By Carol Wurschmidt
Jewel and Kirk Neeley and their family live in a house that is part museum, but always home for their six children and two grandchildren.
Currently, the Neeleys are preparing their home for a Christmas Open House at their Historical General Store and Museum on Dec. 10 from 4 to 8 p.m.
Known as the Ellejoy Country Store or the T.H. Ellis Grocery, one front room is set up as the country store that it was in 1905 complete with penny candy.
Another, the Cup Room, reminds one of parlors of time past filled as it is with comfortable chairs and teacups saved by three generations of Jewel’s family.
“Normally, I put up 16 Christmas trees and decorate them with items collected over the years, but this year there will be fewer trees,” Jewel explained. “Working as manager of the new Prospect Elementary School cafeteria and taking care of the house and family, there’s not a lot of time left to do anything extra.
“When we first moved here, people would come by and tell us their memories of coming to the Ellejoy Country Store when they were young. We’ve learned a lot about this house’s history by talking with them.”
It all began in 1905 when the building was erected to be both a home and store for its original owners. The house contains six rooms downstairs, ten bedrooms, five bathrooms and two kitchens.
The Ellejoy Country Store is surrounded by homes and farms in the small community. Penny candy was there for the children along with groceries, grain, and dry goods for the adults.
As a young girl in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Dolly Parton came over to the store to buy penny candy and often sang for whoever was there.
“The wife and girls ran the store while the husband and their sons worked at the grist mill.” Jewel said. “Every time we dig, we find artifacts from different years where they buried their trash.”
The Neeleys have spent considerable time working on the two acre property creating a park-like atmosphere.
The front porch welcomes visitors with plants, rocking chairs, flags and a drink machine. The store is located at 602 Prospect Road off Ellejoy Road. The Neeley’s can be contacted at 865-984-8828.
By Carol Wurschmidt