The Wagner / Martin Store

The Wagner / Martin Store

This store was located along the western branch of the Nansemond River at the base of the T. J. Saunders’ home place, later known as the the Russell home.  It is believed to have been built in the 1890s at a cost of about $500.00 according to some hearsay comments.  The post office was located in this store beginning in 1907 with Edward E. Wagner as postmaster.  His brother, W. Kasper “Kas” Wagner, was postmaster from 1914 until the post office was discontinued in 1915. He was running the store in the early 1930s and ran it until approximately 1946. It is not known if he ran it from 1915 until the early 1930’s.  His granddaughter, Celia Wagner Coughlin, related that this was a perfect place to wait for the school bus.  The store operation was owned and operated by William Baker from the mid 1940s until 1959.  (insert pic of this store) It was then sold to Atlee Martin, Rufus’ brother.  Atlee, his wife Mary and their son Earl operated the store until it closed in 1962 due to the formation of the Western Branch reservoir.  The building continued to be owned by the land owner who at that time was Alfred Russell.  Earl has a “credit box” from the old store as well as other items.  Inventory was stored on the Martin farm in 1962 because a replacement store was not complete.  They still had customers to come to the farm to buy groceries.  Mr. Martin died in August 1962 before they had moved into the new store which was located approximately ¼ of a mile from the old store.  The new store, built by Mr. Z. Turner, was run by Mrs. Martin until 1968 when she rented it to a Mr. Brewer.  In 1972 she sold it to Alvin P. Thomas who had run a store in Orbit.  Mr. Thomas died in November 1975 and his wife, Mary Frances Ivey Thomas, operated it for several months.  It was then converted into a home and was later inherited by her daughter, Phyllis Thomas Brock, and her husband Peter who live there now.