By Marcia Cole Huffman

Cole's Store was estalished in the early 1900s in western Putnam County, TN by Dr. Phylander Sylvester Cole, my great grandfather. 

The store served as a general store offering plow points, model t tires, shoes, meal from the Cole family owned grist mill, candy, coal oil, gas, tools, clothes, etc. 

The store also often served as Dr. Phylander Sylvester Cole's doctor's office, a polling place, one of the first gas stations in western Putnam County,  and a post office.  It also served  as a marriage location since Dr. Cole; one of his sons, Vanderbilt; and one of his grandsons, Robert W. Cole Jr, served as Justices of the Peace who performed marriages as well as their other legal duties.   The store also served as hunter's registration location, bus stop, and whittler's gathering place. 

Dr. Cole was born on 23 Oct 1864 and died 24 Dec 1926.  He was the son of William R. Cole and Jane Tollison.  He first married Martha Cameron.  After Martha's death, he married Sarah Elizabeth Whitehead Cole who was born 22 Jan 1861 and died 23 Nov 1935.   She was the daughter of George Whitehead and Mandy Manners Whitehead. 

Dr. P.S. Cole had 2 daughters, Dora and Sarah C. Cole, with his first wife, Martha.  He had two sons, Robert W. Cole and Vanderbilt Cole.

Sarah Cole married Oscar Jack Maddux.  They had 6 children.  Dora Cole also married a Maddux and they had 2 children.

Robert W. Cole married Callie Bates Cole and they had 2 daughters, Lillian and Sarah Isabell Cole, and 3 sons, William P. Cole, Robert W. Cole, Lonzo Bethel Cole*.

Vanderbilt Cole married Margie Judd Cole and they had had one son, Robert Fred Cole.

Dr. Cole first ran the store according to the census, then apparently turned it over to both sons.  However, Robert W. Cole died very early.

Vanderbilt Cole and his wife, Margie Judd Cole, ran the store for years after Dr. Cole died in 1926.

Vanderbilt Cole's only son, Robert Fred Cole, and his wife, Kate Hutchinson Cole, ran the store until Robert Fred died.  Barbara Cole was their only daughter; and Sheila Cole was Barbara's only daugther.  Both loved the store as much as I do.  However, neither chose to run the store. 

Joe and Sue Stout leased the store from Kate Cole and renamed it Cole's Country Store.*

David and Donna Winchester Bowman leased the store next for a short period of time.

Danny and Joanne Garrison leased the store next for a short period of time. 

Bunny and Dennis Morgan leased the store from December 1998 to December 1999.

All of the above operated the store as a market.  From 1999-2018 it has been closed. 


On May 26, 2018, Marcia Cole Huffman, daughter of Alberta Gibson Cole and Lonzo Bethel Cole, grandson of Dr.P.S. Cole, bought and reopened the store.  Volunteers made this all happen: sister, Kathy Cole, cousin Carolyn Sue Cole, and friends, Pam Edenfield, Chuck Nunally, Ben Brewington, and many, many more!  From August 2018 until March 2020 (COVID shutdown) Tish Judd Hamby, managed and was the chef at the store.  Tish is the grand daughter of the previous owners of L&J Market (which was Alexander's Store) another country store in Baxter, TN. 

In June 2021 Houston Jared reopened the store.  Houston's wife, Lana, is a cousin to the Cole family via Sarah Whitehead, Dr. Cole's wife.  Houston is a local pastor and his wife is the Baxter pharmacist. 

Cole's Store now offers vintage americana, BBQ, plate lunches, pinto beans and cornbread, baloney sandwiches, peanuts in bottled Coke, Blue Bell ice cream, home made desserts, and most importantly, a place to meet friends and family. 



I, Marcia Cole Huffman, lived in Dr. P.S. Cole's homeplace, 3 houses west of the store when I was a child.   Even after I moved away, I continued to visit the store all my life even after it was closed.  Some of the photos on the website were taken in mid 1970s by my best friend, Pam Ferency Edenfield.  There was nothing like driving west on highway 70 on all those curves to the store in my little convertible for a baloney sandwich and coke in a bottle.  Pam was the first to send me photos of the store, and she was there with me the day I opened the store May 26, 2018 as well as my sister, Kathy Cole Smith, and my first cousin, Carolyn Sue Cole Shanks.  Kathy Cole Smith, Kay Bain, Pam Edenfield, Chuck Nunally, and David Frounfelker also drove up and surprised me the day I bought the store and have been very supportive since that first day!  Larry Goolsby went into the then dangerous building with me before I bought it; he has since ftrequntly supported the store by playing the banjo for guests, etc. 

As a child, I remember walking to the store in the afternoon so I could meet Dad as he stopped by there on his way home.  Robert Fred would let me pick one piece of candy from the candy case on the right as one came in the door.  I really like orange slices!  I remember Aunt Marge and Aunt Kate always having a sweater on. Aunt Kate would rock me and let me put my arms around her underneath the sweater. It was so warm and comforting.  That is what I want the store to be now - warm and comforting.


*Store Managers - Joe and Sue Stout 


 For 12 years, Joe and Sue Stout operated Cole’s Store as Cole's Country Roads Store. They ran the store after Robert Fred Cole passed. I have known Joe and Sue for over 50 years; they were WONDERFUL people. I knocked on their door unannounced the day after I bought the store in 2018. They invited me in with open arms and shared their knowledge of the store. Shortly after, Sue brought the store the original coffee grinder that Aunt Kate had given her. Sadly, Joe passed the day we put the sign back up outside. I asked Sue often if we could have a Joe and Sue Day at the store. Her humble spirit would say no. People ask about them weekly. Just last week someone said they remember a mounted backside of a deer and rattlesnake eggs. Joe had a sense of humor! Sue was an angel. Anita Sue Stout, 80 of MartinsCreek Community passed Wednesday, March 4, 2020, at her home. She was born Sunday, September 3, 1939 in Christopher, Illinois. She was the daughter of the late James and Evelyn (Stewart) Dye. Sue attended Bethany Methodist Church. She was a good cook, card player, and loved to play badminton. She also loved watching the Atlanta Braves while drinking her sweet tea from Mickey D's. She married the love of her life, Joe on September 22, 1956 and was a devoted wife and caregiver until his death. Mr. Stout passed away Thursday, April 12, 2018. {He passed the day we put back up the sign to open Cole’s Store again!} He was born Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1933, in Granville, to the late Clifford Dewey Stout and Sallie B. Huff Stout. Mr. Stout retired as director of manufacturing for Georgia Boot Division of U.S. Industries. Under his leadership, he led the employees to the distinction of producing the most Process 82, boots/shoes, in the world. A patent was obtained by the company in his name, "Stout Giant" soles, used in production. He retired at age 50 to pursue his true love of farming and fishing. He is survived by his son, Jerry Morgan Stout; daughter, Amy (Jeff) Allison; grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by infant daughter, Anita Jo Stout; three brothers, James, Taylor, and Dewey Stout; two sisters, Nell Carter and Cyna Thompson McCormick; niece, Brenda Alexander; and nephew, Ronnie Carter.


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