Seay Milling celebrates 107 years

Published 11:07 am Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Buckingham community celebrated Seay Milling and Machinery Co.’s 107th anniversary on Saturday.

The late B.A. Seay, the father of the late Paul “Buddy” and J. Abner Seay, founded the business in September 1909. Seay Milling, on Main Street in Dillwyn, touts itself as the oldest business in town. Paul and J. Abner would operate the store for many years. Abner’s wife, Shirley Ripley Seay, who died recently, operated the business for many years with him.

“The anniversary was a great success,” said Abner and Shirley’s niece, Roma Ripley Morris, who helped organize the event. “I believe over 150 people came through to wish the business well.”

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The Southern States store, which sells a wide variety of tools, farm supplies and equipment, household items, machinery, feed, hams in the winter and sandwiches year round, drew a large crowd to help commemorate the history, values and people that have been part of the business.

Reciting information her son Paul Seay Jr. compiled, Dot Seay related that, in 1950, the first location of Seay Milling burned, catching fire “as result of flames from the train (passing by). They used to have the wood-fired locomotives.”


After the fire, the business moved to its present location, which once served as a cannery.

In 1958, the business was turned over to Abner and Paul from their father.

A fire in the main building, Paul Jr. wrote, “caused the Seay Family to push forward with the creation of the Dillwyn Volunteer Fire Department.”

“The grocery was quite popular when I was younger,” wrote Paul Jr., who worked in the store for many years as a child and young man, “but became no longer needed as grocery businesses opened in town. I do remember that the farmers came to town on Friday and Saturday to have their feed ground. The truck line would be 10 deep at times. Robert Brown ran the mill all of his life.”

One of the longest-tenured employees at the business is Nelson Sharpe Sr.; Abner and Shirley hired him in 1970. Sharpe said he learned a great deal working at the business, where he loaded fertilizer, among other merchandise, offering advice on electrical and plumbing repairs.

“Seay Milling Co. evolved and served the farmers and the community in many ways,” Paul Jr. wrote. “That core value is why the business has continued for so many years.”

According to Morris, the business is currently co-owned by the Ripley Family and Dot Seay.

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