Dodge City Grocers 1920 and Now

The current economic situation made me think about former grocery stores in Dodge City. My mom and I were talking about dollar stores a while back and how there’s some equivalent of a Google alert that lets the chains know whenever a small town loses its last grocery store. Food deserts are a huge problem, even in a town like Dodge. Don’t believe me? Look at South Dodge and tell me what you see. If you need more than meat and tortillas, you’re spending a fortune at a convenience or specialty store, going to one of the dollar stores, or you’re crossing the river. I’ll probably never get over South Dillons closing. THAT WAS WHERE WE SHOPPED. Yes, Stotler’s was closer but it was more expensive and didn’t have near the selection. Stotler’s was where we walked or rode our bikes for a candy bar. Groceries came from South Dillons every week.

It wasn’t always this way. In 1920, Dodge City had two dedicated bakeries and 13 grocery stores, four of which had butchers. Most of the buildings are long gone but here’s what I know about them:

Home Bakery – 613 N Second Avenue – Demolished – Location was what is now the parking lot south of the First National Bank building.

There was a Home Bakery on Locust (Trail) Street back in 1886 but this wasn’t it.

The Dodge City Kansas Journal, July 21, 1911

Key was still listed as the owner in September of 1911 but William Rabourn was proprietor of the bakery on April 4, 1912 and then J. H. Austin bought it before the month was over. By August of 1912, it was owned by Carl Sever. Good grief! He renamed it Sever’s Home Bakery and stayed put for a while. But then Sever retired in January of 1916 and sold the business to B. S. Von Schultz. Sever evidently didn’t enjoy retirement because he and Thomas Henry Traynor bought it back in July of 1916. Traynor had been a railroad conductor and then a part owner of City Furniture.

By April of 1918, it was just Traynor.

Etricks’ Directory of Ford County 1920

C. J. and John J Farley bought the bakery March 1, 1921. W. B. Cross bought the bakery in 1924 and the Farley brothers announced they were moving to California.

The Dodge City Journal, March 13, 1924

Apparently, C. J. Farley couldn’t stay away and he repurchased the store in 1926. In 1927, Bob Graham bought the bakery from C. J. Farley. Make up your minds, people. The newly named Graham’s Bakery couldn’t stay long because the building was demolished to make room for the new bank, which opened in 1930.

Sturgeon’s Bakery and Confectionery – 217 W Chestnut Street – Demolished – Location was a victim of the Front Street urban renewal.

E. C. Sturgeon purchased a confectionery and bakery from M. M. Gwinner at 217 Chestnut Street in November of 1906.

The Dodge City Daily Globe, September 27, 1912

In late 1920, the family decided to focus their efforts on a wholesale bakery at 906 Fourth Avenue and closed the confectionery on Chestnut.

The Dodge City Journal, December 2, 1920

Reynolds Jewelry was located at 217 W Chestnut Street in 1923 through at least 1931. By 1953, the spot was home to Arvin Heichen Jewlers and they remained until at least 1962.

F. G. Barkley – 509 First Avenue – Demolished – Click here to read my post about the Masonic Temple.

Frank G Barkley arrived from Topeka with his new bride in June of 1903. He was a traveling salesman for the Parke-Davis Grocery Company. He bought an interest in the Sam Stubbs Grocery Store (more about him later) in January of 1908. Barkley wanted to be home more and Stubbs wanted to be outside more. After their store was destroyed in the Bargain Store fire in 1909, Barkley bought the E. D. Rumsey Grocery store stock in the corner room of the new and beautiful Masonic Temple.

The Dodge City Kansas Journal, September 12, 1913
Etricks’ Directory of Ford County 1920

The store advertised 18 years in the same location in 1926 but the math doesn’t quite work. Frank’s son, George, worked at the store until at least 1928.

Frank died in 1940 and by 1942, there was no grocery store listed in the Masonic Temple. The fate of Barkley’s is unclear. The fate of the building, however, is quite tragic.

Brundage and Brundage – 209 W Chestnut St – Demolished – Location was a victim of the Front Street urban renewal. This store had previously been called The Brundage-Hale Company and was located in the Masonic Temple. You’ll see the Hale name again below.

The store at 209 W Chestnut had been the site of Bingham Music Company and Palace Drug Store as well as Ayres & Liggett Grocery. By June of 1915, the grocery of Brundage & Prough was located at 209 W Chestnut. In 1917, it was known as Brundage & Brundage.

