“Melons on Ice” — 1890s

by Paula Bosse

wiley-grocery_1890s_haskins-coll_utaA sleepy little town… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

It looks hot in this photo from the 1890s. I bet those “Melons On Ice” in front of Wiley’s grocery store really hit the spot.

wiley-grocery_melons_det-1

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I love this photo. The Wiley Cash Grocery was in business for only a few years — from about 1892 to 1896. It was located at 153 Commerce, one block east of the brand new county courthouse.

wiley-grocery_1893-directory1893 Dallas directory

wiley-grocery-1893-map
1893 map of Dallas, det.

The business was owned by Anna E. Wiley (~1862-1930) and her husband Jesse P. Wiley (~1863-1942). When they arrived in Dallas around 1887 their address in the city directory was simply “¾ mile w of river.”

Even though the store seems to have been in Anna’s name, Jesse was forced to file a deed of trust in 1896 when the store was faced with crippling debt. The Wileys owed approximately $1,545 to creditors (about $45,000 in today’s money), but their assets were only about $1,500, plus $800 of “good accounts.” Unsurprisingly, the store was gone by 1897. (Click article below to see a larger image.)

1896-wiley-grocery_dmn_021596
Dallas Morning News, Feb. 15, 1896

This photo captures such an odd view of downtown Dallas — it’s hard to believe that the site once occupied  by the Wiley store is now the site of the John F. Kennedy Memorial. A present-day view can be seen here.

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This photo is from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries; additional info is here. See this great photo REALLY big here.

The map is a detail from an 1893 map of Dallas from the collection of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission; see the full map here.

All pictures and clippings are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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