Monday, October 22, 2007

Connally General Store (Leasburg, North Carolina)

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The above caption (from 1985) indicates that many of store's contents ended up in a "Greensboro Museum." This is the Greensboro Historical Museum, which acquired the Connally Store items around 1961. Here is a statement from the Curator of Collections at the Greensboro Historical Museum:
The Connally General Store was on display at the Greensboro Historical Museum from 1961 to 2005. Last year [2006], we completed a major renovation of the 2nd floor of the Summit Building and several of the previous displays including the General Store were removed and put in storage. Several of the wall cabinets and counters are rather large. . . .
The Greensboro Historical Museum was most kind to share the following Connally General Store photographs:

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(Courtesy of the Greensboro Historical Museum, Copyright 2006 Andrew Payne)
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The black-and-white photographs are courtesy of the Greensboro Historical Museum.

The Connally family members who donated the Connally General Store items to the Greensboro Historical Museum were: Miss Mildred Williams Connally (daughter of Henry T. Connally); Mrs. Mary L. Womack (daughter of Henry T. Connally); and Mrs. Walter E. Connally (Virginia Underwood Connally, daughter-in-law of Henry T. Connally; see the vignette about her below).

The Greensboro Historical Museum also lists the following in its Family Papers Archives:

Pulliam-Connally Gen. Store (Caswell Co.) MSS. COLL. #82

The following is from The Leasburg I Knew by William S. Dixon (April 28, 1968):

Up the hill was Connally's store, managed by Mr. H. T. Connally, and adjacent, was the Connally home, one of the finer homes in Leasburg. Here lived fiery, but likeable, Mr. Henry Connally, wife Sallie, daughters Mary and Mildred, and sons, George, Edgar and Walter. None married, although later on Miss Mary was married to Judge Womack and Walter married the school "marm," as I shall relate later, and lived across the "street."

. . . .

Down the gentle slope and across the Semora road, stood the school house with a line of cedars along the road in front. The one teacher was Miss Virginia Underwood, who reigned over all the grades made up of thirty-five to forty pupils. There were no formal grades. One started to school at age seven, learned to read, and advanced year by year until uppper 'teens when boys just didn't come to school any more, chiefly because they became more valuable on the farm. Rare indeed was the boy who went on to higher schools. The girls, however, frequently went on to college. They, of course, trained for the teaching profession.

Miss Underwood, as we called her, was an excellent teacher. How she maintained discipline over that mixed up group and drilled a little education into their heads is beyond me. He commencement exercises at the close of each school year became something of a tradition. To me, coming from an even more primitive country school, these exercises were wonderful. They were held in the church as the only building in the village large enough. All pupils took part in commencement. I fell into it good and proper, my first school year. In trying out for parts, boys were called in one by one to find one who could sing. I got the part as Reuben in "Reuben and Rachel" with Mabel Stephens as Rachel. Our performance was a great hit -- the crowd went wild with applause.

Miss Underwood did not escape romance. We began to see Walter Connally taking her for a drive after school and the girls began to get excited. Sure enough, they were married the following summer. Then the problem arose, what should we call her as teacher. "Mrs. Connally" just wouldn't do. She settled it by informing us that she was Miss Genie Connally forever. She was indispensable in the social and religious life of the village, a lovely lady.

Connally's store was mainly operated by George, the bachelor son. George was a favorite with lady customers, for he carried a good selection of dress goods and accessories and he had a knowledge of just which of such items would be becoming to his customers. He kept individual tastes in mind when he made buying trips to Richmond. He also had a pleasant manner and voice, which customers appreciated. I would be amiss not to mention the great service George Connally gave the church. He took it on himself to act as custodian and kept the church spic-and-span condition, rang the bell, provided and arranged flowers for services, and on cold days, started fires in the two stoves that heated the building. He was also Sunday School Secretary, and part of the time, was Treasurer. Mr. Henry Connally was a bit eccentric at times. I have heard a story of how a crotchety old negro argued with him over a thirteen-cent item that was marked two-for-a-quarter. Mr. Connally grabbed a penny, went out to the woodpile, laid the penny on a block and chopped it in half and handed the negro a half and told him to "get." He put in a soda fountain for his own pleasure, but we youngsters revelled in it too.

Connally's store was rallying point for the young men on Saturday afternoon when farmers took off and came to town. The baseball field was across the street, in the factory lot, and in the summer this was the center of interest. The field was shortened in center field by the old factory building. Many hotly contested games were played between Leasburg and surrounding communities. These communities centered around a country store usually, such as Hester's Store, Edgewood, and Bushy Fork. The teams were mainly made up of farmer boys who had worked hard all week. But we knew nothing better and thought it was good baseball.

. . . .

It fell the turn of the Ebenezer Church to have the Association. Crowds came from far and near to attend; some with honorable motives; some not so honorable. In town, Connally's Store was busy. Some of the second variety were on hand there. One of these was a Warren from out south in the Hester's Store area. He was a noted trouble maker and fight picker. He was on horse back that day and mean drunk. He rode his horse up the front steps of the porch and tried to urge him inside. Mr. Henry Connally would not back down from any man; he came out of the store with a pick handle and drove them back down the steps. So Warren dismounted and entered the store on foot. He staggered and stuck his elbow through a show case. He then took a swing at Fate Brooks, a much smaller man, also from the South Country. He had picked on the wrong man that day; Fate drew his pocket knife and with one swipe slashed Warren across the chest. Warren walked slowly down the road in the direction of Ebenezer. A negro took him in his buggy to the church grounds.

