Lewis Reed Photo: Old Country Store

1900s Country Store

Circa 1900s country store on a dirt road. Note the sign advertising Battle Axe Shoes. Two ladies standing on the porch. Location Unknown. Photo by Lewis Reed

This early 1900s photo taken by Lewis Reed is a flashback to a time when the clip-clop of horses could be heard going down the street, kids would walk to school, and people took the time to care about and create things that would last. This old store would have been considered not very clean from modern standards and the roads outside were unpaved.

While every store was different, there were similarities among many, including a front that was decorated by tin sign advertising, tobacco, cigars, shoes, hardware, and more. The sign in front advertises Battle Axe Shoes, Stephen Putney Shoe Company. I did a little research and found out Samuel and Stephen Putney were father and son shoe manufacturers of Battle Axe Shoes in Richmond, Virginia.

Usually, country stores featured double doors that opened inward and lots of barrels that might contain any number of items — from pickles, to crackers, potatoes, flour and candies. The store was usually an unpainted, two-story frame building fronted by a raised porch for convenient loading and unloading.

One thing in this photo I can’t explain are the steps seemingly leading to nowhere on side of the building. And I wonder what the tall pole is for? It seems to be bracketed on the side of the building. Ideas, folks?

The Putney’s owned and ran Battle Axe Shoes, and had this factory on 2200 West Broad Street as touted by the 1909 Postcard below.

Battle Axe Shoes Postcard

By the way, it appears as if the writer of this postcard was a big fan of CAPS-lock to get his point across.


And environmentally friendly to boot! (Pun intended)

The postcard reads:

“The most ECONOMICALLY ARRANGED shoe plant in the country. Every facility for the saving of time, labor and expense employed. Built of concrete – insurance unnecessary. Entire business (except office) on ONE BIG FLOOR – no elevator costs, less force required, systematic arrangement of stock. Double railroad tracks in building for receiving and shipping freight. Bridge daylight on every side. Because of our greatly REDUCED COSTS OF OPERATION and the many Economical Advantages we posses, we CAN and DO make BATTLE AXE SHOES of SUPERIOR QUALITY over other makes of shoes. STEPHEN PUTNEY SHOE CO., RICHMOND, VA.”

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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

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