Palmer Leeper (1837–1889)
Dingle Leeper (1861–1947)
M. Leeper (1863–1946)
Bell Leeper (1865–1946)
Waples Leeper (1873–1935)
the founding of the town of
Denison, Texas, several families arrived from Chillicothe, Missouri,
businesses, intermarried, and flourished. Their family names were
Lingo, Platter, and Waples. Here we explore the activities of John
Leeper and his immediate family.
John Palmer Leeper (1837–1889) was born
in Flemingsburg, Kentucky,
on June 6, 1837, the son of James Bell
Leeper (1809–1872) and Elizabeth
Kemper Palmer (1818–1872). By 1850, he was with his family in
County, Missouri. He married Emily H.
Dingle (1839–1881) in Livingston County, Missouri, February 22, 1860.
were: Edward Dingle Leeper (1861–1947),
Rosa M. Leeper (1863–1946), John Bell Leeper (1864–1948), Rachel
Leeper (1867–1946), Nina B. Leeper (1869–1871), Paul Waples Leeper
and Carl S. Leeper (1873), Otto P.
Leeper (1874), and Alma Leeper
(1875), all three of whom died in infancy.
Census of 1870 found John and
Emily in Richmond, Ray County, Missouri; John was working as a lumber
Both John's parents died in 1872 and were buried in Chillicothe,
end of that year saw the first
Missouri-Kansas-Texas train arrive in the new town of Denison, Texas.
months later, Denison's Sunday Gazetteer
for March 16, 1873, listed J. P. Leeper as a lumber dealer in the
The 1876 Denison City Directory listed John as partner in two companies, both located on the
northwest corner of Houston Avenue and
Crawford Street: (1) Leeper & Lee (with George
H. Lee), owners of Denison Cement Works; and (2) Dickson
& Leeper (with Thomas C. Dickson),
owners of a saw and planing mill and cotton gin. John Leeper was living
northwest corner of Gandy Street and Fannin Avenue. Living there, too,
Lizzie L. Leeper and Edwin [Edward] D. Leeper, clerk at the Drovers
The 1880 Census
reported John living on West Gandy Street and working as a hardware
With him were wife "Mima" and these children: sons Edward, 19, and
John B., 14, clerks in store; daughters Rosa, 15, and Della [Rachel
12; and son Paul, 8.
In 1881 John Palmer Leeper faced a trying time as he was repeatedly tried for insanity. His wife, Emily H. Dingle,died a week after her
husband was declared sane (technically, not insane) in Sherman.
Rosa M. Leeper
became the first librarian of the Dallas Public Library. Beginning in
organized the library and "for sixteen years directed its
resigned from the
Dallas Public Library in 1918, amid grateful praise for her
She traveled at length and then lived in Los Angeles, where she died in
She never married, but the 1930 Census found her living with Josephine
Wilson, whom she described as her partner.
Denison City Directory for
1887 listed John P. Leeper as a lumber dealer living at 425 West Gandy.
Edward D. and John B. Leeper were living with him. Edward, now 26, was
in two companies. (1) He had joined Levi
Lingo, Andrew Fox Platter, and Edward
H. Lingo in forming Leeper, Lingo
& Co., "wholesale and retail hardware, stoves,
agricultural implements, carriage and wagon woodwork, 100-102-104 East
230 West Main at the corner of Rusk Avenue." The East Main Street
was the site where Waples-Platter Grocer Company had erected its large,
warehouse in 1885. (2) In addition, Edward was a principal in Hanna, Leeper & Co., "stoves,
tinware, agricultural implements, [located at] 230 West Main at the
Rusk Avenue." His partner was Samuel
Hanna, president of the First National Bank and at the time
years later, in 1889, the City
Directory of Birmingham, Alabama, listed John P. Leeper, "sash, door
blinds, 2301 Morris Avenue." He boarded at the Palace Royal. With him
Paul Leeper, a clerk in his father's firm. It is unclear why John moved
Birmingham, but he died there on January 15, 1889. He was buried in the
City Cemetery at Richmond, Ray County, Missouri, as was his wife Emily,
died in Texas in 1881. This is where their four children who had died
infants were buried.
March 4, 1889, Edward D. Leeper
married Margaret Alice Gilbert
(1860–1942). John Bell Leeper married Cora
Gertrude Shields (1868–1940) on October 30, 1892, in Taylor
Virginia. Finally, in 1924, Paul Waples Leeper married Stella
M. Marratta (1887–1967) in Denison.
his father's death, Paul
Leeper returned to Denison. The three brothers now joined forces to
form a new
company, Leeper Hardware, located
100-102-104 East Main Street, at the corner of Houston Avenue.
According to the
1891 Denison City Directory, the firm was incorporated on January 1,
capital stock worth $51,000. Edward D. Leeper was president; Levi Lingo
vice-president; John B. Leeper was secretary and treasurer; and Paul
clerk. The company was described as "jobbers in hardware, stoves,
agricultural implements, carriage and wagon wood work." John B. Leeper
boarding at the Thompson House, 400
West Main. Edward was living at 1200 West Sears Street, corner of Perry
this was where the State National Bank's president, G.
