Stancil’s Store nears the centennial mark
|Folks stopping by find a welcome from Broughton Stancil and a handy bench to sit on for a chat.|
By Anita Rosen
Photos by Daniel Rosen
|At 96 years of age, Broughton Stancil greets each day with a twinkle in his eyes.|
According to The Heritage of Cherokee County 1883-1998 (Cherokee County Heritage Book Committee and Don Mills, Inc., 1998), South Carolinian Cader Stancil moved first to Lumpkin and then to Cherokee County where, in 1837, he met and married Lydia Nix (aka Granny Stancil) who lived to be 103.
The youngest of their six children, Uriah, married Mary Whitfield; they also had six children including William L. Stancil. Justice of the Peace for Conn’s Creek district, William married Mary Ann Holcomb and together they opened Stancil’s Store in 1912. In spite of the demands of a large family, Mary Stancil worked in the store until her 90’s. Right beside her was her son, Broughton, the tenth of her eleven children.
The original Stancil’s Store
Now sitting padlocked on the west side of Yellow Creek Road, the original edifice was located across the street just in front of the present store. Broughton remembers a time when Yellow Creek was a dirt road, and the parking area at Stancil’s was filled with horses and mules hitched to posts. This was a real general store carrying everything from groceries to hardware to mule collars. If a customer couldn’t find what they were looking for, Stancil’s would order it. Broughton recalls stocking the “biggest line of boots in north Georgia.
We sold a world of Red Wing shoes.” Another strong seller was the hoop cheese from Wisconsin, an item still for sale today. The Mica post office was inside the building; the postman would lock his letters in a small cabinet for which the U.S. government paid Stancil’s $3 per month rent.
The late 1930’s brought the beginning of the chicken industry that, with the help of the boll weevil, replaced cotton as the cash crop for this area. Recognizing an opportunity, Stancil’s added a room on the back of the store to warehouse chicken feed shipped from Nashville. The store now required 10 boys to help stock, two girls to mind the front and four grocery men to manage the produce.
|A glance at the interior of Stancil’s Store today.|
Broughton recollected that during that period, “children brought in eggs and yard chickens, and, in winter, rabbits for trade. Parents were working on the farms so they sent the kids.” Stancil’s used a ‘due’ bill system involving no money; this was a barter system with a $25 limit. During hunting season, men would stop in to buy three shells for 10 cents and then drop off the fresh kill for credit on their bills. A wholesaler would show up twice a week to pick up the game, eggs and chickens to take to market.
|If walls could talk . . . the original Stancil’s Store was used for forty years from 1912 to 1952.|
With a twinkle in his eyes, Broughton reminisced, “on Saturdays there wouldn’t be a spot left to park in.” With no official closing time, Stancil’s Store stayed open until trade was satisfied, often about 9 p.m.
Four chairs await visitors who stop daily for a chat. If the weather is good, a bench outside provides a good resting spot. There are a few items still for sale including some brightly-painted birdhouses and, of course, the hoop cheese—Broughton will cut you any amount you want.
There is a sense that Stancil’s Store will soon pass into history, as so many small family-owned businesses have done. The chairs and benches are a testament to a different time in America, when families shopped locally and used the occasion to socialize with their neighbors.
If you have an extra quarter hour, pull into the lot and ask Broughton—he’s there every day except Sunday—to cut you some hoop cheese. And while you’re there, ask this delightful gentleman a question or two of how life used to be along Yellow Creek Road.