David Andrew Glenn stands between attorney I.R. Kelso and Allan H. Hinchey on Aug. 26, 1913, at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new Saint Francis Hospital on Good Hope Street. (Southeast Missourian archive)
After 43 years in the retail dry goods business in Cape Girardeau, David Andrew Glenn retired in August 1922, making plans to move with his wife to Dallas, Texas, to live with their son, Garrett, and his wife.
This wasn't the first time D.A. "threw in the towel." But the first time, in 1914, wasn't by choice. On March 5, 1914, First National Bank in Cape Girardeau, of which D.A. was president, failed to open for business. Rumors floated around town that the institution's cashier — the man who ran the day-to-day operation of the bank — had accepted $200,000 in "worthless paper" or checks. But that was an inflated number. The actual loss was around $75,000.
Still, D.A. Glenn was the top stockholder in First National, and his personal loss was immense, to the point that he declared bankruptcy. The Glenns were forced out of business and out of their lovely home on South Spanish Street. They took up residence in a house owned by Garrett Glenn on Independence Street.
First National Bank recovered quickly. Its officers, including D.A., were able to re-organize and re-open March 18, 1914, just 13 days after it failed to open its doors. D.A. Glenn gave up the presidency to Judge William B. Schaefer of Jackson. George S. Summers, the former assistant cashier who first warned of the financial problems at the bank and helped un-knot its difficulties, was named cashier.
Finally, in April 1916, the financial difficulties stemming from his bankruptcy behind him, D.A. opened a new dry goods store on North Main Street. Working with him in his new company — the D.A. Glenn Dry Goods Co. — were his daughter, Ruth Glenn, Delia Kimmel and Edward Gockel.
The new store prospered under D.A.'s guidance until the summer of 1922, when fire destroyed the stock of goods and prompted the long-time Cape Girardeau merchant to pack his belongings and head south to Dallas.
Published Saturday, Aug. 5, 1922, in the Southeast Missourian:
ORIGIN OF GLENN STORE BLAZE, WITH $4,000 LOSS, NOT DETERMINED
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ESTABLISHMENT CLOSED IN AFTERNOON WHEN FLAMES ARE DISCOVERED
Investigation of a fire which broke out at 4:40 p.m. Friday, in the D.A. Glenn Dry Goods Store, 31 N. Main St., and which would have swept the entire block if given a few minutes headway, firemen say, was being carried on today.
Total loss from the fire and water will reach $4,000, D.A. Glenn, manager of the store, estimated today, much of the stock of dry goods, rugs and furnishings in the store was ruined.
The blaze is believed to have started from defective wiring in the rear of the store. Firemen, who broke in the front door shortly after the blaze was discovered said that the fire was in the northeast corner of the store, but all the way up the wall. When the firemen reached the scene, however, it had burned through the ceiling in one place, and into the office of the Allen Realty Co., on the second floor. The offices above the room were filled with smoke, but little damage was done there.
Firemen were told at the blaze that the electric lights in the building were seen to flicker for several minutes prior to the blaze. Tom Jacobs, who was working in a small stand across the street, said he saw the blaze in the rear of the store, but thought it was a reflection. He investigated, however, and turned in an alarm.
Miss Myrtle Farrar, stenographer, employed by the real estate company said that she smelled the smoke from the fire and then heard the glass from a skylight between the two floors break. The offices were becoming filled with smoke when she left she said.
Firemen used chemicals on the second floor, before discovering the blaze in the lower story. The pump on the large truck was connected, and water used to combat the flames in the store. Firemen today were at a loss to explain this blaze.
Prompt action by the fire department, and the "cooped in" location of the building, only prevented a serious loss there, Main Street property owners said today.
Mr. Glenn said today that he closed the store at 4 p.m. to go to the ball game and that at that time there was no sign of a blaze. Valuable lace curtains, rugs and expensive dry goods made up the greater part of the stock, Mr. Glenn said.
Nine days after the fire, D.A. Glenn announced plans to retire, placing his entire store up for sale. But before the sale commenced, Ollie Astholz stepped forward to acquire the remaining stock of goods, as well as the fixtures of the store. Astholz had been connected with the Glenn store for several years.
Two days after the Southeast Missourian wrote about Glenn's retirement, it published a second article about his long history as a merchant in Cape Girardeau and his memories of early businesses here.
Published Aug. 16, 1922, in the Southeast Missourian:
CAPE'S OLDEST MERCHANT RETIRES
REMEMBERS OLD 'STEAMBOAT DAYS'
With the closing of a deal on Main Street yesterday, Cape Girardeau's veteran merchant, D.A. Glenn, has permanently retired from business after 43 years in dry goods retailing from the first time he established a business here in 1879.
