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Posted on July 9, 2021 at 3:45 PM by Melissa Dalton
Looking at old advertisements is a fun way to learn about your community, and the people that made. Even in a smaller town like Xenia, there were many shops and general stores where residents could find the latest fashion apparel, necessary staples, or any other goods they may desire. The advertisement that provoked this blog is one for Allison & Townsley for the holiday season of 1881 (Fig 1).
Fig 1. Allison & Townsley Holiday Goods, December 1881 (Greene County Archives)
Allison & Townsley, located on East Main Street, was established by James Allison and Thomas P. Townsley on March 1, 1847 (Fig 2). It started out as a dry goods store, with the occasional textile being a luxury item. However, over the years, the store evolved, and they began selling ready-made clothing, more fabrics, undergarments, hats, toiletries, linens, curtains, boots, shoes, books, stationery, and more (Figs 3 & 4).
Fig 2. 1874 Greene County Atlas with location circled (Greene County Archives)
Fig 3. Notice regarding Allison & Townsley, Xenia Daily Gazette, 1 Mar 1883 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
Fig 4. Advertisement in Xenia Daily Gazette for Allison & Townsley, 5 Dec 1885 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
In 1851, Samuel Allison, James’s younger brother, joined the business, learning a great deal about buying merchandise to sell in the store (Fig 5). He became a partner with James and Thomas in 1857, and when James passed away in 1864, Samuel became the primary partner.
Fig 5. Notice of S. Allison traveling to purchase merchandise for store, Xenia Daily Gazette, 6 Mar 1883 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
In 1887, there was an economic crisis, and Allison & Townsley was not immune to the financial difficulties this recession placed on many businesses. In 1889, Allison & Townsley was forced to request the assignment of a receiver to help clear debts (Fig 6).
Fig 6. Allison & Townsley receivership/closing, Xenia Daily Gazette, 15 & 17 Jan 1889 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
After the assignment of a receiver, there were several court cases filed for monies owed to various people. The Court Report section of the Xenia Daily Gazette, and the local court records, clearly indicate that many creditors/vendors were hoping to collect on balances due to them (Fig 7). A quick glance through the docket shows that most plaintiffs were awarded the payment of the claimed debt.
Fig 7. Common Pleas Court Appearance Docket, No. 25, Index (Greene County Archives) / Xenia Daily Gazette, 11 Mar 1889 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
In April 1889, the store building was sold to James McCann, John Little, and Charles Spencer for $11,350, which is about $330,000 today (Fig 8). The receivership allowed the store to clear debts, but it wasn’t enough to keep it in business. In March 1890, Allison & Townsley permanently closed (Fig 9). However, the building gained new life just a few months later when another dry goods business – Jobe, Hardy & Co. - took over the building and renovated it to create a space to fit their needs.
Fig 8. Notice of closing of Allison & Townsley, Xenia Daily Gazette, 27 Mar 1890 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
Fig 9. A Handsome Place, Xenia Daily Gazette, 1 May 1890 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
The closing of Allison & Townsley did not mean the end of business ventures for either men. Follow us over the next couple of weeks while we explore the lives of the individual men that made up Allison & Townsley.
Until Next Time!
Greene County Archives
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