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Mike Watson: Country stores... Part I

The Adair County Historian compiles a long list of these mainstays of communities. Today's list is Part 1, which he says will be continued at a later date. We hope sooner than later. Great reading for today, and to savor in a studious read on a rainy day. Note: I'm wondering if there is a longer continuous lineage of any store in Adair County than that of my grandfather, L.R. Chelf, who founded his store at Knifley in the early 1900's. The business continues today as Baker's Grocery - a great tradition in itself. -EW
Click on headline for complete installment, the first - of several, we hope, on the subject - from Mike Watson. -CM

By Mike Watson
Adair County Historian

The Country Store has always been the backbone of any community. With the loss of so many of these grass-root businesses in the past thirty or so years, the rural areas of our county and state have suffered immeasurably.

There was a time when one could not drive more than three or four miles without passing such an establishment. Now, there are few to be found. That is why we should all patronizes these stores, and any hometown businesses. Liberty Road General Store & Deli, featured in CM in the past few days, brings to mind my own experiences at local county stores of my youth, including, but not restricted to the following: Mr. Stanley Rosenbaum, at Fairplay; Fred Pickerell, at Gadberry; O.G. Rowe and Clarence Bean, both at Chance; Rollin Coomer's Trading Post, at the neck of Harvey Ridge; Harrison & Carrie Bledsoe, at Cundiff; Sam Aaron, at Glensfork...

The store close by our home was operated in the late 1960s and early '70s by Mr. Gilbert Smith and son, Ralph. This store began with Woodrow Lawhorn in the late 1940s, later operated by Mr. Ruel Page, then Charlie Wheeler, then the Smiths. When the store moved in the early '70s, the Smiths reopened down the road, near their home, and continued in business for some years.

Several years ago, Ernestine Smith Bennett compiled two volumes on old country stores that operated in Adair County in the twentieth century. The two volumes are filled with photographs and short stories on the lore and the people of our times.


The following is a very brief list of some of the community stores that operated in Adair County at the turn of the last century. Some stores may be lost to memory if we don't reflect now, and save our past.
Jack Gowen operated a country store at Basil in 1916.

M.L. Grissom & Company operated at Bliss in the early years of the century. Also, C.M. Herriford operated a store that he sold in 1906 to Mrs. R.E. Tandy. Mr. Whit Conover was the blacksmith in 1904.

G.B. Breeding and Nimrod Roach operated stores at Breeding at the turn of the century. Mr. Roach had a store building completed as of April 1907.

S.G. Banks & Son ran a store at Cane Valley in the 1890s and early 1900s. The telephone exchange was located in his store in 1894. Mr. Banks sold out his stock of goods in 1904 to G.B. Hendrickson. Christie & Christie had operated a dry goods store at Cane Valley until the big fire of June 1891. Dudgeon & Callison were operating a flour and saw mill here in 1894. J.D. Eubank had a general store in 1894; Ed Eubank was operating a store here in 1906 when the U.S. post office was moved to the store. A.H. Judd had a store in 1894. T.I. Smith was a Cane Valley merchant in 1904. Bob Wilson's store was robbed in January 1904; the firm was Wilson & Vaughan by 1909. A Mr. Bartlett and Joseph E. Eubank each ran a boarding house in 1894. The undertaker's shop at Cane Valley, owner not known to me, was destroyed in the fire of 1891.

Jesse Bryant built a new storehouse near Craycraft in 1901.

Merchants, McClister & Pulliam, are having a good trade now (1901). As Dirigo is a new place, perhaps some of the readers would be glad to know where it is. It is on Harrod's Fork, near the old monument--one of the grandest natural scenes in the commonwealth. Although a new town, we have one dry-goods store, a Post-Office, two saw mills and one grist mill in operation, and another to start in the near future.

Waller Hurt was one of the merchants at Gadberry in 1904.

