RED OAK, Okla. (KFOR) — Along the old road to Fort Smith, Arkansas going north from the Red River, The Edwards Store is the last stop before making the climb over ‘The Narrows’ in the San Bois Mountains.
It’s one of the oldest roads in the state, dating to the early 1800s, and the perfect spot to build a store in 1850.
Chrissy Gray Deckmeyer is the 6th generation of Edwards, then Hardaways, to own this little acreage east of modern Red Oak.
“I’ve heard stories from childhood,” she says.
It was Thomas Edwards who, in 1850, built a two room log cabin here then a store on the Butterfield stagecoach route.
“The store was right here,” she points, “in the very front.”
The cabin itself, the first two rooms, then an 1870 addition, and another in 1889, is in danger of falling apart.
A grant from the Oklahoma Historical Society saved the chimneys this year.
Chrissy and a cousin, Nannette Dellinger, are part of a team of neighbors and family trying to save this place, not just because of its historical importance, but because it was the center of their own lives growing up.
Nannette recalls, “I first came here with my grandmother about 1966 when I was 5 years old.”
“This has been home to me for many years now,” adds Chrissy.
From 1858 to 1861 travelers on the Butterfield stage stopped here for a 45 cent lunch and rest.
The crews changed horses, got the mail, and went on.
The Edwards Store was the center of Red Oak until the railroads came through and the post office moved with the town 8 miles east.
Chrissy’s granny lived here until the early 1980s then joined her ancestors in the pasture family plot next to the house.
The traffic over the mountain pass doesn’t come this way anymore.
But the history tells and amazing story of when it did, a story you can still touch on the hand hewn logs of a bygone convenience store.
Head over to the Red Oak Facebook page to learn more about the history of the Edwards Store or to get involved in its restoration.
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