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W.R. Shaffer, General Mercantile

Varden John Shaffer was born in Germany and after living in Orange County, New York settled on the Middle Valley Branch of Middle Creek in 1783. He built the first overshot grist mill in 1800 in the area which came to be known as Millville because of the nearby tannery, planing mill, and sawmill. In 1886, a son of the first settler, also named John was appointed Postmaster. Because another Pennsylvania town was named Millville, the settlement was renamed Varden, perhaps for Dolly Varden, the locksmith's daughter in Dickens Barnaby Ridge. The postmaster's brother, Abraham, built a general store in Varden and in 1885, his sons William and Mahleh built this store on the Easton Pike. Account books show the new store cost $38945 and had inventory of groceries, rat traps, medicine, clothing, glassware, guns, and stovepipes. Much business was done on credit, and often honey, apples, pelts, lumber, and meat were bartered for goods. The store was run by the Shaffer family until 1950 when it closed. In 1993, Tim and Debi Downs became the proud owners of the old store. They have reproduced the colors that the Shaffers used on the walls, ceiling, and shelves. The top shelves of the first floor are filled with original artifacts. Forty five crafters and antique dealers share the first floor and seven original rooms upstairs. The faded letters W R.Shaffer. General Mercantile and Post Office are still legible on the old glass of the front windows. One enters a long ago era when shopping at Downs Country Corner Store at the corner of routes 196 and 296 in Varden. Historic Preservation Award given in 1996 to Debi & Tim Downs for their restoration of this property.

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From 1993 through 2008 the Honesdale National Bank published an annual wall calendar, each featured 13 historic sites. The sites were chosen and researched by a committee of the historical society and artwork was commissioned to Judy Hunt and William Amptman by the bank.

This page was one month of the calendar and was made possible through the Wayne County Commissioners and a Tourism Promotion Committee’s Tourism Grant.