This barbecue joint in the lake community of Santee is comprised of four old-timey country stores that were moved in recent years from their namesake town of Lone Star. Lone Star was a planned railroad community that did not succeed after the advent of highways in the early twentieth century. By the end of World War II, it was all but deserted, save for its post office and a few general stores that catered to the local cotton growers.
Lone Star resident and Postmaster O.K. Zeagler managed the post office within his store, seen below, until his retirement in 1963. His wife, Mary, continued running both operations through most of the 1990s, even in the face of threatened closure by the United States Postal Authority. With the help of friend Senator Strom Thurmond, Mary kept the post office going until 1995, and the store continued until 1997.
Following the closure of Zeagler’s General Store, Santee real estate agent Pat Williams purchased four abandoned buildings, including Zeagler’s General Store, and moved them down the road a few miles. Using the buildings as dining rooms with a reminiscent country store atmosphere – and selling everything from barbecued ribs to antiques – Williams has made these former commissaries a popular destination for road trippers, barbecue aficionados, and people looking to fill their bellies after a busy day on the waters of Lake Marion. Those searching for country cooking and small town nostalgia will find it at Lone Star Barbecue and Mercantile.