By Kelly Hargett
In 1896 Thomas Calvin McCuiston opened a bicycle service, repair, and sale shop which he ran for several years, moving his shop around to different buildings. In 1903 he finally built a two-story brick structure near the railroad tracks and opened McCuiston Hardware Store, dedicating the rest of his life to hardware and similar businesses. From then on, he referred to himself as “Tom the Hardware Man.” Hardware was definitely his specialty, but his store offered sewing machines, buck ranges (cooking stove), paint from Sherwin Williams, and guns and ammunition of all kinds.
He could fix just about anything. One of his specialties was making tobacco barn flues which kept him working around the clock during peak tobacco season. By the 1920’s, McCuiston’s business drew people from neighboring towns. Tom was known to be honest and adhere to the policy of “honest square dealing with his friends and neighbors.” He began adding “high grade furniture” in addition to his hardware offerings. His reasonable prices made his company a leading business in Kernersville.
Later, he bought the two-story building located across the street from his hardware store. The McCuiston’s store would offer all classes of home furnishings, while he was also authorized to sell John Deere farm machinery. He really was able to offer just about anything the citizens of Kernersville could possibly want. His advertisements boasted that, “we can supply you from your parlor to your kitchen.” Tom and his son, Kemp, operated a furniture store there for several years and for many years he was the only retail furniture agency in Kernersville. After Kemp passed away, Tom’s youngest son, Phil kept up that business for a while until he later opened a florist shop. The McCuiston family were in business for more than 80 years in Kernersville.
Thomas Calvin McCuiston was born in July of 1872. In 1897 he married his sweetheart, Carrie Atkins. A picture in the Kernersville Bicentennial Book highlights a picture of Tom and Carrie on a two-person bicycle with their first born child, India, sitting in a basket on the front of their bike. After building his two-story hardware shop, Thomas built his wife one of the grandest homes in Kernersville in 1908. The home was described as “magnificent” and was two stories with four large columns supporting the main portico. The deep porch literally wrapped around most of the home in a semicircular fashion on one side. The home was the envy of many in Kernersville, with its stone base around the porch and walkway leading to the steps. Many folks recall heading to the hardware store with their parents just so they could take their turn playing and running along the oversized, grand porch. The large home would be needed because Thomas and Carrie had 7 children! The McCuiston family would own the home until 1962 when it was torn down and the property was sold to the Musten & Crutchfield families.
If you are interested in learning more Kernersville history, the Museum is open Tuesday through Friday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. You can pick up your own copy of Haunted Kernersville inside the Museum or visit our website at www.KernersvilleMuseum.org/shopmuseum.