Times have decidedly changed in a business way in Jacksonville since 1857. Then the Square was almost the whole thing so far as stores went.
At the northwest corner of West State was the large, two story and a half, double brick building which David B. Ayers had built along in the thirties, then one of the finest buildings in the town, or in the state. Upstairs Mr. Ayers had his home, and housed his little boys, Marshal P. and Augustus E. They succeeded their father in business and in 1857 occupied the corner as a drug store; at the back end of which L. L. Morrison had a law office, fronting on West State street. The firm name was A. E. Ayers & Co.
Next north, in the same building, fronting the square, was the bank of
M. P. Ayers & Co.
The firm was M. P. Ayers, A. E. Ayers and Wm. Campbell. Mr. Campbell died in 1859. Then A. E. Ayers gave up the drug store and went into the bank.
D. B. Ayers put up the fine building referred to above, and his sons, in 1881, put up the finer store building, which preceded the present Ayers National Bank. The Ayers' were active and prominent in building good business and residence houses, and three generations of them have been efficient upbuilders of this city.
Wm. S. Hook was a youthful clerk in the Ayers Bank in 1857. His connection with the street railway here, and his after success in Los Angeles, California, is well known.
J. W. King
Joseph W. King had a fine three story brock next, where Cassell is now, in which Mr. King kept the best jewelry store in town. He had begun three years before, in a little one story frame building about twenty five by fifty feet on the ground.
Next came a dry goods store, then "Stewart's Emporium," where Madame Stewart kept a toy and notion store, with a millinery shop in the back end of it. This was one of the best known establishments of the day. This, up stairs, was the home of Kate Stewart Willis, and Harry and Charlie Stewart.
Cassell & Clement had a stove and tin store next, and the Pyatt's had a tobacco and cigar store, which was indicated by "Pyatt's Indian."
J. S. Anderson had his furniture and undertaking establishment next.
Emanuel Hamilton occupied the corner of Court street, with a confectionery, and an ice cream saloon upstairs.
At the northwest corner, where "The Douglas" now is, was the frame grocery store of Corcoran and Austin, a two story building. All the buildings between State and Court streets were three story bricks.
Alderman & Tomlinson
This firm had a clothing store in the one story, double front, frame where Myers Bros. Are now. There "Dory's" trade began, before he had come to Jacksonville.
Bristow had a store next, with Miss Egbert's millinery upstairs.
Willis Catlin came next, with his bookstore, over which he lived.
Sigler's harness shop was next.
Then Phileman B. Price had a jewelry store, followed by Mr. Vickery's confectionery. Mr. Vickery was the father of Majors John and E. C., as well as of George.
The "Mansion House" kept by Geo. W. Fox loomed up where it is now called the Park Hotel. On the ground floor was the office and men's sitting room, and next, running to the corner of North Main street, was Kibble and Lathrop's dry goods store. They made a specialty of pretty and stylish clerks.
Alexander McDonald occupied the two story brick at the northeast corner of Main, as a dry goods establishment. Then Geo. C. Scott had a similar place.
There was another store in there - forgotten about now. These were all two stories and a half high.
Chambers' fine three story brick block came next, it being hardly finished as to its three stores. E. C. Lax, dry goods, first occupied the western one. There was a brock next, occupied probably by Wm. N. Ross, with dry goods. Then there were two one story frame shops. At the present Opera House corner was Smiley Henderson's three story brick, which he occupied to sell goods in. Robert Hockenhull used to speak of him as Smiley ‘Enderson. Mr. Hockenhull was not to blame for this, as he was English.
Joseph H. and Horace Bancroft had the brick building at the southeast corner of Court street and the Square. They sold dry goods.
Perhaps J. O. King had a store next south, as did Henry Rice a clothing place, next south, Rice went South, then East, and became very rich.
There was a little frame confectionery next, then John Hockenhull's two story brock block, one store of which was occupied by Meyers and Knollenberg, tobacconists and the other by J. B. C. Smith, with his "Bee Hive" dry goods.
Came next with a two story brick, with a large warehouse fronting on E. State street. He was first a druggist, but he also kept "notions" and agricultural small implements.
Timothy D. Eames was next with a dry goods stock, probably also handling some groceries and table ware.
Dr. B. Gillett probably had a dry goods store on the corner of State street. Eames' and Gilletts' were in one block, a two story and a half brick.
Benj. F. Stevenson had the southeast corner of State and the Square, with dry goods and groceries. In the back end of this store, upstairs, was the "Morgan Journal," a weekly Republican paper, edited by Paul Selby.
J. O. Connell had a hardware store south of Stevenson and Mathers and Wadsworth had the same sort next. Their sign said "Sligo Iron and Hardware." These two firms were in a two story frame house.
The Congregational Church
Came next, occupying three fronts, with a little one story brick building at the southwest corner of the lot. The church stood well back in the lot, and was a good sized, white, frame building, with a belfry.
Next was Wm. Branson's two story brick, where he sold furniture. He was afterwards mayor of the city.
A large, double, two story frame house, on the corner, was "Lawson's boarding house."
At the southeast corner, where Hopper's are now, was the harness store of Matthew Stacy, afterwards mayor.
A two story brick was at the southwest corner of Mauvaisterre street. Then came a frame shop, and then Chatham Simms' dry goods and grocery store, followed by a two story wide front, brick building used as a flour store by ira Davenport. Next was a frame building.
Wm. Harrison had a three story brick on the corner of Main street, which he occupied with furniture and shop.
There were probably one or two little frame shops where Strawn's building now is. Mr. Strawn began putting that up in 1859.
Came next, in a little, two story frame store, and he sold dry goods. He was one of the active business men of his day.
The "Duncan House", belonging to the Governor's estate, was a large two story frame, standing ack on the next lot.
A frame, shoemaker's shop was next, occupied by David Hamilton.
Johnson and Richards, stoves and tinware, had the two story and a half brick, on the corner where Brown's music house is now.
The Wolcott Place
Came in the southwest corner between Sandy and Morgan streets. It was a large, two story, frame house, afterwards occupied as the "Young Ladies' Athenaeum" and now moved to the northwest corner of West and College streets.
Goltra and Stryker
Had their hat and cap store at the northwest corner of Morgan street.
Weil & Brother took the building next about that year, but afterwards moved one door north, with their clothing establishment.
John Selby probably was next, third from the corner, with a grocery store. It burned in 1859.
The Russels probably had a dry goods store next.
The "Old State Bank" was next. Then a two storey frame, which ran to the corner, having three stores in it. The second was probably occupied by I. D. Rawlings, with clothing.
All these buildings, except the three named last, were two stories and a half high, and built of brick.
The building last named was at the southwest corner of West State street and the Square. Wm. C. Woodman began his business in it with the "Philadelphia Store" in 1850.
This brings the party and its guide back to the place of starting.