(continued from yesterday…)
Massive oak trees scattered their nuts on the forest floor; thousands of chestnut trees showered bushels and bushels of sweet tasty nuts on the ground. Hickory and beechnuts were food for small game, wild grapes and persimmons were food for opossums, coons and wild birds.
Farmers didn’t have to worry with feeding their herds of hogs or flocks of turkeys; they let them run free in the woods and the mast was all the food they needed. Wild game was there for the taking: bears, deer, squirrels, coons, and wild turkeys for food and foxes, bobcats, mountain lions (panthers) and mink furnished an odd dollar or two for their pelts.
Little wonder Pinkney settled here; the area was what a pioneer dreamed of: abundant timber, plenty of large and small game, and enough level or rolling land for acres of corn and pasture for livestock. It was a land of promise for any man.
Not long after his home was finished, Pinkney, millwright that he was, decided the fast moving water of Stony Creek was just what he needed to run the saw mill and gristmill he wanted to build. A few hundred feet above his home he found an ideal place to build a dam to impound the water of the creek.
It wasn’t too long until the mill had been built, from the dam down to the mill an elevated sluice way carried the water to the mill wheel, and the first of Carter’s mills on Stony Creek was in business.
A few years later fire destroyed most of the mill, and Pinkney decided to replace it with a bigger and better mill with more power to turn the wheels. The second mill, after it was finished, included a wood working shop with a power drive lathe. After the new mill was built more and more people began using it.
From over the hills and up the creek, they came. Some walking and carrying a sack of corn on their back, others on horseback with a sack or two of corn or wheat. Walking and riding they came. As they waited their turn at the mill they spent their time visiting, finding out how the neighbors were getting along, finding out who was sick, who had been in an accident, who had died, who had got married, who had a new baby. The mill soon became the place where neighbors met and socialized.
The saw mill furnished the few boards they needed, the carpenter shop made simple furniture, tables, chairs and beds. Many of the people who died were buried in a coffin made in that shop. Sometimes the shop and mill would shut down while the workers took picks and shovels and went to dig a grave in one of the tiny family graveyards. Many was the time when the neighbors went to a home where death had come and sit up all night in the room with the corpse.
Neighborly concern was a way of life with these early mountain people, hospitality knew no limit as neighbor shared with neighbor from what ever they had. Back then people just couldn’t get along without each other’s help.
Soon after the end of World War I, or about 1922, one of Pinkney’s sons decided to open another store; the old one had been closed during the war years. The new store was located a little way below the mill and home. The new store did well until the depression of 1929 forced it to close. It wasn’t until the mid 1930’s that the store reopened under the name Glen Carter’s Store.
When Southwest Virginia’s first Big Game season opened in the mid 1940’s Carter’s Store became one of Scott County’s first checking stations for big game. This was a service the Carter’s continued to give the public until the end of the 1981 hunting season, a service that paid them not one cent, although it did bring in a few dollars in trade.
When deer and turkey season opened in the fall, it also ushered in the opening session of the Hot Stove League, as local and visiting hunters alike sat around and told how many big bucks they had seen, or how the biggest buck they had ever seen barely got away. Tall tales and true stories were so inter-mingled it was hard to learn the truth.
“Carter’s Store,” by Virgil Craft, from an unidentified newspaper article collected in Scott County, VA resident Mildred McConnell’s Scrapbook, and published online by the Scott County Historical Society at www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~vaschs2/carters_store.htm
(article has been slightly edited here)