Sunday, March 4, 2018

Kerrville Ephemera: the curious journey of Parsons' bill

April 17, 1895 statement of A. Bl Williamson's account with Parsons Bros.
Click on any image to enlarge.
The old printer in me certainly enjoyed looking through my friend Bryant Saner's collection of Kerrville invoices from the turn of the last century.
Some were from companies of which I'd never heard. One had a typo. One showed frugality, which may have been one of the reasons that merchant was so successful. One was issued from a company that once stood about where our print shop stands today in the 600 block of Water Street. Another showed a wide and discordant assortment of products.
W. E. Stewart notesheet
For example, W. E. Stewart's stationery plainly said he was a druggist, and that's what I've seen in my research. "Physician's Prescriptions Carefully Prepared," his stationery stated. But his stationery also said he was a dealer in "paints, oils, dye stuffs, etc." He also sold "Toilet Articles and Fancy Goods," including fine stationery, and perfumes.
The note written on the W. E. Stewart stationery was signed by A. M. Gilmer, and requested "jury scrip due me for services as a Grand Juror at the last term of court also scrip for holding election."
Most of the other items were invoices to A. B. (Albert Bonaparte) Williamson, who was born in Kerrville in 1868. He lived in Kerrville his entire life, passing away in 1948. Williamson served as Kerr County treasurer for 24 years, and later was Cashier at First State Bank. Many of the invoices in Bryant Saner's collection use Williamson's nickname, "Bony."
Williamson was a customer of several drug stores including W. E. Stewart's, Rawson's, A. M. Morriss, Roberts & Kyle, and J. B. Mosby. Those last three were new to me.
He bought lumber from Frank J. Beitel, dealer in "Calcasieu, Lousiana and Texas Lumber," and from H. Remschel.
H. Remschel invoice
Remschel's invoice is interesting. It's marked paid and signed by Remschel, who probably knows how to spell his own name. The poor printer, however, spelled the name incorrectly, "Remshcel."
J L Pampell was frugal
Williamson also spent a total of 40 cents over a four month period with T. F. Coffey, a dealer in "confectioneries." Looking closer at the bill, however, the printed name T. F. Coffey is marked through, and replaced, by hand with Jno. L. Pampell. J. L. Pampell was the founder of Pampell's, which included a pharmacy and soda fountain, along with a soft drink bottling plant in the back of the building.
Rather than have new invoices printed, Mr. Pampell frugally used up the supply on hand. Such habitual thrift may have contributed to his family's successful business.
The invoice which I was most happy to see was from Parson Brothers, who operated livery feed, and sale stables. "Gentle driving and saddle horses a specialty," their invoice advised.
On April 17, 1895 the Parsons sent Williamson a bill for use of a saddle horse (50 cents), a buggy (50 cents), a hack (50 cents), and a surrey (75 cents). The total bill was $2.25.
Crescent Dairy invoice
That scrap of printed paper, with a handwritten statement of Mr. Williamson's account, was filled out and figured on the site of the parking lot next to our print shop, the exact spot where the Parsons' business once stood.
It delighted me to think of the journey this little scrap of ephemera had made over the past 123 years, to travel in a circle from its source in a livery stable in 1895 to its visit to a print shop in 2018.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects historical items from Kerrville and Kerr County. If you have something you'd care to share with him, it would make him happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times March 3, 2018.

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