The Company Store/ Mill Office

15/08/2011

                                                        
      
Company Store/Mill Office
 

Bernard M in Mill Office at Reynolds Brothers Mill ca. 1890

 
 
Throughout most of the history of Reynoldston, the Reynolds Company Store was a focus of the community.  Essential in such an isolated place, the company store was a general store that sold nearly everthing that residents needed including groceries, dry goods,  clothing, hardware and all kinds of trinkets. It also provided initally telegraph and then telephone and mail service to the outside world.  On Saturday night, men came down from the logging camps and crowded into the store to buy boots, heavy Woolrich and Ballard pants, canned beans, or even a watch or child’s doll. 
 
 
  
  
 
 
 
Scrip Money/Shinplasters     
  
During the late 1870’s and early 1880’s the Reynolds issued their own currency to pay workers called “shinplasters” pictured below  This currency could only be redeemed at the company store for goods and supplies  While the workers initially accepted this symbiotic realtionship over time it led to anger and frustration.  It is clear that the “shinplasters” were a mechanism to control the workers and their families and to limit the capital costs of the early operations.  The workers frustration with the shinplasters and limits on their credit is highlighted in the Reynoldston Song about the Reynolds Bros. composed by Jim McGovern.   Finally the government stopped their practice of printing their own currency sometime in the late 1880’s . 
 
 
The Reynolds Bros. Mill Company Store & Office
 
 Reynolds Mill Company Store and Office with Ice House at the back- wintertime
 
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When loggers received their paychecks their bill at the store and from the goods they bought at the camps had already been subtracted.  If workers and their families took on too much store credit, they would get a “red card”, stopping all purchases until they paid up. This often happened in the spring as the men waited for work at the mill and in the logging camps and created real hardships for many Reynoldston families.  The compamy store also provided the supplies of food and equipment for the logging camps.   Thus the Reynolds business was a major buyer of goods and services from the businesses and farms to the north in the St. Lawrence River Valley.  Carts loaded with supplies were a regular sight on the Eddy Road.
 
Thomas Campbell

 (Reynolds Store) “They had everything into it dry goods, and everything.  Some time in the spring of the year they would put the red card on to you. You know what that is? You couldn’t get no trust…a lot of family went skippy you know to get by, because they couldn’t get trusted there any more.   And that was the way the clerk would know that they wouldn’t trust them no more because they put the red card on.  Oh yes most of them could, because they  knew they were all right you see.  Some worked at the mill.   There were quite a few of them that got the red card.  The mill didn’t start up until kind of late in the spring of the year and they didn’t have no work…didn’t have no money.”                                
                                                                                                                                           Thomas Campbell oal history interview  1970 tape 2 p. 1
 

 Eugene Bordeaux

Mr.  Bordeaux:  A dollar a day when I worked, twenty six dollars a month.  You got paid by the month.    A check.   You went down to the main office and they cashed it.Yes, it was all settled up, when you got your check.

                                                                                                             Eugene Bprdeaux Oral history interveiw 1969  tape 11 p. 12

 Haidee Rushlaw
(1885-1978)

In the early evening … My Grandma, Alley Cox  and his wife, and myself, the book keeper…Ernest
Keefer…We sold everything, lots of underwear and heavy sox,  …and overshoes, leggings, shoes, practically everything we sold….Of course hey had these shin plasters…they paid by those and then they used to run up accounts and pay on a Saturday night a big  account register and everything was
in there and they paid on it…  

 There was a lot of pork sold, ten cents a pound, salt, back pork, lard and sugar and tea was bought
in large quantities.   Drawers full.   And raisins the same.   Sugar…drawers would hold probably fifty pounds.   Well, I used to weigh up a quarters worth , five pounds for a quarter.   We had what we called the back room and that had pork and all kinds of pie filling and cakes.  And then there was a coffee grinder.  We ground coffee. And there was barrels. One barrel held sugar,  another barrel held those round crackers (Boston) and one held brown sugar, a big barrel of it.  Of course there used to be a tobacco cutter for plug tobacco and we sold a lot of that.  You cut down like that.   And then there was other Cockade tobacco.  And then candy.  The shelves were full of these glass jars. All kinds of stick candy that you never here of now, you know.  Well lots ..all kinds of cereal, puffed wheat and puffed rice way back then.   (Oat flake)  that came in barrels… and that was sold in bulk. Inside the store there were glass showcases, with jewelry, oh yes we had rings and watches…
(as you enter the store…the first room)  That was just the store with counters on each side and showcases on each side.  (Right in front of you) The stairs.   And men’s heavy clothing was sold up there…everything.  Of course the post office…they all had there boxes.   The mail was brought by horse and buggy.   

Two steps go down to the office,  was the post office where the telephone was and I worked in there and then there was a private office aside from that.  And this was where the book keeper used to do his work.  There was a typewriter and I used to type out the telephone calls. We had a lot of subscribers.    The Reynoldston Telephone Line of course it was.  They also had telegraph years back. (no cost to phone Malone)  I don’t think it was anything I don’t remember.   I know we used to say central,  Malone we would call central.  We had telephones in Chasm Falls, Dickinson and Overton…   I don’t remember anyone coming in the office.  There was a phone up in my home…there was one there.   

They did a lot of business with Butler Bros too…dry goods they used to send out large orders…New York City.  This was all done by order-the Butler Bros.  They used to buy shoes and a cart used to come from Moira and they brought different brands of shoes you know.  Different ones from Malone…those places. 

Stamps were then two cents a piece you know, maybe three …  (post office boxes) were in this thing that was set up.  The boxes were right in there, all numbered.  Just as you go in to the right… Frank Reynolds was the post master up there.  

There was a feed room where all those barrels of pork and everything were.  There was a feed room they used to buy tons at time.  It would take several days to drive from North Bangor.  They used to buy carloads at a time and pile up even in there.   And  that was another thing they sold was feed.  Of course they had so many horses it took a lot.       

                                                                                   Haidee Rushlaw oral history interview 1970 tape 1 p.1-2

 

 

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