A step back in time… A visit to the Jeffery Community to visit days gone by

By Terry Simpson
Some places are so rich in history that you can almost feel it.
If you stop for a moment in this rushed life, we sometimes need to just breath it in.
While Monroe County is full of those magical places, not all of them are as well-known as others, and some are very well-kept secrets.
The Jeffrey community, and more specifically the home of Tim and Kristin Turner and the land surrounding it, is one of those places.
If you want to spend a day feeling as if you have stepped back in time, their homestead is the place in which to stop.
Arriving at the Turners, one would have no idea what they were about to encounter.
When you first pull up you’re drawn right back to the mid-1900s as a full-size vintage Texaco sign towers over the land. The sign of days of old welcomes visitors to a replica of those long-gone country stores, specifically modeled after the former Jeffery Store
Looking up over the hill to one side of the property, the home of the late J.T. Turner, Tim’s father, sits. Beside it is a field where the first Monroe County “Poor House,” built after the Civil War was many years ago.
“Things sure have changed, we didn’t have electricity out here until 1949, we actually had phones first,” Tim said.
Near the front of the property sits an abandoned farmhouse, which still shows the signs of its former beauty.
The once bright white, two story residence is surrounded by old farm equipment, an older model truck bed and a few other antiques spread here and there throughout the yard.
A warehouse type building stands in the middle of it all, not only serving as the home to the Turners, but doubles as an automotive shop, full of restored and original cars, trucks and even an old camper.
While Turner is well known for his talents in restorations of classic vehicles, not many know he was once just a “weird kid” falling in love with any and all things related to history — especially information related through his grandmother, Grace Turner.
He explains, “I loved learning everything I could about antiques. I guess a lot of kids, especially these days, don’t find that kind of thing cool, but I loved it and still do. I guess I have an eye for that sort of thing.”
He continues, smiling fondly, “I love it out here and I’m proud that I was that kid who was weird enough to listen to my grandma.”
He explains that the land where he resides has been in his family for three generations, with his grandparents purchasing their land in 1950, and his dad in 1968.
“Once I am gone, people won’t know the history of this area, unless my daughter paid attention.” He smiles, speaking of his Emma, 19, noting that she, too, has always shared his love of older things, drives a classic Chevy and lives on the family property as well.
His love of his family and its history shows abundantly throughout his home, shop and replica country store.
His home lies within the middle of the warehouse and while the idea of living inside industrial buildings is becoming more and more popular across the country, the Turners weren’t jumping on any bandwagon ideas from cable tv shows, they just did what came naturally.
His wife, Kristin, laughed, “He was always in the shop anyway — we thought, why not make it easy to just step inside and be at home.”
It is obvious, his wife of 21 years, shares his love of all things vintage and why as he explains, speaking of their marriage, “It works.”
Their house is anything but industrial as you are automatically at home, from the 1950s diner-style kitchen, complete with a soda fountain and counter, checkerboard floor and the original booths from the former Monroe County establishment Pure Drug.
As you step up the stairs to the living area, you are transported even further back in time and begin to feel even more at home and cozy in the upper rooms of the home containing several antiques that rival any museum.
From radios and televisions to furniture, pictures and even an Edison machine, you would never believe the exterior of the home.
Stepping back into his shop, Turner continues the tour, sharing a room containing many larger outdoor signs and other antiques just waiting for their turn to be showcased and another set up as an old ’70s speed shop.
This room is complete with a parts counter, a working cash register, a working meter that takes nickels, working speakers from an old drive-in and a few classic cars that he works on here and there as time, motivation and cash flow allows.
There are also several trophies which he has been awarded over the years from the car shows he attends regularly.
“I can’t explain my love for old cars, it just comes naturally.” Yet, sitting in the shop is a classic 1938 Chevy truck that he calls his “first love.” This “survivor,” or all-original part truck belonged to his father before him and was purchased in 1968 from the Tompkinsville News Classified section.
The older Turner, while in Vietnam, sent his brother to retrieve the vehicle and drive it to  Scott Air Force Base where he and his family were stationed before retiring and moving back to Monroe County in 1972.
After retiring and moving home to Jeffrey, the older Turner bought the Jeffrey Store in 1973.
While his father’s passion was farming, the store was the family’s livelihood, open six days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., until they sold it in the fall of 1977.
The store closed in the 90s and then sold and was converted into an auction house. The building later burned.
Turner noted that his mother, the late LaRue Turner, mostly ran the store as his father would rather be outside farming and tending to the land.
