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 🙂