Wednesday, December 17, 2014

All I want for Christmas is ...

The first major snow of the season occurred in Lucas County early in the week before Christmas, 1880, which fell on a Saturday that year; and The Patriot reported in its edition of Wednesday, Dec. 22, that "Sleighs were taken from their resting places and put into active use yesterday, for the first time this season."

"This is the regular ideal winter day," the editor reported elsewhere, most likely forming his words directly into a composing stick. "Not too cold, the air full of fine snow and the trees and ground white with frost and snow. It is the winter day we see in pictures."

"The trade in skates has been larger this season than was ever known before," he continued.

Of course the new-fallen snow led to an occasional accident: "A little girl names Angie McDougall, belonging to a family living in the east part of the city, had her right leg broken yesterday at the west school house (on the site of Columbus) while engaged in sliding down hill on a sled. Drs. Stanton and Son were called and reduced the fracture."


There were holiday-related announcements to make. Christmas trees were planned on the evening of Friday, Dec. 24, at the Presbyterian, Methodist and Episcopal churches, The Patriot reported, and the public library, then located above Gibbon Drug Store on the northeast corner of the square, would close early Christmas Eve, at 5:30 p.m., and remain closed for the remainder of the evening.

Looking ahead to New Year's Day, so that women of the town could plan ahead, it was announced that "The following ladies of Chariton will keep open house and entertain callers on New Year's day, between the hours of 2 and 8 p.m.: Mrs. D.Q. Storie, Mrs. D.M. Thompson, Mrs. J.A. Penick, Misses Margaret, Emma and Nellie McCormick, Mrs. G.J. Stewart, Misses Kittie and Belle Waynick and Mrs. Kubitshek."

Each of the women had invited a several friends, all named --- in Mrs. Storie's case, 13 --- to assist with this annual, aspirational social extravaganza. It's not clear where men planned to find refuge as 1881 launched.

Notably absent from the social rosters were Chariton's social leaders: Annie Mallory and her daughter, Jessie. They were continuing a year-long grand tour of Europe commenced to coincide with construction of their grand new home, the Ilion. The women had settled in Germany for the winter so that Jessie could continue her musical studies while husband and father, Smith H., dashed around the United States tending to his railroad-building interests with trips home to Chariton to monitor progress on the house and his other business interests.


It was getting to be late in the Christmas shopping season, so the number of display advertisements in The Patriot was limited. The Joseph Braden & Co. ad here was among the largest. That fine store was located in the new Mallory Opera Block on the northwest corner of the square and a cut of this grand building was included. (Original copies of early Chariton newspapers are accessible only on microfilm, so the images that they contain are not clear.)

But there were plenty of brief reminders offering last-minute shopping ideas scattered in paragraph form on The Patriot's principal news page --- a promotional technique that today might be called "advertorial." Here are a few of them, leading off with the most inventive --- for the Jas. Whitney & Co. store on the southeast corner of the square, managed by Ed Lewis:

Jas. Whitney calls the attention of his numerous customers to his largely increased stock of staple and fancy groceries, including everything in the grocery line. Foreign and domestic coffees and spices from India, Ceylon, Sumatra, while the best markets in China and Japan supply the finest green and black teas. The ports of the Mediterranean and Adriatic have been ransacked for the choicest of fruits, nuts, etc. I have also purchased a large stock of holiday goods for the season, including a great variety of toys, china, glass, Majolica and Bohemian ware and fancy goods suitable for presents, which will be sold at bed rock prices. We cater to the tastes and pockets of the poor as well as the rich; the banker, the farmer, the clerk, the mechanic, the laborer. Send us your orders, we will execute them promptly and carefully and convince you that we shall add to our already well-earned reputation for selling the best goods for the least money. Ed Lewis, manager."

"Novelties for Christmas --- Everyone should examine the magnificent display of goods for Christmas gifts at Jas. Whitney's, on the east side of the square. The show could scarcely have been made more attractive. The arrangement is tasteful and the combination of new and beautiful designs in China, Majolica, Glass, Toys and Fancy Goods, does great credit to the artist taste of the manager, Ed. Lewis, who is prepared to sell every article at lower prices than ever before offered."

"Headquarters for Christmas turkeys, geese, ducks and chickens at Whitneys. They are slaughtered and dressed daily by order of Ed Lewis to fill orders from every part of the city. Leave your name for a fowl and glance around at the full and unsurpassed stock which Ed has layed in for the holidays."


At that early date, there were more than 50 businesses large and small scattered around the square --- shoe and saddle-makers, milliners, dealers in dry goods and hardware, druggists, grocers, confectioners, jewelers, just about anything that could be (legally, in most instances) sold was for sale that Christmas. Here's a sampling of other offerings.

"Presents for young and old abound at Lockwood's (Jewelry). The small children, the boys and girls, the young folks, as well as their elders, can and will enjoy a watch, a ring, or something from the large and beautiful assortment of jewelry, books, chromos, notions, &c. at Lockwood's. Call and seem him before you buy."

"Anxious minds lost in doubt as to where they shall go to get the most substantial and pleasing articles for presents, which custom prompts all to make their friends and beloved ones, in commemoration of that Holy Event of 18 centuries ago, are referred to the stock of L. F. Maple & Co."

"Vansickle's Annual Greeting: They invite the attention of their thousands of old customers and of the hundreds of new ones coming in for the holiday and other goods which they have in store. Their stock in toys and candies is large and in other things they have great variety. Maple Syrup, Buckwheat flour, and the best Kansas City fall wheat flour, 25 cents on the sack lower that sold elsewhere in Chariton. Vansickles' is the place."

"Delicious pickled pigs feet, choice selections of fruit, butter by the pound or can, 1,200 pounds of Christmas candies warranted strictly pure, mixed pickles by the gallon. Anything in the line of groceries from a cracker to a car load of flour or from a nutmeg to a hogshead at Deming & Hollinger."

"A fine line of novelties for the Holidays at Hatcher's. Must be seen to be appreciated. An elegant assortment of Cloaks and Dolmans (a fashionable outer garment for women with cloak-like sleeves) will be closed out cheap. An unsurpassed stock of Gents' Neckware, Underwear, Hosiery and Gloves. An elegant line of Ladies' Goods, best and Cheapest place to buy in the city is at Hatcher's."

"More violins and small music than you ever saw --- organs, organ stools, sheet music at Storie's."

"Try the best cook stove in the market. The incomparble 'Acorn' at Goodrich & Ensley's."

"Every little boy and girl should call attention of their papa's and mama's to the unsurpassed stock of candies, raisins, nuts and every other kind of goodies at Vandervert's."

"New arrivals of goods at the Chicago Clothing House, east side, next door to Van Sickle's. Great bargains during the holidays, and don't you forget it, or to call and examine goods and prices."

"On Waynick's nickel and dime counters may be found many things, not only useful but appropriate for the Holidays. Examine his stock of these things and glance around at his elegant stock of perfumery and other toilet articles. Waynick's drug store is the place."

1 comment:

Brenda said...

I would love to travel back in time for a day, walk around the square, and visit the shops you wrote about today.