My Great-Grandparent's General Store

Posted by Dan on Apr 24, 2003 @ 3:36 PM

I got this e-mail from my Grandma earlier today. It's the history of the grocery store my Great-Grandparents used to run. Unfortunately, I never got to see the store (or my Great-Grandfather Barger.) My Great-Grandfather died three years before I was born and they sold the store shortly after his death in '69.

I really want to thank my Grandmother for typing this up. It's nice to have some written history about my family. Anyway, for those of you who are interested, here's the story. :)


History of the Thackery Grocery and Creamery
Margaret (Barger) Sayers

A creamery was organized at Thackery by a number of farmers, but in 1917 practically all of the stock in the company was owned by Elmer B. Smith, who owned the grocery store. The growth of the creamery was remarkable. It started with a score of patrons and was built to 300 patrons. In the spring of 1917 it was distributing $10,000 each month in actual cash for milk supplies. The creamery condensed 1,400 pounds of milk daily and made 1,000 pounds of butter weekly.

Milk was gathered from patrons by trucks, three of which were on the road at all times. Two other trucks were used daily in hauling condensed milk across the county to Marysville, OH.

I believe the creamery was originally called the Purity Milk Products, then the Springfield Dairy Products. Springfield Dairy Products was owned by a Mr. Bitner, Harold J. Barger was the office staff and Charles Stevens was plant manager. I recall some of the men who worked there were Ed Gearhart, Sam Stone, Andy Smith and Chris Woods. There were more but those are the names that come to mind at the moment—I was very young.

A fire and the depression had an adverse effect on the creamery and the Borden Company purchased it. During the height of the depression the Thackery plant was closed and Harold was transferred to West Liberty where James P. Wilson was plant manager.

Later still, the West Liberty plant was closed as well and Harold and Wilson were both transferred to the Springfield plant.

According to an article in the Springfield News-Sun, Everett Snapp states that Elmer Offenbacker established the grocery store shortly after the founding of the village of Thackery and Elmer Smith bought it in 1898 and later built the creamery.

I have heard that Stallsmiths owned the store before Elmer Smith. At that time, there were only two rooms down and one upstairs in the living quarters and the store was very small. Smiths later enlarged it into comfortable living quarters with five rooms down and three up.

Elmer, his wife Lenna, and two daughters Naomi (Mrs. Clarence) Billhimer and Leah (Mrs. Harry) Dibert, operated the store until 1941 when it was purchased by Charles Stevens who hired Harold and Lucy Barger to live there and run it. Harold later purchased the business from Charlie and ran it until his death in 1969. During this time, he was also postmaster (the post office was located in the store) from 8 June 1942 until the government closed the post office in 1964.

The store was not only a grocery, filling station and post office but the voting precinct was in the garage there. It was also something of a social club as farmers and other locals enjoyed "loafing," swapping news and stories.

The war years in the store were difficult, but interesting. There were ration cards for food and gasoline, shortages of many things—butter, sugar, meat, etc. The post office was a vital part of life in the village as we eagerly awaited letters and news from the boys in the service, then sat around the "loafers bench" discussing where the letters may have come from, eagerly trying to find a clue to where they were that may have escaped the censor and reading the newspapers to match up things told in the letters with news in the papers.

Categories: Personal

3 Comments

  • It is nice to be able to reserch family history and have it in writing. It is very intersting to learn about history.
  • Wow. This is the first time I've seen this. It's a wonderful history. My grandfather was Harold's little brother. I remember the store and visiting Lucy and Harold.
  • @Jeff:

    Glad you found this article!

    As you can see, this article is almost 10 years old now. I know have a 4 year old daughter named after my Great Grandmother. :)

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