All of the boys had a nickname. In a family of seven children that was common in the early days of the 20th century. C.K. “Bolly” Shuttlesworth was no exception. Born in 1901, Bolly saw most of the 20th century and incredible change during his lifetime.
The name Bolly became synonymous with good service, and good quality produce beginning in 1955 when he and his wife Helen managed and then purchased the Missouri Valley Store.
They came from Thayer County, one of the smallest in the Cornhusker State with a present-day population of only 5,000 people, and a single large town Hebron, large at least by rural Nebraska standards at around 1,500 people.
It was the small-town environment that Bolly was raised in that led him to Fremont County and to open a rural store.
“We moved up here in the spring of 1950,” son Larry Shuttlesworth said.
The store was already in operation and owned by Lumine Pomensil.
“He ran it for three years, then he closed the store in 1955,” Larry said.
In 1955, Dale and Helen Riegert bought the facility but didn’t run it as a store.
“In 1956, my parents opened it and ran it,” Larry said. “My mom had worked for a grocery store in Thayer County.”
Bolly was originally a farmer, but a bad accident changed his life.
“Dad had cycled through farms. He was in an accident. He was caught in the power shaft of a potato digger. It rippled off his clothes and hurt his back,” Larry said. “This was in Limon, Nebraska.”
Larry was born soon after they moved to Limon in Scottsbluff in 1937.
Bolly’s brother Rosie (also a nickname) had moved to the Missouri Valley area earlier with his wife Helen, and in 1950, Bolly took his young family with him to work with his brother.
With two Helen’s Bolly’s wife went by Helen L and Rosies, Helen J.
“Dad went to work for Uncle Rosie,” Larry said. “In 1951 they ran the store for a short time.”
The store became an integral part of Rosie’s potato farming operation.
Harvesting potatoes was done by hand in 1950s Fremont County. A tractor would pull a digger to open up the row and people would follow along gathering potatoes and tossing them in baskets. Women usually picked the potatoes while men loaded the heavy baskets into waiting trucks.
“All the potato pickers were female. The buckers loaded the baskets onto the trucks,” Larry said. “Rosie would go to Ethete and load up entire families. They stayed in white canvas wall tents on the farm.”
The store provided groceries and supplies for the workers during the harvest.
“They opened the store so they didn’t have to go to town,” Larry said.
At the same time, Paul Herder ran a store in Pavillion along with the Basketeria.
“Electricity arrived across the valley from 1948 to 1951,” Larry said. “Herder ran a locker plant. Most of the farms had a deep freeze. Herder used the same suppliers my folks did. They traded a lot to keep up their inventory.”
Bolly bought bacon, ham, bologna, and longhorn cheese from Triangle Packing in Worland.
“The folks ran a cash and carry business,” Larry said. “They’d carry accounts for five or six months until the harvest time. Most people paid within 30 days.”
From 1955 to 1968 Bolly and Helen ran the store.
“In 1968, Berry and Ruth Dike ran it for a short time,” Larry said. “They didn’t want to continue so the folks took it back. Bob and LaVonne Laney ran it for a while too.”
The Missouri Valley Store was a complete grocery and dry goods store. They picked up inventory when the Golden Rule closed in Shoshoni and from the Yellowstone Drugstore.
The Shuttlesworths also bought out a hardware store in Lusk.
“They had a real nice 1952 International truck,” Larry said. “I drove it back from Lusk full of nuts and bots. They had a real menagerie.”
Connection ran deep across the valley and remains so today.
“My aunt remembers when Dessie Bebout would bring their kids to the Golden Rule Store to buy school clothes,” Larry said of Nick, Eli, and Ruby (Bebout) Calvert. “Guthries ran a hardware store east of the Lucky Five in Shoshoni back then.”
Larry started a blacksmith shop next to the store a few years after graduating from Riverton High School.
“I built that shop in 1959 and sold Case farm machinery,” Larry said. “My jobber was in Billings and if I called before 4 p.m. I had the parts the next day. I kept a windrower, a tractor, and implements. I sharpened a lot of bean knives and plow shares. I quit the business in 1968.”
Growing up at the store had its challenges, some of them dangerous.
“I was in the middle of basketball season at Shoshoni Junior High,” Larry said. “I went to fill the stove in the store. I thought I’d filled it with kerosene, but it was white gas. It exploded and my coat caught on fire. I threw the can outside and stripped my coat off inside out, my skin came off with it. I had second and third-degree burns.”
Needless to say, the injuries ended his basketball season.
Bolly was an entrepreneur, ahead of his time in many ways.
“Dad sold baling twine and baling wire,” Larry said. “ he subbed for Harry McMillan in Riverton on a commission.
Bolly had suppliers close and far away.
“He bought oak from Averill Lumber Company in Branson, Missouri,” Larry said. “Dad sold hundreds of oak sweeps. The middle garage was full of oak sweeps.”
Bolly sold coal as well, driving to Gebo to pick up truckloads of the high-quality coal that people from Casper to Dubois preferred.
Fruit trucks arriving from western Colorado and Utah are common in Riverton and Lander today, but Bolly Shuttlesworth was one of the first to do this in Fremont County.
“Dad would drive the beet truck first to Utah, and then to Palisades, Colorado, and haul back loads of peaches and other fruit,” Larry said. “He sold it through the store and in Riverton on the present BTI lot.”
Gradually, Bolly and Helen grew weary of the daily demands of running a country store and the Laney’s took over.
The store had a quitting business sale beginning on December 16, 1974, on everything in stock except bread, milk, cigarettes, and gasoline.
An auction later took all the remaining inventory.
The closing of the store, after the closing of Polly’s Trading Post four miles east at the junction. Left a gap from Shoshoni to Midvale.
It started a trend that led to the eventual closing of most of the stores from Casper to Dubois.