FREDERICKTOWN — You’ve got to hand it to independent entrepreneurs. This vintage postcard image of downtown

Fredericktown around 1908 features the signs of a number of the town’s thriving businesses.

This was before the age of bland corporate uniformity, and I love it.

Most appealing is perhaps Hosack’s store that sells both hardware and drugs. Frankly, I think it’s a brilliant idea, because I can tell you that every time I pick up a hammer, it’s followed shortly by a need for some kind of painkiller after I smash my thumb. The store clearly had a bit of everything, including one I had to look up: Queensware.

Queensware was a specific product line started by the famous Wedgwood Pottery in England in the 1760s. Naming it after the then-sitting monarch, Queen Charlotte, was good marketing.

Josiah Wedgwood was commissioned to design a pottery line for the new queen, wife of King George III. Charlotte was delighted with the cream-colored, blue-glazed plates, cups, platters, and saucers that Wedgwood designed. He asked for, and received, permission to mass-produce the design and call it “Queen’s Ware.”

While much Wedgwood pottery was imported to, first, the English Colonies, and later, the United States, domestic ceramic producers also jumped on the bandwagon and began producing what they called “Queensware,” so that the name wasn’t exactly the same as Wedgwood’s.

The design remained popular throughout the 1800s. By 1908, it was a household staple, albeit one that was beginning to fade in popularity.

One gentleman coming out of Hosack’s store has just noticed the photographer standing in the street. There are two women in long dresses on the boardwalk behind him. One of them is partially obscured by the man and is possibly with him. The other one either didn’t see the photographer or turned away from him to avoid being in the picture.

On the second story of Hosack’s is a sign for Sherwin Williams Paint, already a well-established brand by this time. I think the next store is a grocery, though the sign is at a difficult angle to read.

Next is Simons Meat Market.

On the other side of the street is a partially obscured sign for a bakery, then numerous signs for products at Johnson & Crowell’s farm implements and vehicles store, including Hayes Planters and Oliver Plows, both widely popular farming tools of the day.

Also note the water spigot at the edge of the sidewalk on the right side of the street. Would this have been to water horses? I don’t know if Fredericktown actually had any fire hydrants at this time, as it was only a few years after this image was taken that a terrible fire in 1913 destroyed part of downtown Fredericktown. Hosack’s store was destroyed in the fire.

On this day in 1908, it looks like everything was rather quiet and calm, with recent rain having made the streets muddy, leaving clear tracks of the many buggies driven through town that day.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find that a little more evocative than fast food trash bags littering the parking lots of chain megastores. My, how times have changed!

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