The Country store
A new acquisition at the Buffalo Island Museum is a replica of an old country general store. It was donated by Fred Dowless who purchased it 20 years ago at the Memphis Flea Market. It is almost four feet long with a bench and old stove on the porch. It has old signs on the outside walls and is made with a tin roof and wood from an old barn.
When a town was established on Buffalo Island, one of the first buildings was
the general store. It was the hub of the town, a meeting place to learn the latest news. J.M. Hatcher and C.A. Gregson erected the first general store in Monette. It was followed by general stores owned by J.E. Blankenship, Hubert Eaker, D. Godfried and Dr. N.H. Grady.
Macey had the Harrell General Store operated by Joseph Wyatt Harrell and later his son Edward Grandson "Grand" Harrell. In the early 1900s Leachville had the Weinberg General Store, Chicago Mill and Lumber Co. and a store owned by J.N. Ridge. Manila had Bley's General Merchandise and Tiger Brothers and Levine Co. Caraway had C.L. Smith's store, Watson's General Store and Ritter Barley General Merchandise. Black Oak had the Ritter-Bailey Merchandise Co. and later Pearl and Pop Watson's store. These early stores received their merchandise from local farmers, delivered by horse and wagons, and later by train, the Blytheville, Leachville and Southern Railroad and the Jonesboro, Lake City and Eastern Railroad.
Most women were cooking with ingredients they grew themselves, but they still needed items such as sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder. Most of the wall space of the general store was taken up with shelving to display the merchandise, dungarees, hats, needles, bolts of cloth, housewares, and more. The floors were crowded with barrels and crates of flour, pickles, sugar, molasses, apples, and farm tools. The counters held jars of candy, a coffee grinder, scales, and a cash register.
Early stores had slanted shelves to accommodate the ladies' hooped skirts.
The owner knew most of the people coming in the store and often swapped goods or sold in credit until the crops were sold. The post office was often located in the general store.
Alas, with better transportation to the larger towns with bigger stores, the old general stores began to disappear. When looking at this replica of an old general store, you can imagine strolling down the crowded aisles and smelling the wonderful aromas.
Buffalo Island Museum is open on Friday and Saturday 12:30-4 p.m.
Admission is free. Please visit our Facebook page for information, pictures, and to enter our monthly BIM Mystery Artifact Contest. You might win a prize.