Lesson Plan: Overview

Buying, Selling, and Trading in Antebellum South Carolina

Grade Level: High School
1825 Mills Map of SC

Academic Standards

Standard USHC-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the westward movement and the resulting regional conflicts that took place in America in the nineteenth century.

3.3 Compare the economic development of different regions of the country during the early nineteenth century, including agriculture in the South, industry and finance in the North, and the development of new resources in the West.

Social Studies Literacy Elements
No literacy elements available for this lesson plan.
Essential Questions

1. How do general stores, especially in rural areas of South Carolina, flourish and sustain a community?

2. Why are the stores in Society Hill and Horatio successful even though they lack a major railroad?

Historical Background Notes

All throughout the United Sates the general store was important to the development of communities, towns and cities. This could not be more evident in the state of South Carolina where towns flourished or withered because of their dependence on such stores. Two stores in the Darlington and Sumter Districts during the early 1800’s are excellent examples; the Coker & Rogers Store in Society Hill and the Lenoir Store in Horatio. Both flourished for over one hundred and fifty years and the Lenoir Store is still open, dating back to before 1808 (South Carolina Postcards: Volume X). The Coker & Rogers store opened in 1839 and closed its doors in 1963 (Public Document from Darlington Historical Society).

These two stores flourished for several reasons. Each store is located near a major river thus allowing goods to be delivered for sale via barges and steamboats. The Lenoir Store in the Horatio community is near the Wateree River that flows past the all-important city of Camden. Watercrafts laden with goods from Charleston and the Low Country made their way northward and a stop was made to stock this store. The Coker & Rogers Store in Society Hill is also adjacent to another major river, the Great Pee Dee. Here, commerce flourished as Society Hill was the first settlement in the Darlington District and Pee Dee region. The town is near the border of three counties: Darlington, Marlboro and Chesterfield thus adding to its importance. Each location lacks direct access to major railroads and therefore depends on the river.

The two stores are very similar in that they both provided their customers with just about every kind of consumer product available at the time. Everything from boots, food stuffs of all kinds, tools, farm equipment and household items were available to its customers. These items sustained a substantial population to keep the areas inhabited and contributed to their growth over a period of time. For example, a bill dating back to 1948, the Coker and Rogers Store includes oatmeal, cheese, rice, sugar, oranges, grits and Juicy Fruit gum were offered (C & R Receipt Document). It can be inferred that other items besides food were still available at the time as the store advertises themselves as “dealers in general merchandise”. One can still walk into the Lenoir Store and find candy, bottled water, farm tools such as shovels, hoes, as well as canned fruits and vegetables. The appearance of the store has changed little and walking in immediately gives a person the feeling of “stepping back in time”.

While there are other stores in each region, these two stores prospered longer and became important because they served very rural areas. Both are relatively far from “major” cities and became centers of communities. They were not just a place to purchase goods in an ever growing consumer society that evolved during the nineteenth century, but were also a place for socializing and entertainment. Whether in the state of Maine or South Carolina, these stores brought people together just as the mega-stores of today do. Lost though, is the personal attention that so many people crave with the old fashioned general stores such as the afore mentioned. Mrs. Lenoir, the sixth generation owner can still sit for hours and chat with a visitor and revel in the grand history that is both hers and the communities.


Primary Sources

Photo of Lenoir Store in Lenoir, South Carolina. Photo taken by Traylor Disbrow. 2009, Lenoir, SC (see Buying, Selling and Trading in Antebellum SC) .

Photos of reproduction county store in Columbia, South Carolina. South Carolina State Museum, Columbia, South Carolina. Photos taken by Traylor Disbrow, 2008. (Large PDF file, 42 MB)

Mills’ Atlas of the State of South Carolina. 1825 Edition. Map Collection. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina. Sumter and Darlington.

An inventory for the Bill of the Coker & Rogers store,” 1948. Darlington County Historical Commission, Darlington, South Carolina

“A Joint Resolution.” 14 February 1950. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.

Interview with Mrs. Lenoir (conducted in person)

Secondary Sources

Lenoir Store, Sumter County (3240 Horatio, Rd., Horatio). National Register Properties in South Carolina. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina. 14 February 2009.

A Brief History of the Coker and Rogers Store. Darlington County Historical Commission, Darlington, South Carolina.

Woody, Howard and Alan D. Thigpen. South Carolina Postcards: Volume X, Sumter County. A Brief History of the Lenoir Store. Arcadia Publishing, 2005.


