Monday, July 11, 2011

Duckwalls Living in my Hometown

As I was reviewing a page from the 1930 Federal Census in my hometown of Great Bend, Barton, Kansas, I noticed this entry for Wilbur and Minnie Duckwall:
Wilbur's occupation was listed a "Proprietor of Variety Store". I should say so! 

Here's a brief history of the Duckwall Stores from their Facebook page: "Based in Abilene, Kansas since 1901, we have successfully grown the company from its first single retail store in Abilene, to the popular 214 store retail chain serving “Small Town America” in 23 states today. In 1737 the Duckwall family immigrated from England to America. Our founder, Alva Lease Duckwall, Sr. was born in 1877 and moved to Greenleaf, KS in the late 1890’s where at the age of 18, he opened a small shop that specialized iin sewing machine sales and bicycle repair. It was A.L.'s brother-in-law, Charles Fitzwater, who had the idea to sell small items needed in the home. Charles checked several towns, including Abilene, where he found the “Racket Store” for sale. While Charles decided not to buy the Racket Store, A.L. and his brother Wilbur liked the idea. A.L. sold his sewing machine/bicycle shop in Greenleaf for $413.00. He borrowed an equal amount from a local bank, threw in his life savings of $90.00 and bought the inventory and fixtures. A.L.’s brother Wilbur sold his restaurant in Greenleaf and joined him in Abilene. They called their new store “Duckwall Bros. RACKET STORE - A Little Bit Of Everything”. The history of Duckwall-ALCO Stores, Inc. had begun. The year was 1901."

The Kansas Historical Society offers this photo and bit of information about Alva Duckwall:
We never can tell what we're going to learn about our hometowns while researching our family history!

1 comment:

Greta Koehl said...

Interesting - I have been feeling some "hometown nostalgia" of late - I think it's because my hometown in Texas has a Facebook page and a lot of my classmates are posting memories there - and some of the fondest memories are of the variety store! Nothing like small town life.