The Southwest News, April 11, 1924

They stayed in this spot until at least 1928. By 1942, Brundage Grocery was located at 108 E Oak Street but by 1947, the name of that store had been changed to Peterson’s Cash Market.

209 W Chestnut Street was home to Bob Johnson’s Kopper Korner (later Bob Johnson Plumbing Company) from at least 1947 to 1962.

Cash Grocery – 1000 Sixth Avenue – It’s still there! The 1920 directory listed the address as “cor 6th & Elm sts,” which is super specific. This one is fun, though. The first Sanborn Fire Insurance Map to show a structure at this location was published in 1918. It turns out the “Cash Grocery” was started by G. C. Hubbard in 1915.

Dodge City Daily Globe,  November 12, 1915

Hubbard sold the store in July of 1916 to J. M. Patterson, who was the former mayor of Stafford, Kansas. The Pattersons lived just a couple blocks up the road at 1201 Sixth Avenue. They still had the store in 1928.

The current structure was built in 1935 (according to the county assessor website) and it was a hotspot for Lincoln Elementary students seeking candy after school. In 1942, it was known as Harrison Food Market and in 1947 it was the Lightcap Food Market. In 1953, Roland L May had a grocery store at that location for a brief time and then it was renamed Hillcrest Grocery & Market. Then Walter Knapp and his wife bought the store around 1960 and called it Walt’s Hillcrest Grocery. The building has been a daycare and now a preschool for several years and it’s still as cute as can be. I love the little windows!

DeVoe Brothers – 412 Military Avenue – Demolished – Location is now a bare lot.

The Southwest News, March 14, 1924

This grocery store didn’t appear on any of the available Sanborn maps because it was too far east, even in 1926. It was still around in 1947 but the rest is a mystery. By 1953, Martin Vending Machines was listed at that address. From about 1955 to 1962, it was Unruh Electric Service. Now, the county doesn’t even show 412 Military Avenue as being a valid address.

Dodson & Morrow – 314 W Chestnut Street – This one isn’t exactly straightforward. The Bella Italia building was constructed in 1918 and the current address is 312 W Wyatt Earp Boulevard. Right next door is Nuevo Look Hair Salon (constructed in 1908) and the door says 316 but this whole block has been renumbered.

The 1926 Sanborn Map shows the building on the corner of Third Avenue and Chestnut Street being numbered 316 and 318 but the Pizza Hut currently occupying that corner is at 320 W Wyatt Earp Boulevard. So I think Dodson & Morrow was located at the store to the left of Nuevo Look. Either way, the county no longer has 314 W Wyatt Earp Boulevard as a separate address.

I haven’t found any advertisements for Dodson & Morrow in the local papers but I did find ads for a store alternatively referred to as Sweet Mercantile or Ward & Sweet starting in 1914.

Dodge City Daily Journal, March 16, 1918

Etrick Printers was located at 314 W Chestnut Street for many years. Sometime between 1930 and 1953, the block was renumbered and 314 W Chestnut Street stopped being a thing. Looks like something called the Mickey Mouse Bar found a home there in the 1950s until the space became vacant around 1959. After sitting empty for a few years, its first beauty shop occupied the space around 1962. That appears to be a good fit. Here’s a slightly better image of the building:

Drake Grocery Co – 602 N Second Avenue – This is another weird one with a renumbered block. The 1911 Sanborn map shows old and new street numbers and 602 was basically the north half of Salon Exotica. Each business was pretty narrow. By 1918, that had changed and 602 had disappeared from the map. The county website indicates the 600-602 building was constructed in 1920 but there doesn’t seem to be any change in footprint from the 1918 reconstruction. The 1926 map shows the addition of wood awnings but it all looks the same.

Drake Grocery Company was established by F. E. Drake and his four sons in 1911 at 117 West Chestnut Street. They bought out W. A. Imel’s inventory in 1918 and converted to a cash and carry model in the old Imel store.

The Dodge City Journal, June 26, 1919

In 1924, Drake Grocery was listed at 604 Second Avenue but I don’t think they moved. It was probably just a door that moved. So this general building in its various configurations housed Palace Drug Store, Warshaw’s Men’s Clothing, et cetera and so on. The building looks great, yada, yada…

John McCristy – 306 Front Street – Demolished – Location was a victim of the Front Street urban renewal. F. A. Ayers moved his meat market from 606 Second Avenue to 306 Front Street in March of 1912. It was later owned by J. L. Meairs, who sold it to John McChristy in 1917. McCristy had previously moved from Lewis to Ensign in 1915 to manage the Farmers Union store.

