Little River-Academy, Texas



WRITTEN IN 1975 BY: Mrs. Ola Mae Evans Huckabee

  Four score and four years ago a general merchandise business was born in the small town of Little River, Texas, and it was to thrive for decades of ownership by the Evans family.
  Founded in 1892 by Joe E. Evans, title was transferred in 1913 to two of his brothers: George W. and C.L. Evans. George became the sole owner, and he operated the business until 1942 when he retired and sold the store and merchandise to his son-in-law (Leslie Huckabee) and daughter (Ola Mae). Mr. Huckabee had been working in the store since 1928.
   The Huckabees continued the operation for another three decades. They sold the store in May 1973 to Wayne Shirley of Temple, who converted the business to a highly successful and popular restaurant in 1974.
The building made of concrete blocks, was built in 1911, by Joe Evans. It is a 100 feet in length and 32 feet wide. The concrete blocks used in construction were made on the building site.
  In those horse and buggy days it was one of the most modern and well equipped country stores in the state of Texas. Located in the heart of one of the state's leading cotton producing counties, the Evans merchants catered to a vast credit business. Some landowners and virtually all of the tenant farmers would be extended credit from one cotton harvest to the next.
    There were a limited number of automobiles in those pre-World War I days, and the goods were transported by railroad or by mule drawn wagons from nearby Temple and Belton. Designed to serve the community in the best possible way, the owners offered a complete line of merchandise: groceries, dry goods, hardware, leather goods, shoes for all ages and both sexes, men's hats, shirts and work clothes, ammunition, fishing equipment, ice, meat, fruit, candy, and caskets, too!
  Flour and ice were shipped by rail (train) to Little River in carload lots in those days, and merchants from neighboring communities came by wagons to obtain these commodities as well as others. Even drummers, later termed traveling salesman, traveled by train until the automobiles became a more convenient mode.
  Hitching rails were available on three sides of the two story store,( two of the original hitching rails remain at the front of the building today). The first gasoline pump in Little River was not installed until about 1915. The advent of the automobile and improved highways in the late 1920's had a tremendous effect on the general merchandise business. Groceries became the backbone of the business, although sales were still good for work clothes, dry goods, and hardware until after World War II.
Once the people in the community found they could purchase their needs at less cost in the ever increasing supermarkets, the grocery business declined. The share-cropping also became extinct and with it went the big credit business of the early days of the 20th century. The way of life changed sharply in the area and many who had made their living on the farm were working instead at either Temple, Belton, or Fort Hood.
  Mrs. Huckabee started as a full time clerk for her father (George W. Evans) on, January 1, 1921, and she continued to work in the same store until she and her late husband sold the business, May 11, 1973. Fifty-two years!
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