomas M. Pepper purchased a plot of land on Eighth Street in Norton, VA.(2) He purchased adjoining lots in the years 1903 and 1904 obviously in order to expand his plant.(2) T. B. Hillman, his partner in the company, sold his share in 1905 to form his own bottling company, the Coeburn Bottling Works, in Coeburn, VA. In 1906 T. M. Pepper himself decided to sell the company to F. B. Kline on September 1, 1906, which included all the personal property of the company. Also as part of the deal with Kline, Pepper leased the building itself for two years, at ten dollars a month, and promised to not bottle or sell soft drinks in Wise and Lee counties for five years from the sale date.(2)

T. M. Pepper kept his end of the bargain, and on April 30th, 1914 creates the T. M. Pepper Company which was incorporated on May 18, 1914.(1) The office holders of the new corporation are T. M. Pepper as President, H. W. Meade as Vice President, and L. C. Pepper as Secretary Treasurer. It is specifically mentioned in the company’s charter that they would be producing Mint Cola, birch beer, ginger ale, and mineral waters, along with ice and ice cream.(4) Pepper installed his new bottling company in the same building on Eighth Street, which F. B. Kline had vacated by 1913. Unfortunately T. M. Pepper went bankrupt in 1917,(5) but the company survived, changing its name to the Stone Mountain Bottling Company on February 7, 1923.(3) T. M. Pepper seems to have also been involved in Norton, VA politics. He was a councilman in 1902, and I found mentions of his being mayor of the town in 1913, and 1916. After his bankruptcy, the census claims he became a general contractor, and owned a saw mill in Norton at one time.

The old Norton Bottling Company building on Eighth Street

From the collection of Charlie Barnette, photo by Charlie Barnette
A Hutchinson bottle from the Norton Bottling Company

An ad for the Norton Bottling Company from June 3, 1904.

From the collection of Frank Anderson, photo by Joseph Lee
An amber bottle from the T. M. Pepper Bottling Company

6 1/2oz Mint Cola bottle from Norton, VA

Mint Cola ad from March 31, 1915

From the collection of Frank Anderson, photo by Joseph Lee
Green bottle from the T. M. Pepper Bottling Company

From the collection of Frank Anderson, photo by Joseph Lee
A later amber bottle from the T. M. Pepper Bottling Company

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(1) "Annual Report of the Secretary of the Commonwealth to the Governor and General Assembly of Virginia" published 1915

(2) "The Heritage of Wise County and The City of Norton 1856-2001 Vol. 2" by The Wise County Historical Society

(3) Report of the secretary of commerce to the governor of Virginia 1923

(4) Wise County Circuit Court Records

(5) Big Stone Gap Post