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1920's Smith & Cheairs Hardware Photo, Iliff, Logan County, Colorado


This is a beautiful old circa 1920's RPPC real photo postcard of a small town with a prominent advertising sign of "Smith & Cheairs", which by the signage, was a Grocery, Hardware and Furniture Store. The postcard is unsent with a CYKO stamp box, which dates it from 1904-1920. We feel the photo was taken circa 1920, by the research we found on this old Iliff business.

With some poking around, we believe the "Smith & Cheairs" store was in the town of Iliff, Logan County, Colorado. This old town was named after John Wesley Iliff, a local cattleman. It has been called a Colorado ghost town, although it is still in existence, with a current population of 216 folks.

Found in Public Genealogy Records:
It seems the Chaeirs family is an American southern family with deep Alabama and Mississippi genealogy roots. The family moved to Colorado in 1873, after the family patriarch, JJ Cheairs, came to Colorado in search of his health. Joseph J Cheairs 1846-1907 and his wife Sallie J Jones Cheairs 1852-1940, are the original Cheairs pioneers to Colorado, and are buried at the Riverside Cemetery in Sterling, Logan County, Colorado. Both were born in Mississippi. See the story of this family below.

Source: A brief history of Logan County, Colorado: with reminiscenses by pioneers, Denver, Colo.: Printed by Welch-Haffner Print Co. in 1928: THE CHEAIRS FAMILY, Sterling Colorado:  "An outstanding man, prominent in the affairs of the early days in Sterling, was Calvin Cheairs. By one who knew him intimately he has been characterized as “A most extraordinary man, both in reality and in appearance; a man of wealth, a typical, southern gentleman, loved and respected by everyone. He would have been noted among any group of strong men, a man who stood for whatever was upright and reputable in citizenship, and as kind a friend as one ever knew, without making any pretensions along that line.” He was the paternal ancestor of the Cheairs family, who with others have built their lives into the community, which has Sterling for its center. Mr. Cheairs was a native of North Carolina, but later moved to Marshall County, Mississippi, where he owned and operated a large plantation. When the Civil War broke out he owned seventy slaves. In 1877 his son, J.J. Cheairs (Joseph J Cheairs (1846-1907), came to Colorado in search of health, and was so favorably impressed that he determined to make it his home. Returning to the South for his family, he was accompanied also by his father and mother, with their belongings in wagons to the settlement in June, 1878, where they built homes and engaged in farming and stockraising. In 1881 the father moved with his family to the present site of Sterling. With the first car load of lumber shipped into the town on the new railroad, two houses exactly alike were built, one on the site of the present residence of Grady Cheairs and his widowed mother, the other on the site of the residence of A.A. Smith. The former was occupied by Calvin Cheairs, the latter by Mrs. F. g. Ayres, sister of Mrs. Cheairs. The stately old trees in these yards were planted by Mr. Cheairs, and Mrs. Ayres, also those in the yard of F. H. Blair’s residence, that being a part of Mrs. Ayres’ homestead. This homestead was bounded on the north by what is now Beattie Street. It was here that Mr. Cheairs introduced the alfalfa plant into this locality by planting a two and one half acre tract near his home. Mr. Cheairs, senior, was twice married. The first wife was Anne E. Hamer, the second Mrs. Sarah A. Davis Jarett, widow of John A. Jarett. Her daughter by a former marriage, Sarah A. Jones, became the wife of J.J. Cheairs. Three other sons remained in Mississippi. Both Mr. and Mrs. Cheairs, like many others among the pioneers of Sterling, lived long past the allotted three score and ten years. At the time of his death he was eighty-one, and Mrs. Cheairs died in 1918 at the age of eighty-five. J.J. Cheairs was one of Sterling’s most useful and worthy citizens, and a successful business man. He at first homesteaded a tract three miles north of the present town. For ten years the family lived on the original homestead. Then while retaining his interests in land and cattle he erected a beautiful home on his land south of town, around which grew the grove of trees in the present Columbine Park. There he lived till his death in 1907. At the time of his death he was president of the Logan County Bank. Mr. and Mrs. Cheairs were the parents of an interesting family, all who have been true to Logan County. They are Minnie L. Cheairs, and Ralph Grady, who reside with their mother in her residence on the site of the first Cheairs home; Joseph C. Cheairs, and Samuel V. Cheairs, both of whom died in early manhood; Oscar Cheairs, who married Miss Josephine Riedy and resides in Iliff; Calvin W. Cheairs, who married Mary E. Messier; Marcia Cheairs, who married Raymond L. Sauter; and Maggie Cheairs, wife of John Lutin. All were educated in the Sterling schools and some of them attended institutions of higher learning. At the time of the death of Samuel V. Cheairs in 1918, some unknown friend of the family paid him the following touching and well deserved tribute in the local paper. “Samuel C. Cheairs, prominent citizen and business man, passed away at the home of his mother, Sunday, November 10th. He was a man who will be greatly missed, as his whole life has been spent in Logan County. His death came as a great shock to his many friends. “He was genial, affable, courteous, gentle, kind, and loving, with a pleasant word and a kindly smile for all. The beautiful sentiment in the lines of Abou Ben Adhem, “One who loves his fellowmen,’ was never more truly exemplified than in the life of Sam Cheairs. Of him it would be truly said: ‘Howe’er so cramped the field wherein he works, He has not failed, the man who never shirks; the man who toils for years without a break, and treads the path of pain for others’ sake.”

