History of Jaco\’s Corner


August 2017

The intersection of Bluff Road and Rosewood Drive in Columbia has been known as Jaco’s Corner for over a century. The Jaco Family owned and continuously operated a business called Jaco’s Corner there on that corner. This intersection needs to be named officially by the City of Columbia because of its long and well-known history. Jaco’s Corner was established in 1912 by Alberta Dunham Jaco and Thomas Harris Jaco. Mr. Jaco came to work in Olympia Mill in 1908 and “Bertie” followed the next year. Both of them had experience working in the textile mills of Huntsville Alabama
which was close to their home town of Smithville Tennessee.

By 1912, Mr. Jaco started figuring ways that he could go into business for
himself. He already had a prosperous boot-leg whiskey business that took
up much of his free time, but he wanted to open a store, too. He learned of
a large parcel of land at the corner of two dirt roads—Rosewood and
‘Bluff—that he could buy from Mr. Harper for five-thousand dollars.
There were eight wooden houses situated along the two roads, each
with its own outdoor privy. These houses could be rented out for at least
twenty dollars a month! He decided this was the place to settle and build
a little store,

The ‘store was a small wooden shack with a hooked window that flipped
up to display a counter over which to sell the various items. Mr. Jaco
established a thriving little business of soft drinks, candy, and cakes. He
also sold ice from a wooden paneled wagon that he drove around “the
mill hill” delivering it to folks’ houses. Everybody had to have a block of
ice each day to put in their ice box. Much of the operation of the store
fell into the capable hands of Bertie, who now had two small sons—Doyle
and Dillard. The shift at the mill began at 6:00 AM, so many mill workers
came by early in the morning to buy a little snack and to socialize a bit
before putting in their twelve hours for that day.

Business grew so that expansion was soon necessary. In about three years,
a new wooden building measuring about 30’ by 15’ was built next to the
original little store. This allowed for an increase of goods offered at the
store which now included produce, canned food tins and tobacco—cut to
order right there in the store. On Saturdays, Mr. Jaco butchered two hogs
and a cow, then peddled the meat from his horse-drawn wagon. (He still
had the daily ice route.) The meat cuts were wrapped in clean bed sheets,
then placed in the back of the wagon. People could then make their
selections when the sheets were unfolded. Stew beef sold for five cents a
When World War I began looming on the horizon, and carpenters were 
needed to build Fort Jackson, Mr. Jaco went to work there. Fortunately,
son Doyle was old enough to help out in the store. He was also responsible
for delivering the ice each day. Bertie got up each morning at four o’clock
and fixed a big breakfast of grits, ham, and big ol’ homemade biscuits. She
prepared Mr. Jaco’s lunch, too, before opening the store just before six
o’clock each day.

The boys had many chores to do before they left for school. Bertie worked
long hours before finally closing the store at dark every day. During
prohibition, everyone worked hard then. Mr. Jaco was extremely busy
with his “side” business. He even had to enlist the help of his two sons
every now and then. Their job was to keep the fires going under the
continuous “batches.” Bertie had no time to waste either. She managed
her home, the store, and even rented the fields across the street to plant
several acres of vegetables, mostly corn. Her sons helped her a great
deal, too.

One morning when Bertie went to tend her corn in the fields, she noticed
that quite a bit of damage had been done to the crop by a black bull that
had broken away from the farm down the road. The bull was gorging
himself on the plump, juicy corn. Bertie sent a message to the bull’s owner,
Mr. Boston, that he had better come get that bull out of her corn. She
waited the whole day for a reply. By evening the bull had damaged most
of the corn and Bertie was furious! She took her. 38 pistol over to that
field and shot that bull right between the eyes. She didn’t have any more
trouble with stray animals after that.

When America fell into The Great Depression, business at Jaco’s Corner
slacked off a little. The mills managed to keep running even though
workers hours were cut back some. The people in the mill village were
normally so poor that they noticed only a slight difference in their
economic status. Soon, though, things really began to boom at Jaco’s
Corner. Mr. Jaco decided that now would be a good time to expand his
business and build a really nice store. The third edition of Jaco’s Corner
was built of brick and the 20’ by 40’ building was well constructed. It had
a wide front porch as well as a smaller side porch. Efficient electric gas
pumps delivered “Good Gulf” gasoline to their customer’s cars. The year 
was now 1931.The store also had a cozy little one-room apartment
upstairs, where the family lived while their new brick home was soon to
be built. This little apartment could be rented out. Many times it was used
by people who were employed to work around the place.

As soon as the store was complete, the foundation was dug for a beautiful
new brick home right next to it. The house, where Bertie lived until her
death in 1992, had six large rooms downstairs, and two large attic rooms
and a bath were later added upstairs. There was also a wide porch
wrapping around two sides of the house. It was here that Mr .and Mrs.
Jaco Spent many happy hours visiting with friends and relatives now that
they didn’t have to work quite so hard.

Jaco’s Corner continued to be operated by the Jaco Family into the 21st
Century. Dillard operated the store until 1976. Then Jake Jaco, Dillard’s son
and the grandson of Bertie and Harris, took over. Jake had a kitchen built
to expand the store’s options. Later he built an adjacent pool room where
lots of business, celebrations, and just good ol’ times took place. In 1993,
Janet Jaco-Taylor (Jake’s sister) took over the business of Jaco’s
Corner, where she made additional improvements. She continued to
operate there until 2017, when the business was sold.

This intersection of Bluff Road and Rosewood Drive in Columbia has been
known as Jaco’s Corner for one-hundred-and-five years. Because it has
such a long and well-known history, this intersection should be “officially”
named by the City of Columbia, because it has been a reference point for
thousands of people for so many years.

By Dr. Sherry Jaco
August 2017

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