We carry  Food, Clothing, Books, Magazines, Angler Supplies, Lawn and Garden, all the things you would expect from a Country General Store. "NOTE" We will not be handling Burial  Supplies  Political Conventions, or Local Gossip, but will be glad to  handle your e-mail. Thanks! and Hurry Back, Management

The Country Store has been a Rosson Family Tradition since the late 1800's when Joseph Lee Rosson owned and operated  Rosson's Country Store near Trevilians, Virginia. The store was located  very near the  family farm, Quaker Hill, and offered the typical country products. As was often the case there was an old school house  next to the store. While the store burned many years ago a family tradition is reborn with the Quaker Hill Farm Virtual Country Store. We have selected the finest merchants and products available on the internet, so shop with confidence and pride as  we bring new life to this bit of Louisa History.

The Country Store The country store was an outgrowth of the plantation system. The plantation owner would have a commissary from which food and clothing could be distributed to the slave population. After the Civil War the commissary remained, but the newly freed salve population had to pay for what they needed. The plantation owner would extend credit to his customers with the balance of the bill to be paid after harvest. What resulted was that many people could not pay off their commissary bill and would be in debt for many years.

In addition, poor roads and generally ineffective means of communication caused country stores to develop anywhere there were enough people to buy a profitable quantity of goods. Small purchasers needed a place to buy necessities that was only a mule ride away. Country stores provided this place as well as many other services for the community. The country store served as a store, post office, social gathering place, political center, and a bank. Credit was provided to the local customers at a high rate of interest. 

For sale in the store was just about everything one needed for a lifetime, from cradles and corsets to horse collars and plows. Even funeral needs were handled through the sale of coffins, coffin hardware, coffin linings, and shrouds. When hearses were used, they too were rented from the country store. If what was wanted for any need or occasion could not be found in the store's merchandise, a mail order catalog was provided from which the customer could order. The catalogs, sometimes called "wish books," carried as wide a variety of items as did the store itself.

News came to the community through the store by means of mail, messages and posters tacked on the storefronts, and word-of-mouth. From the porch in the summer to the potbellied stove in the winter, one could sit around and visit with neighbors and friends to hear the latest gossip and social happenings. Even political news started at the store. It was the place where voters could hear the candidates give their stump meeting speeches. The store was also the local polling place.

Country stores were crucial to the rural people of South Carolina. They provided household and farming necessities as well as being the center of every sort of neighborhood activity.

The country store and the one-room schoolhouse developed at the same time and were closely associated. Many times they were near neighbors, and the stores were always the source of supplies for the schoolroom.

In the State Museum, an example of a country store from this era of South Carolina history is setup for visitors to observe. It is based on the J. W. Jenny Company country store in Allendale County. S.C. The sign is the original as are the other signs in the store. The building is a re-creation based on photographic and historic evidence. Stores like this were found in almost every rural community in South Carolina. Such stores needed to be convenient to farm families. Unlike stores of today, this country store displays only limited goods for sale.

If you wanted items in the Jenny store, you might have paid with cash, if you had some, but probably you would have just charged it to your account. You would have asked the clerk to record your purchases in the daily ledger. The store would "carry" you until you sold your crop. The crop sold was usually cotton because cotton assured you of a cash income. Unfortunately, many times clearing the account with the store left families with little-to-no extra money and the charge system began again. As a result of this system, the store owners had a big influence on people's lives. Stores also loaned money to people, but did not provide banking services such as savings accounts. After the Civil War, many people who had suffered from a lack of goods during the war, went on spending sprees. This resulted in families being in debt to the store for generations. Blacks who had been slaves and had never had the opportunity to buy before, did similarly and suffered under the burden of credit. This was the basis of the crop-lien system and fit in nicely with share-cropping. Both of these systems were prevalent in rural South Carolina during the same period of the country store.

You will note that the Jenny store does not display meat and fresh vegetables. That is because these products were produced on the farms so that the farmers did not need to come to the store to obtain them. Some additional items that could be found in the Jenny store related to health care. There were few doctors available to families in rural South Carolina in the early 1900s so many times people had to find their own cures for ailments. County stores stocked many pill, tonics, ointments, liniments, and dry herb mixtures that claimed to cure everything from nervous starvations to fullness in the head after eating, and all sorts of liver, kidney and bowel complaints. The fact that these remedies sold so well may have been more in their alcohol content than in the reality of their cures.

Country store customers would have the opportunity of ordering from catalogues the items not carried by the store. On the counter of the Jenny store is a catalog to select men suits. Not being able to visit a variety of stores due to transportation problems and the fact that most stores were small and had only limited stock, made catalogue sales a necessity. There were Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogues that handled a wide variety of goods. Other catalogues such as McCormick-Derring handled farm tools and machinery. Again, if the customers did not have the money to pay for their catalog orders, the store would "charge" the order on the person's account and also charge them interest. 

The post office section of the country store allowed the customers to place orders and receive mail. Note this area in the Jenny store. Mail was not delivered to your house unless the store owner or clerk thought it was important and had someone take it to you or sent a message for you to come and pick it up. People who lived in rural South Carolina enjoyed getting mail. Many times though, people did not receive much mail since families and friends lived nearby. To make sure that they did get mail and also as a chance to examine some items, some people would order goods COD. If they could not afford to pay "cash on delivery" when their purchases arrived, they would look at the merchandise before it had to be returned and they had gotten some mail! 

Some of the mannequins in the Jenny store appear to be just standing or sitting around. Some are setup to be playing checkers or chatting. The country store was the hub of every sort of neighborhood activity. Everything important either happened her or was reported her immediately. This is were the neighborhood enemies met and fought and where friends met to socialize. Gossip abounded here. Sitting around the stove (or the porch in the summer) was like reading a local newspaper. If you wanted to know what was happening in your neighborhood, the country store was the place to be. In addition the country store was the location for politicians to make speeches. The origin of "stump meetings" to meet political candidates began when politicians would stand on stumps in places like the yard of the country store to make speeches. 

Since the country store was also the place to organize burials, a hearse is on display next to the Jenny store. In the late 19th century, many country stores leased hearses for funerals. Families organized their own burials because funeral directors and companies were not common. The hearse on display was made about 1890 in Sterling, Illinois and was used at the country store in McMillin in Spartanburg County until the 1930s.

The Handy Day Book, dated May, 1915, of the Berry Store, shows some prices common to that time:

Coca Cola $.05 1 box crackers $.05
1 box mustard $.10 1 suit $7.50
1 box matches $.05 1 box black pepper $.05
1 pair drawers $.75 1 spool of thread $.05
1 plug tobacco $.10 1 knife $.25
1 pair overalls $1.00 1 pair plow handles $.25
1 box lye $.10 1 oil can $.25
1 pair child's shoes $1.75 1 shirt $.50
1 pair hose $.10 1 pair boy pants $.90
1 pound coffee $.20 7 gallons gasoline $.90
chewing gum $.15 1 box milk $.10
1 bar soap $.05 shoe polish $.10
1 10 pound sack sugar $.90 1 gallon Kerosene oil $.20
1 sack flour $.70 1 gallon syrup $.75
1 quart vinegar $.10 6 1 glass jelly $.05
yards gingham cloth $.60 5 1/2 pounds bacon $.75

While it would be nice to wish for some of these prices now (especially that gasoline price), we have to remember that the wages people earned were also much less!

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