The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Collection Title: McLeod (John A.) Department Store Records
Collection Number: M298
Dates: 1873 - 1982
Volume: ca. 6 cubic feet
The John A. McLeod Department Store operated as a general mercantile establishment in downtown Hattiesburg, Mississippi from approximately 1899 to 1932. Situated at 600 Main Street (corner of Main and Pine), the company was incorporated in August 1899 by John Angus McLeod and George M. Kennedy, as the McLeod and Kennedy Company. In addition to the sale of general merchandise, the business was authorized by its charter to engage in the logging and timber business; to purchase, manufacture, and sell turpentine and rosin; to operate saw and planing mills; and to own and operate branch offices in other areas of Mississippi. Merchandise offered by the store included groceries, hardware, piece goods, clothing, and farm supplies.
In 1904 the partnership between John McLeod and George Kennedy was dissolved, and the company was reorganized as the John A. McLeod Company, with Mr. McLeod as president and treasurer and his wife, Mrs. Lida McLeod, as vice president and secretary. The business apparently flourished until approximately 1932, but ceased operation sometime between 1932 and 1935. Though the exact date and reason for the store's demise are not known, several events that occurred in 1932 and 1933 probably served as catalysts. First, J. Angus McLeod Jr., who had been groomed to follow his father as head of the company, died of a heart attack on July 2, 1932. Secondly, Mr. Mcleod's wife, Lida, died on June 19, 1933. And finally, Mr. McLeod was partially blinded by cataracts at that point in time. Of his three surviving sons, one was a physician, and the other two were in the insurance business. His son-in-law, H.A. Gilliam, was in the insurance business as well. So in all probability, the company expired because there was no one available to continue it. At any rate, by 1935 the former McLeod Department Store was occupied by the Davidson and Mullinix Department Store.
John Angus McLeod was a pioneer businessman and one of Hattiesburg's leading citizens. He was born on November 12, 1857 in Santee, Mississippi, a small town in Jefferson Davis County (then Covington County). The McLeod family emigrated from Scotland, and were among the early settlers of Santee, which was founded in 1820. Mr. McLeod's early ambition was to become a planter, but he became disenchanted after visiting operations in the Mississippi delta. He decided to try his luck as a merchant instead, and in 1883 he moved to Purvis, Mississippi, where he established a general mercantile business. At the same time, he engaged in the area's lucrative lumber business.
In 1887, Miss Lida Rebecca Calhoun of Mobile, Alabama, arrived in Purvis to visit her brother who was in the area to oversee the Calhoun family's extensive Mississippi land holdings. Mr. McLeod had occasion to meet Miss Calhoun during her stay, and it was love at first sight for both. The two were married on December 29, 1887, and five children were born of the union -- Annie Rose, John Angus, Jr., Hugh Carroll, William Calhoun, and James Daniel.
In search of a more fertile field for the mercantile business, Mr. McLeod moved to Hattiesburg in 1896 and purchased an interest in the J.S. Turner Company which was located at the corner of Main and Front Streets. McLeod terminated his association with the Turner Company in 1899, and shortly thereafter, he and George Kennedy organized the McLeod and Kennedy Company.
In addition to his interests in lumbering and the mercantile business, Mr. McLeod served as president of Citizens Bank (now Trustmark Bank) from its founding in 1902 until 1924. Other professional endeavors included a 1000 acre farm on Old Highway 49, south of Hattiesburg, on which tenant farmers produced commercial crops such as pecans, peaches, watermelons, cotton, and forestry products.
Mr. McLeod was a member of Main Street Methodist Church, where he served on the Board of Stewards. He was considered an authority on the history of Methodism, and was frequently asked to speak, as a layman, at protracted Methodist meetings. He also served on the Methodist Hospital Board of Directors.
Credited with a phenomenal memory, Mr. McLeod was of invaluable assistance to the compilers of the Works Progress Administration's history of Forrest County during the 1930s. He was a spectator at the bare knuckle heavyweight championship fight between John L. Sullivan and Jake Kilrain on July 8, 1889 in Richburg, Mississippi, and it is said that he particularly enjoyed relating that story.
