Albert Algernon “Chappie” Ramsay


Albert Algernon “Chappie” Ramsay

Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland
Death 4 Dec 1945 (aged 78)
Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend
Memorial ID 88477053 View Source
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h/o Emma Geneva Condon.

Birth: 4th of six known children, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland.

View image captions for credits and additional information.

Youthful Albert migrated to United States, naturalized 1889, following a year and a half in the Connecticut dry goods store of Scruggs, Vandervoort & Barney, he went west to St. Louis where he believed opportunities were greater. Older brother, Robert William,jr, followed him to America then the two pooled their funds of $1,400 each for the purpose of starting a business of their own. To that end, they went to fourteen year old Pittsburg, Crawford county, Kansas, formed by Moffett & Sargent, who established and laid out the site and then sold their holdings in 1880 to Pittsburg Town Company whose president was Charles Monroe Condon, historically, one of Kansas' most successful men of his day and Albert's future father-in-law. Albert had interviewed with the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Coal company's store but was not hired, ~~ ~~ later married C M Condon's daughter.

The 1890 Young & Wassam's, Directory of City of Pittsburg has sons A A and R W listed with Martin & Ramsay store.

The name "Ramsay Brothers Dry Good Company" first came into being, around 1890 in Pittsburg, Crawford county, Kansas when the brothers partner, Pat Martin, struck out for greener pastures. It consisted of five year older brother Robert William,jr and Albert Algernon Ramsay born in Scotland, having migrated to the state of Kansas. Through the life of the company of over eighty (80) years, with four generations, it had operated stores, at one time or another, in Atchison (1907), Coffeyville (1898) , Iola (1899), Pittsburg (1890) in Kansas, Guthrie (1892), McAlester (1928), Miami (?), Okumalgee (1919) in Oklahoma,~ Beatrice (1936), in Nebraska ~ Carthage (1895) & Joplin (1910) in Missouri to name known locations, providing long term livelihood for many families. See Joplin Globe, p 4, c 2&3, 26 September 1946 for a good history of store growth and 25 April 1952, so says in part the 62nd Anniversary article, concerning A A Ramsay etc. Cousins Robert C s/o Albert A & Ronald H s/o Robert W,jr, split ownership, Ronald H ending with Iola & Atchison, Kansas stores, Robert C the others. The Missouri corporation ceased to exist on March, 10, 1972.

They were providing a long term decent livelihood to many such as in Carthage for: Nona Narcissa (Rhoads) Walker starting around 1905 for over twenty-five years and Edith (Wallingford) Cooke starting April 1920, for thirty-six years, to name but two. It was 1946, following death of both founders, they initiated a government approved employee pension plan as noted in the local newspapers, greatly benefiting their employees well being.

Powers Museum of Carthage has a file concerning the Ramsay, 35,000 square foot store in Carthage and each town may have records of existence such as Pittsburg when it celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary in 1951 with a newspaper photograph of the interior of Ramsay's 5,000 sq ft store at 602 north Broadway.

"Ramsay, A. A., (of Martin & Ramsay, Dry Goods and Notions,) boards Hotel Cissna, Ramsay, R. W., (of Martin & Ramsay, Dry Goods and Notions,) boards Hotel Cissna", SOURCE: Young & Wassam's Directory of City of Pittsburg[Kansas] for 1890. (1892 Robert W. jr to Guthrie, Indian Territory (reportedly they had their father, Robert W. sr, operating Guthrie store in beginning), then R W. jr in 1907 to Atchison, Kansas and Albert A in 1895 removed to Carthage.)

Reportedly, as is found in his father-in-law's 1901 published biography (same author of my g,grandfather's bio, which is riddled with misinformation), he & Geneva lived in Coffeyville, Montgomery county Kansas following failed attempt by the Dalton Gang in October 1892 to rob future wife's father's bank, but its stated Carthage, Missouri in
F W Blackmar's 1912 published biography.

Wayne Condon [wife's 2nd younger brother], who for several months past has been with Ramsay Bros., dry goods merchants, has purchased all stock of dry goods and shoes at Coffeyville and has gone into business for himself. SOURCE: Mornin' Mail.

They 1st opened the Carthage store in 1895, Albert secretary & treasurer (later president), locating in the 1880 two story building built by Pollard. Ten years later, May 1905 they entered into a lease for the entire building, so gave up their north portion of the Regan building, extensively remodeling the Pollard building but allowing second floor offices to remain, then 6 January 1912, a devastating fire starting 6:00 pm with few customers and employees barely escaping without their belongings, with loss reported at $100,000. They then again expanded and moderized the store to 311-315 south Main street, on west side of square between three story Regan's, now Center building and three story Cassil's, corner, Bank of Carthage building, which had housed the jewelry business of F W & brother F A Steadley, later with a stone quarry and then F W bought a bed spring manufactor company. The Ramsay store remained owned and operated by Ramsay family members for over eighty years when, reportedly, the two grandson's, Bob and Jimmie, sold the Carthage & Joplin stores in 1972 to Vandever Incorporated of Oklahoma, who closed their doors 30 August 1976. (grandson Bob opened a store in Las Vegas, Nevada)

Upon removing wife to Carthage, prior to 1900, from Kansas, they purchased from the widow Miller, the William P Miller home following the Col Carl Raymond Gray's (whose wife had been acquainted with Geneva in Oswego), rented it September 1898, at that period of time, next north was William H Peiffer family at 1328, now 1404 Grand avenue.

