Location: Neal Shoals Road, Union County, South Carolina
Surnames/tags: Stephen Crosby_ Sarah Catherine Meador Union County, South Carolina William Hamner Crosby
This profile is about the house of my great grandfather, Stephen Crosby (Crosby-4363), and his wife, Sarah Catherine Crosby. It was later handed down to my grandfather, William Hamner Crosby (Crosby-4362) and his wife Alliene Cornwell Crosby. My mother and her three sisters grew up here and I and my brother were brought here on many visits as we grew up. Much later I and my spouse lived here for three years and worked hard at restoring it.
My maternal great grandfather, Stephen Crosby, fought and was wounded in the Civil War. He was captured but pardoned at Appomattox after the war. Stephen Crosby was devoted to Robert E Lee and had a large framed photograph of him hanging in the family home. It is now in the Union County Historical Museum. Upon his release from the prison-of-war camp, he returned home and married Sarah C “Sallie” Meador (who was the daughter of my paternal great, great grandfather, John Meador Jr). John Meador owned a large home and many acres on what is now called the Neal Shoals Rd, but at the time, the Old Woods Ferry Rd. Stephen and Sallie first lived in Chester County just across the Broad River where the Meador, Crosby and other families lived before migrating to Union County. They moved across the road and down about ¼ mile from John Meador’s Plantation Home about 1874. Here, Stephen Crosby started operating a community store with his father-in-law. The property at this time belonged to John Meador but was later sold to his son-in-law on March 6, 1876. The buildings, a simple 6 room house, and a two-story store building were not mentioned on the deed but were already in existence at this time. No firm date has been found established when they were built. Stephen and Sallie took up housekeeping in a small unpainted frame house next door to the store building. In a log building on the property, Stephen also worked as a blacksmith. From the many relics of that period (tools, hinges, hooks, locks, and other items) it is easy to see that he had honed his craft to an art. Stephen also had a good many woodworking tools that have survived. I remember this building and the forge with its billows, but it is gone now. My grandfather sold the whole building at some point. The six-room house (used as a barn since I can remember) had three fireplaces. The walls in the downstairs bedroom, parlor and living room were all covered with unfinished hand-planned heart pine planks, the kitchen and upstairs rooms were covered with simple beadboard. Tobacco receipts found pasted to the inside walls of what was the store building, date from 1874, and 1875 and are signed with the Crosby/Meador name. This establishes the fact that they dealt in the tobacco business that was jointly operated for a time and that Stephen Crosby ran the store before he owned the property. Other store receipts still in possession of the Crosby grandchildren indicate the store had a broad selection of goods. Stephen Crosby was appointed postmaster in “Meador”, the name of the local community on August 8, 1881, until it was discontinued on November 27, 1889. Later he was reappointed on March 6, 1890, and again discontinued August 30, 1902. We are not sure if the original store building consisted of one large room on each floor or was divided into two on each floor. We speculate there were outdoor stairs going to the second floor. We do not know if there was a chimney in the center of two large rooms or if this was incorporated into a petition that divided each floor later. In any case, the house now has a central chimney and four fireplaces, one in each of the four rooms that existed when we arrived. The walls were completed inside with wood planks, some on the second floor moved from the first floor, we believe. We found tobacco tax receipts pasted on some of these boards dated 1874 and 1875. We believe they were moved from the first floor, maybe when the cut-outs were made for doors. The walls had sackcloth nailed to them and then wallpaper pasted on top. Downstairs, the front room was made into the living room and the second room, the dining room. Above, the two rooms were bedrooms. The double unadorned wooden doors to the front of the store was moved to another part of the new addition and a bay window was added on the front. The back door to the store is still in its original place. It is a large, thick door that is studded with nails to keep it from being bored into and has a large wooden slide latch. It is interesting that this door and all original doors had about four-inch squares removed from the inside lower corner to allow the cats’ free access. With the addition, a front porch was added across the front of the house. The addition consisted of a large entry hall with the front door and a stairway up to the second floor. At the back of this room, which my grandparents always referred to as ‘the hall’, were placed the original double doors to the store. This lead to what was originally a long outdoor porch across the back of the house. The porch gradually got enclosed and even a very small bathroom added at the end of the porch. There are two bedrooms on the first floor of the addition and one large bedroom on the second floor. A long sloped roof did not allow a second room upstairs in the new addition. Interior walls in the addition were beadboard. The floors throughout the house are pine boards. In the store building, they are foot wide heart pine. In the rest of the house, the planks are not as wide. In addition, a large room was constructed which now has a concrete floor directly behind the old store building. It was separated from the store building by the outdoor porch. This was the kitchen. I can remember when I was very young, grandmamma cooking on a woodburning cookstove. This is where my grandparents lived during the day, certainly in the winter. It had a fireplace at one end that was closed up since I can remember with heat provided by the cookstove and later a propane gas space heater. The wood-burning cookstove was replaced later by a gas cook stove. In 1981 Keith Miller, I and our two boys moved into the Crosby Home which had been vacant for at least eight years since my grandfather died and my grandmother eventually came to live with my mother. We worked hard to restore particularly the old store building part of the house back to the original look and move the kitchen into the main house. We began by removing the partition between the two downstairs rooms and taking the wallpaper and sack cloth off the walls. We left the chimney in the center of the room and added a wood-burning insert inside the living room fireplace. We also removed the ceiling boards exposing the floor joists of the rooms above. A major job was taking up the floor planks. We did this because we wanted to flip them over as the undersides had not been painted. The floors and all the woodwork in the whole house had been painted chocolate brown since I can remember. Also we were successful in straightening out a few of the beams and making the floor more level. We replaced the beautiful floor boards with the underside up. We painted the wood walls and chimney white because there would just be too much natural wood otherwise and to cover up many tack holes. We built in a kitchen area in the back corner of the opened up room. Bead board from the old house/barn was used and a large old table as a sort of island in the otherwise open kitchen area. The other half of the back area was where our new dining area – dining room was located. The front of the large open room was now the living room with the bay window that we kept in place. The back porch which had already been closed in was divided into a place for a large gas furnace and a new modern and larger bathroom. Several pieces of furniture from those earlier periods still remained, including a corner pine cupboard from the older home that was in the old kitchen. Two plank-top tables appear to be old store fixtures and the original post office desk remained along with numerous rocking chairs, wardrobes and a large blanket chest. After three years we had to move from the house and it and the property was sold to non-family buyers. The house is still standing but is empty as far as I know. It is sad and I am surprised that it has not been destroyed already. It is a totally wooden structure and would burn in a minute. The rest of the original 150 acres have been divided up and sold.