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Country store to offer feed for animals, humans

April 20, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

by Joe Crocetta / staff photographer

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Coutry storeCountry store to offer feed for animals, humans

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Eshelman's Mill on Midvale Road, for more than a century a booming grain mill and feed store that served area farmers, will return to at least part of its glory days next month.

Jay Thompson and his wife Janet bought the property last summer and will open the Olde Country Emporium on May 15 within the mill's old and graying walls.

Jay Thompson, 43, a former private school principal, has been making his living since 1996 by creating furniture from old barn boards and selling it at craft shows.

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Much of the extensive renovation work on the mill's interior reflects Thompson's skill at putting old barn boards to new use. The renovations included removing some walls and building new ones from the old boards to accommodate the antique-looking, but modern general store.

In July 1997, they bought the mill, the 19th-century brick farmhouse, barns and sheds and the three acres they sit on. Their goal is to convert the barn into a family business. The couple's three children, ages 5 to 12, are home-schooled.

The store's merchandise will include Jay Thompson's furniture, which he makes in a workshop in the barn, bulk foods and spices, works from area crafters, pet food and feed for farm animals, some dry goods and candy.

"We'll be selling a little bit of everything," said Janet Thompson, 36.

Tracey Thompson, 12, will sell Jersey Woolies and lop-eared rabbits from the store.

"We're not trying to compete with Southern States. We'll be catering to pet owners and hobby farmers. It's going to be a fun place," Jay Thompson said.

In the old days, the mill ground and mixed grain into feed - either its own or grain brought in by farmers. Molasses from a huge vat, which still sits in a dark cubbyhole in the mill, was added to the mix to make it more palatable to animals.

Remnants of the grain bins remain, but the elevators are long gone.

Weldon "Peck" Eshelman, 78, took over the mill from his father, Sherman Eshelman, in 1962. Sherman Eshelman bought it from J.S. Stevenson in 1940.

Weldon Eshelman remembers when the mill was a post office and Railway Express freight station.

"The trains came right up to the building. I used to be the postmaster," he said.

The mail slots are still there.

Eshelman moved to the Quincy Village complex when he retired in 1993.

He kept some old hand-written notes that showed that land for the mill was sold to Jacob F. Good by John Funk in 1859.

The Thompsons have a check drawn on the mill's account dated 1916 showing that Jacob F. Good owned the mill at the time.

The next year he sold it to Stevenson, according to Eshelman's notes.

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