Dodge City Globe, March 29, 1917

The 1920 directory still listed the store under McChristy’s name but it was being run by Noll and Sever by July of 1920. In 1924, it was known as Wilson Grocery (owned by O. R. Wilson) but then the store was moved to 403 Second Avenue sometime around 1926. Ultimately, Front Street slid into decline and was slowly erased from existence. By the early 1950s, most of the driveways on Front Street were loading entrances for the businesses located on the south side of Chestnut Street.

Liggett Brothers – 305 W Chestnut Street – Demolished – Location was a victim of the Front Street urban renewal. Brothers Leo and Wilbur Liggett bought a grocery store from Ralph Burnett at 304 Chestnut Street in December of 1916. Leo had previously been a partner in Ayers & Liggett, which was sold to Brundage & Prough in 1915.

Dodge City Daily Journal, December 30, 1916

Popular Cafe was located at 305 Chestnut Street through the end of 1917 and then Liggett’s Grocery moved across the street in early 1918. Leo bought out his brother’s share in 1923 and then sold the store to O. A. Keller of Cullison in 1925.

The Dodger, October 6, 1925

The building was set up so there were entrances on both Chestnut and Front Streets. Assuming the block was not renumbered after 1926, it was later home to Nevins Hardware Company in the 1950s and ’60s. Then the dreaded urban renewal came to town.

H. C. & C. E. Moseley – South of Bridge, at Fork in Road – Still standing? – Location is a bit confusing. The 1920 directory simply states the location as “South Dodge.” H. C. Moseley opened this new store with his son in 1914 and called it Riverside Cash Grocery for a time but everyone knew it as Moseley’s.

The Dodge City Globe, May 20, 1915

I thought I knew exactly where this was but then I remembered how common it was for street addresses to change over time and I wasn’t far off…but I was off. Since the store existed in 1914, I took another look at the 1918 Sanborn map and it stopped before the fork. Bridge Avenue became Second Avenue and 1st Street became Beech Street. The only store shown down there was at 113 Bridge Avenue and it was labeled “Meat.” I suppose that could have been it but I don’t think so. I think it was further south, beyond the boundary of the 1918 map. If you look at the 1926 Sanborn map, there is a wood structure just south of the fork that is labeled 307 Bridge Avenue. I think that could be the one because I happen to know the Moseley family lived at what was then 213 Sunnyside and that’s super close to the store. Unfortunately, the county assessor website indicates the structure currently at 307 S Second Avenue (Black Jack’s Liquor) was built in 1920 but it has been proven wrong before. It’s possible this is the place and the liquor store does look like it could have been a former grocery. In the interest of time, let’s just go with it.

H. C. Moseley died in October of 1916. Then C. E. Moseley (the son) died in October of 1918 from Spanish Flu. In September of 1919, a daughter, Ambia, married bandleader E. M. (Ole) Olson, who was a close friend of my great-granduncle, Otero Beeson. Ambia ran the store for a few years after her brother died while Ole served as Undersheriff of Ford County and did all of the local municipal band things. Ambia’s mother sold the store to Curtis and William Ott in October of 1922. S. N. Perkins from Wellington then bought the store in June of 1925. The 1926 directory still just showed the location as “South Dodge.” By 1942, S. N. Perkins Grocery was located at 207 W Mulberry Street.

Assuming I identified the correct building on South Second, it was home to Myers Ice Cream in the early 1950s and ’60s. In 1967, Nelson Retail Liquor Store was located at 307 S Second Avenue. As far as I know, it’s been a liquor store ever since.

New Era Grocery – 319 W Chestnut Street – Demolished – Location was a victim of the Front Street urban renewal. D. H. Jones and (H. M.?) Hale were the proprietors.

Dodge City Daily Journal, April 16, 1918

The store moved into the Garner Building at Third and Chestnut in November of 1918. By August of 1919, Jones had bought out Hale’s share. In February of 1922, F. W. Davis opened a meat market at the store. Henry C. Wright and Charles M. Martin purchased the store in the spring of 1922 and called it the Wright & Martin Cash Grocery. This building also had frontage on Front Street and there was a cream station at that end. By 1926, the store was known as M & V Cash Grocery under the management of S. F. Martin and J. J. Vaughn.

