Tag Archives: South Georgia Grocery Stores & Markets

Holliday Food Store, Higgsville

This store was owned by Marion Vinson “Doc” Holliday (1902-1987), who also served on the county commission and drove a school bus for many years. I believe it was open until the late 1980s. Thanks to Ladonna Johnson for the identification.

I’ve not been able to find much information about Higgsville. A post office was established here in 1833 and A. B. Higgs was the first postmaster. The post office closed in 1843. It’s not on any map today, but the name lives on through an historic African-American church in the community. I suspect it was a plantation community and may have been a ghost town by the end of the Civil War. It appears on census rolls at least until 1940.


Filed under --TWIGGS COUNTY GA--, Higgsville GA

General Store, Garden Valley

This small store probably sold groceries and gas.

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Filed under --MACON COUNTY GA--, Garden Valley GA

Berryhill Store, Cochran

This historic neighborhood store is an example of a neighborhood grocery, typical of small towns in the early 20th century. Thanks to Lisa Walker for the identification.

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Filed under --BLECKLEY COUNTY GA--, Cochran GA

Historic Storefronts, Chester

Several historic commercial structures survive in downtown Chester.

They once served as banks, grocery stores, and other general retail purposes.

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Filed under --DODGE COUNTY GA--, Chester GA

Hortman’s Grocery, Crawford County

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Filed under --CRAWFORD COUNTY GA--

Phillips Grocery, Wheeler County

This was once a busy crossroads store. It’s also been known as the Short Run, among other names.

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Filed under --WHEELER COUNTY GA--

Neilly, Georgia

Junior Pope’s Grocery Store

I pass abandoned stores like this often, and I do my best to notice them. Because many don’t have distinguishable architectural features, it’s easy to dismiss them. But it’s important to realize that if there was a store, there was a community that supported it. I’m honored to share Royce Neal’s history of the Neilly community (below). The words are his and if shared, credit should go to him, as well. [The road on which Pope’s Store is located is known today as Neely Road. Royce Neal notes that there have been several misspellings of the community over the years; this underscores the importance of documenting such communities.]

Remembering Neilly, Georgia

In Telfair County, Georgia in the almost forgotten community of Neilly, sitting on the North West corner of the intersection of county road 160 which is known as the Cedar Park Road coming out of McRae and county road 267 that is known as the Tom Haley Road coming out of Lumber City is the decaying remains of an old block building that at one time was known far and wide as Junior Pope’s Grocery store.

This old store and two churches are all that remain on the Thomas Jefferson Smith land that was known as Neilly. Tom’s father Christopher Columbus Smith and his wife Anna McEachin settled on this land around 1840. Christopher was the son of Campbell Smith from Robeson County, North Carolina. The Smith family were farmers and raised livestock in their early years there. Christopher was tax-collector of the county, and judge of the inferior court for some years. Christopher and Anna married in Montgomery County, Georgia in December 1839 and had eight children all born at Neilly, John Tyler, Thomas Jefferson, William L, Augustus A, Christopher Columbus, Joseph Henry, Franklin and Andrew J.

First Lieutenant Thomas Jefferson Smith and his brother Sgt. John Tyler served in the Civil War together, John Tyler was killed at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia. He was buried there in the confederate cemetery but has a tombstone at Dodge’s Chapel Methodist Church at Neilly.

The Neilly community was named after Tom Smith’s wife Cornelia Ann McKay the daughter of Archibald and Mary McNeil McKay, their children were Frederick Augustus Smith and Eva Mae Smith Graham. They were married in 1874 after the death of her first husband Lauchin Hill Clements in 1870 who was buried in Clements Cemetery. They had one daughter, Kate E Clements Freeman. Cornelia Ann was called “Neilly” as her grave is marked “Neilly Ann Smith.” Neilly was the younger sister of Susannah McKay McEachin who was married to Alexander Saunders McEachin, all are buried at Dodges.

The two churches that remain on Neilly land today are a black church called Green Grove Baptist Church and a white church called Dodges Chapel Methodist Church both standing alone on the South and North borders of the land and both are still active churches. Dodges Chapel was established in 1886 on land given by the Dodge Lumber Co. Joseph Henry Smith is the oldest grave in that cemetery who died in December 1854, the six-year-old son of Christopher Columbus Smith who himself died on January 4, 1860, which means the cemetery existed as a family cemetery before Dodges Chapel Church was established.

A lot of Neilly’s history lies in the graves of Green Grove Church, Dodge’s Chapel and Powell Cemetery that is located just off of the northwest boundary of the Neilly property on what was then Charles Barney Powell’s property.

