I’m always amazed at the amount of local history that individuals know which goes back for three or four generations.

Someone will know where neighbors lived (usually in houses that haven’t existed for decades), descriptions of the inhabitants (photos are usually non-existent), where each worked, and who and how the homes were built (and often torn down and rebuilt about the corner).

I enjoy the stories I’m told about history we think is gone forever. We get an opportunity to record almost forgotten history and learn about lives that shouldn’t be forgotten. Thanks to those who called about the Dutch (Alexander) Store.

I haven’t had a chance to get back for a long talk with some of you guys and haven’t been able to drive over past Grapevine Cemetery and photograph the “original” site or where the store was rebuilt around the corner off Crowley Lane or the many people-photographs you have. But, you can bet I will if I’m still welcome.

I knew I’d get a call from Barbara Wiles, owner of the Bait Shop in Grapevine, as her family and her friend Darrel has lived there for many years. Or if I didn’t, I knew I’d call Barbara. She did call as did James Egbert, who has E’ton connections that I’m interested in learning more about.

Betty Cox phoned from the Genealogical Soc and said she had someone who would call me with information about Dutch’s Store. I’m told the Dutch and Vertis Alexanders are buried down the hill from their home and store at Grapevine Cemetery. Nope, I haven’t gotten there yet either in the rain.

Paula Bentley of Arizona, the lady searching for information on the store and on her mom Johnnie Pauline Davenport Benton (born in E’ton in 1903) and her dad William Richard Benton (b. Dalton, 1885), emailed me with new information too.

Paula said she has information now on a number of early Grapevine groceries and stores and has decided to do more historical research to put together an article. Good for her. She has learned of five other Grapevine area grocers- Stone’s, Fugate’s (Lumber Co), Knapp’s, Lula Bell Cartwright’s, and Miller’s.

I promised to send her some photos from my phone when I get a chance. Hopefully, we’ll run across more which she can use in her research. She also learned that a cousin’s wife was the granddaughter of Maw Stone, who with her husband Paw Stone ran Stone’s store. If you have information Paula can use, you can call the Genealogical Society or leave your number for her and she will contact you. Or you can call me.

I remember my dad and grandfather discussing some of the groceries in early E’ton. They said there was one in every couple of blocks. Sometimes, it was just someone who used a room in their house for a few items or a loaf of bread for neighbors to buy who didn’t have cars to get to where they could purchase items or not able to walk to the St. Bernard or Island Creek Store.

My grandfather used to say that at one time, he thought there was one on every corner along with the much-needed livery stables. I have an old faded photo of my dad’s sister when the family lived on the Robinson corner near Wilson. My aunt is standing on their porch with their mule tethered toward the back where my grandfather had a stable or small blacksmith shop. Not much need for a garage then, he’d say, as we had more mules than cars. Down on W. Main, there was an automobile dealer, who had a place where you could “store” your vehicle until you needed it.

There was even a single gas pump out front for convenience. Nearby and across the street was the stable where the fire department horses were kept. Seems to me, the city was at the crossroads of two eras-the end of transportation by animals and the beginning of what would become noisy traffic jams. I’ve often thought it would be nice to learn about living in that era at a slower pace, but I have no desire to shovel horse manure left behind on unpaved streets.

As a matter of fact, I’ve never put much thought in about who the shoveler would be—the horse owner or the street superintendent. All these events seem eons ago until I remember both my sets of grandparents were born in the 1890s. Bicycles were a quick form of travel. The L&N hired young boys on bikes to pedal to boarding houses to wake up railroaders whose trains were scheduled to leave, and in May of 1892 the Bee reported that Dr. Graham’s bicycle came in “too close proximity with a businessman, the result of which, both went down.”

The same year it reported that ole Isaac Davis added a large, handsome surrey to his “already well-equipped livery stable.” I’m pretty sure there was no law requiring insurance for horses or buggies in case of accidents.

In June of 1892 E’ton’s only newspaper told of a “party of six or seven men on horseback” on a Saturday night running into Gard Ashby, who was coming home from a picnic. They demolished his buggy and slightly injured a little girl riding with him. No liability, suing for buggy damages or hospital bills. But the three St. Bernard Co. stores advertised fine boots for one dollar, shoes for a quarter, and advised customers they could exchange chickens, butter and eggs for store-bought goods.

Before or after shopping, you could attend a Sanctification Meeting every morning and evening at the Union Church and another on the streets in the afternoon. I have to believe there was never a dull moment in this town in the 1800s. And today most of us plop down in from of a plasma screen and stare at it for hours before we proclaim, “There’s nothing on worth watching!”

If only, we could look out a window onto Main or Railroad Street a century ago, we would probably never tire of the constant activity. But that was yesterday. Today, a hundred years later, we tell each other with pride how far we’ve come when we don’t know our neighbors, have forgotten we are not to judge others but instead are to love others as He loves us. What have we learned in 100 years. There’s an old article printed by the NYT about “our progress.” “Look how far we’ve come… apart.”

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