Saturday, October 4, 2014

Shopping Saturday - Pittston Shoe Factory & City Music Store

Since I first read my grandfather's autobiography and family history I have known that his father, Arthur William Matthews, owned a local music store in Pittston, PA and that he was a violinist, composer and choir director, but finding out that he owned a shoe factory was a more recent revelation.

I first found mention of it in this article from the Wilkes-Barre Times that said my great-grandmother had thrown a dinner for the employees of the family shoe factory.  The dinner was given in 1905.  I was intrigued, but could not find anything further.

BREVITIES. Thursday evening Mrs. Arthur Matthews, of Nafus street, tendered a banquet to the employees of the Pittston shoe factory, of which her husband is proprietor, and it was a most enjoyable affair. Miss Bessie Matthews entertained the company with several vocal and instrumental selections.


At the end of our short trip to Pennsylvania last year we found ourselves at the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society where they had one incomplete city directory from 1890 listing the members of the Matthews family with information about their businesses (below). While this confirmed that Arthur did indeed own a shoe factory I was disappointed to find that the referenced ads were missing.



Recently I was very excited to find these ads on Ancestry:




So many questions remain for me, though.  Why is Arthur's son William listed as the proprietor?  What made them open a shoe factory?  What is Dongola? And why did the music store and shoe factory close?  Why was the family in debt when Arthur died in 1915? And why wasn't any of this in my grandfather's family history?

Two of those questions were answered for me this week when I found another obituary for Arthur from the Pittston Gazette on newpapers.com.  Although seriously ill only for the last three weeks of his life, Arthur had apparently been in poor health for a few years and was forced to close the shoe store around that time.  There were no details in the article about the music store.

Last year someone shared a turn of the century photo of a Pittston business on the Facebook page of the Greater Pittston Historical Society.  I was green with envy! I'd give my left arm for photos of this family and their many ventures.

I will be on vacation the week of Columbus Day and after a short trip to visit family in Canada I will be spending a day helping my stepmother go through some of my father's things.  I doubt if I will find any photos of the Pittston Shoe Factory but whatever I do find I'll be sure to share here.



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