This was all reported to me by eye witnesses. But about this time, my father decided he and I needed some association atmosphere, so we drove out there. Not too far from the church I saw Warren reclining against a big oak with his bloody chest exposed. Dr. Love, with customary cigar in his mouth, was stooped in front of him sewing up the gash, that looked at least a foot long and more than half an inch deep. I thought "you are wasting time -- he can't live." But he did live, and I heard that he was in another fight six months later.

Henry T. Connally House

Early 19th century, with modifications c. 1860 and late 19th century. Large two-story frame house with rear Federal-style wing. Greek Revival style hipped main block with interior chimneys, trabeated double-door entrances, side pedimented Doric entrance porches, and a front replacement Queen Anne style porch with a balcony and a cross-gable with an ornate bargeboard.

Walter E. Connally House

Early 19th-century Federal frame house overbuilt during Greek Revival era (c. 1860) as Boom Era type residence. One and one-half story rear wing with molded cornice and some 9/9 sash in main block are only indications of Federal structure. Present structure has exterior end stone and brick chimneys, stone foundation, two-story front porch with curvilinear sawnwork posts and upper balustrade, matching sawnwork pattern in entrance sidelights.

Jackson Library, University of North Carolina - Greensboro has the following record:
From a needle to an anvil, come and see me, and you can find it the Connally General Store and Leasburg, Caswell County, North Carolina as seen through the store's records 1881 and 1895, by Timothy S. Bottoms (1991). See: Connally General Store

viii, 153 leaves ; 29 cm

On reel with theses CQ no. 3366-3384.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 1991.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 95-99).
Microfilm. King, N.C. : W.S. Phelps Co., 1992. 1 microfilm reel : negative ; 35 mm

Call Number: FILM CQ NO. 3380 c.1

Duke University Records:

Author Pulliam, B. G.
Title Business records, 1801-1880; (bulk 1875-1880) [manuscript].

Location/Request Special Collections Library:
Manuscripts | 2nd 82:D

Description 415 items.
History notes Merchant, of Leasburg (Caswell Co.), N.C.
Summary Correspondence and other papers of Pulliam and of H. T. Connally, also a merchant of Leasburg. Many of the letters are from fertilizer companies. Included also are a few papers relating to the estate of Lewis Burwell, 1802. Correspondents and persons and firms mentioned include Allison and Addison, Lewis Burwell, William H. Gilham, A. B. Newman, Southern Fertilizing Co., and Zell’s.
OCLC Number 20121004
Subject Burwell, Lewis -- Estate.
Gilham, William.
Newman, A. B.
Subject Southern Fertilizing Company (Richmond, Va.)
Subject Fertilizer industry -- United States.
Merchants -- North Carolina -- Leasburg.
Authors Connally, H. T.
System Number 000873678
Author+Title Pulliam, B. G. Business records, 1801-1880; (bulk 1875-1880)

These are all loose papers consisting mostly of bills and receipts but also including the occasional business letter. You are welcome to come research the collection, and we would welcome the idea of your adding images from the collection to your website. We allow the use of digital cameras or flatbed scanners in the research room.

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This wonderful photograph is from the book referenced below, Pills, Petticoats and Plows: The Southern Country Store, Thomas D. Clark (1944), and may have been taken by the author. The image is shown here courtesy of the successors in interest to the rights of Thomas D. Clark, to which all rights are reserved. The store was still in operation when this photograph was taken

Other References

The Southern Country Store 1800-1860, Lewis E. Atherton (1949).

Pills, Petticoats and Plows: The Southern Country Store, Thomas D. Clark (1944).

The Old Country Store, Gerald Carson (1954).

Note that before B. G. Pulliam purchased the Leasburg general store that became Pulliam and Connally General Store it was the Hancock & Paylor store. Ownership apparently changed hands in 1869. Also note that a brother of Henry T. Connally, William Hundley Connally, married Hattie Verona Paylor. Her father, William Paylor, Jr., was a partner with R. P. Hancock in a Leasburg tobacco factory and general store.



  1. Thank you for taking the time and care to document what you have on this blog. As we are considering moving to the area, I was so interested in the rich history, noted by the older homes and buildings here. It satisfies my great curiosity of this beautiful, sadly neglected town.

  2. I am the grand daughter of Roberta Lea Newman James, daughter of Robert Ira Newman and Nannie Greene Newman, and sister of Nancy Stephens. I know that the Connley's and and Pulliams are relatives and have that documented.
    I have a small oil lamp that Bert, as she was called, received in 1896 for her eighth Christmas. This Christmas, I plan to give it to her eight year old great-great grand daughter. I plan to write a story to go along with it and I was doing just a little research to authenticate my little story.

    I think Bert would be pleased.

    This article was very helpful.

    Jane Suitt, December 4, 2010

    1. Jane, what a great story. I found this when I was trying to find info on the the Lea-Newman House built in 1838 in Leasburg. The caption right under the photo also says it's the James Lea House, but I don't know which of the James Lea's it is. Would you have any idea?
      Mary Ellen