1911 THE GAZETTEER PUBLISHING CO., ESTABLISHED 1871, DENVER, COLORADO Published by JAMES JR. IVES, Town of ILIFF:  "A growing agricultural town in Logan county, on the Union Pacific Railway, 12 miles northeast of Sterling, Population 125: Business Directory for Iliff
SMITH & CHEAIRS, general merchandice.
CHEAIRS & CO, DL Shank mgr, hardware and furniture. (Davis Shank)
SHANK DL, manager of Cheairs & Co.
CHEAIRS & CO, DL Shank manager, hardware and furniture. (Davis L. Shank)

Oscar Leroy Chaeirs or Oscar Lee Chaeirs 1920 US Federal Census
Age: 38
Birth Year: abt 1882
Birthplace: Colorado
Home in 1920: Iliff, Logan, Colorado
Spouse's Name: Josephine R Cheairs
Father's Birthplace: Mississippi
Mother's Birthplace: Alabama
Occupation: Real Estate
Household Age
Oscar L Cheairs, age 38, occupation, real estate
Josephine R Cheairs, age 37
Joe Lee Cheairs, age 7 son
Frederick R Cheairs, age 5 son

In 1900 Otey Elmo Smith was age 31 and lived in North Sterling, Logan County, Colorado with his wife Jamie Smith. His Occupation is a "Groceries Furnishing Goods Merchant" He moves to Iliff, Colorado by 1910:

Otey Smith in the 1910 United States Federal Census
Age in 1910: 41
Birth Year: abt 1869
Birthplace: Mississippi
Home in 1910: Iliff, Logan, Colorado
Spouse's Name: Jamie I Smith
Father's Birthplace: Virginia
Mother's Birthplace: Alabama
Occupation: Proprietor
Household Name Age
Otey E Smith 41 (assumed to be Otis Smith, with Otey as a nickname)
Jamie Isom Smith 40
Elmo I Smith 5
Mary E Isom 71 (his mother in law)
Waverly E Smith 34 (Waverly Smith)

We believe Davis L. Shank was the store manager:
Davis L Shank in the 1910 United States Federal Census
Age in 1910: 24
Birth Year: abt 1886
Birthplace: Iowa
Home in 1910: Iliff, Logan County, Colorado
Spouse's Name: Edith Shank
Father's Birthplace: West Virginia
Mother's Birthplace: Iowa
Occupation: Manager
Industry: Hardware
Name Age
Davis L Shank 24
Edith Shank 26

So...we deduct that Otey Smith and Oscar Cheairs were the owners of the "Smith & Cheairs" store in Iliff, and Davis Shank was the manager. This is an original RPPC Real Photo Postcard photo of that small Colorado town.

When viewing our scans at very large "actual size", you can see 2 young man in aprons (assumed to be the the owners) out front of the store, on the stoop. The store has painted windows and signage for Deval Cream Separators, Furniture, Groceries, and Dry Goods. The store is large, almost a block long. There are early Ford Model T cars dating it to the 1920's, a great American photo. 

The RPPC was found in Germantown, Baltimore County, Maryland, from a postcard antique paper dealer, and is a rare, one of a kind and wonderful Colorado historical image. We are excited to have found it. Any help or correction appreciated, email Debra here.

Size: 3.5 by 5.5 inches
Debra Clifford Ancestorville Genealogy      Note: The original is sold, but you may still purchase large, detailed and intimate 300 dpi high resolution scans of front and back, sent immediately via email. Please check our site carefully, as many may be related to each other that we are unaware of. Click scan to place in your cart. Thank you, enjoy! ~debra (please also join me at Ancestorville Genealogy on facebook. contact info on top bar)

Original Sold, High Resolution Scans Available

Choose Here
Scans-300 dpi Large Crisp Scans of Front/Back-Sent via email 1920's Smith & Cheairs Hardware Photo, Iliff, Logan County, Colorado - Scans-300 dpi Large Crisp Scans of Front/Back-Sent via email - Scans $9.99

Ancestorville Genealogy: Lost Family Photos

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