My Grandmother, Margaret (Millikan) McKinley wrote this poem July 26, 1934:
That Old Cross-Roads Store
It’s only that old cross-roads store,
The kind that isn’t seen much more.
A faded old sign swings over the door.
And many feet have trod its floor.
It makes no difference what you’ve come to buy,
You’ll find it there, tho’ the price be high.
And as you look around at the things that lie
About on the counter, you give a sigh.
It may be a bolt of print, some lace,
An old pan lid, or a flower vase
A dusty veil for an older face
Or a bit of candy in a worn show case.
It may be something in which to cook,
Or a more recent magazine or book,
It may be a lamp, or a fish hook.
Why there’s even a cat in a cozy nook!
The keeper is smiling, ever fair.
Seems like the whole country side drops in there.
When in want, to the old cross-roads store we tear,
And we know our need will be filled with care.
She indicated in her notebook that she wrote it “in honor of Uncle Lonny’s cross-roads store at Deming, Indiana.”
“Uncle Lonny” was actually her Great-Uncle Cornelius Arlonzo Boone. He was born November 9, 1858 in Indiana, one of the 3 sons of Paul Boone (1832-1917) and Nancy Estle (1835-1896). He married Sarah Ellen Glaze February 19, 1876 in Hamilton County, Indiana. They had 4 children, Bertha E. (1877-1970), Bessie M. (1882-1901), Edgar M. (1886-1960) and Blanche M. (1889-1968).
In 1880, per the US Census, Lon lived in Marion Twp., Boone County on the family farm. Lon shows up in the US Census in Jackson Twp, Hamilton county in 1900. His occupation was grocer. He lived in the Deming community, which is located about 7 miles North of Westfield. Grandma would have been living in Sheridan and to get to Deming she would have to go East about 7 miles.
Through the following census records, he is listed as a “retail merchant” in the “grocery” industry & a “merchant” with a “Country store.” Unfortunately, I do not know the exact location of his store.
I was recently in Indiana. I asked relatives if they remembered what Lon’s store looked like & where it was. They couldn’t remember much. My Great Aunt told me that the store and the family home were connected. I went exploring & followed the road to Deming. Actually, the community is only about the size of a neighborhood block. The church building is still standing, but it is a lodge meeting place now. A couple of houses had just been demolished, with the remnants still visible. There was one house at the cross-roads that could very well have been the store, but I don’t know for sure.
So I kind of wonder if “Uncle Lonnie’s” country store was a gathering place for the community—did men sit around and play checkers & swap stories; did children come in to get penny candy? Right now I guess I can only imagine what it was like. Grandma’s poem gives a little insight, though.
Lon died April 9, 1936 at the age of 77. He was buried in Spencer Cemetery in Hamilton County, IN.
© MJM 2017