Mr. Glenn closed out his home furnishing business to his former employee, A. Astholz, who will conduct the business on the same lines that Mr. Glenn has in the past. A stroke of ill luck in the form of a fire which ravaged the rear of his store Aug. 5 was probably an incentive to his retiring, and with that idea in view he had planned a closing out sale which was canceled following the purchase of his stock by Mr. Astholz.
The old merchant has not decided just what he will do in the future, but he will probably remain here until he formulates plans. He is now living at his old home, 313 Independence St., with his wife.
The passing of Mr. Glenn from business in Cape Girardeau marks the ending of an enterprise in life that has done much in advancing this city in some of its present large institutions. As a founder and a progressive man, he stands out as one to whose credit much can be added.
Sees big growth
He aided in organizing the Building and Loan organization in 1882 and has been connected with it ever since. He has been the one man to see it grow from a $100,000 business to the prosperity mark of $5,000,000.
As president of First National Bank he served 22 years and was an organizer of that institution in 1892.
Other present industries which he helped to corporate were the Portland Cement Plant in 1911 and Roth Tobacco Co. in 1910. He saw the Roberts, Johnson and Rand shoe factory established here after continued efforts put forth for it by himself and others 15 years ago.
With a clear view of the past, Mr. Glenn can recite incidents of past days 50 years ago when Cape Girardeau was but a small trade center, the prestige of which went as far as northern Arkansas.
He remembers vividly the old trading days when settlers and farmers of the country south of Cape Girardeau would seldom come more than once a year to buy necessary staple merchandise to last them until the following year.
Oxen, pulling wagons loaded with cotton bales, turned north onto Main Street from Themis in this undated photograph. (Southeast Missourian archive)
In those days, when there was no railroad south of here, Cape Girardeau would be the scene of much activity in fall after cotton gathering time, when people would come from northern Arkansas, and lower counties, bringing in their cotton and other products on wagons drawn by oxen... Merchants at this time would do large volumes of business exchanging such articles as sugar, coffee and salt by the sack and barrel, and dress goods by the countless yards, for whatever their customers had to sell.
Mr. Glenn remembers having seen as much as 50 bales of cotton on the streets, which farmers had brought in, and can tell of how 10 and 15 wagons would arrive together from the south, probably all coming from one neighborhood after residents had agreed to go together on a certain date.
Owing to the lack of railroad accommodations, steamboats flourished on the Mississippi in those days, Mr. Glenn said. He remembers having seen as many as seven boats tied up on the wharf at one time, belonging to such companies as the New Orleans, Memphis, Vicksburg and Anchor Line, the latter having 22 boats doing business on this river.
Four flour mills, he recalls, did a business of 1,200 barrels per day, a part of which was shipped to other points.
The most successful merchants were Leech Brothers, located at the corner of Main and Themis streets opposite the Sturdivant Bank. The old store in which they did a large business from 1854 to 1900 was burned a few years ago. He remembers having seen these men buy one load of racoon, mink and 'possum skins paying $1,300 cash for the collection. (D.A.'s mother was a Leech and the Leech brothers were his double cousins. When he came to Cape Girardeau in the early 1870s, he clerked at the Leech store. - Sharon)
Other merchants that he remembers were William Burgess, dry goods man on Main Street; Gale & Philipson, where the old Metropolitan cafe is now, and J. & S. Albert, located where Irvin Albert boat store is now. S. Albert was the father of the present Irvin Albert, and Walter Albert of Meyer-Albert wholesale grocery.
When asked what he predicted for the future of Cape Girardeau, Mr. Glenn said:
"I think Cape Girardeau has a very bright future on account of location, good schools, good streets, and the surrounding country which is being developed."
Improvement of Cape Girardeau in the last 20 years has been very rapid along lines of education, civic improvement, manufacturing and better merchandise, he averred.
Mr. Glenn, who is 70 years old, remembers only two living men who were in business here when he started in 1870. They are Louis Houck, who was practicing law, and R. Carrol, then in the furniture business.
David Andrew and Lulu Glenn departed Cape Girardeau in late September 1922, first to spend a few days with his brother in Batesville, Arkansas, and then to Dallas, where they took up residence with son Garrett and his wife, the former Geraldine Albert.
On Oct. 4, 1930, the Southeast Missourian carried the merchant's obituary on the front page.
DAVID GLENN, PIONEER CAPE MAN SUCCUMBS
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FUNERAL FOR PROMINENT BUSINESS MAN WILL BE HERE MONDAY
David A. Glenn, pioneer merchant of Cape Girardeau, died at 5 o'clock this morning at Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont, according to a message to his niece, Mrs. Will Juden. Mr. Glenn had been in a serious physical condition for several weeks and his death was not unexpected. He was past 79 years old and his death was due mainly to the infirmities of age. The remains will be brought to Cape Girardeau for burial, arriving here on the Frisco via St. Louis early Monday and the funeral will be held that afternoon at 4 o'clock from the home of Mr. and Mrs. Juden, 343 N. Ellis St.
