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By Mike Avitt
Last week I mentioned several of Mount Ayr’s grocery stores in the 1930s. This week we’ll look at some earlier than that.
The building in this week’s article was built in 1891 for grocer H. H. Wilson. Mr. Wilson passed away in 1922, but many readers will remember his son, Attorney Frank Wilson. Henry Havelock Wilson came to Mount Ayr from Lenox in 1879, the year Mount Ayr got the railroad.
Wilson became one of Mount Ayr’s most successful retailers and branched out into other businesses like real estate, grain buying, and farm loans.
The house at 103 Shellway Drive was built for him in 1914-15. The former Wilson Grocery building is still standing at 112 W. Madison. It was Cunning & Co. for decades.
Harry Liggett and his brother Arthur, along with Charlie Horne, took over the store in 1918 and, eventually, this grocery store became Hyde’s (Hy-Vee) in 1947. Harry and Arthur came from a grocery background.
Their father, Thomas Liggett, had been in the grocery business for about twenty years when he had the building at 111 W. Madison erected in 1891.
Thomas had many partners before 1891 such as J. R. Henderson, J. S. Kirby, and John Wall, all successful retailers. When the new building opened Thomas had his brother John Hall Liggett as his partner.
This building caught fire in 1933 and Dean Jacobs had it rebuilt for his fur business. It is still standing.
Fred Offenhauser had a grocery store at 101 W. Madison but it burned in November 1885 and was replaced with a two-story dry goods store in 1886 by William Timby. We know that building today as the Princess Theatre.
One very interesting grocer was William DeLashmutt. Mr. DeLashmutt was deaf but very capable.
He came to Ringgold County in 1872 and farmed until about 1877 when he moved to Mount Ayr and worked retail.
In 1880 he was elected Ringgold County Sheriff and later, Mount Ayr Postmaster. He had a brick building at 104 S. Taylor where he sold groceries. He moved the post office there in 1898.
Iowa Southern Utilities occupied that building for many decades. DeLashmutt moved west to seek a healthier climate about 1904.
John Wall was a very successful grocer despite moving a half a dozen times in his career.
His first location is unknown to me but he moved to the west side of the square, 101 S. Fillmore, in 1890. That building burned in 1894 and Wall moved to the Timby block on the east side of the square, then onto 119 S. Fillmore in 1895.
In 1916 he moved to 122 W. Madison. By now his son E. B. Wall was in the business.
Wall Grocery moved to 109 S. Fillmore in 1920 and before the year was out, moved to 108 W. Madison, their last location. They sold out to the Supply Store in 1925.
The Supply Store was run by Charles Hyde, the co-founder of Hy-Vee.
Charlie Stranahan had several jobs in retail then opened his own grocery store on the corner where the post office is in 1913. The Mount Ayr Bank had just moved out and Charlie called his store Stranahan’s Busy Corner.
In August of 1917, Charlie announced his store would no longer deliver groceries saying he could reduce his prices by eliminating that service.
Stranahan’s Busy Corner had their closing out sale in January 1919.