Ketchuptown, 1927-1994

The Place To Catch Up On The News

By Ruth Ham

During the 1920s farmers in the community about ten miles north of Aynor would say to one another, "Lets go catch up on the news." Every Saturday afternoon would find them at Herbert "Hub" Small's little country store at the intersection of Highways 99 and 23. Highway 99 led east to Loris and southwest to Galivants Ferry. Cool Spring was about ten miles away on Highway 23.

The intersection was first in the shape of a "T" with Highway 23 ending at 99. In the 1920s Small asked a friend, Ruth Floyd Gerrald, to sign up to give land for a right of way to extend Highway 23 to Highway 917, the road that leads to Sandy Bluff and Mullins. In 1927, after the extension of Highway 23, Hub Small purchased an acre of land on the northwest corner of the crossroads from Lewis Gerrald for $ 100. He built a house and small store where he sold clothes, food, ice and hardware. The iceman came from Mullins several times a week to restock the ice that was sold to customers. A separate building provided storage for the ice. Ira Quincy and Nina Floyd Gerrald (daughter of Willie Floyd), lived in the southeast corner of the intersection when Herbert and Blanch moved their family to the area in September of 1927. The house the Gerralds lived in still stands in its original location.

Talbert Johnson, Genarie Gerrald and Mildred Nunamaker were some of the names that Hub hired to operate the store while he was away.

Hub Small and his young family lived with his father, Guilford "Gilf" Small and mother, Jacaann Willoughby Small in the first few years of his marriage before operating a store in the Pleasant View area. They lived a short distance to the north of what is now Highway 23 about halfway between Ketchuptown and the intersection of Highways 23 and 917.

No roads were paved in those days. A wooden bridge provided access across Lake Swamp. The area was referred to as "over the swamp," depending on which side of the swamp you were on. Travel was by horse and buggy or wagon. Electricity was introduced in 1938 and the roads were paved around 1949-1950.

When Hub started his business at the crossroads, farmers began arriving on Saturday to trade at the store and talk with friends from other sections of the community. Oak trees across the road from the store provided a place to hitch the mules and horses. Many people could not afford the weekly paper from Mullins or Conway and others did not know how to read, so news was hard to come by. The southeast comer of the intersection served as a political stump meeting place for a couple of years.

Hub and Blanche Stroud Small had four children: Ruth Marie, Dewey Chalmer, Mable Lynn and Cecile Christine. Ruth was ten years old when her father built the house and store in 1927. Her job was to care for her baby sister, Cecile, so their mother could wait on customers while their father was away selling Raleigh products. He carried and sold flavoring, pie filling, medicines and liniments, etc. in his car, selling them from house to house. Hub traveled over a good portion of Horry and Marion Counties. In the summer it was convenient for Blanche to iron clothes on the front porch with a gas iron (no electricity was available at that time) and when she saw a customer coming, she would just step over to the store. A school house, which was in the location where Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church now stands, provided primary education for the Small kids and others. Mildred Nunamaker of West Columbia, SC, a teacher at the local school, was a boarder in the Small home. She worked in the store during the summer.

Many farmers bought on credit and the debt was settled in the fall when the crops were sold.

Around 1930 Hub began working for the News and Courier. He was the first person to deliver the paper in his area, and it was only delivered on Sunday. He often carried Ruth and some of her girl friends with him on this route.

As the children grew older, each took turns working in the store. While Ruth worked, she always had a pencil and paper in her hand. She liked to sketch a pretty "k" and would often write the word "Ketchuptown." As time passed, the spelling just seemed to conform.

Through the years, Hub took advantage of the opportunity to buy available farms. When his father died and the children inherited the land, he bought out his brother's part of the farm. He purchased land on each side of the store and several hundred acres from his uncle nearby on Highway 917. Hub added to his little store twice. During World War II he had a lucrative business selling pork, lard and homemade sausage from pigs he raised on his farm.

A railroad ran from Mullins over the Little Pee Dee River between Ketchuptown and Lake Swamp and ended somewhere in the eastern part of Horry County. Abundant timber in the area was hauled away on rail to a giant Schoolfield lumber mill in Mullins. The logging business brought many newcomers to the area from Sweden and Finland, including the Andersens, Becks, Lehtos and Lynns. Square dancing was a popular recreational activity for the loggers and the Swedes and Finns were often guests in the Small home on square dance evenings. Fiddle music was at times provided by Brice Shelley and Marshall Grainger. The 'Charleston' was popular and performed by some of the Small family and others.

Herbert Small died in 1949 at the age of 55. Blanche ran the store for a while and then rented the building to her son Chalmer, J. C. Willoughby and others. As roads improved and people began to travel to Mullins, Conway and Loris, the business declined. The store has had names such as "Korn Krib Kollectibles," and "Ketchuptown Videos," but is not presently being used. This does not imply that there is no Ketchuptown. If you look on an Horry County map at the intersection of Highways 99 and 23, you will find the name.

Ruth married Clifton Ham and brought up her family in the same house that her parents lived in. Their children are Joan Carolyn, Billie Lou, Jacquelyn Marie, Phillip Russel, Susan Blanche and Claudie Gayle. All live near Ketchuptown and all have families of their own.

Clifton Ham died on the same day of the year, October 25, that Hub died, 18 years later at the same age of 55. Ruth lives with Susan, her daughter and the daughter's family in the original house in the original location.

Some of the other residents in the area over time: Samuel Bertie Small, who lived right across the street from Hub and Blanche, now occupied by Mary Johnson, widow of Ralph Johnson; Corene Mincey, Paul Johnson; Helen Johnson; Carroll Owens; Alexander Owens; "Bud" Williams, "Bill" (Lady) Floyd; Phillip Ham; Carroll Collins; James Johnston; Danny and Vanessa Graham Cannon; Dayton and Ann Graham; and Don and Frances Strickland.

After Ira Quincy Gerrald died, Nina married Morgan Martin and a good portion of the land from Quincy's estate was purchased by Morgan's son, Lonnie. After Morgan died, Nina married a Hardee.

The Independent Republic Quarterly
Summer 1994, Pgs 5-6

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