General Store

General Store
The General Store was built in 2012 in honor of JoAnn Elliot Bond, the first President of the Friends of the Farmers Branch Historical Park. JoAnn passed away after a lengthy illness, and her husband, Charlie, wanted to commemorate her life with a generous donation to the Historical Park. Since JoAnn’s family owned the local chain of hardware stores – “Elliotts” – he thought a store in the park would be most appropriate.

The General Store is a new type of exhibit for the Historical Park in that the majority of the items in the store are meant to be “hands-on.” Most of the items on display are reproductions of items that would have been available in the 1920s. The items are not antiques, as anyone visiting a store today would want an item new and in a package, so would a shopper in the 1920s.
Our store is modeled after three stores that were operating in Farmers Branch in the 1920s: the W. Taliaferro & Son General Store, Jim Smith’s Country Store, and Corbit’s Store. Though there were other stores in the area at the time, such as the George Dennis Mercantile and Degan’s Grocery at Carrollton Square, research was limited to the Farmers Branch stores that had the most documentation.

Warren Taliaferro, a Civil War Veteran from Missouri, came to Texas after the war and married Nancy Ann Maria Webb, daughter of Isaac Webb. The family had six children, though only two lived to adulthood. Around 1901, Warren Taliaferro opened “W. Taliaferro and Son” at the corner of Valley View Lane and Bee Street where he sold dry goods, home goods, and hardware. His son, Herbert Warren, and daughter, Maggie May, helped their father in the store until his death in 1929. Herbert Warren kept the store open for another year and then closed it to become a Dallas County Tax Assessor.

Euclid “Fatty” and Alpha Corbit also ran a store in Farmers Branch, though their inventory was mostly groceries. Both of the Corbits came from Kentucky, and Fatty worked as a night watchman at a gravel pit before running the store. The Corbit store was located at the corner of Valley View and Elder Streets, very near to W. Taliaferro and Son. Fatty visited the Taliaferro’s at their store as evidenced by photographs of him there. In a photograph of the interior of Corbit’s Store, a wooden locker is built into the room. The locker was a cooler where the Corbits kept meat that they butchered out back and sold weekly. A clock that hung next to the stove in the Corbit store now hangs next to the potbelly stove in the Historical Park store.

The Jim Smith Country Store is the store in Farmers Branch about which we know the least. James E. Smith spent all of his life in Farmers Branch. He died in 1941 and his occupation was listed as “Retired Merchant – General Merchandise.” The long galley type set-up with wooden counters, rough hardwood floors and potbelly stove were all models for the store in the Historical Park. He is shown here in the far right of the photograph.

Though few records remain of the stores in Farmers Branch, the town had a bustling downtown area along Valley View Lane in the 1920s with stores, garages, a telephone office, depot, and even a bank. Citizens of Farmers Branch had choices in where they shopped, and with other stores close by in Carrollton, there were plenty of stores from which to choose. Oral histories taken from Howard and George Dennis, Charlene Shehane, and Harold and Betty Dennis, state that the stores allowed their patrons to put their purchases “on credit” until their crops or livestock could be sold each year. Children could walk in the store and buy candy or other groceries to be put on their parents’ tab and paid at a later date. Sometimes eggs, butter, or other items could be bartered for goods in the stores if the storekeeper chose to accept them for payment.