Census (Scotland): 1871, age 4 Dunfermline, fifeshire with parents & five siblings.

Census (Scotland): 1881, age 13 Fife, Dunfermline with parents, maternal grandmother, & five siblings.

City Directory of 1896, lists Albert A Ramsay in Carthage, MO, Jesie A Ramsay, his next older brother with their parents at 406 west Euclid avenue, Pittsburg, Ks, Robt the father, also at 406 address, Robt,jr at Guthrie, Ok.

[1899] Mr. and Mrs. A. A. Ramsay expect to leave in about three weeks for their trip to Europe. They will be gone probably three months and expect to visit France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, England and Scotland.

Last summer while Mr. and Mrs. A. A. Ramsay were returning from their trip to Europe they met and became quite well acquainted with Hon. Benj. B. Odell and his wife, who were also on the steamer returning from Europe. Mr. Odell has just been nominated by the Republicans for governor of New York to succeed Governor Theodore Roosevelt. Mr. Ramsay describes him as an exceedingly fine appearing and affable gentleman.
SOURCE: Mornin' Mail.

Census: 1900, age 33 Carthage, Jasper county, Missouri with wife & son at 1340 Grand Avenue, merchant, dry goods.

City Directory of 1901, lists Albert A Ramsay in Carthage, Mo, his sister, Elizabeth L with their parents at 406 west Euclid avenue, Pittsburg, Ks, the father Robt (Ramsay Bros) as is daughter Sarah F at the 406 address, with Robt, jr still in Guthrie, Ok.

A. A. Ramsay left this morning for Guthrie, Okla. [where father, R W. sr, & brother, R W. jr, were], and Mrs. Ramsay for Springfield, Mo., both to be gone several days.

Five young ladies were added to the store force at Ramsay's this morning to help out with sales. Most of them are employed in the toy department in the basement
[level to Lyon street]. They are Misses Maxwell Fulford*, Clara Bliss, Mattie Edwards and Ada Augustine. SOURCE: Morin' Mail. *Her father or brother may be either Harry Edward, manager till 1927 when brother Elliott L Fulford took over the Carthage store (?).

Carthage newspaper article in 1903 explains the Ramsay Brothers Dry Goods Company incorporation with A A Ramsay, brother Robert W Ramsay, jr of Guthrie, Oklahoma and H M Palmer, manager at Iola, plus expanding Carthage store into the Regan building (after 1916, Center Building), for more sales room.

U S City Directories information:

1902, '04, '05, '06 & '09, secretary & treasurer of the Ramsay Brothers Dry Good company, residence 1332, now 1422 Grand avenue, Robert W Ramsay,jr of Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory president, (later to Atchison, Kansas).

Census: 1910, age 44[34] Carthage, Jasper county, Missouri with wife of 15 years & son at 1332, now 1422 Grand avenue, a merchant. (year Miss Bess Stanley started working, retiring after forty-three years with Ramsay's)

Census: 1920, age 51 Carthage, Jasper county, Missouri with wife & son who is also a merchant, at 1332, now 1422 Grand avenue, with Lloyd Cowgill & family built their home in 1901 next north, (more than fifteen years later Harry A Spradling's family). (the year that Edith (Wallingford) Cooke started working, retiring after thirty-six years with Ramsay's)

Census: 1930, age 62 Carthage, Jasper county, Missouri with wife at 1422 Grand avenue, owner of department store.

Evening of Thursday, June 7 1934 at Carthage, Missouri's Drake hotel, Albert & wife Geneva were on the fifty-one member reception committee to welcome their friends of over forty years, Colonel Carl Raymond and wife Harriette (Flora) Gray to Carthage Homecoming.

U S City Directories information:

1937, '38, '41, '42, president Ramsay Dry Goods company, residing at 1422 Grand avenue.

1950 U S City Directory lists Geneva Ramsay (widow of Albert A), home 1422 Grand avenue, Carthage. On separate line has Elliott L Fulford, Manager [started work in 1914], Ramsay's Department Store, 311 Main.

Death: at Saint John's hospital Joplin, Jasper county, Missouri, cause, slipped on rug, injured head at age 78 yrs, 7 mos, 13 days.
The death certificate can be viewed at Missouri Digital Archives/death certificates online website.
Son Robert informant, location of the ashes currently unknown.