L. Blackford, would build his Craftsman-style home later.
with Edward in 1891 were his brother Paul and sister, Miss Dell
around 1891, J. T. Boldrick and one
or more of the
Leeper brothers (most likely Edward) partnered in constructing the
eye-popping Leeper-Boldrick Building,
later known as
the Leeper Building or Security Building. The 1891 City
Directory listed John Boldrick as a clerk at Leeper Hardware, and
selling boots and shoes at 226 West Main. Located at 331 West Main
the corner of Burnett Avenue, the five-story "skyscraper" was
designed by French architect Pierre
Leeper Hardware House
Denison City Directory
Leeper Hardware Company
Denison Sunday Gazeteer
22 November 1891
The National Bank of Denison,
recently organized under president Charles S.
Cobb, occupied the ground
floor of the new building. Soon, however, that bank seems to have
merged with the
First National Bank,
which under its
president J. M. Ford had just
completed the fine Ford or National Bank
Building at 231 West Main.
Leeper & Boldrick (Security) Building
331 West Main Street
Work of Grayson County (1895).
The newly merged bank occupied the
Building. By 1896, Leeper Hardware Company had moved into the vacant
at 329–331 West Main.
Leeper Hardware Co.
1896 - 1897
Denison City Directory
is how the 1896 City
Directory described Leeper Hardware: "Established 1872; incorporated
1890. Paid-up capital, $75,000. Edward D. Leeper, president; J. D.
vice-president; W. F. Haynes, secretary; John B. Leeper, treasurer.
heavy hardware, agricultural implements, guns, cutlery, buggies,
wagons, farm and mill machinery, etc. 329–331 West Main." Paul W.
a salesman at the firm. Edward lived at 1200 West Sears. John lived at
Bond. Paul lived at 425 West Gandy.
1900, the U.S. Census listed
Edward as a hardware merchant. He, Alice, and daughter Aline
B. Leeper (1890–1928) had moved to 930 West Sears, the home
of Alice's father (the attorney and judge, Samuel
A. Gilbert), mother Martha, and brother Samuel A. Jr., 26,
clerk in a hardware
1901, a new bank took over the Leeper
Hardware space in the Leeper/Security Building. The 1901 City Directory
this listing: "Brooks, Bass &
Johnston. Hiram Brooks, president,
Denison; Lawrence Bass, Ashland,
Mo.; John T. M. Johnston, St. Louis, Mo.; Benjamin M. Seward, cashier;
331 West Main, corner of North Burnett Avenue." A grocer by trade,
Brooks was described as "President, Bank of Brooks, Bass &
treasurer, Gate City Hosiery Mill." This bank had a relatively short
but later other banks took over the space.
the same time, a new firm
replaced Leeper Hardware Company. Called Hall-Leeper
Hardware, it moved two blocks east, to 129–131 West Main.
This was where
the Original Star Store had been located. The new president was George T.
Hall of Kansas City, Missouri; Paul W. Leeper was
vice-president; Edgar C. Waples was
secretary-treasurer; and John B. Leeper was manager. The firm handled
"shelf and heavy hardware, iron, steel, agricultural implements, farm
mill machinery, wagons, etc." Still living with Paul was his sister
"Hall-Leeper Hardware Company. Everything in Iron and Steel."
M., comp. Industrial Denison. [N.p.]: Means-Moore Co., [ca. 1909]. Page 72.
left the company to become
a traveling salesman. In the next few years, he would sometimes appear
Denison City Directory at 930 West Sears, and sometimes not. John and
moved a growing family from 829 West Bond (1903) to 931 West Gandy
1016 West Morton (1913). By 1915, their son John
Palmer Leeper (1894–1967; named for his grandfather) was a
salesman at Hall-Leeper Hardware.
remained the same as years
passed. By 1917, Paul and sister Rachel had moved next door from 425 to
West Gandy. Aline Leeper became a teacher at Central
Ward School (1921). In 1919, John Palmer Leeper married Mary Anne Platter (1899–1933), daughter
of Harry Clark Platter and Clara Jane Lingo. Soon they would move to
1925, Paul W. Leeper had married a stenographer, Stella Marratta; moved
West Gandy; and become president of Hall-Leeper Hardware.
1934 City Directory had no
listing for Hall-Leeper Hardware; neither Paul nor John listed any
[Rachel] Leeper offered "furnished rooms" at 427 West Gandy.
1934 directory also recorded
the formation of Burton-Lingo Company,
"lumber and building material," at 607 South Mirick Avenue, with Edward
D. Leeper as manager. In the 1930 Census, Edward had listed his
"lumber yard manager." By 1938, at age 77, he listed no occupation.
Burton-Lingo Lumber Company, 1954
607 South Mirick Avenue
1946 City Directory reflected
the disappearance of Leepers from Denison. The only ones remaining were
Bredelle [Rachel] at 427 West Gandy, Edward at 930 West Sears, and
Stella at 709 West Gandy. John died on January 29, 1946; Rachel on
1946; and Edward in November 1947. Stella lived on for another twenty
Many Leepers are buried in Denison's Fairview Cemetery.
Elaine Nall Bay
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