The Ross General Store was an active and thriving business in the town of Petersburg during its heyday. The store was located on lots 9 and 11 from the orginal Augustine patent. Peter Augustine and his wife Rosanna conveyed these lots to Jacob Starner in 1818. It was purchased in 1819 by Peter Wentling and by Adam Sembower in 1827. It is not known if any of these men operated a business on these lots.

In 1830 John C. Darrell bought the property and move his store from Somerfield to Petersburg. His twenty-year-old clerk and future brother-in-law Moses A. Ross came with him. In 1831 Moses Ross entered into a partnership with Mr. Darrell and in 1833 bought the store and stock from him for eleven hundred dollars. He then began a career in the merchantile business which covered a period of sixty years.

Since his store was located on the Old National Road, a large portion of his business came over the pike from Baltimore Maryland. Stagecoaches traveled that way to Brownsville and as many as twenty or so would go each way every day. It was exciting time to be alive and Petersburg was a bustling town in those days. The country was still very young and hordes of adventurers were headed west to seek their fortune and a better way of life. Many prominent and famous people passed over the National Road through Petersburg, including General Andrew Jackson and Zachary Taylor.

The Central Hotel, a large brick structure, was built in the 1830’s. This thriving establisment housed many travelers overnight and was conveniently located next to the Ross Store. The Petersburg Toll House was built about this time and iron toll gates were put on the turnpike to collect fees from the many travelers and drovers who passed by this way. Moses kept a diary in which he noted many trips to Baltimore to buy goods. In the early years he made two buying trips a years, one in the spring and one in the fall. He was gone from home about a week each time and the goods would be delivered a short while after his return. In 1837 on a business trip to Baltimore he wrote of an incident in his diary: "Sepember 30, - October 8, Baltimore buying trip. Enroute to Baltimore, stage upset ĺ mile east of Cumberland".

The Ross Store was a two-story log building dating from at least 1830, Over the years when Moses needed additional space for his merchandise, he simply built on to the structure. According to Ross family history, Moses and his first wife Diana (Mitchell) went to housekeeping in the upstairs of the store. After Diana’s death in 1839, Moses married her sister Cynthia and they also lived in the store. They resided there until about 1842. At that time, Moses had a large brick home built next door for his growing family.

On January 1, 1850 Moses A Ross began serving his first term as Postmaster at Petersburg. He operated the post office from the store, as was the custom in those days. His future son-in-law, Sullivan Johnson, was a clerk, later a partner in the Ross Store, starting around 1850 and lasting fourteen years. When they disssolved their partnership, Mr. Johnson had assets of between eighteen to twenty thousand dollars.

The Ross Store seems to have been in the right place at the right time. After the National Road was built and opened in 1818 and Peter Augustine laid out the town of Petersburg along the pike, business’s began to escalate. There was no noticeable decline until the 1850’s with the coming of the railroad. Of course, by then Pentersburg was as established communtiy with large surrounding rural area who depended on the general store for most of their needs. Thus it was that the Ross Store,owned and operated by Moses A. Ross, was a successful business for many years and added to the progress of the growing town of Petersburg.

NOTE: This was compiled and published by: "THE OLD PETERSBURG-ADDISON HISTORICAL SOCIETY" and donated by: Lawson L. Duckworth for the interested public.
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