The heyday of Neilly came after the Civil War when Thomas Jefferson Smith got into the Navel Store business and built a Turpentine Still at Neilly. Neilly had a commissary, post office, and courthouse, which was established sometime earlier, a justice of peace court was provided in each community “militia district” for the purpose of trying minor civil cases these were also used as voting precincts. It also had a black school located on the property. That school building was bought by Robert Euris Neal in 1946 and was made into a home where he raised seven children.

Thomas Jefferson Smith was elected in 1872 to represent the 15th senatorial district in the general assembly for one term and in 1892 was again elected to represent the same district while still making his home at Neilly. Tom’s wife Neilly died in 1886 and He married Anna Eula Peterson the youngest child of Alexander McNeil Peterson and Ala McNatt in 1893. In 1900 they moved to McRae on Huckabee Street, they had three sons Thomas Jefferson Smith Jr., Alexander Peterson Smith, and Malcolm McNeil Smith, all were born at Neilly. Tom Smith was vice president of the Citizens Bank in McRae and also Mayor of McRae. He died in 1925 and is buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery in McRae.

The Neilly property around all the old houses and buildings is completely covered in a field now. All the houses are gone. The mule driven wagons are gone, the old wood structure turpentine still which lingered there until the end is gone, the sound of children playing is gone, even the sound of dogs barking has been stilled because of the passing of time, to be no more. The tree shadowed road running down through Neilly passing all the houses, Neilly lane, is only in the imagination of a few.

The old decaying store building still on the corner there is remembered by so few now. Junior Pope became the sole owner of Pope’s Grocery Store after 1958 when his brother Bud died. The store was originally owned by Charles Douglas Pope Sr. who died in 1953. The Neilly Community and the wider Powell Community that reached as for as Horse Creek to the West and Turnpike Creek on the East was a place of prosperity after the Civil War. Others in the Community besides the Smith Family had some means in those days but the descendants of many of those Neilly pioneers had almost all entered into the edges of poverty in the first half of the Twentieth Century. Actually until the 1960s and 70s.

I was raised there on property joining Neilly as the youngest of Robert Euris Neal’s children. One person from that community has said, we didn’t know how poor we were because we were all poor people. That same person also told me that nobody ever had any money to help pay for upkeep on Dodges Chapel Church and that it always fell to Will McEachin the grandson of Alexander Saunders McEachin to take care of most of that expense in those days.

This is where we return to the significance of that old decaying grocery store on that corner there for those times. Many folks in the neighborhood and even the surrounding communities sometimes struggled to put adequate food on their tables, many had no automobile, this was the case of both black and white families in those hard times, but because of that old store and its owners, Charles Douglas “Junior” Pope Jr. and his wife Grace they were there to help when anyone needed it. Junior ran a charge account with the people and worked with folks in every way possible and folks were able to survive properly until their crops came in or they had some money from some other source. They didn’t have to go without and in those days almost everyone was honest. When they had the money they paid their bills. It seems when you look back that Junior Popes Grocery was there by providence.

That grocery store and Junior Pope was placed in that community for that time. The store is gone now. Most of those people from that era are gone and for those living in that community today, poverty is gone. The memory of Junior Pope in the Neilly Community, him being the right man in the right place at the right time is not yet gone, but soon it will be.

Text © Royce Neal, 2020. Published on Vanishing South Georgia with permission.


Filed under --TELFAIR COUNTY GA--, Neilly GA

Bo Ray’s Store, Telfair County

Thanks to Royce Neal for the identification. He notes: (this) was Max “Bo” Ray, Sr’s, store. He was our barber and a mechanic/handyman for the community.

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Filed under --TELFAIR COUNTY GA--

Historic Storefronts, Meigs

I first photographed the commercial center of Meigs in 2009 and am amazed at how little has changed on Depot Street since then.

The community landmarks of our smallest towns are all at risk of being lost. Meigs is no different than countless other places in Georgia.

These structures were home to banks, grocery stores, general stores and offices. Most were built in the early 20th century.

One of the last businesses still open was Meigs Grocery, located in the left hand side of the large commercial block seen below.

This replaces a less detailed post, Depot Street Storefronts, originally published on 26 October 2009.



Filed under --THOMAS COUNTY GA--, Meigs GA

Meigs Grocery

When I last photographed in Meigs, in 2009, this store was still open.

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Filed under --THOMAS COUNTY GA--, Meigs GA