New Store! New Goods! Gideon and Peter Brickey

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James Dean

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Thursday, June 16th 2022
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Arkansas History

        Shopping was more than just something to do in the late nineteenth century across the delta, because merchants were scarce and residents were not wealthy. Rural families only got into town or to a local business when they could, which meant sometimes once a month. It was into this type of economy that the Brickey brothers arrived in Arkansas from Missouri. In October 1875, Gideon and Peter Brickey opened a new store in Osceola, Arkansas, featuring what they advertised as new goods. Their firm was named "G.R. Brickey & Brother" and they sold a wide assortment of goods from groceries to shoes. Being merchants, the brothers quickly joined the upper and middle classes of Mississippi County. In 1879, Gideon was married in a lavish wedding at the Union Church. Peter then married in 1881. As their business expanded, it was decided to split up and Peter soon moved to Marianna in Lee County, Arkansas, while Gideon continued to operate in Osceola.

        Gideon was soon joined by several more brothers from Missouri as his business flourished. After a fire in 1903, they expanded into the stock business. On Saturday, January 1, 1910, G.R. Brickey Mercantile Company held a reception for friends and customers to celebrate the grand opening of a new store. This large building was divided between groceries and dry goods, with a plate glass front. The building ceiling was also 14 feet high and well lighted. There was even a store room for heavy groceries, hardware and stoves.

       While Gideon's business was expanding, Peter Brickey was also doing well in Marianna. Brickey Dry Goods Company, a corporation, was valued at $20,000 in 1910, with Peter as president and his son Garland as vice president. Garland was so well liked that he was elected to the state legislature in 1911, representing Lee County. Peter soon became a leading citizen of Marianna and the state. He was a Thirty-two degree Mason and Shriner. Peter was also a commander of the Knights Templar of Arkansas. In his honor, the town of Brickeys in Lee County was named after him when it was formed. 

       Peter Brickey passed away on April 18, 1913 and was buried at Marianna. His son would soon move away and not much is known about the business after. Gideon continued to expand his interests at Osceola. In addition to being a large landowner, he operated the Brickey & Ayers Lumber and Gin Company. G.R. Brickey was also president of the Citizens Bank. Sadly, he passed away on January 4, 1920. His body was interred at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis. These two brothers had arrived in the Arkansas Delta at a time when residents needed mercantile businesses and both had prospered. They raised families and became vital members to the growth of their communities. Their story is the story that many merchant families experienced, as they were able to move up the social ladder by providing a needed service. #arkansashistory #ArkansasDelta #peterbrickey #gideonbrickey #osceolaarkansas #MariannaArkansas #mercantilism
The Osceola Times (Osceola, Arkansas) 6 January 1910, Thu. Page 1
The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee) 22 April 1913, Tue. Page 4
The Osceola Times (Osceola, Arkansas) 25 April 1913, Fri. Page 4
Arkansas Democrat (Little Rock, Arkansas) 5 Jan 1920, Mon. Page 13
The Osceola Times (Osceola, Arkansas) 2 Oct 1875, Sat. Page 2
The Osceola Times (Osceola, Arkansas) 1 Feb 1879, Sat. Page 3
Pine Bluff Daily Graphic (Pine Bluff, Arkansas) 10 Apr. 1910, Sun. Page 2
Daily Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas) 4 Feb. 1911, Sat. Page 4
The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee) 15 Jun 1919, Sun. Page 15

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