The Nance-Major Store was built by Julia Nance-Major and Edward Major.
The house and store face south across Courthouse Road toward the circa
1750 Charles City Courthouse. The general store provided dry goods,
sundries, agricultural supplies, and tools that were necessary to
support the local agricultural economy. Because of its close proximity
to the Charles City Courthouse. Birth and death certificates were
issued, and caskets were sold. The store provided informal banking
services by providing cash on credit, by cashing checks, and by issuing
money orders. The store also functioned as an early welfare agency by
providing food and sundries on credit to indigent residents, charges
that were later reimbursed by the county. Before private telephones
became widely available, a public telephone was located in the store.
The store also served as the county post office for nearly half a
century. County residents remember the store as the most well-known and
prosperous general store in the county. During various periods, the
Major family operated a blacksmith shop, a livery, a gas station, an
automotive and tire repair shop, and an ice delivery service,
acknowledged in the 1875 account book, the year the store was granted a
An inventory list signed by W.N. Major in 1919 itemizes tobacco on hand: chewing, 41 pounds; smoking, 32 pounds; cigarettes, 16 hundred; cigars, 423.
The most common sales entry in the ledger books from the 1870s was for whiskey. One drink, sometimes listed in the ledger books as “a gill of whiskey”, cost 10 cents in 1878. A gill is an English measurement, equivalent to 4.5 ounces. Store sales averaged between two and three dollars.
occasional entries for corsets, lemons, lamp chimneys, vials of
peragoric and vermafer, boots, and castor oil. Most individual items
sold for 5, 10, 20, 45, or 50 cents.
The store not only sold goods but also provided other services. Ledger entries include charges for hauling, for the payment of taxes and clerk tickets on the behalf of customers, for transport by buggy, and for cash loans. There are numerous listings that show some customers paid their account balances in hours of labor.
Typical items listed on the courthouse account in1878 included shoes, tobacco, plums, eggs, crackers, bacon and herrings. A sample entry for a county-subsidized account from 1882 lists: bacon, 15 cents; flour, 25 cents; sugar, 10 cents; cologne, 5 cents; and tobacco, 5 cents
At the time of the first Federal census in 1790, the population of the county was 5,588. Today it is just 6,926.
. The last of the Major family to own the house and store complex were Ann Weaver Major and Edward Major who acquired the property in 1987. They lived in the house for nearly two decades, but the store was used only for storage. Edward Major was born in the first floor bedroom in 1920. He died in the same room in 2000. In 2005, Ann Major sold the house and store complex to Jim Daniels who plans to transform the house into a bed-and-breakfast inn and the store into a restaurant.
OMB No. 1024-0018
United States Department of the Interior, National Register of Historic Places