Mr. and Mrs. James B. Williams will accompany Mrs. Glenn and the remains to this city. Maj. and Mrs. F.D. Rhodes will not be able to make the trip owing to an order for them to move at once to a new post in South Carolina. Garrett Glenn, a business man of Dallas, Texas, will be here in time to meet the funeral party upon its arrival. The body will lie in state at the Walther Funeral Home Monday until shortly before the funeral service at the home of Mrs. Juden at 4 o'clock.
Was visiting daughter
Mr. Glenn is survived by his widow, who was Miss Lulu Deane, of this city; two daughters, Mrs. (Ruth) Rhodes and Mrs. (Sally) Williams, and a son, Garrett. (Three other children died in infancy: Henry V., Virgil A. and David E. — Sharon) Mrs. Will Juden as a girl spent time at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn and was considered one of the family.
Mr. and Mrs. Glenn early in the summer drove with friends from Dallas to Fort Ethan Allen for a visit with their daughter and her family. About the time he was ready to return to Dallas, he took sick and was removed to a hospital. For a number of years he was engaged in the furnishing goods business with his son Garrett at Dallas and had been successful.
A leading merchant
For more than 40 years Mr. Glenn was a prominent retail merchant in Cape Girardeau and for the latter half of that period his store was known to everyone in Southeast Missouri. People came great distances to trade with him, having learned of his methods and believing that they would not only get the best merchandise but the most liberal treatment and service. From the beginning Mr. Glenn's word was as good as a bond. His business grew and until 1922 (Should read 1914. - Sharon) when he suffered financial reverses through his banking connection his store was the largest in Cape Girardeau.
Mr. Glenn was born and reared in Princeton, Kentucky. He came to Cape Girardeau when he was 19 years old and was engaged with A.D. and W.B. Leech, double cousins of his, in the general merchandising business. The structure stood on the present site of the Cape Girardeau Building & Loan Association building, the northwest corner of North Main and Themis streets.
Came from Kentucky
Ten years later, A.D. Leech died and Mr. Glenn became partner with B.W. Leech, with whom he remained in business until 1881, the two dissolved partnership and Mr. Glenn went into business for himself. His store was located where the Woolworth store now stands at the northwest corner of Main and Independence streets. His place of business also was the first to occupy the present building there, which was owned by the late Louis Houck.
In this location Mr. Glenn continued in business until 1891 and then erected the building at 29 N. Main St...
Mr. Glenn was born in Caldwell County, Kentucky, in 1851, the son of William V. and Sarah (Leech) Glenn. He was given a good education for those days and after teaching school a term or two, he decided to move west, coming to Cape Girardeau... When he became a merchant, he at once was a community leader and in every movement for the betterment of this town and county he was in the forefront.
A community leader
After getting his business on a firm foundation, he assisted in the establishment of the First National Bank in 1891, which was the second bank for Cape Girardeau. he was president of the institution many years.
In 1882 he was mainly instrumental in organizing the Cape Girardeau Building and Loan Association and served as its treasurer. In 1919 he was made vice president of the association, which place he held until he left Cape Girardeau in 1923. (Should read 1922. — Sharon)
It was Mr. Glenn who went to St. Louis and interested the Roberts, Johnson & Rand Shoe Company in locating a factory here and was chairman of the committee that worked out the details. When it came to putting up money, he gave more than any other man.
He served several terms as president of the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce and was always one of the most active and liberal supporters. No one ever subscribed more to various causes than Mr. Glenn. For many years he was president of the Cape County Fair Association and also served his city as an alderman.
A generous man
Mr. and Mrs. Glenn were Presbyterians and were loyal to the Cape Girardeau church. Lorimier Street was the first one to be paved in Cape Girardeau and the expense was considered excessive by many. The congregation wondered how it would pay the bill, but the bill never reached the church. Later it was found that Mr. Glenn had paid it without saying a word to anyone but the city clerk, who was told to announce only that there was no charge against the church. The same thing happened when a concrete walk was put down.
It was said that he gave Mr. Houck more support in building his railroads than any other local man. He furnished merchandise when money was scarce and waited a long time for his pay. But he got every dollar eventually. In those days, Mr. Houck had few local supporters because most people thought his undertaking was impossible.
Mr. Glenn was interested in everything in Cape Girardeau. He owned much city real estate and had many interests. When the First National Bank got into trouble through no fault of his, he was so heavily involved that he lost everything.
In 1923 (Should read 1922. - Sharon) Mr. and Mrs. Glenn went to Dallas and joined their son in business, where they remained until he made the trip to see his daughter in Vermont. He and Mrs. Glenn made occasional visits to their friends here in the meantime.,
David A. Glenn was buried at Fairmount Cemetery. His widow, Lulu Deane Glenn, died May 3, 1945, at her home in Alexandria, Virginia. She was buried at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Alexandria.