The Southwest News, November 11, 1926

In 1947, the store at Third and Chestnut was called Ideal Food Store. In 1967, Carlson Paint & Wallpaper was listed at 319 W Wyatt Earp Boulevard but I’m not sure if the block was ever renumbered. By now, you’re well aware of what happened to the odd-numbered addresses on Chestnut/Wyatt Earp.

Sam Stubbs – 505 2nd Avenue – Location was in Locke’s Bargain Store building (later Eckles Department Store.) The building has been through a lot but it’s still there.

There was a Stubbs in the Dodge City grocery business at least as far back as 1887. Sam Stubbs and F. G. Barkley (remember him?!) made plans to occupy a space in the Bargain Store building before construction began in 1908. Stubbs & Barkley merged with Dodge City Mercantile Company, as did the Bargain Store. It was all wiped out in a fire the following year. Sam Stubbs had as many as five stores by 1918. The one in the rebuilt Bargain Store building was known as the “big store.”

Dodge City Daily Globe, February 18, 1916
Etricks’ Directory of Ford County 1920

By March of 1922, Stubbs only had one remaining store and he moved it to 211 West Chestnut Street by 1924. I believe the ad below should read “Retailer” rather than whatever the heck that says. I bet someone got out their red pen.

The Southwest News, March 14, 1924

Lee Vollmer began managing the store around 1924 and eventually, the store was called Stubbs-Vollmer Grocery. Fun fact: Lee Vollmer married the Stubbs daughter, Minerva. Not-so-fun fact: Lee Volmer died in 1940 at the young age of 52. The 1947 directory lists Western Auto Associate Store at 211 West Chestnut Street. I didn’t find any listing at 211 West Wyatt Earp Boulevard in 1967.

As for the Bargain Store, Walter N Locke had a building constructed at the southwest corner of Second Avenue and Walnut Street in 1908 but it was destroyed by a fire the following year. It has been incorrectly written that Frank Locke was the driving force behind the Bargain Store but while he did work there, it was his father’s business. The county assessor website incorrectly shows the current building was constructed in 1912 but the 1911 Sanborn map shows the building was already there…because it was constructed and reopened in 1910. Walter Locke died in 1922 and I’ll write more about that whole crazy situation soon.

Anyway, Eckles Brothers Department Store opened at the old Bargain Store location in May of 1926.

The Southwest News, April 29, 1926
Dodge City’s Diamond Jubilee Souvenir, Published by Dodge City Chamber of Commerce, 1947

Again, I’ll go into more detail about this glorious building in a later post but Eckles Department Store closed in late 1984 or early 1985. I loved going there with my grandmother and riding the elevator. Like, I barely remember anything about the store other than it was a nice place. But the elevator…what a thrill! The building reopened as a shopping mall called Eckles Main Street Centre in August of 1985.

The Wichita Eagle-Beacon, March 31, 1986

There have been a fragillion businesses in what is now called Eryn’s Downtown Center, many of them restaurants. Thank goodness the awful modern metal contraption was removed from the exterior but it was extremely damaging. The building just doesn’t look all that great currently.

But at least it’s still standing and in use!

South Side Grocery – 309 Santa Fe Trail -Demolished – Location is an empty lot directly east of the old Scheufler’s building.

The Dodge City Kansas Journal, May 8, 1914

South Side Grocery was located in the Sitler-Bell Building, which was constructed in 1886. If you look at the 1889 Sanborn Map, you will notice there are clearly four entrances at the front. This is important…I promise.

Ford County Republican, January 18, 1888

Anyway by 1915, the grocery was one of the Sam Stubbs stores. The 1918 Sanborn map shows the grocery store (309) and adjoining rooming house (311) and still four entrances in front. The map also shows that the structure to the west (in yellow) is still made of wood so the county assessor website showing the Scheufler’s building next door was built in 1900 is very obviously incorrect. I mean, you can tell that just by looking at it but whatever. The Sitler-Bell Building and store were owned by Sam Stubbs until March of 1922 when both were sold to Otto Souder, who changed the name to the Otto Souder Grocery.

