A trip to town in the 1890s - Part 2 from “Dr. McElrath’s Murray”

A group of early Calloway doctors around 1890. Front row, from left, are Dr. Covington, Dr. J.G. Hart, second row, Dr. J.H. Sales, Dr. Crawford, Dr. Mason, Dr. J.R. Coleman, unknown, third row, Dr. Hensley, unknown, Dr. Curd and Dr. Dunaway. Dr. Covington lived in an old hotel at Wadesboro which he converted into his residence.

The little boy’s father occupied the next building (now owned by the McElrath boys, Tom and John), and to be sure, most of his trips to town centered there. He, too, was a dry goods merchant, but he, as well as the Hale and Ryan establishments, outfitted the entire family. There were no men’s stores. His helpers were Taz Sledd, Charles Bradley, Barber McElrath, Frank Belchur, George Stubblefield, Bob Gatlin, Uncle Josh Sledd, Asher Graham and others. Miss Kitty McRay and Mrs. Dan Owens (the mother of Mrs. O.T. Hale and Mrs. Toy Farmer) operated the millinery and dress-making department, which occupied a small two-story house around the corner of Curd Street (now occupied by Dr. Clark). Theirs was perhaps the first strictly ladies’ establishment in Murray.

On the corner of Main and fourth, a cousin, Barber McElrath, sold hardware.

We cross the street to a building that had particular interest. The corner was occupied by W.P. Gatlin & Company, dealers in hardware, groceries and buggies. The little boy’s brother was the junior partner and he always opened one of the candy jars when the younger brother came in. The Gatlin Building, which cost less than $8,000 when constructed, is still in the family.

The space next in the same building was occupied by Mr. Foster. His sons Ed and John worked with him. They sold fruit, candies and bottled drinks, and at some time, operated a restaurant. The first purchase of box candy the somewhat larger boy ever invested in, a half-pound of Towney’s that cost 30 cents and depleted his exchequer completely, was purchased here. It was a Christmas present to a certain girl that lives on North Seventh Street.

From here on, there may be some gaps in the little boy’s memory as well as some errors. East of the Gatlin Building was a one-story house where Mr. Paris Ellison and his son, Jack, had a grocery. In the space east of this point, was a barber shop. From there to the corner was occupied by Overbey and Purdom’s grocery store, there was at least one other grocery (probably Jim Cole’s) and in the 1890s Dr. Young, at one time, sold drugs.

Just across the street east, Lonnie Curd did business in a small frame house and was succeeded by A.B. Beale and Son. 

Going back toward the court square on the south side of Main was John Mill’s livery stable which  occupied the space now covered by the Elmus Beale Hotel. In the building between there and Parker’s Jewelry Store, at some time in those days, Sol Ham had a grocery and a bakery. Mr. A.J. Parker, father of the late Joe T. Parker, did watch repairing and sold jewelry. Murray’s only Greek ran a very small restaurant. Dr. Grogan owned the house where Parker’s Grocery is now. He had his office upstairs and Lee Lucas had his shoe shop below.

On the corner where the Bank of Murray now stands, but occupying only half of the space, was Dick Beale’s store. The next space south is a blank, but the next was Baker and Morris, dealers in hardware, groceries and buggies. Dr. Dick Williams accounts for the next place; he was the postmaster. East of him was Mr. Tife Wilcox with groceries and hardware. Solon Higgins owned the next building. He was a watchmaker and sold jewelry. The property is still owned by the family. The next two spaces were a livery stable run by Bill Spencer, Boyd Spencer’s father. The corner in these days was, at one time, a grocery and at another, a produce house operated by Mr. Tom Holcomb.

Dr. Dyer Schroader had his blacksmith shop where the post office now stands. On the space across the street now occupied by the Standard Oil service station, the Molly Martin Shop, and Berry Insurance Agency, there was an old rambling house, used at various times as a woodworking shop, a warehouse and a residence. 

Baker and Morris had a warehouse next on Maple. Then came J.H. Churchill’s undertaking establishment and his residence above. In the early 1890s, Judge Linn built the building where City Hall is. For years it was occupied by Judge Simpson, city judge and dealer in farm implements. West of him, John Derrington had a blacksmith shop; Galen Grogan learned the trade under him. There was another undertaking establishment in this block, owned and operated by Mr. Covington. The corner was a livery barn operated perhaps by Mr. Phillips, Clarence Phillip’s father.

On the corner where the Methodist church stands, there was an old-fashioned two-story hotel of colonial design with a generous porch above and below. It was operated by “Beef” Jackson.

The west side of the square was constituted of a number of one-story buildings - largely used for offices, but Love’s Gallery was the exception. It was near the south corner. The gallery, above the lower floor, was used for an office. Mr. Love, the father of Hunter Love, shared the space above with Dr. Kydell, the first college-trained dentist to practice in Murray.

South of the Love Building was a small box house where “Beef” Jackson sold meat. It seemed the corner was vacant. Later, it was a blacksmith shop and still later, a poultry house operated by Will Holcomb.

From the Love Building north, there were several offices - Judge Cook, Frank Peterson, Abe Thompson, Dr. Sale and Mr. LaFever, and perhaps others. Near the middle of the block was an older building, at one time the  home of “The Calloway Times,” and at another, the saddler shop of Jerome Wellington (formerly Stanley Schroader). North were offices occupied by Dr. Bob Coleman and his brother, the late Jim Coleman. Dr. Grogan owned the house next to the corner. His son Joe, at one time, had his law office there; at another time, Bert Peterson used it for a book store. Yet again, it was the home of “The Calloway Times.” 

The corner building was George Slaughter’s grocery and the first place that carried those delightful caramel suckers which thrilled the hearts of every boy and girl who had the price.

Now the little boy must go home. The grocery basket he must carry is large and heavy, for the family is large and the latch-string hangs outside. He prefers to walk on the south side of the road, for there is more shade. On the Hale property (near where T. Waldrop lives) there is a row of walnut trees whose shade is welcome on a hot day. And what is that growing in the field which extends from this point to the end of the block and over to Price Street and back behind the Hale place to the corner just in front of Mr. Will Ryan’s home place (now the house of their son John)?

It is a field of tobacco. Yes, tobacco raised on Main Street in Murray in the early 1890s, and Mr. Will Ryan was the producer.

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