Ten Mile: It truly is the greatest place on earth. If Andy Griffith's Mayberry existed it would be right here. Sitting on the front porch of the store most cars will stop and "catch up." The atmosphere is a caring, energetic, and industrious group of people. The area is known to harbor many walkers, runners cyclist, and the cloppity clop of the Amish horses going by.
How Did Ten Mile Get it's Start?
Originally Ten Mile was not Ten Mile. The original town was called La Porte. A French term meaning "gateway" or "door." Given the French origin of the town name, it is possibly it pre-dates some of the known records that we have. The first English speaking people to settle what was La Porte was William Griffin in about 1839. A post office, mill, churches, and store were established. As time progressed the town eventually moved a bit west to it's current location.
The Name Ten Mile
The store sits on a property originally homesteaded by a man named Rambo (no joke) in the year 1848. This is the same year the Mexican-American War ended. Further research will tell if it was payment for service. In 1856 a store was built where the current one stands. No one can truly pinpoint when the name was changed to Ten Mile or why. Theories include it being named after the small creek nearby Ten Mile creek. Or, that it was ten miles from Clarence, Macon, and Atlanta (nearby towns). Regardless, it is an unusual name that attracts some attention.
The Current Store
There is little record of the 1856 structure that was once here. However, a story has been told that it was razed in 1902. A man was seen on horseback with two lanterns going by the first house east of the store. A few minutes later he was seen galloping without the lanterns heading east. Fire had destroyed the store. The store was then rebuilt in 1902. Interestingly, the store had severe financial issues. It went through 57 owners between 1902-1946.
Perry R. Hays
In 1946 Perry R. Hays returned from the war. The Belt family had kept the store through the war (a very trying time with government red tape) because Perry wanted to procure it upon his return. He sold everything that a small country store would sell during this time period. He and his wife Martha would go on to have three children. They lived in the back of the store in the living quarters. A common practice during the time (be sure to ask about seeing it when you visit.) Eventually, they would buy the house directly to the north of the store, and it was a great fit. In 1966 Perry along with Ortho fertilizer constructed the large building to the east of the store. It is divided into six separate stalls with treated tongue and groove lumber. It has the capacity to hold 600 ton of dry fertilizer.
In 1969 Perry struck a deal with Port-A-Hut hog huts. He controlled 5-6 states with the sale of Port-A-Hut hog huts. As of 1996 he had sold 64,616.
A Dawn of A New Chapter
In 2009 Wade and Megan King bought the store and home. Perry had been gone for nearly 10 years. The only life that remained was the card game (to be spoken of in a bit). Initially, they were only going to sell antiques. However, they took on selling dog food and realized they would have to have set hours in order to run a successful business. So, for 10 years the King family has opened the store every Saturday from 10-5 as both work full time as teachers. The business exploded. They now distribute dog food to 10+ stores, carry a full line of livestock feed, sell fencing supplies, have the largest selection of gates in NE Missouri, cattle mineral, baling supplies, and have recently added items like grease, rake teeth, hardware, etc...Additionally, they keep the old time feel but still selling a wide array of antiques.
No one can speak of Ten Mile without talking cards. It is said that we have had a game of 7 point cut throat pitch since the store was built. We have pictures that pretty well prove this. Upon Perry's death a group of local card players wished to keep the tradition alive. Everyday at noon (the same as all the year's Perry was running the store) a group of locals would come in, fire up the wood stove and play pitch. In the last couple of years, that tradition has become increasingly difficult with an aging population. Many of the guys that played cards are now dead and gone. The tradition is not dead. Occasionally, a few of the old players along with kids, and grand kids come in on a Saturday night to play.
Rural American Tradition
A store has been here since 1856. The current one since 1902. The structure has seen the St. Louis World's Fair, WWI, the Depression, WWII, man walking on the moon, the internet. Most importantly, it has witnessed the multi-generational struggles and triumphs of our ancestors. It has somehow managed to remain a constant stay in our lives in an increasingly changing world.