Henry County IAGenWeb


McLeran Music Store

For many years the McLeran Music Store was a familiar name among the merchants of Mt. Pleasant. The picture of the little white dog listening to the tin horn of the early talking machine and carrying the label "His Master's Voice" was a familiar trademark with the McLeran Music Store.

The McLeran family had its origin in Edinburgh, Scotland, where the family engaged in the mercantile business.

The business in Mt. Pleasant was founded by James McLeran, who was born in New Lisbon, Ohio, July 20, 1821, and moved, with his family, to Mt. Pleasant in 1857, where he engaged in the dry goods business. He had a partner name Gill and they operated the store on the north side of the square in the building now occupied by O'Connor's Clothing Store. The firm went under the name of McLeran and Gill until 1865, when James McLeran moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he continued in the mercantile business. He returned to Mt. Pleasant in 1873, after a disastrous boat wreck on the Arkansas River in which all of his merchandise was lost.

Charles E. McLeran, who was better known to the present generation of people in Henry County, entered into business with his father, James McLeran, when he was about 16 years of age. The building at 219 West Monroe Street was purchased in 1903 and continued to be the location of the McLeran Music Store until 1967 when Thornton McLeran, a son of Charles E. McLeran, sold out the business and retired.

Before the widespread use of automobiles, the McLeran Music Store traveled the roads of Henry County and adjoining counties by horse drawn wagons selling sewing machines, the early Edison phonographs with the tin horn and was records, organs and later pianos, radios and other appliances.

Charles McLeran was one of the first merchants to introduce installment buying in Henry County. Many families were able to purchase a sewing machine or have the luxury of an organ or piano on the installment basis.

Charles E. McLeran was an expert in repairing sewing machines, organs, pianos and talking machines, but when the radio came into vogue, he was lost in the technology of the radio, so his son Thornton McLeran, being of a younger generation, fitted in very nicely in the business, with his knowledge of electronics.

The horse drawn delivery wagon became a thing of the past during the First World War, when there was a heavy demand for horses for the use of the Army. A spirited team of horses that was used on the piano wagon was sold for service in the English Army. The horses had been replaced by the automobiles. The first delivery truck used was a Rambler touring automobile that had the back seat cut off. Later, trucks with solid rubber tires were introduced.

The way of life in the County, and the business, likewise changed. In the old days, people welcomed a salesman into the home and when the delivery wagon was too far out to make a return trip, it was no problem to find a country home in which to spend the night. In later years, people became more accustomed to coming to town, rather than the salesmen going to the home.

Thornton McLeran, a son of Charles E. McLeran, during the early 1920s became interested in the business with his father, and in the early 1930s, entered into the business as a partner. This relationship continued until May 12, 1940, when Charles E. McLeran died and the business and the building passed into the hands of Thornton McLeran.

Thornton McLeran continued in the active management of the business until December 30, 1967, when he sold the business to James Benda, thus bringing to an end the name of the McLeran Music Store. Thornton McLeran died October 27, 1971. The store building is now owned by Thornton McLeran's widow, Kathryn McLeran.

[History provided by Bob McLeran, son of Harold F. McLeran, from a source unknown - typed from three-page document obtained from Harold F. McLeran, possibly for an article appearing in the Mt. Pleasant News sometime after October 1971 (date of Thornton McLeran's death) ]

Contributed  by Pat Ryan White for Henry County IAGenWeb, August 2019.

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