Grayson County TXGenWeb
William Esler


William Esler
owner of Esler Paint & Paper
Denison, Texas
Contributed by : 
Vance Esler
Esler's Paint Store
501 West Main St.
Telephones No. 421

This store has been established for a period of twenty-five years. It stands at the very head of the business in this city. Mr. W.M. Esler is the proprietor, and, being a gentleman of long practical experience, has ever given satisfaction to the trade. His work may be seen in the most beautiful homes and leading commercial establishments of Denison. Twelve skilled workmen are constantly employed in the various departments. He deals extensively in wall paper, room moldings, window glass and painters' supplies. For quality, extent and completeness, the stock is unexcelled. The prices here are also noted for their moderation. Estimates cheerfully furnished. Mr. Esler is a representative city of high standing and extends every courtesy and consideration to the trade.

Source: “Denison, the Texas Gateway: A Busy, Progressive City with Golden Opportunities.” 16pp. Brochure. N.p.: N.d. [ca. 1908].

Dallas Morning News
21 March 1948
section 5, pg.11


Denison Man Operates Unique Establishment

Denison, Tex., March 20 (Special) - J.A. Tarve, 79, of Rosebud did not reckon with the career of W.M. Esler of Esler Paint and Paper Company of Denison, when he laid claim recently to being the state's oldest active merchant.

Traver, who has been a Texas businessman for fifty-six years, is a newcomer in the estimation of Esler, who opened here in 1887 and carries on with the enterprise sixty-one years later.  Esler's son, Clifford, has been manager for the past decade, but Esler at eighty-four and one-half years still maintains regular office hours and keeps a close watch on his business.

Distinguished as the oldest retail paint and paper firm in Texas, Esler's store is in its fifth or sixth Denison location now after having been opened in the 400 block of West Main.  Nothing remains of the original store which Esler opened in partnership with Albert Clifford and for whom his son is named but Esler still prizes two pieces of office equipment that date back more than fifty years.

One is a handsome sign that used to hang on the door of the Esler store.  Now in Esler's upstairs office, the sign reads, "House, Sign and Carriage Painters."  That according to Esler recalls the days when he specialized in painting and there were forty-eight colors of house paint from which chose.  "Now almost everybody uses white to paint a house," he remarks disgustedly.

The other fifty year old reminder is the desk from which Esler continues to conduct his business affairs.  Given to him by his wife as a birthday present, the desk was ordered from afar and given to a rival business house here to be finished before Esler's birthday.  His present attitude indicates that he he still a trifle picqued that his wife, the former Miss Maud Taylor, would have given another Denison firm the job of finishing the piece of furniture.

Most prized of all his keepsakes is a 70-year-old putty knife which used to belong to George Metcalf, a Denison paperhanger for whom Esler worked as a paste boy.  The knife, with the remaining half of its blade worn to razor thinness, was given to Esler about twenty-years ago by Metcalf's son as a remembrance of his father.

Denison was a town of from 5,000 to 6,000 persons, with fifty saloons on Main street, when Esler came here in 1879 from Petrolia, Kan.  Then a boy of sixteen, he came to Texas "because everybody else was," and settled in Denison his aunt's husband, Jim Leslie, was living here.  After serving as a painter's apprentice for three years and as a paste boy, he got around to opening his own store.

Admiting that it's natural for him to long for the "good old days," Esler still thinks he knows whereof he speaks when he says Denison was a better town in 1879 than it is now.

"Everybody seemed happier then," he remembers sadly.  "The womenfold were more friendly and used to talk over the back fences to each other.  I know I'd rather start my own business in 1879 than in 1948."

Where his hobby of wallpaper is concerned, however, Esler admits to a great deal of progress in the quality and varieties, but it was easier to receive a shipment of wallpaper in the old days than it is now, he points out.

Wall sign in loft
 430 W Main (second floor)
"Esler Wall Paper, Painters" sign, east interior wall, in lofts on second floor of 430 West Main Street.
The lofts incorporate advertisement painted on exterior walls before the current buidling was constructed.

Note : Main Street scene outside the winfdow.
Photos by Mavis Anne Bryans, ca. 2000


Grayson County TXGenWeb
Elaine Nall Bay