hundreds of small towns in East Texas, the general store was the hub of the community--a
place where neighbors visited, made purchases of everything they needed, and usually
put it on credit.
Few, if any, of the old general stores remain today.
Most were simply victims of changing times.
However, in the little town
of Milam near the Texas-Louisiana border, you can sample the flavor of what old
general stores looked and felt like.
Nethery family owned such a store, starting as early as 1880. Today, it has been
converted into an antique store, but much of the fixtures, some of the merchandise,
and even the old ledgers where customers made credit purchases are still on display.
Nethery's Store stood on the old El Camino Real (now Texas Highway 21) where people
poured into Texas by the thousands after Texas won its independence from Mexico.
Nethery's was the forerunner of a trading post called "Red Mound" built in 1834
by John S. Roberts. The name was later changed to Milam.
The oldest continually
operated business in Sabine County, Nethery's was begun by C.A. Nethery, who came
to Milam from Patroon as a young man. He and his wife Amanda built a home on Main
Street and later opened a general store and saloon.
The first store burned during a snowstorm in 1913, but a new store was quickly
built. The "new" building is still standing.
his father's death in 1942, C. A. (Buddy) Nethery, Jr., operated the store until
his death. His nephews, Gene and Doule Nethery, kept the old store open until
2000, selling hardware and providing a place for local domino players to meet.
to retire, but not wanting to close the store, the Netherys choose to keep the
store open as an antique place. Ellen Melton, Laura Tichnekl and Susan Nethery
came to the rescue and opened the store as Nethery's Antiques.
the store still offers a step back in time.
The old pot-bellied stove
still works and is surrounded by chairs in much the same fashion as it was in
the 1880s. The walls are lined with relics like oxbows, crosscut saws and scythes.
And the counters are stacked with old tobacco tins, antique photos of people long
deceased, kerosene lamps, old radios, a corn sheller, earthen ware and glass ware,
and much more.
Even Nethery's old store ledger, dating back to the early
1900s, rests on a counter near the pot-bellied stove. People put their purchases
on credit and usually "paid up" at the end of the month.
for example, bought 65 cents in potatoes and a five-cent hinge on credit on February
16, 1917. Robert Henderson bought $1.60 in flour and 25 cents worth of corn the
In 1918, Miss Pearl Dowdy made a major purchase, a rocking chair
that cost her $3.50. And A.B. Russell purchased four sacks of flour for $14.00
the same year.
Each May, Nethery's holds its annual Trades Day, a good
time for East Texans to relive the uniqueness of an old-fashioned general store.