Miller Store of Toro Community: If these walls could talk

Old country stores often have this way of making me stop in my tracks… Just something about them calls to me… “Shannon… Stop, come take a picture.”  So perhaps that sounds a bit crazy, however…

I’ve seen this particular store a few times… it is located on Louisiana Highway Number 473 in the Toro Community of deep southwest Sabine Parish (almost… maybe even remotely possibly… in Vernon Parish… Not sure, it gets a bit confusing down that way).

It is a small store, but quite striking in a real vintage way… faced with thick planks of rustic lumber which give it a rustic look.  Two old gas station pumps are “planted” in the ground, side by side, in front of the store.

I’ve never gotten the pleasure of seeing this store open, however, and yet in researching it found it was still open in at least some capacity in the mid-1990s by which time I had moved here.  I guess with age, I am becoming more observant… or more appreciative of older buildings.

The store was called Miller’s… J. M. Miller Store to be precise.  In 1997, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I found some contradictory information on the original owners of the store.  At least one article stated the store was built by brothers John Marion Miller and Elonzo Miller while others stated it was built by Ivy Miller and Curtis Corley.  All accounts indicate it was built in the year 1896.  I’m inclined to go with the latter suggestion of the two original owners, and to suppose that John Miller and Elonzo (Lon) Miller were actually the ones who either built a larger store in the same location or added on to the existing store in the year 1905.

The general store once furnished pretty much everything needed by local residents and workers… food, groceries of all sorts, coal, hardware (nails were shipped to the store in 100 pound kegs), tools, buggy whips, coffins, materials from which to make clothing and even wedding gowns, cast iron pots and pans.  You name it, I’ll bet the store had it or some variety of it.  Lunches were served to working men back in the day.  And there once was a wood burning stove in the back of the store, which made a good meeting place for men to congregate.

John Miller passed away in 1942, and his daughter, Marguerite Castleberry and her husband, Leon, moved to Toro from South Texas to carry on the business.  The store sometimes was called Castleberry’s during this era.  After Leon passed away, Margueritte’s sister, Ruth Webre and her husband came from Lake Charles to help run the store.

I’m not certain when the store closed its doors for good.  If anyone knows more, please feel free to share.  Also, you are more than welcome to share any memories you have of the store here 🙂


32 thoughts on “Miller Store of Toro Community: If these walls could talk”

  1. My mother Juanita Anthony lived in the Dess Community of Florien LA and remembers John Miller, Marguerite and Leon Castleberry. Her dad was Ivy D Miller and he also owned a store in what was called Dess LA.. I grew up across from my grandfather’s store.

  2. Memories just flooded my head when I saw your post. Would love to walk through that place again. I grew up going to that little store with my grandpa. We always called it Castleburys. It was a tiny, country store with a sweet little old lady behind the counter. Sodas sold out of the old refrigerators in the very back and items rang up on the push button antique register until it shut down.

  3. Ivy Miller’s store and the Casleberry store were two different stores but close to each other in approxsimity. I went to school at Pisgah in the early 1950’s and Mr. Ivy Miller had his store right there in front of the of the High School Gym. The Casleberry store was down the road. Our school bus used to park near Millers so we would run in a buy a Coke or candy before getting on the bus. This photo may be of the Casleberry store because it was much older than the Miller store, but I know they are not the same store.

  4. As a kid everyone met there for voting it was a blast miss this old place remember them having the coldest grape sodas around

  5. Hey! I have a grandmother named Betty Miller, Juanita Miller and a Great grandpa (x2) named Ivy D. Miller who owned a store! Coincidence?

  6. Candy bars were a Nichol and on Sunday afternoon when my Daddy went to the logging woods to feed his mules that he logged with, ( I would go just because he stopped) at Castleberrys to buy feed, and I could talk him into a candy bar or ice cream, this store use to sit closer to the road

  7. as a descendent of ivy elonzo miller, i can pass on that the store was built and started by uncle john m. miller, my grandfather and their mother. she sold out to the sons and moved. grandfather ivy elonzo sold out to uncle john. grandfather ran a griss mill across the road. my cousin kenneth skinner wrote a book about the toro community and part of it was about the store. it is named “toro and that is no bull”, he is also a descendant of the miller family. there is more to the story but cannot remember all of it.

