Sunday, January 24, 2010

The First Store

With Gazley’s hamlet located so near the northwestern edge of the sparsely populated frontier, and with very limited resupply opportunities available, it seemed logical to him to make periodic resupply trips to San Felipe de Austin, the hub of the Austin colonies, in order to obtain the essential consumables, materials, and equipment his endeavors required. With the passage of time and the arrival of a few new neighbors, Thomas decided that he should increase the size of his resupply orders so that he might be able to make some of the essentials available to other settlers in his general area.

Reasonably soon, this simple beginning developed into the prairie’s first store. It was a little old elm log building, and the entire stock might easily have been carried on the back of a single pack animal. In addition to limited quantities of the bare essentials, the store’s inventory also included a few basic medical drugs and medicinal alcohol.

As Gazley bartered successfully with the local Indians and settlers, his tiny store evolved into a trading location which enjoyed a thriving business. He often took eggs, butter, and chickens in trade for his merchandise. In time, the store became the center for the village’s business life and it was also established as the precinct’s official polling place, known as Gazley Prairie. Later, A.C. Wilkes even taught school near the store. (A Gazley family owned store continued in the area for another two generations.)

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