• personal computer

• LCD data projector

• handouts, including photos, brief histories, see A Brief History of the Coker and Rogers Store and A Brief History of the Lenoir Store

• map of the state (optional)

Lesson Plans


1. Engage the students in a brief discussion about general stores in the United States, especially in the early 1800’s as the nation began to move away from homemade goods to depending on manufactured goods as a result of the Industrial revolution. (4 min)

2. Begin the PowerPoint entitled “Buying, Selling and Trading in Antebellum SC” and give another brief description of the role that these stores had during the time period to further the discussion. Use the PowerPoint to detail the contents of a typical store as displayed by the State Museum in Columbia (summer 2008). (4 min)

3. Introduce to the students the two stores featured in the lesson and describe their proximity to their hometown in the Pee Dee region. Note their location in small towns and relation to rivers while lacking a major railroad. (4 min)

4. Continue showing them modern day images of both stores and discussing their usefulness. At this point, pass out the secondary document that contains the brief histories, see A Brief History of the Coker and Rogers Store and A Brief History of the Lenoir Store, of the two stores. Allow the students to read these to themselves for 4 minutes. Then pass out the primary document from the Coker & Rogers Store bill from 1948 and discuss its contents. Ask the students to study it for a few minutes and lead them in a discussion of its contents. (8 min)

5. Allow the students a few minutes to copy four questions from the PowerPoint and allow them to answer them in class, if time permits. They are as follows 1) What is the importance of these stores to the rural towns and areas they survived? 2) Why are these stores called “general” stores? 3) How is their location important to their success or failures? 4) How are stores like these similar to mega-stores of today and how are they different? These too can be answered in class and discussed in either small groups or with the entire class.

6. Assign the essay that is described on the last slide. This needs to be typed and turned in the following day. (Make accommodations for students who may not have access to a computer and/or printer.)

7. Extension: When teaching this lesson, it would be good to incorporate the inventions on the late 1800’s that would have been available at these kinds of stores. These include safety pins, balloons, kaleidoscopes, tin cans, and so on. I have my students draw advertisements for each of these and post them in the room. This can be part of the assignment or done for extra credit. Either way, they gain an understanding of how and when some of these common items came into use.

Teacher Reflections

The TAHSC Institute and its workload have been challenging and enjoyable. I will admit that the demands of teaching and family caused this project to take a “backseat” for a while however, I did revisit it several times with a good bit of enthusiasm leading up to the teaching of my lesson. When I first heard of the TAHSC program, I was keen on learning as much as I could about local history of the Pee Dee. I reasoned that this would be beneficial to my teaching as I could make the subject more interesting and applicable to my kids since it was based around our region of the state. There are some things I would have done differently looking but I am happy with the professional growth I have experienced. One thing I should have done was to take copious notes from Dr. Witherspoon and some of the presenters. I was able to obtain some great ideas and handouts that have helped my teaching and I am glad for these.

Overall, my lesson was also a good experience as I was able to create it from scratch with adequate guidelines. My WOW fell short of what I wanted as I had just seven teachers attend and their participation was a little less than what I would call “active”. On the bright side, I did receive some good feedback at least verbally. The WOW presentation went well as I highlighted the lesson and its usefulness but I think the timing was less than ideal. I did it during the afternoon of a half day for students at 2:30 and I think my audience had “mentally checked out for the day”. Many of us were tired from the usual events of being at school and we had just suffered the final results of the End of Course test; oh well.

As far as my experiences with researching my lesson and formulating the lesson itself, I feel like they were good. The idea for my lesson kind of “hit me” about the middle of the second week. A majority of my research was done at the Darlington County archives as I was most unfamiliar with the Rogers and Coker store in Society Hill. The other focus of the lesson was in Sumter County as I was already very familiar with the history of the Lenoir Store. There were very few records on the Rogers and Coker store so I basically snatched up all I could in Darlington. These were documents that were “loose” as opposed to a compiled history. As far as the Lenoir store goes, some of the information was available in a book while a state historical marker gave some insightful information. (Imagine that, learning from a highway marker! They do serve a purpose!) A brief interview was also conducted with the eighth generation family member that works at the store in January.

