Lum and Abner Museum and Jot 'Em Down Store
The two buildings that make up the Lum and Abner Museum and Jot ‘Em Down Store are the A. A. McKinzie General Store built in 1904 and the J. R. (Dick) Huddleston General Merchandise Store built in 1912 after fire damaged the 1909 structure. They stand on what was in the early twentieth century a crooked dirt road in the unincorporated community of Pine Ridge (Montgomery County). From 1931 to 1955, the Lum and Abner radio show was on the air, set in the Jot ‘Em Down Store in fictional Pine Ridge. In 1936, at the instigation of Dick Huddleston, the citizens of Waters changed the community’s name to Pine Ridge in honor of Lum and Abner. In the twenty-first century, the buildings in radio’s “Lum and Abner town” are the same simple one-room board-and-batten structures, still located between Oden (Montgomery County) and Cherry Hill (Polk County) on Arkansas Highway 88.
The McKinzie family sold merchandise from their peddler’s wagon while building their 18′ x 24′ store, which operated until 1930, continuing until 1943 with a new storekeeper. It became a house, then a hay barn in the 1950s when Huddleston bought it and moved it out of the path of the new paved highway. It became the Lum and Abner Museum in 1970 when Huddleston’s daughter Ethel gave it as a Christmas gift to the new owners of her late father’s store. It was placed next to the Huddleston Store, a hallway was built to join the buildings, and it was soon filled with displays of local artifacts and Lum and Abner radio memorabilia. More rooms were added as needed.
The 28′ x 48′ Huddleston store and the attached feed room still stand in the twenty-first century where they were built in 1912. Farm families in horse-drawn wagons came to Waters each Saturday to trade what they had, such as firewood, eggs, or labor, for what they needed. Huddleston brought new store merchandise from the Goff Warehouse in Mena (Polk County) twenty miles west, a two-day trip in horse-drawn wagons. Business rapidly increased in the 1930s and 1940s as tourists visited the community to meet the real “Lum and Abner town” residents and buy souvenirs. Huddleston died in 1963, but his daughter Ethel kept the store open.
In 1969, Ralph and Dorothy McClure bought the Huddleston Store and its contents from Ethel Huddleston Graham. They repaired the McKinzie Store and recreated the store fixtures to display the Huddleston merchandise and personal artifacts once owned by Chet “Lum” Lauck and Tuffy “Abner” Goff. McKinzie family artifacts were also displayed, although that store’s merchandise had been lost. The McClures collected and displayed local farm tools, household items, school and church records, newspaper articles, business journals, photographs, and much more, recreating the atmosphere of rural life in the early 1900s. The same souvenirs as Huddleston had sold were still made available in the gift shop. In April 1972, a dedication ceremony was held for the Lum and Abner Museum and Jot ‘Em Down Store, and on October 4, 1984, the buildings were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Beginning in 1979, the stores were owned and operated by Lon Stucker, son of Dorothy McClure, and his wife, Kathy Stucker. Historical artifacts, including the 1886 post office which is still active. Souvenirs and collectibles occupy every available inch of the floor, table, case, and wall space in both buildings, and Lum and Abner radio programs are played in the museum.
For additional information:
“Huddleston Store and McKinzie Store.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/MN0037.nr.pdf (accessed May 22, 2019).
Kathryn Moore Stucker
Lum and Abner Museum and Jot ‘Em Down Store
Last Updated: 05/22/2019