Hansford Grant, born in 1888, was the son of Nelson Grant. Hansford lived in the Irish Creek area of Rockbridge County. He married Flora Seaman, born in 1893, the daughter of Richard “Dick” and DollyCash Seaman. Like the first generation, Dick and Dolly opened and ran a mercantile in Montebello. Hansford and Flora had five children: Richard, Eugene, Wilson, Dolly, and Agnes.
Flora was an enterprising lady of many talents. She not only delivered babies but delivered mail by horseback on Irish Creek. Flora was good to the mountain people. She helped them to read and write their correspondence and advised them when they had to go to court. She kept a running account in the store for the mountain folk who needed it during the depression. Most of them paid her when they could, but some never did. Flora was the more social one of the two. She kept abreast of what was going on in the community. Social activities sometimes centered around the vicinity of the store, like Sunday afternoon ball games and tent revivals.
In the 1930s, Hansford and Flora bought the mercantile in Montebello, as well as the two-story white house next door and 465 acres of land, from her parents Dick and Dolly Seaman. They called the mercantile Grant’s Store, and here on the mountain, it’s still known by that name today. Flora, as the second generation, mostly ran the store, but when she began teaching school on Fork Mountain, her husband Hansford and her Uncle Sam Cash took over the store.
Hansford farmed and worked in the timber business. He was said to be a quiet man who was good, kind, and would do anything for anybody. When he had a heart attack at the age of forty, his oldest sons Richard and Eugene took over the logging operation, and his youngest son Wilson quit school and drove a school bus to help make ends meet. Wilson recalled building a fire under the bus to get it started on cold mornings. When his sisters Dolly and Agnes were ready for high school, the family had a car. Wilson drove them and their friends to Fairfield High School each day.
Wilson Grant, born in 1919, was the third son of Hansford and Flora. He met Madeline White, born in 1922 when she was placed in foster care along with her older sister Louise (later named Helena) in the Irish Creek area. The girls’ mother died at a very young age and their father was not able to care for them. The two girls lived in various homes in Covington and they were both sent to the Otha Jones home on Irish Creek. They were worked so hard there that the girls decided to run away. Louise went to Norfolk and worked in a Hot Shop, and Madeline was placed in the Ernest and Laura Bell Grant home on Irish Creek.
At this time, Flora and Hansford owned and ran Grant’s Store. Madeline remembers Laura Bellgiving her a five-pound bag and allowing her to fill it with penny candy at the store. "The candy lasted two or three weeks," Madeline laughed. "Bell always bought me a new dress for Easter." Madeline also remembers taking Hansford’s chickens to Anderson’s Store and “exchanging them for candy”, but Hansford would always buy the chickens back from Anderson and return them to his coop.
The Welfare Agency stepped in again when they discovered that Ernest made whiskey and stored it in the home. Madeline was next placed with Dick and Dolly Seaman, Wilson’s grandparents, on IrishCreek. Madeline lost contact with her sister for years, but eventually, Louise found Madeline and asked her to come to live with her and her family in New Jersey. "She sent me ten dollars to buy a bus ticket", Madeline said, “but the Sunday I was to leave, Wilson whispered to me in church, if you leave, I may never see you again. I decided to stay.”
Soon after, the couple was married in Newport News and Wilson went to work in the shipyards. After their first son R.W. was born, Wilson joined the Marines and served in the South Pacific & Okinawa, Japan until WW II was over. When Wilson returned to the US after the war, he re-entered high school in Fairfield and earned his diploma. Madeline lived with the Grant family on Irish Creek during that time. Wilson and Madeline had two more children; Patty and Charles. The couple moved to Bedford County in the early1960’s where Wilson became a Maintenance Superintendent for the Virginia district of the Blue RidgeParkway. He & Madeline eventually moved to the Carolinas where Wilson became the Construction Representative for the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Wilson & Madeline purchased the store, house, and 465 acres of land from his parents in 1958. After Flora (1968) and Hansford (1969) died, the store was closed until 1973, when their son Charles convinced Wilson & Madeline to let him remodel the store and build the campground, lake, and trout pond operation. Their daughter Patty moved from Buena Vista to Montebello to help with remodeling and running the general store.
Wilson retired from the Blue Ridge Parkway Service in 1976. He & Madeline moved back to Montebello and operated the store as the third generation. Charles moved from Montebello back to Lynchburg and went to work for Wiley & Wilson and The City of Lynchburg. His sister Patty stayed in Montebello and married Felton Hendrix in 1975. Patty & Felton helped Wilson & Madeline expand the store and operate the campground for over 20 years. Patty remained in the Montebello community after Felton’s death, volunteering for the Fire Department and Rescue Squad, helping take care of Madeline, and working with the mountain people who needed assistance.
When Wilson’s health deteriorated, Charles and his wife Vicki purchased the business in 1992 and they ran it as the fourth generation. Wilson Grant died in 1998 and Madeline Grant continued working in the business and as a Good Will Ambassador for the Montebello Community for many years until her death in December 2019.
Charles and Vicki completed interior store renovations and upgrades in 1996. Patty managed the store with Charles and Vicki until she retired in 2006. Charles’ daughter Christy, who had been living and working overseas for fifteen years, decided to come back to her roots and get involved in the family business.
Christy helped Charles and Vicki develop a major expansion plan for the store which was completed in 2009. This expansion included a beautiful post & beam addition for merchandise along with a huge fireplace, café kitchen, ADA compliant bathrooms, long/wide porches, an apartment, and upgraded utilities.
Christy married Montebello native and local timberman Mutt Humphreys in 2014, and she now fills the role of General Manager and is the fifth generation storekeeper of Grant’s Store, now called Montebello Country Store.
More cabins were added in 2015 and additional improvements were made in the campground. The store is a nice blend of old and new and Montebello has been richer for having five generations of the family to live and serve in Nelson County.