The Dodge City Journal, February 28, 1924

You’ll notice on the 1926 Sanborn Map there are now only three entrances in front. This is where things apparently started getting weird. Aside from the fact that the building to the west was *still* made out of wood, something happened between 1926 and approximately 1937 that erased half of the building. I’m not kidding. It disappeared.

Ford County Republican, January 18, 1888 – red marks mine

By 1942, the store was known as Souder Mercantile Company at 309 W Trail Street. In 1947, Lillich Printing Company was located at 309 W Trail Street and what was left of the rooming house was called Lillich Apartments at 309 1/2 W Trail Street. By 1959, Lillich Printing was still there but the rooming house was vacant. Edwin Lillich died in January of 1978 at the age of 76 and I’m pretty sure the store was still open at that time. His wife, Jean, died in October of 1982 at the age of 83. By the time I was old enough to notice such things, the building was a pile of crumbling brick and peeling paint.

Photo by Troy Robinson

I remember when those two buildings east of Scheufler’s started coming down. There was an old cabinet shop east of the Sitler-Bell Building that was also a hot mess. I was in the car with my parents at the stop light at Trail and Second facing west. There was wallpaper going diagonally up the wall where a staircase had been and I was absolutely mystified. Even though those places were thoroughly roached out, it bothered me to realize how fragile and temporary things were. Except the wallpaper. I swear to you it stayed on that exposed wall for years afterward. It was a trip.

The remaining half of the Sitler-Bell Building was demolished on July 16, 1989. There had been a super heavy rain the day before that had collapsed the roof and part of the actual structure. The City had been trying to tear it down for about a year but it had been registered as a historic landmark.

Here’s how it looks now:

Trail Street looking southeast toward Second Avenue

Wright and Ivens – 505 First Avenue -Demolished – *Another* grocery store in the old Masonic Temple, right next door to Barkley’s. Omer Wright was from Missouri and arrived in Ford County in 1905. His cash grocery opened in the Masonic Temple on August 29, 1914.

Dodge City Daily Globe, August 28, 1914

Wright started out accepting cash only but slowly began extending credit to his customers. By September of 1915, he was back to cash only. It wasn’t long before he decided to sell.

The Dodge City Kansas Journal, May 11, 1916

Not so fast!

The Dodge City Daily Globe, August 1, 1918

This time, though, it wasn’t Omer Wright! The store was purchased by Mrs. Robert M Wright and her brother, R. A. Ivens, who had just moved to Dodge from Madisonville, Tennessee. The store was then sold to A. Polson and his son, A. N. Polson on July 31, 1920. They had been selling produce at 317 W Chestnut Street after moving to Dodge from Colorado a few weeks prior. Unfortunately, the deal fell through and by August 19, Wright and Ivens (mostly Ivens) were in charge again.

The Perfect Bakery, owned by R. E. Parsons, had occupied some space at Barkley’s Grocery and moved into Wright and Ivens in November of 1920. By January of 1921, the bakery had bought out all of the grocery stock and had ordered equipment to occupy the entire space as a bakery. Parsons had “disposed of” the bakery sometime in the summer of 1921 and B. D. Cawthon facilitated the sale to Mrs. Robert M Rath in September of 1921. By 1922, the bakery had moved to 506 Second Avenue.

Sometime in the early 1920s, Bob Graham (remember him???) bought the bakery from Mrs. Rath. Curtis Ott and Roy Miller bought the Perfect Bakery shortly after that. In May of 1926, Miller assumed full ownership. It was still Perfect in 1928 but I (being imperfect) ran out of steam.

Going back to the Masonic Temple, Grose’s Confectionery took over the spot at 505 First Avenue for a while but the building was ultimately doomed.

I feel like I need a flowchart for all of these revolving people and addresses. There was a ton of turnover and turmoil but people were really hustling out there. Next time, I’m going to focus on how the stores kind of evolved over the years and share photos of some other former grocery stores I have taken recently. It’s so weird…as much as I hate grocery shopping, I love those old stores!

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2 thoughts on “Dodge City Grocers 1920 and Now

Add yours

  1. I grew up west of Dodge City and spent a lot of time in Dodge from the early 1970’s to the mid 1980’s. I am so sad when I go to Dodge now and see how much has changed and how much is no longer around. Sad!

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    1. I feel your pain! It seems like attitudes are shifting toward preservation but it’s taken a long time and there’s been so much decay that it’s becoming extremely cost prohibitive. We can only hope funding is available when the building owners need it.

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