My WV Mountain - McCormick's part in the history of Logan County
When Monroe County natives C.O. McCormick, Sr. and his wife Cleona heard from his cousin W.J. McCormick how fast the Logan County area was
developing after W.W.I and that the taxi company he worked for needed
another driver, they picked up and came to the Logan coalfields, a decision they never regretted. This was in 1921, and the early going was tough. First, there was no taxi job.
They were in a new coalfield town with only $37.30, no job, and they needed a room. C.O. found one, for $37.50 a month, in advance. Before he would rent it, he went to Frank Chirico at Victory Grocery asking for credit for a month's groceries. He then rented the room and took a job at Logan Machine and Electric. That was the beginning of McCormick's "one full
block of shopping satisfaction in downtown Logan."
Soon after, C.O. heard of another job winding armatures for Island Creek Machine Shops, which he took. He walked from Cherry Tree to
Holden every day until they moved into a company house large enough for
Cleona to rent a room. Her reputation as a cook got around, soon single
men asked to "board" with them. And the extra money they saved. During
their time in Holden, Okey Jr. was born.
C.O. was forever on the lookout for that window of opportunity to open that he knew would be just right for his next step. He knew it when it came; his chance to buy a service station in Cherry Tree. He opened the Music & McCormick Service Station in Cherry Tree with business partner Dallas Music.
His first big business decision was asking Standard Oil Company for what
they must have looked on as a favor. He offered to pay a penny per
gallon extra to be saved for future investments. His second big
decision was when electric appliances came to Logan. C.O. remodeled the service station, giving him room to sell Kelvinator appliances.
In 1936, with an investment of $600, McCormick's leased a 20' by 40' storeroom on the corner of Washington and Stratton Streets for an appliance store. The other businesses on the block then included a hotel, supermarket and
bakery. Success still seemed slim, but C.O. and Cleona believed in
working hard, but mostly they believed in each other. During the
Depression year of 1938, the McCormick's traded their small storeroom for the larger hotel lobby and include furniture to their
store. Even when success still seem slim, in 1942, they added ladies clothing to the store, and moved the furniture to a separate
Mary LaFon, Cleona's sister, started to work in the office and their brother, Luther LaFon began as a salesman/clerk. At
that time in our history county roads made a trip to Logan nearly
impossible for some people, with that in mind, McCormick's had salesmen go out in a truck to the camps and hollows to sell their
merchandise. They would go out early in the week and go back on payday
to collect. According to Okey, Jr. this practice continued into the
sixties. Luther LaFon was one of the best and remained with McCormick's
until his death in 1967. His wife, Mary Hale, began working at
McCormick's when she finished school and eventually became a buyer for them until her retirement in 1992.
In 1949, McCormick's acquired the bakery space and reopened a modern ladies department, in 1953, a men's department and a second floor showroom opened in the hotel's space. The grocery store closed in 1959, which made the final end of the block available. C.O. immediately leased the space, did extensive remodeling, and added a children's department. This was the final development that landed McCormick's the three-story "one full block of shopping satisfaction in downtown Logan."
Okey, Jr. was still attending Logan schools in 1936 when McCormick's moved their store to Logan. W.W.II arrived just after Okey, Jr.
graduated; he married his high school sweetheart, Ernestine Estep, a few
days before he enlisted. Ernestine began working for the store right
away, while Okey, Jr. was serving his four years of service for the US
The second couple of McCormick's began to devote their service to
the store as well. Ernestine clerked first in the ladies department,
then payroll and accounts payable. She later became a buyer for the
ladies department, which she held until her death in 1982.
Okey Jr.'s interest was in furniture where he would give customers estimates on curtains and carpets. This was a big part of the business following the war and Okey Jr. would come to work early and leave late. In 1950, C.O. and Cleona's younger son Bob and wife Patricia McCormick began
their service to the store. For the next 30 years the three couples
worked together to build McCormick's into the business it is today.
David McCormick became the first grandson to enter the business after he
graduated from West Virginia University in 1969. In 1974 McCormick's
began buying the property that they were leasing on storeroom at a time. The purchase was complete by 1980 and extensive remodeling began. McCormick's celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1986 with all four
couples enjoying the fruits of their hard labor. Soon after the
celebration, C.O. and Cleona retired by reason of poor health. C.O.
died in 1988 and Cleona followed in 1991.
Okey, Jr., Bob and Patty are
enjoying their retirement in Florida. David and Judy McCormick became
the sole owners of McCormick's Inc. in 1993. They carry the same
attitude that his grandparents did when they first began McCormick's. Hard work along with dedication to each other and the business will keep McCormick's the "one full block of shopping satisfaction in downtown Logan."