WINNSBORO — The Fairfield County Museum recently unveiled its newest exhibit, The Country Store, in the Museum’s new exhibit space on the second floor of the Cathcart-Ketchin House on South Congress Street.
Nearly 200 objects and documents are featured in the exhibit, which focuses on several mercantile stores from Fairfield County, including the Isaac C. Thomas Store from Ridgeway that also functioned as a cotton merchant.
Thomas retained a vast amount of store receipts that were saved and are now part of the Museum collection. Some of those documents tell the story of some of the sharecroppers who picked cotton at Mount Hope, the Thomas family plantation.
Sarah Boulware, a recent visitor to the exhibit, reminisced about picking cotton when she was 14.
“I was challenged by my father who said I would not be able to pick 100 pounds of cotton,” said Boulware. She was paid, as had been previously agreed, $5 for the accomplishment.
The Kennedy Mercantile and Banking Company, founded by George L. Kennedy and later known as G.L. Kennedy & Co., was located in Blackstock.
It served the residents of the area as a provider of goods and as an important cotton buyer. In addition, both the Bank of Blackstock and the Blackstock Post Office were located within the store building.
The Fairfield-Chester County line ran through the store, and it is said that the bank’s walk-in safe was located in Chester County, while the post office was located in Fairfield. Visitors to the exhibit will see the original cotton scale, stock certificates, and miscellaneous memorabilia and building hardware from the Kennedy store.
The Shivar Springs Company was established in the early 1900s by Nathaniel Frank Shivar in the Shelton Community. So impressed was Shivar with the health-giving value of the water at a natural spring that he built a plant and began to bottle and sell the water.
The company soon expanded its production to include ginger ale. A wide variety of bottles from Shelton’s Shiver Springs are part of the display.
The pot-bellied stove from Winnsboro’s J.M. Harden hardware store, which sold coffins, is a centerpiece of the exhibit, much like the stove was a focal point of a turn-of-the-century store, drawing shoppers on a cold day to its warmth, to share news or play a game of checkers.
Visitors are invited to view The Country Store during regular Museum hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Museum is closed for lunch between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.