The Stokes General Store in Wind Ridge
By Colleen Nelson
A settler named Daniel O’Neil took title to a piece of land known as Elk Ridge in 1784 that would one day be a town in Greene County, Pennsylvania. As more settlers arrived on the western side of the ridge, they had to drive their herds of cattle, pigs and sheep to a river source and ship off to market. Often, the shortest way to the river was to climb Elk Ridge.
The muddy track through Elk Ridge gradually began to turn into a town called Jacksonville, with blacksmith shops, stores and inns. In 1849, the post office was named Wind Ridge because there was already a Jacksonville somewhere else in the state, But the nickname Jacktown has stuck, thanks to the Jacktown Fair which livens things up considerably every third week in July.
With the 1870s oil boom, hotels and even a beer garden are added. Wind Ridge had hotels, fine Victorian houses and a wide variety of shops and services, from general stores, feed mills and dressmaking shops to blacksmiths, tool makers and buggy builders lining the ridge leading up from the fairgrounds.
Harry Braddock ran a general store and hardware store, joined together with a vestibule in the early days of the 20th century. Harry was known for being willing to give credit the old-fashioned way, letting farmers run up credit until the crops were sold, then starting the tab over again.
When Paul and Amy Stokes took over the Braddock Store in the 1970s, Harry showed them the ropes and helped them get their start.
Now Paul and Amy’s son and daughter-in-law, Adam and Diane Stokes, carry on Harry’s neighborliness with a little bit of everything for sale, at Stokes General Store. It’s this kind of gathering place that every small town needs to stay alive, including gas pumps and a family-run deli.
And if you look carefully while pumping gas, you’ll see evidence of where the flagpole was planted by the front steps. The lot was originally Richhill Township High School. The school was razed but the basement was still intact when Paul and Amy Stokes first bought the property and built the store on top of it.
If you look across the road, you’ll see an empty lot where a dilapidated house once stood. The Stokes own it now and have turned it into garden space with a food box for the community. There’s that good vibe of a small town doing the right things to keep a community alive.
The building that was once the Braddock hardware store is now the Stokes’ family home.
“The upstairs is all modernized, but the downstairs is the way it used to be,” Adam says. “The old hardware, claw foot tub, fixtures, everything.”
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Be neighborly. Stop by Stokes General Store to gas up and grab something delicious to take on your road trip.