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WALTER WEST'S COUNTRY STORE
By Marshall McClung
Many people in Graham County especially those in the Tallulah Creek Community know about or have heard of the country store operated by Walter West and his wife Mary Campbell West. Most though, are not aware that the building now occupied by Christian Love Ministry at the intersection of Tallulah Road and Anthony Branch Road was not the original store.
Walter West's first country store is located across Tallulah Creek and behind the later store that most people know best. It was opened in 1909. It is now used as a combination barn and storage area. A son, Howard West was born in the old store building that also served as their home in 1919. It was located along a wagon road that ran close by. The mail was carried by mule from Topton. Creeks had to be forded, and at times, the mail carrier's boots would be frozen to the stirrups, and someone at the store would have to help him get loose.
In addition to the usual supply of groceries, the store also stocked many hardware items and farming related equipment such as nails, horseshoes, harnesses, bits and bridles. A livestock feed room located on the side of the store contained hay, cotton seed meal, cotton seed hulls, and sweet feed called "dairy feed" by some. Much of the livestock feed was in "print feed sacks" that was used for clothing such as dresses and shirts. This writer remembers wearing "feed sack shirts" as a child.
The store took several farm items "on trade" including eggs, wool, and chestnuts. The wool was shipped to New York. Howard recalled that the chestnuts were taken to the Southern Railway at Topton and put on the train for shipment.
The Graham County railroad was completed between Topton and Robbinsville in 1925, and passed very close to the original store. In fact, it was so close that part of the board roof on the store was replaced with tin for fear that sparks from a passing train might set the roof on fire. After the completion of the railroad, the store had much of its merchandise brought in by train.
The old store building is built partially with chestnut wood including the rafters. The floor is of oak wood with boards almost two feet wide that were sawed in a circle saw mill.
The second Walter West Store beside Tallulah Road was built around 1922. Walter and Mary operated this second store until the 1960's. Walter died in 1963. Mary died in 1995 at age 105.
Many in the Tallulah Community recall seeing Mary at the store when they were children. They recalled seeing her sitting by the stove in a rocking chair. She was always dressed very neatly, often in a print dress that buttoned down the front with lace up shoes.
In the years following, several people operated the store including a daughter, Nina Grindstaff Others who operated the store include Charlie and Katherine Adams, Joan Jones, and David and Sharon Crowe. The store is presently used by the Christian Love Ministry.
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These pages are from the people of Graham County, North Carolina.
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This page is maintained by Tom Livingston, Robbinsville, North Carolina