Who is Mr. Eller you may ask???
He is the gentleman who built the current building that houses our hardware store in 2022. Mr. Eller placed his business, as you may have guessed, in our current building on the corner of 10th Street and D Street in North Wilkesboro.
To our best known facts, the building dates back to 1905. Mr. EE Eller was a premier poultry & produce dealer in North Wilkesboro. EE Eller Produce Co. was one of the largest turkey, and chicken wholesalers. EE Eller was a major processing center for local farmers to bring turkeys/chickens into North Wilkesboro. Ironically, it was probably one of the first poultry processing plants in our town.
Farmers would literally herd their turkeys from down the mountains in Ashe, Watauga, and Alleghany Counties in order to collect the cash proceeds from their labor filled task.
Eller’s staff would process/sell their flock. Could you imagine the sight that it must have been??? All of the sudden the flock of turkeys appeared on the roads in Wilkes!!!! Men guiding them with corn along the way, flocks of turkeys gobbling, wobbling with wings flying everywhere!!!! I would imagine that the sight of this was pretty common in the early 1900’s in rural Wilkes County. I bet the turkeys never suspected any “fowl play” on their journey. The old newspaper article did say that one of the largest turkey drives that ever was processed by Mr. Eller was 1,500 turkeys in one drive!!!
Once a flock of turkeys arrived at EE Eller Produce, they were processed/ dressed for shipped via train. Our local train station was just down the street from our current store location. The train destinations were mostly in Northern states after leaving the North Wilkesboro station. According to local oral history, it is estimated that Mr. Eller processed at his height of business, 1 million chickens and turkeys!!!! Guess that was all “gravy” for him after that!!!!
I have written about the history of our store before but, new facts have come to light! Let’s “de-feather” this poultry truth!
To those loyal readers of my blog, this will be new information for you. All the “plucky” truth, as we know it… A few months back, we were lucky to have a few family members of Mr. Eller to drop in for a quick visit. Up high on the wall held 4 pictures of what we had thought were the past 4 owners of the building, but it was ultimately revealed that the charcoal drawing on the far left was not Mr. EE Eller.
Further reading and research has revealed that Mr. Eller moved from the corner of 10th and D Street building to Forester Avenue in 1941 to a larger location. Wilkes Hardware moved into the 10th Street location sometime later on, I haven’t been able to determine a definite date yet but we know it was sometime in the 1940’s.
It was fascinating to “pluck out” the facts about the origins of this historic building we currently reside in each day. As time allows, I’ll continue to research more about the history of Wilkes Hardware and even Mr. Eller. For now, I think we have “gobbled up” a few new fascinating facts about our historic past.