Dr. Ed Sallee was preparing to erect another storehouse at Garlin in 1904. Earlier that year the people of the Garlin met to decide on erecting a church. Garlin town lots had advanced to $450 per acre.

There have been many merchants at Glensfork, including: Basil Chapman who operated a store in the early 1900s. In July 1901 Collins & Company's storehouse was damaged by fire in 1901.

R.L. Caldwell was a blacksmith at Gradyville in 1903; Diddle & Parson received a new saw rig in 1909; the storehouse of Grady & Kemp was mentioned in 1902. Strong Hill was building a three-story store-house at Gradyville in 1902. The next year, Strong Hill sold Titus Mercer, of Camp Knox, one half interest, and they were to open a first class mercantile store. Mr. Hill lost his store-house and carding machine to fire in early 1903. The firm of Grady & Hill dissolved partnership by mutual consent in 1905. Mr. Hill & Son purchased the stock and continued business at the old stand. Mr. Grady being owner of the Peacock family of horses, was to devote all his time in the stock business. Nell & Nell operated a store at Gradyville as early as 1902. A large crowd of people were in town May 1909 attending the Nell & Nell auction sale. George H. Nell sold his storehouse and lot to Grady & Kemp for $300 in late 1902. Walkup and Yates, of Gradyville, sold tombstones in the early 1900s.

George Keltner & Son, of Keltner, lost by fire a storehouse and stock of goods and a dwelling house and contents in early 1900. Tyler Perkins was a merchant at Keltner in 1904.

L.R. Chelf was operating a store at Knifley in the early 1900s. Stephen H. Knifley operated a shop, as of December 1883.

Teney Carnes had entered into the goods business at McGaha in 1902.

Nathaniel T. Mercer was a merchant at Milltown in 1904

Luther Williams was a popular merchant at Montpelier in 1904.

J.M. Campbell moved to his farm in late 1906, one and a quarter miles below Neatsville, where he will be engaged in the dry goods business in the future. He was to occupy the same storehouse formerly occupied by W.O. Pelly. "The name of the post office used to be called Edith."

W.L. Walker & Sons were well-known merchants of Nell in 1903.

Walker Bryant operated a saw mill at Ozark, 1904.

J.W. Beard was having lumber cut to enlarge his store-house at Pellyton in 1901. He was postmaster. J.M. Campbell sold coffins and caskets at Pellyton in 1904. H.F. Coffey was erecting a store house at Pellyton in early 1904; the firm of J.P. & H.F. Coffey, merchants at Pellyton, were building an addition to their store house in late 1909.

Pickett & Howard had purchased another stock of goods at Exie, Green County, and moved it to Pickett in May 1909.

W.C. Yates, of Portland, was to soon have his new storehouse ready to put goods in as of May 1909.

Eli Burton, the tax assessor of Adair County, was a merchant at Purdy in 1904.

John R. Cunningham and wife, Mary, operated a mercantile and drug store at or near Roley in the 1880s.

S.E. Estes ran a store at Rugby in 1914.

Mr. M. Wooten, of this Sparksville, went into the mercantile business as of 1904.

J.E. Burton & Brother were building a new storehouse on Sulphur Fork, about one mile from Vester, in March 1900. Morrison & Sandusky were the proprietors of a planning mill on Sulphur Fork and provided dressed and rough lumber in 1904.

J.F. Neat was making preparations to erect a new storehouse at Vester in January 1900.

Hop Stephens, who lived on the Russell Springs road, near Cy Loy's, sold his dwelling and store house in July 1907, to George and James Redman, sons of Martin Redman, for $500. Mr. Stephens has been conducting a general store, and his stock of goods were to be removed to Russell County, near where John D. Irvine at one time conducted a store.

The storehouse and a large stock of goods which belonged to Mr. Dave Tarter, this county, was consumed by fire in November 1901.

To be continued at a later date... - MIKE WATSON


This story was posted on 2013-07-11 07:52:13
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