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Kentucky Color: Country Store Historical Markers and Data Bank

By Billy Joe Fudge

Phillip Coffey, thanks for that most wonderful story concerning the Keltner Community Store and its connection to the Civil War Battle of Shiloh (Keltnertown Stump Negotiations). After beginning my forestry career in 72, I spent quite a bit of time visiting with Ural and others at the store. During the 70's we Rangers were required to make fire prevention and timber management contacts during the winter and summer and country stores were the best places for multiple, productive contacts.

Country stores of the 50s, 60s and 70s were rural contemporaries of the more urban, filling stations. Both were precursors of our modern day gas station/food marts and Dollar General Stores. However, country stores were much more than a gas station and a general store; they were the cultural nerve centers of local, rural communities. They, much like Facebook, were places to garner information, both useful and useless; places to disseminate information, both useful and useless; places to both hone one's storytelling skills and steal, I mean borrow, stories to be retold in locations far removed from the mine from whence they had been dug up.

All of us of a certain age group cherish our memories of our community's country stores. At the same time we all lament their loss and the damage their loss has brought to our local communities. I think before it is too late and even the memories of country stores and their important, critical role in the development of our great nation and its communities are lost, we here in Adair County, the geographic center of the Great Wooded South, should:

  • (A) commit to developing a list and location of each country store in memory,

  • (B) commit to designing a quasi-historic marker with store name, ownership and a sentence of pertinent information,

  • (C) commit to developing both a written and electronic database of store information, stories, pictures. etc. to reside in our local library and,

  • (D) commit to establishing a QR Code for each store in the Country Store Database that would be put on each marker whereby anyone at the sign could access each particular Country Store's historic information with their cell phone while standing right in front of the marker.
We owe it to our ancestors, we owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to our posterity to record and preserve this most important cultural and human phenomenon!

This story was posted on 2020-03-31 14:20:02
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