How it all began...
Shirley's Parents, Byron & Erma Bland
Yokum’s Store was originally Shirley Yokum’s parents’ store and was called “Bland’s Store.” The store has been in business since 1923, and the family lived above it for a short while. Shirley’s mother, Erma Bland was a self-taught pharmacist. She mixed her own salve and made her own “gargle.” “You won’t find a better gargle,” claimed Shirley. (Used to cure a soar throat).
Shirley’s family heritage in Seneca Rocks goes back to her great grandfather, Jacob Sites, who settled here in 1839. Jacob Sites is also the great grandfather of Joe Harper (owner of Harper’s Store). Joe and Shirley were distant cousins. The Sites family actually owned Seneca Rocks until 1968 when the government made it federal property, which still harbored some resentment in both Shirley and Joe.
Carl’s family goes back to the 1860’s when his grandfather, Adam Yokum, a West Virginia Volunteer Infantry veteran who served for the Union in several civil war battles, settled in the area. Their family history was in cattle ranching and hospitality. They owned land in the area which was used for cow pastures and they would put up ranchers driving cattle on the popular cattle route from Moorefield to the Sinks of Gandy.
Carl and Shirley met in grade school at the little school house which has since been shut down, and the Yokum’s now own. It is located next to the Couple’s Retreat. After high school, Shirley attended business school in Akron, Ohio, while Carl stayed in Seneca Rocks.
Carol had built his first 2 cabins in 1935, before he and Shirley were married. They were constructed in the Lower Campground, and back then cost $1 per night or $5 per week to rent. Carl & Shirley were married in 1938, and by then had 4 cabins. These cabins were in use for 50 years until they were destroyed in the 1985 flood.
After they were married Carl and Shirley also offered rooms in their home for tourists and served them home cooked meals for an additional 30 cents. They caught and sold bait to fisherman; and caught animals and skinned them for hides to sell. They did what they could to earn money to expand their business.In 1947 Carl built the restaurant, where Shirley was the cook for many years. She went to the Greenbrier Cooking school to improve her skills. Back in the day one of their signature dishes was sausage that they made themselves from hogs raised on the Yokum farm. According to Shirley, “They’d come from miles around just to get some of my sausage.” The restaurant shut down in 2015, and moved into the back of the store, where it is now Yokum’s Grill.
Over the years they continued to build and expand, often putting “the last 50-cent piece we had,” into the business as Carl said. They expanded to include the campgrounds, motel, and even a horse trail to the top of the rocks, which is run today by their grandson, Bub Yokum. Their cattle farm is also still in operation, run by their youngest son Sam and grandson Luke.
After 70 years of marriage, Carl passed away at the age of 92 in 2008. Shirley continued to run the business for several years after that, until 2015, when finally, at the age of 95 she passed the reins of the business on to her son, Sam. Shirley Yokum turned 100 years old on January 2, 2020, and passed away later that year.
Yokum’s Vacationland continues to evolve with the times, while holding on to an interesting past.
The motel was added upstairs in 1996.
Carl & Shirley Yokum