For quite some time the ‘38 truck was the daily transportation for the older Turner until 1969, when he purchased a newer truck.
By this time the engine started missing and he noted that he took it to his automotive class for repairs. He laughed, saying, “I had a part for it in my jacket pocket and I remember my mom washed the jacket and lost the part.
“Back then you couldn’t just get on the internet and find a part so the truck sat for 26 years until I could get it running again, Turner added.
In the meantime, he worked on his first car, a 1967 Chevy Camaro, which he obtained in 1981.
At that time, the car wasn’t considered “classic,” but was “pretty rough, it ran but it had a knocking in the engine.”
As a younger child most of Turner’s travel was by bicycle and, as most boys will, he grew tired of it as he grew older and wanted something with a little more speed.
From the motorbike to motorcycles to trading his motorcycle, he says “for the Camaro. That was 1981 and I finally got it going just before I graduated from Tompkinsville High School in 1982.”
“Back then, car insurance was $32 a month,” he laughs.
The car now sits in his shop, not having been on the road for several years and he “tinkers” with it in his spare time, hoping to have it running again soon.
After graduation, Turner moved to Louisville to attend Electronic Vocational Tech school.
While there he noted that the Air Force recruiters came to the school and he almost joined as his scores on the ASFAB test were in the top 98 of 100 in Auto Tech and 99 of 100 in Electronic Technology.
He was offered to station anywhere in the United States and was told he could skip the first part of training.
However, growing up in an Air Force family he knew that he would rather move back to his beloved home and start his career.
He came home as an electronic technician and began work at Belden in Tompkinsville where he worked for seven years before opening his own business.
He now runs Turner Performance Automotive, doing private work as a fabricator and automotive electrical technician.
During his life, Turner has had many exciting experiences, including meeting his now longtime family friend, Ron Huegli, who serves as the curator of the World Speed Motorsport Museum.
The two met through a shared love of classic cars on social media.
Turner has been flown to Oregon to ready engines for the museum and been offered a job in that area, as well as others.
In the past, Turner has also toured with Black Stone Cherry after meeting the guys from the band — also through a shared love of classic cars.
Yet through it all, he is here, surrounded by his loves — his family, his heritage — in a rural area of Monroe County known as Jeffrey. “There is no place I would rather be,” he added.
While the dream of restoring the home of his grandmother is still out of reach, he shared the dreams he has had come to fruition — his country store.
What began as a dream of he, his wife and daughter, approved of by his father who passed in 2017, now stands adjacent to his shop. Built in 2011 and dedicated to the memory of his mother, the Jeffrey Store stands again.
The building itself is new but everything inside is old. The building, which has been used by families and businesses in the area for gatherings, is full of antiques.
From the floors, purchased in Gamaliel to the lights in the ceiling which were reclaimed from the original Bethlehem Lodge before it was torn down, the ”store” is about as authentic as it gets.
“My parents were pack rats. We also love estate sales, yard sales – we have found things in old barns and garages. A lot has been given to us and a lot we have purchased,” he added.
The store contains a refrigerator, a pot belly stove, a cash register and other items, some from other country stores including a counter from Clay County, Tenn., and the original meat slicer from the original Jeffrey store.
An old buggy sits in the corner and an aluminum Christmas tree decorates the front window. Old toys, including a sled that belonged to Turner, Christmas decorations and so many other artifacts that could keep you enthralled for hours fill the building.
The Turners note that many of the items they hold so dear have been given to them by friends and family. They plan to share them with everyone they can, hoping to give everyone a taste of “the good old days,” and allow history to live on through the next generations and education of the old ways.
They explained that their plan is to eventually renovate the entire property– including restoring his grandparents’ home — to showcase the antiques, hold tours for school children and other groups, have a working/serviceable 50s diner and expand the “store” by several feet to house an old telephone switchboard.
They would someday like to host “Jeffrey Jam,” where they would invite the community out for an event in celebration of the rich heritage of the property.
“If anyone would like to drive out, we would love to show you around and talk about everything you see here,” the Turners noted.

2 Comments

  1. Janice Turner Criswell on December 21, 2019 at 3:14 am

    I can remember when Edna and Finley Qwen owned Jeffery store. They lived across from the store. I have a picture of the “loafers” as they were called back then, sitting in front of the store.

  2. Janie Turner Meadows on January 9, 2020 at 10:40 am

    I have a lot of memories growing up of the Jeffrey store. One being, my mother, Clarine Turner, worked there and used the meat slicer countless times as a lot of people would stop in there for lunch including my Dad, Leland Turner, who worked as a carpenter in our small community.

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