Father: Robert William Ramsay,sr b: 2 JAN 1836 Crossgates, Fifi, Scotland, died 29 APR 1903, Pittsburg, Crawford county, Kansas.
Mother: Anne Katherine Luckman b: 8 NOV 1833 Manchester, England.

Marriage: Emma Geneva Condon b: 23 APR 1870 Oswego, Labette county, Kansas.
Married: 1893 Oswego, Labette county, Kansas.

Known Child

Robert Condon Ramsay b: 7 JAN 1897 Carthage, Jasper county, Missouri.

Known Grandchildren

Robert Crane Ramsay b: 1927 Joplin, Jasper county, Missouri.

James A Ramesy b: 31 OCT 1932 Joplin, Jasper county, Missouri.

Prepared in part by Bill Boggess.


December 5, 1945

A Native of Scotland, He and a Brother, Starting in a Small Way, Built a Flourishing Business


Albert A. Ramsay, 78, dean of Carthage merchants, passed away at 3:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon in St. John's Hospital in Joplin.
Mr. Ramsay, who had not been in the best of health the last several months, slipped on a rug at his home, 1422 Grand avenue, late Monday afternoon, November 26, striking his head against a door. He suffered a concussion and for several days was cared for in the home. Last Wednesday he was moved to the Joplin hospital, where he passed away.
Death ended a career of more than 55 years of active business for Mr. Ramsay - founder of six dry goods stores in this section of the country. Until his recent illness he had been actively engaged in the operation of several of the stores, going daily to his office in the Carthage store and at least once a week he visited the Joplin Ramsay store, which is managed by his son, Robert Ramsay.
Other stores established by Ramsay Brothers are at Pittsburg, Iola and Atchison, KS., and Okmulgee, OK. At the time of his death he was president of the Carthage, Joplin, Pittsburg and Okmulgee stores.

A Native of Scotland
A native of Dunfermline in Fifeshire, Scotland, Mr. Ramsay came to America in 1888. The son of a Scot merchant, Mr. Ramsay naturally serviced as an apprentice in one of his father's store, starting at a shilling a week. He entered his father's store at Cupar-Fife, the neighboring town to which his father had moved and become the provost. The future Missouri and Kansas merchant obtained his education in the ways of people and merchandise by clerking through the departments for four years of his apprenticeship. Letters from a friend in Connecticut interested him in America.
After a year and a half in a Connecticut dry goods store Mr. Ramsay went to St. Louis where he believed opportunities were greater. His brother, R. W. Ramsay, followed him to America and the two pooled their income for the purpose of starting a business of their own.

Opened First Store in 1890
The two brothers had $1,400 between them and a friend added a like amount and in 1890 they opened a store in Pittsburg, KS., then a town of 3,000 inhabitants. The first year they did $50,000 worth of business and the Ramsay brothers bought out the interest of their partner.
The brothers rode the high tide of pioneering and came through the panic of 1893 because they operated their business on a cash basis. They then decided to come to Missouri and in 1895 opened a store here.

Always at Same Location Here
The Carthage store always has been at its present location. The original room had a 25-foot front and was 100 feet deep, representing the front south half of the present spacious store. Five years later the growth of business necessitated extending the store room and as time passed additions were made until now the store takes in 35,000 square feet of floor space.

For many years Mr. Ramsay made trips to Europe and until about 1931 he and Mrs. Ramsay spent their winters in New York, where he assisted the various store buyers.

A Born Optimist
By nature Mr. Ramsay was a born optimist. He was an inspiration to his business associates during the slow times, as well as the good. During the depression years Mr. Ramsay was making plans for expansion and improvements of his business properties. He often stated that no country in the world offered the stability for business men that the United States has to offer and for this reason he believed every man in business should look forward with confidence to the future.
In keeping with this philosophy the Ramsay stores, in their respective towns, have been constantly modernized and are recognized for the exceptional appointments.
Mr. Ramsay was equally alert to the time of his death, to the modern methods of merchandising. He had not lost interest, during his advancing years in the operation of his stores and had kept an intimate contact with the stores in their progress.
Mr. Ramsay had a keen analysis of individual qualities in the personnel of the stores and as a result had gathered around him a strong organization to carry on the store work.

Long a Civic Leader
By temperament Mr. Ramsay was a kindly man. He was one of the most liberal givers to all civic needs including charities.
As long as he was physically able he enjoyed golf as a recreation. "Chappie," as he was known to his friends, always could be depended upon to contribute his share of entertainment for the enjoyment of his friends.
Surviving Mr. Ramsay are his wife, Mrs. Geneva Condon Ramsay; the son, Robert Ramsay of Joplin; a sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Longston of New York City and two grandchildren, Robert Ramsay, Jr. and Jimmie Ramsay.
The oft-expressed request of Mr. Ramsay, private funeral services, for member of the family only, were held at the Knell service home. The body was sent to Kansas City for cremation. It also was his request that no flowers be sent.
All of the Ramsay stores were closed the day of the funeral in memory of their founder.

Family Members


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