O.F. White Store, mill in Siam community go on the auction block
Published 9:08 am Monday, June 22, 2015
Pieces of local history will go up for auction next weekend when the merchandise and belongings left behind in the O.F. White Store, mill and related properties will be available to the public.
The business, originally owned by O.F. White, and then his daughter and son-in-law Nelle and Eston Treadway, was a fixture in the Siam community for generations.
“This is history,” auctioneer David Collins said, walking through the shuttered store.
Inside the store, old displays sit empty while boxes and crates of old merchandise line the shelves and counter tops. Old customer records can still be found in filing racks and drawers. Some of the merchandise still has price tags and remains boxed in its original packing materials from the 1950s or 1960s.
The store and mill, located at 2297 Siam Road, were once a busy, vital business in Carter County. The store offered all the products families would need, provided at-home deliveries and let customers pay on time to allow them to sell their crops. The same families could take their grains to the mill to be processed and could buy other supplies such as coal from White.
“Stores like this were the Wal-Mart for the community,” Collins said. “This is where people would go for anything they needed. They would come to get what they needed, and they would spend some time talking with their neighbors and catching up on the daily gossip. People do not understand what it meant to the community at the time. It delivered groceries, sold coal and seed and ran feed for farmers.”
White opened his store in the 1920s. It was originally located near the old Misty Waters bait store where the railroad trestle crossed the river, Collins said. He added the old red store building still stands in that spot.
“He wanted to expand and that’s when he moved it here,” Collins said.
White strived to meet all the needs of the community, he said.
“You name it, if you needed it, he had it and if he didn’t he would get it for you,” Collins said.
Phil Nave recalled White as a shrewd businessman.
“O.F. had a good head on his shoulders,” Nave said. “He was a businessman all the way. O.F. was one of the most upstanding men in the community.”
After White passed away in 1959, his daughter continued to run the business for years.
“Nelle continued on the family legacy after her father passed away,” Collins said. “She and her husband kept it going.”
It was only after the couple passed away that the store shut down and sat empty.
“It just couldn’t compete with the big box stores that started to come around,” Collins said.
After years of not being used, the property was put up for an estate auction, with the personal belongings being sold first. Now is the opportunity to help share the history of the store, Collins said.
“Being from the Siam community, I spent a lifetime of visiting the store and the owners Eston and Nelle Treadway,” he said. “I remember many times on a cold winter day going to the store, with my dad, and being set up on the counter and Eston would come by, and grab my knee. I believe he did that just to see how many shapes my body would bend as he knew that was a ticklish spot for me. Growing up I frequently rode my pony down to the store to get a cold drink and to listen to the older men in the community solve the world’s problems. As a child, we would spend hours, along with other farmers in the community, waiting in line to get our corn ground for feed. At one time, this was truly a busy place.”
Not only did White run the bustling store, he also had a mill, a coal yard and a working farm with a sawmill that helped the community meet its needs. The barn on the farm had come from old Butler, like many of the buildings in the area, Collins said.
“I think it is important people know what this was, and what it did for the community,” Collins said. “Everyone that comes by has a story about the store. Each time I went to the store, it seemed that I would take a step back in time as nothing has changed on the inside in the past 60 years. It appears that somehow the store has been in a time warp and has reemerged from the past.”
The personal property from inside the Treadway’s home will also be included. This includes many childhood toys, quilts and local memorabilia.
Collins hopes store can once again become a functioning part of the community.
“The property and the owners have been a part of me for my entire life,” he said. “This is a bitter sweet time for me. Although I am very honored to be able to be the auctioneer taking care of selling the estate, it is also sad see such an embedded part of the community become just a faded memory. I hope that someone will be able to purchase the store and maybe put it back into business or turn it into a restaurant.”
The auction for the merchandise and personal belongings will be held Saturday, June 27 at 9 a.m. An auction for the buildings and real estate property will be held at a later date