When you cross the railroad tracks off Highway 78 onto Saw Dust Road near Harlem, there is a rustic little building that catches the eye. You may wonder what it used to be.
Almost a century ago, Charles Prather of Saw Dust decided to build a store on his home place. At the time, all the business establishments were in Harlem, where they had migrated some years earlier.
Prather built his store with material from another old building he had on his property. The store faced south on County Line Road.
In back of the store there was another building that he used as his blacksmith shop.
The location was good because Saw Dust Road connected with the Harlem-Appling Road to the north.
The store was well-stocked with a variety of merchandise to fulfill the needs of the folks living in the community. In the early days, most people farmed as a source of income. If they had a sick animal, a sure cure was available at Prather's Store. There was "magic food" for the chickens; it cured diseases and made the hens lay. It acted like magic for horses and cattle, too.
Dry goods were available for the customer as well as a plug of tobacco for those who wanted a "chaw." There was candy for the children or a spool of thread for the ladies.
The "pot belly" stove was a must in those days. The folks would gather around it on those cold winter days and would tell tall tales, and I imagine they would discuss what was going on in the neighborhood in addition to goings-on down the road.
During that time people traveled by horse and buggy or wagon, and there was a great need for blacksmiths and farriers. Horses and mules were shod with the horseshoes made to fit. Repair work was done on buggies and other related items.
Business went well over the years, as Prather continued to serve his customers who appreciated and respected him.
When the roads were paved, the store had to be moved back. The cedar tree standing on the corner originally was behind the store.
The store closed sometime in the 1940s.
Charles Prather was born Feb. 19, 1874 and died Feb. 10, 1949. He is buried at Mt. Tabor, in Saw Dust.
Meldeau Edmunds is Prather's grandson and is a resident of Harlem. I appreciate the information he gave me regarding Prather's Store. John Petereit is now owner of the property and preserves this piece of history.
(Bette Sargent is a Harlem historian.)
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