Alexander County

Biography - William T. Wall

WILLIAM T. WALL is at the head of the mammoth retail dry goods house of Cairo, the W. T. Wall & Company Department Store, the character of which places it in the lead of retail concerns of the city. While the firm is a new one, and those who are responsible for its launching are among those styled "the new men" of Cairo, the immensity of the establishment marks an epoch in the commercial life of Southern Illinois, for its equal does not exist anywhere in "Old Egypt." It has come into being as a response to a demand for a distinct department store in a city which is growing more and more metropolitan, and whose buying public has longed for a mecca of trade with lavish modern appointments and with unlimited quantity and the height of quality under one roof.

Mr. Wall, who with Mr. Denison met the demands of the community by the establishment of such a mart of trade in Cairo, is a merchant trained from youth. He started as a clerk with the mercantile house of T. A. Stanley in Arlington, Kentucky, not far from his parental abiding-place and near where he attended school as a barefoot boy. He was born in Carlisle county, Kentucky, May 11, 1872, his father being a millwright who spent many years building sawmills and gristmills all over Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi, and who now resides at Tupelo. The father of Mr. Wall was born in Mississippi in 1834, was a son of William Wall, a planter of Irish birth, and a brother of Mrs. Jennie Beardon, of Santillo, Mississippi; and Thomas, who met his death while serving in the Confederate army. The mother of William T. Wall was Mary Russell, and she and her husband had three sons, namely: William T.; Charles, who is a railroad man; and Oscar S., credit man in the William R. Moore Dry Goods Company, of Memphis, Tennessee.

William T. Wall attended only the public schools in the acquirement of his education, and his initial experience in business was obtained in the store at Arlington, he subsequently taking charge of the Wycliffe Supply Company for a year, where he was interested financially in the business. When he came to Cairo, in 1904, he went on the road as a salesman for the Marx- White Dry Goods Company, and terminated his connection with the road in the employ of the Denison-Gholson Dry Goods Company, which the old firm eventually became. While yet a traveling salesman, Mr. Wall purchased the stock of Jesse 0. Hunt, at 618-619 Commercial avenue, Cairo, and when the firm of W. T. Wall & Company was launched, April 1, 1911, this stock was moved to their new quarters, and at that time Mr. Wall ceased to be a solicitor for trade, save at the threshold or behind the counters of his own place of business. The house of W. T. Wall & Company is the new, modern Marx building of four stories, with a floor space of twenty-four-thousand square feet. It is fitted with expensive and artistic fixtures, with heavy beveled glass bodies, counters and tables to match the interior of the several floors, with private and handsome fitting rooms and comfortable rest room and music room, dust-proof cases for ready-to-wear goods, French plate mirrors, splendid electric lighting and elevator with all safety appliances, and all is fire-proof. The stock is complete in every respect, the first floor being devoted to dry goods and notions, the second to ladies' ready-to-wear garments, the third to carpets, curtains and house furnishings, and the top floor to miscellany.

Mr. Wall is one of the wholesale firm of Denison-Gholson Dry Goods Company of Cairo, is a director and secretary of the firm, and holds various other interests, carrying on a sort of merchandise brokerage business, and handling and turning stocks of goods elsewhere, all of his efforts seeming happily directed in profitable channels. He is a popular member of the United Commercial Travelers and of the Cairo Commercial Club.

On March 12, 1908, Mr. Wall was married to Miss Hannah McGowen, at Vincennes, Indiana, Mrs. Wall being a daughter of Dr. Thomas W. McGowen. Two children have been born to this union: William Thomas, Jr., and Lucas Curry.

Extracted 15 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 History of Southern Illinois, Volume 2, pages 864-865.

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