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Pointer Brothers Store and Bena Post Office

Comments from an Interview with Marion Clements

by Phyllis Blount and Roger C. Davis


James Edgar Pointer, Sr. (1876-1952) married 1st, Lucy Lillie Minor and they had a son, James Edgar Pointer, Jr. (now living in Williamsburg, VA).  He married 2nd, Emma Jean Daniel on 7 April 1945 and their daughter is Marion Minor Pointer Porter Clements.

In the early years (1904-1939) James Edgar, Sr. and his brother, William DuVal Pointer ran the store as Pointer Brothers.  William and his wife, Ruth, lived about a mile from the store down Mark Pine Road (Route 648).  Edgar and Lillie lived in the house next to the store.  In 1952 the building was moved back for the road widening.  J. Edgar left the store in 1948 before his death in 1952.

Marion Clements is named after Mary Marion Minor, daughter of John William Minor and Sarah Jane Mooring.  John Minor built the home “Riverside” on the river near Bena and the large house with all the windows near White Marsh (old Hickory Fork house) behind the Post Office at White Marsh.  The Milligans used to live there and then John Wyatt.

Emma Jean Daniel was in Richmond taking some typing and shorthand courses about 1943.  Mr. Kenney, who was superintendent of schools in Gloucester for many years was in Richmond looking for a teacher for Achilles to replace someone who left in the middle of the year.  He found Emma Jean at Smithfield Massey and talked her into coming to Achilles High School to help for the rest of the year.  She boarded with Mrs. Milton Harris whose house is at Tidemills Bridge and Sarah Creek.

Just before going back to South Carolina for the Holidays, Emma Jean got Edgar Pointer to cash a check for her.  It seems she wrote it on a wrong account and the check bounced.  After she came back he called on her to “go riding or whatever they did then.”  He never mentioned the check, but she found out from a friend in South Carolina about the bad check and was apologetic to Edgar and made the check good.  That’s how their courtship started.  They were married about a year later in 1945 and then Edgar died seven years later in 1952.

The store was constructed in 1904 with the open ceiling in the center section.  The ceiling area would be closed over in winter to save the heat downstairs.  In the summer it would be opened up again.

Taylor Maryus Minor worked at the store for many years.  He was a chef and had worked at a number of hotels in North Carolina and at Norfolk before coming to Bena.  His son, Gerald Minor, was interviewed by Marion Clements and Jennie Woo in 1997.  His memories are reflected in this following information.  Gerald came to Bena at age 7 after his Mother died in May.

After Lillie Minor Pointer stopped using the west side wing (now Bena Post Office) for a sewing and hat shop, Taylor Minor started a lunch room.  It was called Minor’s Lunch.  Pork chops and baked chicken were a specialty.

Gerald Minor tells the “true” story that people were eating lunch in the diner while the store was being moved back to widen the road in 1952.  His Father warned his customers to be careful when they went out the door because the steps were no longer there.

Some little known facts about the store:

  • Edgar raised hogs.  There was a smoke-house out back where they smoked pork ribs and chops.

  • Russell Armstrong (black man) did handy work there.

  • In the side building (Deal Tax Service), one space had an egg room; another had a pump and sink in back room.  Shot gun shells were kept over the sink.  A nail room was at rear (now a bath).

  • Edgar would go to Baltimore just before Christmas to purchase Christmas stock for the store.

  • A wood stove was in the middle of the store.  They burned coal most of the time.

  • There were vinegar and molasses tanks in the store so they could pump small amounts into jars.

  • There were empty capsules into which grains of quinine were placed for medication.  

  • They sold lemon and vanilla extract, cloth from rolls, boots, shoes, pants, knickers, “gum boots” (the white boots not yet here), rain gear, fish hooks, anchors, crab nets, auto tires, horse bits, horse collars, and bilge pumps.

  • The combination to the safe was 50-0-50!!

  • Men played dominoes at night.

  • John Thomas Cook helped with farming chores; Sydney Smith built a 65 ft. boat out in the yard; Julias Edwards built cabinets in the store at one time; Patricia Williams worked at the store.

When Pointer Brothers was dissolved, a number of people leased and tried to run the store, including John Fedors and Faber Mershon.  Ownership of the building always stayed with Edgar Pointer’s heirs.  Today the Bena Post Office, Mo’s Stuff (gifts and framing) and Deals Tax Service occupy the building.  It is all open for a visit!  


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Last Updated  Friday, 30 January 2004 06:20 PM