Fulton, MO

Historic Pitcher Store built in 1897 near Fulton, Missouri has either been moved or destroyed

CJ Coombs

Pitcher Store, Fulton, Missouri.Photo byThephotogNB, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Pitcher Store was a historic building used as a general store, a post office for a short period, and a residence. At first glance, you see a structure that’s very old and it appears it could collapse with a strong wind. This building was located in Fulton, Missouri (Callaway County). In 2001, some 21 years ago, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

From 1888 to 1905, there were three stages of construction of this building. There was an irregular shape to the construction and maybe that’s due to the fact it was built in different stages. (It’s also referred to as the Craghead Store since James Craghead ran the property the longest.)

According to an anonymous posting in July 2022, on the LandmarkHunter.com website, “ Was just there today searching for the property. Only the old concrete porch is there.”

The Pitcher Store

The Pitcher Store was located at 8513 Pitcher Road close to the intersection of State Road NN, about five miles southeast of Fulton.

In 1897, the original store and post office were built. The largest portion of the building contained the store and the post office. The original wood porch was replaced with a concrete slab at some point. The unused building was on a gravel road. For about five decades, the rural community could rely on the store for their needs. Until the store’s closure, it also provided a place where farmers could sell their raised produce and gather for conversation during their off-seasons.

From 1897 to 1904, there was a post office on site. Architecturally, the building was an example of how common it was in rural areas of vernacular construction.

Vernacular architecture is a modest style of building that is specific to a region and period. It relies on the use of local materials and knowledge to construct buildings, and it's usually done without the supervision of a professional architect. (Source.)

In 1905, a log house was built onto the building for the owners. 

The first postmaster of Pitcher was Benjamin Rufus Fitzgerald, a farmer born in 1846. Robert L. Barrier, an owner of the property, was also probably aware of the convenience of having the store and post office under one roof. 

In December 1897, Barrier took over as postmaster. In April 1901, the next postmaster was Samuel W. Wood and he would be the last one. In 1896, Rural Free Delivery (RFD) began in the U.S. taking mail straight to families on their farms. Before that, they had to travel to post offices to collect any mail which was probably okay for some who needed to socialize.

Wood stayed on as the storekeeper for a while before selling the property to James Lewis Craghead in 1905. Before he sold it, the building was moved about 20 feet to connect it to his log house with a frame addition which about doubled the size of the log house. Craghead ran the store until it closed in 1944.

The general store

Farmers probably had marked down when they were going to make a trip to the general store with their wagon of items to barter. The storekeeper was basically a small town entrepreneur. Decisions had to be made as to which items he was going to buy and resell, and whether he could resell them. He certainly had to review his dollars. The storekeeper would probably trade for anything he thought he could resell.

Pitcher Store stocked for purchase or barter items such as tea, spices, tobacco, and coffee (the coffee beans could be ground at the store.)

Craghead also stocked sewing supplies, fabrics, thimbles, needles and thread. On the counters were curved front glass cases. Among other goods, candy, chewing gum and tobacco were displayed in one case. Across the room in the other counter case were items such as sewing notions. A few medicinal items were stocked as well including cough syrup, perhaps quinine, and "Nature's Remedy" which was very popular. (Source.)

Imagine riding into town on a horse-drawn wagon to pick up items to sell and barter at the nearest general store. On the return trip, farmers would hope it wouldn’t rain so the wheels don’t get stuck in the mud!

Another role of the general store had to be in the season when the farmer wasn’t producing a lot, and the store became a place to gather for conversation around the wood stove. The woman probably made items that could be sold.

Rectangular-shaped general stores stretched across rural America. Construction included unpained weatherboard siding and if there was going to be anything considered as a pretty detail, it would be at the front of the store. Display windows weren't important.

In the Pitcher Store log house, the walls were covered with newspaper pages printed in 1898, presumably for insulation, before lath and plaster were applied. The newspaper dates indicate that the interior was unfinished until a decade or so after the house was erected. (Source.)

When Wood decided to connect the buildings, he was probably thinking about convenience and security. The Pitcher Store didn't only provide items needed to live, it provided a sense of community.

After the store closed in 1944, it was acquired by the storekeeper’s daughter and son-in-law who sold the store to another family in 1946. 

In 1973, the building was purchased which involved more repairs, the addition of an outhouse, and visits to the property until 1993. Another owner acquired the property in 2000 wanting the building to be relocated, and who understood the historic value of the building. He didn't want to maintain the building or have it stay on his land.

Thank you for reading!

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Multi-genre writer and author/publisher with a BA in Eng Journalism/Creative Writing. I worked in law firms for 30+ years and retired early to pursue writing. I was born into the Air Force, so you could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, research, history, true crime, reading, art, and travel.

Kansas City, MO

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