Saturday, April 27, 2013

Before McGrath's in Brookhaven, There Was This Store in Wesson

2012 Photo Courtesy of Bettie Hatcher Cox, a descendant of the Beckers and McGraths
Circa 1877, an enterprising young man from Brookhaven, Ferdinand Francis Becker, opened a "high class" general store in Wesson, which was booming thanks to Mississippi Mills, manufacturer of cotton and woolen textiles.  

Later, sometime in the 1880s, the store, a stock company, became Becker, Lyell and McGrath. 

Some ten years later, the Beckers turned their attention and business acumen toward Brookhaven, where they opened a commercial bank in 1887.  Mr. Lyell remained in Wesson to operate the store, which was rather large for the times and offered just about everything the townspeople of Wesson could need.

(The McGraths, who were related to the Beckers by marriage, started the largest department store between Memphis and New Orleans in 1878 in Brookhaven, which is ten miles south of Wesson.  Please see this Sippiana link for further reading.)

The old building as it appears today.
A more prosperous time ... From the Wesson Library

Today the Wesson store lives on as an antiques mall and the old sign is clearly visible on the rear of the building, as the above photograph shows.  The building's wooden floors creak and pop with each step and the second floor, which probably served as the warehouse for the display floor below is a monument to wood darkened with age, but the entire expanse is surprisingly light-filled.

My fellow blogger LindaRe, who hails from the area, recently featured this old store in her blog and has posted several interior photographs of the building.  Please see this link to view those.

A special thank you to Bettie Hatcher Cox for the history and for forwarding this picture, which I had failed to snap with my camera my last visit there.


  1. Merci, merci, wonderful to see this post. If you have the time could you embed/imbed a link to your earlier McGrath's post?
    I am learning from and enjoying LindaRe's blog, thanks to you , as well.
    A possible tweak....I believe the McGrath family was almost entirely absorbed by the startup of the Brookhaven store circa 1878 and was not involved in the Commercial Bank beginning...other than as possible customers! The two businesses were on opposite corners.

  2. Good idea, I wrote this at four in the morning during a bout of insomnia and it shows! Thanks for the suggestion, Bettie, and I have updated it as suggested. I have more to share about the McGraths and Beckers in future posts. Stay tuned.

  3. Sooooo indebted to you.....I will share this with family. Your blog makes me smile on a daily basis. Hate that you are not sleeping, but maybe all will soon improve.

  4. On a visit to the store, I was told the building housed a barber shop during its days as a general store. I can see the building used as a general store. This had to be a very busy corner.