No biographical sketch of Mr. McLeod would be complete without a brief reference to the McLeod home at 802 Main Street. Built in 1897, the three-story Queen Anne mansion is one of the most distinctive homes in the city, and is a favorite subject of area artists. Members of the McLeod family lived in the home until the 1980s when it was sold to John M. Deakle, attorney at law. At this writing, it houses Mr. Deakle's law offices.
John Angus McLeod died on October 21, 1937 at Methodist Hospital. He is interred in the family plot at Oaklawn Cemetery in Hattiesburg. His wife, four of their children, his son-in-law, and a grandson (killed in World War II) rest nearby.
The bulk of this collection is comprised of twenty volumes of financial journals, ledgers, and receipt books documenting operation of the John A. McLeod Department Store in downtown Hattiesburg, Mississippi between 1899 and 1932. The majority of the records focus on the period 1917-1932; very little information is provided for previous years. In addition, the collection contains one book of McLeod Farm records, one journal of the J. C. Calhoun and Sons general mercantile business in Mobile, Alabama, and an assortment of memorabilia pertaining to the McLeod Family.
For several decades, these records were stored in the attic of the McLeod home at 802 Main Street in Hattiesburg. In the late 1980s, the home was purchased by local attorney, John M. Deakle, and the financial books and other items in the collection were discovered during renovations. Recognizing their historic significance, Mr. Deakle donated the materials to the University of Southern Mississippi Archives in 1988. The covers on several of the financial books are in various stages of deterioration, but the contents are generally well-preserved and quite legible.
Box 1 contains five volumes, each designed for a particular purpose. Volume one is a Combined Record Book which contains a handwritten copy of the McLeod and Kennedy Company's 1899 charter and a copy of the 1904 amendment changing the company's name to the John A. McLeod Company. Also in this book are minutes of board of directors and shareholders meetings from November 1899 to January 1920, and a stock register showing ownership of company stock. The minutes are brief, however, and provide little insight into operations during the period. Volume two is a Trial Balance Book (Aug. - Dec. 1915). In accounting, the purpose of a trial balance is to ferret out errors in journalization before final entry in a ledger. This volume contains information concerning accounts payable and receivable, and provides names of customers and suppliers of the McLeod Company. Volume three is a Cash Book which details receipts and disbursements from July 1922 to December 1923. Volume four begins a series of eight Day Books, a type of journal used to record current transactions. However, the first two Day Books (vols. 4 & 5) have been used for inventory records (1924-1930). All entries therein are dated December 31, suggesting that the company's fiscal year coincided with the calendar year. Judging from these records, the store carried a wide variety of merchandise including clothing, shoes, piece goods, sewing notions, household items, luggage, health and beauty aids, hardware, and farm supplies. Interestingly, pages 272-307 of volume four record sales of cotton produced by tenant farmers on the McLeod farm during 1926 and 1927. These entries include name of producer, weight of bale, production costs, sale price, and name of purchaser. Volume six, the final Day Book in Box 1 has been relabeled "Wood Book", and records sales of wood from the McLeod Farm between 1918 and 1922. Entries provide names of customers, price of purchase, and in some instances, the amount of wood purchased plus a note as to whether the patron was a city or country dweller.
Box 2 contains the remaining five Day Books, which are essentially cash books, dating from 1923-1932. However, pages 6-65 of volume two concern the store's grocery department, and document transactions with wholesale suppliers between 1923 and 1924. Examples of local merchants with whom McLeod's dealt are the Merchants Grocery Company, Hattiesburg Grocery Company, Mattingly's Bakery, Mohler & Sons Coffee Company, and Shelby Wholesale Company.
Box 3 contains a Purchase Journal covering the years 1920-1929. This volume records merchandise purchased from various wholesale suppliers, primarily dry goods and shoes. Suppliers represented include Ely & Walker Dry Goods Co. (St. Louis, MO); Davies Shoe Manufacturers (Racine, WI); Southern Suspender Co. (Edwards, MS); Mayfield Woolen Mills (Mayfield, KY); and Southwestern Broom Co. (Evansville, IN). Entries consist of description and monetary value of items purchased. Also in Box 3 are two receipt books (1926-27 & 1930-31) which reflect payments on customer accounts.