Being exposed to the various archives, the cultural institutions and the primary documents from the TAHSC has really been helpful to my teaching. Instead of just telling my students about the past events, these provide them with real-life examples of the past. I can tell them all about the story of the Stono Rebellion and the repercussions but to be able to show them the documents that took away the slaves’ rights makes the story more “real” and “legitimate.” The Slave Codes of 1740 allow the kids to see in writing, whether the photo copy of the original or the typed, demonstrate how serious South Carolina’s problems with slaves and their behavior had become. These help with teaching in small groups or even in lecture. It adds a degree of “legitimacy” to the lessons and I think the kids appreciate my taking the time to show them these. It seems kind of ridiculous that I had not used documents like these in my lessons prior to be being a part of the institute! Primary sources are actually easy to get your hands on as I have learned.

Having been through the institute, developed and taught a lesson, I think I have become a better teacher. As I researched my topic, the more I felt the interest of getting my hands on primary sources. The hunt for these peaked my interest in history and I really felt a zeal for history and knowledge that I have not felt since college. While the research I did for those two weeks was minor compared to my college years or for what I may do for a more involved lesson, I kind of caught “the research bug” again. I really got in to looking for more information than was apparently available. As a result I unfortunately, had trouble finding more than I already had. This is probably because my lesson is a little unusual. The two stores I focused on are important in the minimal sense and there simply are not volumes on the subjects of my lesson. I could have expanded my lesson to include other towns and stores, the importance of the railroads and such, so I do kind of regret not widening the scope.

Probably the one thing that made me not add more to the lesson was the notion that my lesson is not exactly of the most importance. The lesson is interesting and useful to some degree, but having learned what types of questions are on the End of Course Test for American History students, I doubt it will really help many students score better on the test. Then again, I suppose you could question the validity of any lesson such as showing the opening scene of the movie Saving Private Ryan but it does give the students an insight to the horrors of the invasion of Omaha Beach.

I am proud of my work, the way the lesson went, the way the kids responded and such but I guess I am jaded by the fact that we have to “teach to the test”. Don’t get me wrong, I will gladly offer my lesson to any teacher with the hopes that it will be useful and interesting to the kids! It is a valid lesson that is supported by the standards and indicators and I hope it makes it on the institute’s website. My lesson gives the students a look in to the past of the region’s more notable general stores. The store in Horatio is still in operation after eight generations and nearly two hundred years! How awesome is that? I know I contradicted myself by questioning the usefulness of my lesson and then defended it, but having reconsidered the importance of applying primary documents and current photos of such historic establishments is pretty cool. During the lesson, the teacher can present to the students a map of South Carolina from 1825, photos of stores that are over a hundred years old and older, bills to be paid from an unknown South Carolinian from our region of the state for various items that we are familiar with and the students are able to get a good idea of what buying, selling and trading was like during the Antebellum period in South Carolina. These documents, accounts and photos all allow the learner to gain a better understanding of our past.

The students’ responses from the lesson were pretty good. I received some good essays and they were able to recount things I said in the lesson as well as make some of the “connections” that I was hoping for. The students kind of noticed that the lesson was special to me and of course having two visitors during the first teaching of the lesson made the experience a little different.

I do feel that I have not covered “every angle” of the lesson and would love to add more to it in the future. I kind on limited myself on the number of stores and examples but still like what I came up with. If I had “lots of time on my hands”, I could see myself expanding upon the scope of the lesson. I would love to find out about stores from the different regions of the state and compare and contrast them. I am sure that about every town in South Carolina has a store or establishment that shares the same important characteristics as the two I researched. Maybe when my kids are “all grown” I will be able to do more research.

I have grown a bit professionally as a result of the class. I am again “in love” with American history and feel that I have had my best year as a teacher as a result. I have new strategies, more documents both primary and secondary and I really feel good about my content knowledge. I would actually like to do the program again; if not this summer, then the next. I have encouraged some other teachers to take part in the program and would like to see it continue to be successful in the future.

Probably the neatest thing to come of the institute was learning about a grant from Target. I applied for a grant of $700 to visit the slave cabins at Francis Marion University along with a presentation from Kitty Evans. She impressed me so much during her performance during the institute that I decided to include her in my field trip. I will be sure to let you know how this turned out.

Student Assessment

Grade the student’s essay based on the following:

  • typed=10 points
  • addresses each of the questions=20 points
  • covers the histories of each store and their importance of their locations=20 points 

Examples of Students Work

Student Essay

Student Essay 2

Student Advertisement

Student Advertisement 2


Jason Brewer
West Florence High
Florence, South Carolina