  8. I don’t know if it helps, but we didn’t even start going to Toledo Bend down that road until 1989 and I remember seeing that store open. I remember seeing a car fueling up at the pumps once as well, but it was never close to the road so it must have been moved in the 80’s to its current location. I remember as a teen in the early 90’s no longer seeing anyone there and the trees growing up around it. I had no idea it was a historic place, just looked like an old store to me. I’d love to go inside and see if there is anything old in there.

    Does anyone know if Curtis’s grocery, down the road, was any relation to the curtis that build or owned this store?

  9. I grew up at toro & the old store was a part of my life,loved to go in & look at all the things there & maybe get a zero bar or soda pop. I would love to walk through it again,last time I was there they had a pair of vintage button up shoes that you use a button hook to do up,awesome,before my time,I’m only 65. They should open it for tours at certain times of the year. Oh what wonderful memories. 🙂

  10. Castleberry’s was not open in May 1995 when I made my last visit to the area. The “new highway” as we called it in the early 70’s had a bypass built that placed the store off the main road quite a ways that probably led to its demise, not to mention the modern gas station store just down the road at the crossroads that appeared. I remember all the early 1900’s vintage collarless shirts that were stacked high in boxes behind the counter, and the old pickle barrel where you had to use the long fork to pull out that prize pickle for purchase. Would also like to know if my great Aunt Lizzie’s and Uncle Lonnie’s pink house and blue bottle tree still reigns as a navigation landmark for folks passing through the area. Instructions to my Granny Evan’s house began with that house if you were driving from the lake. Good memories.

    1. I’ve passed by that pink house with the blue bottle tree so many times! I often take that road just to pass by it and see it again. It’s sort of an old friend along my journey.

    2. Yes! They do! I point the house out to people coming to visit me at the lake from Florida. I’d never seen a bottle tree so I looked it up. Really neat!

    3. Last time I went thru the blue bottle tree was there. I’m 63 and I can’t remember a time the bottle tree wasn’t there

    4. It’s still there. I am 60 yrs old and I remember that house as far back I can. My Daddy Buck Wilson was friends with Mr. Lonnie. I was so fasicnated with the bottle tree. My Grandpa was Eligah Wilson.

  11. My Grandparents were T. R. and Blanche Peace and when we would visit them we would walk to Ivy Miller’s Store. That would have been in the late 40’s into the 50’s.

  12. I remember when the gas pump was on the porch and gas was 15 cents a gallon the highlight of every kids day if they got to go to the store and have a penny or nickel for a treat and the big treat was a stage plank with the pink icing

    1. Robert are you related to Gay Evans? If so you would remember my parents Arthur and Emmie Byrd, and Charlotte. We were wondering about you all last wk, where you live. Would love to hear from you.

  13. My husband grew up down the road from “Castleberry’s” and it was still open for a few years after we got married. Even after it closed there was a flea market type store that opened in the building and some of the old general store inventory was still there. It was fun to look at the old vintage clothing and shoes and even some old medicines and different bottles that were in the shelves.

    1. Yes I went to that store many times. My cousins and I would walk to it from my grandparents Serinthna n Elige Wilson house. I also went to it with my Daddy when it was a flea market around 1992 or 1993. I would love to walk thru there one more time. Oh the memories

  14. Whomever owns this now should reopen for people to visit and see the items from yesteryear. I am 82 and remember going there as a child. I married Buck Wilson from Toro and our children grew up loving trips to Castleberry’s. Later I was involved with Margarite and Ruth in Eastern Star. Lived at time in Shreveport but visited many time s after marring. My aunt and uncle, Minnie and Tom Dew, always took my there as a child. Oh, the memories! It would be great to go in there again especially since it is of historical status. And Dorothy Byrd, I remember Miss Emmy and Mr Arthur–I dated RJ. Many, many years ago!

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  16. I first went to Castleberrys AND Mr. Miller’s store as a young child, and at recess we were allowed to walk to Millers and buy candy (or whatever). My first grade teacher allowed us to eat peppermint during class because she thought it helped with sore throats. There was two grades in each room, and there was a big wood burning stove that the boys loaded and stoked for the teacher. Mr. Miller’s store was also the post office. I remember Mrs. Castleberry being especially kind. Loved the gingerbread plank cookies, and we learned to inspect any candy bars w nuts such as Payday because sometimes they had weevils. After I married we always stopped at the store on our way to visit my grandparents, Arthur and Emmie Byrd.

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