Page 4C-The Journal, Altavista, Va., Thursday, Nov. 3, 1966Jacobs Recalls Old – Time County Store OperationBy Diane Popek
With the approaching Bi-centennial, focus is on the oldest landmarks in Pittsylvania County. There are some, however, a bit short of years to make them second century, which have a fascinating history. The Grayson Jacobs Store at Brutus is one of them.
Off old Route 29 toward Route 4 (typo 40) Gretna are picturesque valleys with smal (typo-Small) creeks, a rickety bridge and countryside charmingly etched with Autumn. The store stands in its original form across from Spring Road Baptist Church which was built in 1850.
Jame A. Jacobs, father of Grayson Jacobs, purchased the store from Richard Adams, Uncle of John Adams, in 1883. Adams purchased it from Coleman Pugh. A Dr. John Robertson owned it during the Civil War.
The yellowed pages of charge books dating back to 1882, record purchases by the local farm folk-2 lbs. Of coffee, (whole bean) 22c; 1 hat, 45c; two yards of linen, 30c; two yards of domestic, 16c; 1 bottle of beer, 10c; 1/2 pint of whiskey, 13c; 1/2 pint of brandy, 25c, 1 bushel flour, $1 ; 1/2 dozen fish, 10c; 21/2 dozen eggs, 25c; 1 gal. Molasses, 45c; 1 yard of calico 81/2c; 1 qt. Cider, 10c; two dozen stockings, $1; 31/2 lb. Bacon, 65c; bottle of paregoric, 5c.
Asafetida (something like gum camphor, which superstitious folks wore around their neck to ward off disease) was sold for 7c.
Before 1900, the Jacobs’ store was also used as post office. The left front corner was partitioned off with door and a window from which the proprietor could reach the customer. A man on muleback from the Star Route came from Motley to picked (typo pick) up mail. He also picked up at Glenland, Renan, Roark’s Mill and Staunton River (now Hurt), etc. There was no Altavista then –the community only began to settle around 1907. Grayson Jacobs continued to operate the post office at Brutus for some years after he took over his father’s store; now both Hurt Rt.2 mail carrier, Joe Green, and Gretna Rt.2 delivery man pick up mail in the area.
Grayson Jacobs recalls the years before World War II when local farmers swapped chickens, hams and eggs for groceries. “All through the summer,” he explains, “there was no money. From 1st of March until October, we wondered what to do with all the chickens (he had to build a chicken lot) and I used to peddle chickens out toward Lynchburg to make enough money to buy more groceries. Chickens peddlers for commissioned merchants in cities came around but they paid as little as possible. Many folks from Hurt came and Altavista came on Saturday and bought a chicken for their Sunday dinner. I would send them to the lot, the Mrs. Usually picked out the fowl and let the husband struggle trying to catch it.”
“Years ago people did not rush their tobacco to market the same year they finished curing it, probably because transportation was so much slower, they would let it hang in the barn until the following year. Then in early summer they would load up the wagon, family and all, and ride to the city where tobacco was sold, part of the money spent on clothing, some once-a-year visiting attended to, little treats and luxuries for the children and themselves to brighten the week, and home again for another year of toil and planning for the following year’s trip to the city.”
Jim Jacobs employed a colored man who lived with him and whom he sometimes hired out to the farmers. Jacobs kept records of the man’s duties such as February 17, 1894-“loading up to go to Lynchburg with horse and wagon…stayed four days.” One year according to Grayson, he let his hired man take _ day off to go to Hill Grove to vote.
Among the old papers Grayson Jacobs keeps in the very old desk in the back of the store is a tax receipt from 1835-Tommy B. Davis (who was State senator then) owned 300 acres of land for which he was taxed $1.06; for his three slaves the tax was (25c a head) 75c. Davis had one riding horse and used oxen in the fields (no tax on livestock). His son, Fletcher, marries John A. Adams’ sister.
The old hand-made furniture –a liquor (or sugar) chest, old knee-hole desk, and hand-made cedar chest are wistfully admired by all lovers of original hand-made furniture. The back side of the store floor still has exposed, original wide-plank floor and ceiling which has never been changed. The hooks on the ceiling still display buggy whip hangers, log chin links, metal egg baskets, galvenized (typo galvanized) tubs, buckets and axes.
The store is heated by wood stove as in the olden days and among the merchandise for sale are hardware items, groceries, books, make-up, lamps, TV and antennas, dishes, lamps, toys, shoes, radios, farm equipment, rolls of linoleum, a bike, suit case, bedding, wood stoves, etc. You name it he’s got it!
Grayson’s favorite antique is a waffle maker to be used on top of a wood stove.
Mr. and Mrs. Grayson Jacobs reside in the white frame house beside the store. The original house was a log cabin but very little of that is evident now – the family has added on to both the front, and the back of the house.
Grayson, who has lived in Pittsylvania County all his life, takes his duties to his people very seriously. He is Defense director for Pittsylvania County as well as chairman of the Board of Supervisors.408OBITUARYFormer Chairman Board of Supervisors Dies
(09/14/1977 entered by pen)
Grayson Wilford Jacobs, former chairman of the Board of Supervisors, and an Outstanding community leader, died at his residence early Wednesday morning.
Mr. Jacobs, age 76, had been in declining health for several years.
He was born in Pittsylvania, September 12, 1901, a son of the late James A. Jacobs and Lelia Rowles Jacobs.
He was educated at the college of William and Mary. For years he had operated the G. W. Store at Brutus, where he not only sold merchandise, but was a friend and advisor to his customers and other people of the community.
Mr. Jacobs was a member of Spring Roads Baptist Church, where he had served as Sunday School Superintendent, teacher, and chairman of the Board of Deacons.
He was chairman of the Board of Supervisors for 12 years until his retirement in 1967, and was past vice – chairman of the County Democratic Executive Committee.
He was chosen to receive the Distinguished Service Award present by the Chatham Chamber of Commerce, and was especially cited for his support to public education in Pittsylvania.
Surviving are his wife Mrs. Janie Rowland Jacobs of the resident; four sons, Curtis E. Jacobs of Newport News, Clyde S. Jacobs, Grayson Jacobs, Jr., both of Gretna, Gerald Jacobs of Lynchburg; two daughters, Mrs. Peggy Brooks of Hampton, Mrs. Cynthia Halstead of Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
One brother, O. B. (Buster) Jacobs, Gretna; two sisters, Mrs. Myrtle Rowland of Gretna, Mrs. Thelma Talbott of Hurt, one half-sister, Mrs. Ella Owen of Lynchburg, and 10 grandchildren.
Funeral services had not been announced when the Star-Tribune went to press. The body is at Colbert-Moran Funeral Home, and the family is at the residence at Brutus.408
Listed in Jacob-Davis Cemetary record (in Doug Arbuckle’s possession), Highway 642 at Brutus, VA.