The photograph above has come to be my favorite of the many I’ve made of Henry Land’s Grocery over the years. My earliest photographs of the store were made when the Coca-Cola sign was still hanging on the front door and not long after the Colonial Bread (or Sunbeam) screen doors had been removed.The community around the store, known as Lands Crossing (incorrectly identified on most maps as Lands Crossroads), has always been focused on farming and the country life and Henry Land was its beloved ambassador, a local figure who kept his community alive by keeping this store open as long as he was physically able to do so. It’s been closed for a generation now, but remains a local landmark and the anchor of many good memories. One of the nicest recollections of this community came in a message from Michael Yarbrough: My father and his brothers were raised here, about a mile north of the store on a farmplace owned by Mr. Raleigh Player. Mr. Henry Land was a fine man and I knew him well myself….I’ve been in the store when it was open, but by the time I came along, someone else was running it. My dad ( Julian Yarbrough) told me that primarily this is where all the store bought goods they used came from. They also told me that every once in a while, a traveling bunch came through with an old portable screen and they showed movies there around the store. My dad said they would sit around on buckets or crates with a Coke and watch the movies. I have also been told that way back, some members in the community may have occasionally had a church service under the old oak tree behind the store. (This was located beside the old precinct house until it was recently moved down the road). William Bishop told my dad and me that it at one time way back it was used a court house once in a case of where a fellow had stolen some corn from another. William said that Tommy Land told him that his daddy (Henry Land) was a jury member. It breaks my heart to think of all of those folks whom I knew from my dad’s raising, them being passed away now, gosh it leaves a hole in my heart. Wish we again had folks with the values and strengths of those. I am thankful to have come from a good bunch of folks and community.
A note from Gary McDaniel (son of Joy McDaniel, author of the wonderful book Irwinville Farms Project: The Making of a Community) in November 2008 sums up the place and the man: …in the 60’s, I would visit my grandparents nearby and my cousins and I would walk to Land’s Crossing and get an orange Nehi and a pack of peanuts from the grocery store. Henry Land was a gentle and nice man.
In April 2010, J. W. Howell wrote: – Back in the 60’s I used to live about 3 miles from Land’s Crossing. Mr. Land who owned the grocery store was a fine man. I stopped in many a time for a Coke. There was another store across the intersection from his store, owned by Mr. George Clements. This was a great community where everybody knew everybody and everyone was a friend. I miss those days when life was so simple.
The photograph above shows the Lands Crossing Precinct House to the left of the store, which was saved by Rex Johnson and removed to his property. You’ll notice its absence in the final two images. In October 2010, Donya Land wrote this note, which gives a good idea of when the store was given its new look: Henry Land was my great grandpa. I drive by the store every time I go to visit my family, and if I’m not mistaken the store is getting a couple coats of paint as of a few days ago! This was around the time the old name plates from the Coca-Cola sign were removed and replaced with these stenciled versions, painted on wood.
It may look a bit different, but it’s still the heart of a community.