The collection contains three Sales Journals which provide detailed information concerning daily transactions of the McLeod Department Store between 1917 and 1931. For example, the initial entry in the first of these journals (Box 4, 1917-1920) records that on November 5, 1917, Joe Cook (president of Mississippi Normal College, now USM) purchased a handkerchief for ten cents. This volume also records salaries of McLeod Company employees at the end of each month. Due to its size, it was necessary to place the second Sales Journal (1920-1925) out of chronological order. It can be found in Box 10. The final Sales Journal (1926-1931), the rear portion of which is devoted to invoice records detailing transactions with suppliers, is located in Box 5.
Boxes 6 and 7 contain what appear to be Creditors Ledgers (1917-1923 & 1925-1930), reflecting activity concerning accounts with suppliers.
Box 8 contains a ledger that appears to record income and expenses (1924-1931). Left-facing pages have entries under the headings "Sundries" and "Merchandise", which appear to reflect income. Entries on right-facing pages are under the headings "Sundries", "Freight", Expense", "Drayage", and "Merchandise", and appear to reflect expenditures.
Box 9 contains the company's General Ledger No. 8 (1917-1930). As a rule, general ledgers contain summarized accounts of all assets, liabilities, and elements of ownership equity of a business, including expenses and revenues, and entries therein are posted portion of this volume contains accounts relating to operating expenses, for example, merchandise, bills payable and receivable, church and charity donations, advertising, drayage, insurance, interest, and profit and loss. The rest of the ledger reflects debits and credits affecting customer accounts. Arranged alphabetically, the accounts contain the names of many prominent citizens, for example, Paul Draughn, Dr. W.W. Crawford, Sam Adler, Jessie Griffin, D.W. Holmes, Joseph E. Sarphie, Victor Scanlan, and John R. Tally.
An Accounts Ledger (ca. 1917-1926) in Box 11 records debits and credits affecting customer and expense accounts. This volume lists former Mississippi governor, Paul B. Johnson, as a customer.
The oldest item in the collection, a Journal of J.C. Calhoun and Sons general mercantile company in Mobile, Alabama, can be found in Box 12. J.C. Calhoun was John A. McLeod's father-in-law. This journal documents daily transactions of the company from March 8, 1873 to October 5, 1874. Entries consist of customers' names, items purchased, price per unit, and total price of sale. Typical orders include sugar, flour, meal, candles, grits, molasses, bacon, ham, tobacco, hay, soap, coffee, and salt. An additional service provided was the boarding of animals. Page 84 notes that on April 22, 1873, E.W. Short was charged $5.00 for boarding a mule. Mr. Calhoun's great granddaughter, Lida Frances Gilliam, used this journal during the late 1920s or early 1930s for practicing her penmanship, and it is liberally sprinkled with her childish scrawl.
Boxes 13 and 14 contain loose items found in the various ledgers and journals; samples of invoice payment forms and sales books used by the McLeod Department Store in the 1920s and 1930s; and items relating to the McLeod Family. Items found in journals and ledgers are primarily invoices of various suppliers. School memorabilia of McLeod grandchildren, Lida Frances, Anne, and Howard Gilliam, comprise the bulk of family-related items. Included are scrapbooks, school papers, programs, and mementoes of Lida Gilliam's college days at State Teachers College (now the University of Southern Mississippi). One of the more unique items is a history of Forrest County prepared by Anne Gilliam in about 1935. It is in booklet form, and is in the shape of Forrest County.
The John A. McLeod Department Store was one of many that proliferated in downtown Hattiesburg during its heyday as a railroad and lumbering center, and citizens from all walks of life are represented in its records -- from the socially elite to tenant farmers. These records provide insight into the history of Hattiesburg, as well as the mercantile business during the early twentieth century.
Mrs. Lida Rogers Oral History Interview, transcript call number F341.5 .M57, vol. 560 (McCain Library).