Early Richmond Businesses

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Early Richmond Businesses


Not much is known about the very early businesses in this city. We have some information about stories, stagecoaches, craftsmen and professional leaders from about 1850 on, but for the times earlier than that our knowledge is scant. A quite valuable account, therefore, is the paper published by Maj. C.F. Burnam back in 1906 in the Climax in which he reminisces about a variety of things, including Richmond businesses in the 1830's.

Back in those days when Richmond had been incorporated only about 20 years, nearly everything that local people used was grown, processed and manufactured here at home. As Maj. Burnam said, there were "no banks of any kind, no telegraph, electric lights, theaters, or McAdam roads."

Sammuel Logan operated a tannery with nearly 100 vats and produced a large volume of leather weekly for the shoe, harness and saddle trades. The tannery was located at the place on East Main later occupied by Potts' Bonanza Mills (later Zaring's Mill), now the Kroger buiLding and parking lot.

On Water Street, George Brown and Joseph Lees had a large wool carding factory. Lees, who spent considerable time trying to invent a perpetual motion machine, thought that the law of gravity could be overcome and attempted to devise a machine to accomplish that feat.

Somewhere on Main Street, John McKee had a long "rope walk" and factory in which the rope was coiled and bagged for shipment. On the Christian Church corner of Main and Lancaster the great¬grandfather of W. Rhodes Shackelford operated a factory in which were made nails, horseshoes, axes, hoes and plows.

Fine furniture was made by John Lawrence, Hugh Goodin and James N. Cruther. Davis Chevis specialized in making chairs. Wool and natural fur hats were made by Thomas Boyd, Hiram Doolin, Jacob Miller and Frederick Miller, the father of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sammuel F. Miller.

Bridles, saddles and harness were made by Charles C. Porter and Thomas G. Little. Shoes and boots were manufactured for Madison County people by William Dean, Sam Freeman, Milbon Rayburn and David Rowland, the grandfather of David Francis who became governor of Missouri.

A large and busy blacksmith shop was operated by Capt. John Sullenger at the corner of Third and Main. He was succeeded by Elisha Roberts (on Irvine Street) in this business. It was said that Roberts had great skill at checkers and theological debate.

Tailors were located in the block of First Street opposite the courthouse. They included Richard Sampson, Dudley Webster and Peter and Solomon Smith.


Dr. Robert Grise




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Dr. Robert Grise, “Early Richmond Businesses,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed March 3, 2024, https://madisonsheritage.eku.edu/items/show/820.