In 1836, James Clarke Built this brick store across from the renowned Burwell-Morgan Merchant Mill, in the flourishing village of Millwood, Virginia. He began a tradition of serving locals and travelers alike that remains unbroken to this day.
A Little History…
When the great Shenandoah land rush of the 1730’s began, the heart of the lower valley already belonged to Robert “King” Carter, who left it to his Burwell descendents. Millwood, with its generous and vigorous Spout Run, was their local seat, and became the first and foremost manufacturing center of what was then eastern Frederick County (1792). The great “Merchant’s Mill” (built with Daniel Morgan in 1785) was its engine, run by shifts of six slaves, up to three shifts per day in periods of high demand. A store house for trade goods and slaves’ allotments of necessities was in place to the north of the mill by 1805, likely the log building directly next to the store. Millwood was largely a slave settlement until the Civil War, and many of those slaves descendants are our neighbors and customers today.
In 1836 James H. Clarke built a large frame house and a large brick store on separate Burwell lots, and in 1842 took title to them, beginning an unbroken succession of storekeeping here. This store would not have survived without the long and loving stewardship of our predecessors, including Phil and Oppie Cunningham, who started as employees at Locke and Co. in 1944, taking title to the premises in 1956. After a 58 year tenure of the Cunningham brothers, Juliet Mackay-Smith purchased the store in 2002, becoming only the seventh proprietor in the store’s 178 year history. For the past 12 years she has ushered in and developed yet another era of “modern country” for this charming and communal store in the historic village of Millwood, Virginia.
Chronological History of Locke Modern Country Store
1680-1842 “King Carter’s Burwell descendants moved here in the late 1700’s, built “Carter Hall”, and in 1785, with General Daniel Morgan, erected the historic ‘Great merchant’s Mill”, soon followed by “a large store house 90 feet from the north corner of the mill”.
1836-1868 James H. Clark built “a large brick store”. He took title in 1842,and operated a flourishing business until the Civil War, which financially ruined him.
1868-1885 Frank Stine bought the property and subdivided it, selling the brick store to ‘The Brocius brothers’ who served the community until 1877, when they resold it to W.W. Sprint.
1885-1917 The store was bought by the Cox family, who prospered through the turn of the century, until the end of the “Great War”.
1917-1950 B.B. McKay and Glen Burch, brothers-in-law, refreshed the store under their joint ownership. Burch withdrew after two years, but McKay continued by himself until 1931, when he took J.H. Locke as a business partner, in order to be able to spend more time with his farm and family. The joint enterprise was renamed “Locke and Company”. In 1944, teenagers Phillip (“Phil”) and Arthur (“Oppie”) Cunningham came to help at Locke and Company.
1950-1956 The Cunningham brothers continued at the store, employed by investor-owners, William West and Richard Dole, finally taking title in their own name in 1956.
1956-2002 Phil and Oppie Cunningham became legends in their time, relinquishing the store to the current ownership in 2002.