Thursday, November 3, 2011

1st Rogers business that hired a female

H.L. Stroud had this structure built in 1899 at 114-116 West Walnut in Rogers, Arkansas for his expanding mercantile business. The business had been in other locations in Rogers since 1884. Strouds Mercantile was the first Rogers business to hire a female salesclerk, which paved the way for other women to join the sales force, including Mrs. Will (Betty Blake) Rogers.
Betty Blake Rogers was born near Rogers, Arkansas at Silver Springs in 1879. Betty first met Will Rogers while recuperating from an illness at her sister's Oklahoma home. After Betty returned to Rogers, the couple corresponded for nearly eight years. Betty had qualms about a life in show business and initially resisted Will's proposals of marriage. After they married in 1908, she encouraged and guided Will's career. Betty recognized Will's unique talents as a humorist. She encouraged him to talk during his vaudeville roping act, to go on the lecture circuit, and to write. Will and Betty Rogers are buried in Claremore, Oklahoma.
Strouds was also the first store in Northwest Arkansas to mark merchandise in "plain figures" - previously there were no price tags; buyer and seller had a bargain over the merchandise. Strouds went out of business in 1993, having served the Rogers area for 109 years. I remember shopping at Strouds, and how neat it was when I was younger. I love this beautiful old building. These are some photos I snapped on a visit to Arkansas.

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