Biographical or Historical Information
In 1872, International & Great Northern Railroad (now Missouri Pacific) completed its track to Jacksonville allowing the young pioneer town to carve out a place for itself. It was at this time that a retail firm of Clapp & Brown opened. Later, the name would be McKinney & Brown, and still later Brown, Dixon & Co., before settling on simply Brown & Dixon.
The store itself sold whatever items it could including groceries, dry goods, farm supplies, etc. The business flourished, and remained on the same property. Later it acquired the lot next door and in 1895, opened another store which sold only clothing, shoes, dry goods, and related items.
Mr. W. A. Brown operated on a policy of "Pay As You Go," buying only as much as funds would allow, paying for his goods promptly, and ploughing his earnings back into the business. Because he owed no money, his business withstood several bank failures (which cost him money), panics, and other financial difficulties.
In the middle 1930's the groceries were closed out and dry goods became the firm's whole business.
Of special interest to economic researchers would be the matter of financial relations with the public. For many of the earlier years, the public did not have much money. The firm did what cash business it could but found it necessary to extend credit to customers. It was not uncommon to sell on credit expecting full payment when cotton was harvested, or other crops or income realized. When this was not done, the firm rather often had its customers sign notes or give mortgages on property, animals, etc. to cover unpaid balances. Business was done on a very personal basis, expecting "a man's word to be his bond." The great depression brought drastic changes in credit relations. "Thirty-day accounts" had become the rule, but too often these could not be depended on and interest was not charged on unpaid balances. The second World War added new strains. The whole situation became impossible to handle, so, on October 1, 1943, all charge accounts were discontinued. In their place, the Store's own copyrighted "Dividend Plan" was instituted. Basically, it offered a rebate to retail customers. It involved saving sales tickets which were periodically totaled for the customer, and a "Dividend" issued which was good for the store's merchandise at any time within a year.
The books can be broken into the two stores, one being Brown & Dixon, the other being J. L. Brown.