Hy-Vee most likely is the top-selling brand of ice cream in Lucas County now, but a century ago it was Douglas, manufactured by the Douglas Ice Cream Co. --- chartered in 1913 with capital of $35,000 --- in this building just off the northeast corner of the Chariton square. The builder (and ice cream manufacturer) was Lee P. Douglas, who moved from Chariton to Des Moines with his family during 1922.
This old photo must have been taken not long after production began. The dray wagon is filled with tubs labeled "Douglas, Chariton, Iowa" and the banners on the wagon and in the first-floor windows of the building behind it read, "Douglas Ice Cream."
The Chariton Leader reported on Dec. 18, 1913, that "The new Douglas building on Grand street is fast assuming propositions (?!?) and ere long will be completed. It is to be occupied by the Douglas Ice Cream Company in the manufacture of this article for the retail and wholesale trade. The building stands two stories above a high basement. These lower rooms will also be fitted up for business. L.P. Douglas and P.T. Paton have formed a partnership and will soon launch a bottling establishment here. The style of the firm is to be known as the D. & P. B. Co. They will equip this establishment with the latest and best appliances and machinery and will put a superior product on the market. Mr. Douglas will have charge of the manufacturing end of the business and Mr. Paton represent the distribution and this will make a strong firm."
Two months later, on Feb. 12, 1914, The Herald-Patriot reported that "Lee Douglas is moving his ice cream factory into his fine new building north of Palmer's Department store (which was located then on the Charitone Hotel site), and will be ready for business on Saturday of this week. Mr. Douglas and P.T. Paton were in Burlington last week attending the Bottlers' convention and have purchased the fixtures for their bottling business which will also be opened in the near future."