I.E. Melcher Hardware-my Grandfathers early (pre-statehood store)!
My fraternal grandfather (I.E. "Irvin" Melcher) was an early entrepeneur in the Oklahoma indian territory. The following is a brief summary of his history. I am seeking additional items that are marked "Melcher Hardware" or anything similar.
History of I.E. Melcher Hardware Stores
Irvin Edwin (I.E.) Melcher was born September 6, 1880 in Bally, Penn. He came west in 1891 with his parents, John W. (Sr.) and Margaret, his brothers John, and Joe and sister Abbie. At the tender age of thirteen he was in the famous Cherokee Strip Run of 1893 (with his father) and homesteaded south of Manchester. He married Marie Koehler of Ellenwood, Ks. On September 15, 1908.
The first store was started about 1900 in Manchester (Okla.Terr.) by I.E. Melcher as "I.E.Melcher Leather & Harness and Buggy CO." (No existing paper work or signs are in the current collection)
A personal store journal (ledger sheet No.469) has handposting-dating 1917. This is believed to be the second oldest version, since it doesn't mention leather.
Another ledger sheet dated 191x; No.1592 shows store listed as:"I.E. Melcher est. 1893, Hardware, Implements, Wagons, Buggies, Stoves, Harness, Oils and Coal. (Ca.1910/1920)
Name change again to "I.E.Melcher Hardware & Implement Co."(Exact date unknown, no papers in collection, but before brother Joe becomes partner.)
In 1921, I.E. sold a 50% interest to his younger brother, Joe. Joe never married remained in Manchester until his death. The Firm's name changed to "Melcher Bros. Hdwe & Implement: I.E. Melcher son (Otis) has letter head with this title, when I.E. was trying to buy bank in Schulte, Ks. Probably at this time I.E. was both a John Deere and a International Dealer (very rare even at this time for dealerships to be shared). In late 1921 I.E. Melcher moves family to Ellenwood, Ks. To supposedly find better schools for the children. This Large house was on 3/4 of a city block; he continues to work on the house and acquires 1000+ acres in Grant County. He kept the store in Manchester and traveled between the two towns. In 1924, I.E. sold the remaining 50% to his youngest brother John Jr. This only lasted for 2 or 3 years; it was at this time that the firm's name changed to "Melcher Bros." John dies on January 21, 1959.
In 1924, I.E. buys a 2-story building in Wellington Ks. (at 1601 Lincoln). Firm named "I.E. Melcher Hardware & I.H.C. Implement Co." and he was an International dealer at this point. He died suddenly on February 10, 1927 in Wellington as the result of a double major operation. He is buried in the family plot at Calvary Cemetery, Wichita, Ks. (There are no known papers or signs with this name for the Wellington store. I am intersted in acquiring these if they surface!)
Joe continues to keep the Manchester Store open in one degree or another for some years, then it is finally closed down, (but not completely emptied). His health was failing for many years and he finally died on October 11,1970. The final auction of the Manchester store was held in Manchester on May 17, 1972, the building was torn and it is now just a vacant lot.
The following are examples of the Melcher Hardware history that I have.
Updated: October 7, 2013