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G. Keagle & Son

After graduating from Mansfield Normal School in 1912 with a diploma in Piano, Leon Keagle worked as a piano salesman in Elmira, Rochester and Corning.  In 1914 he and his father, Grant Keagle, organized the firm of G. Keagle & Son.  Grant bought a building on Troy Street in Canton, Pa. which had been a grocery store operated by Stan Lyons.  On the second floor was a photography studio operated by a Mr. Wright, and later by Clarence E. Dewey.  Grant and Ida Keagle made this building their home for the duration of their lives.

Photo Caption – page 218p:
This photograph shows the building as it appeared when it was purchased in 1914.  There are still grocery items in the window and a milk can in front.  The second floor porch was torn down sometime later and the building underwent several renovations.  The small window near the top on the side of the building was where the dark room for the photography studio was located.  The barn showing at the rear of the building burned down when Williams Construction Company burned.
Photo Caption – page 219Ap:
G. Keagle & Son store on Main Street, showing the interior of the store, with Eleanor Keagle and Howard Bullock.
Photo Caption – page 219p:
This photograph shows the store after it had been converted into a music store.  The Victor Phonograph and dog are clearly apparent.  In addition to selling pianos and musical merchandise, the firm also sold Singer Sewing Machines, and later, Radios and Maytag washing machines.  For the first few years, Allen Case used part of the building for his jewelry store, but sometime later he moved to a location on Main Street.  The house on the right was rented by Leon and Eleanor Keagle until they built their home on Carson Street.  Phyllis, Roger and Catherine were born here.

In 1923 Leon Keagle was awarded first prize by the Weaver Piano Company for the greatest individual volume of sales among retailers of that firm’s pianos in the United States during a four month period.

Sometimes in the mid 1920’s the store was moved to a location on the north side of Main Street immediately to the east of the Packard House, and Robert McManigle rented the front part of the Troy Street store for a Bakery.  In the back of the Main Street store was a hand operated elevator to take merchandise up to the second floor.  The second floor was used for storage and there was a radio repair shop in the front of this floor.

After the firm changed location, radios were added to their line of merchandise.  The radio had recently been developed to a point where the average family was willing to invest in one.  Most of these earliest radio sets were battery operated and needed an “A” battery and a “B” battery for power.  The “A” battery was the same as a car battery, but the “B” battery was a unit of 48 or more flashlight batteries connected together and packaged as a unit.  These batteries did not last very long, so a family had to restrict the amount of time they spent listening to the radio to the amount of money they could afford for batteries.  The “A” battery could be recharged, but the “B” battery had to be replaced.  These early radios were a far cry from the modern radio that can be stuck in one’s pocket, battery and all.

Another item that sold well in the 1920’s and 1930’s was sheet music. Grant Keagle made a music rack where the sheet music could be displayed with the title of the music showing at the top.  This allowed the customer to see what was readily available for sale.

Most customers shopping for sheet music could play the piano, so they would use one of the pianos in the store to try out their selection.  Sheet music had been popular throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and reached its peak in the 1920’s and 1930’s, and then slowly died out.

Phonograph records were another popular item in the Keagle store.  Both the Edison and Victor machines were competing with each other for the market, but the heavier Edison records lost popularity with the lighter Victor and other makes.  The store had two rooms where costumers could play a record before buying it.  Electricity was not available outside of Canton, and those living in the farms nearby did not have it until later in the 30’s.  The early phonographs that had to be changed often so it would not damage the record.  These were far less faithful in the reproduction of sound than our present Hi-Fi sets, but they were better than nothing.

Sometime during the 1920’s, the firm opened a branch store in Troy, Pa., but this venture was not successful enough to continue and was closed down.

In 1932 the store was moved back to the original building on Troy street.  The depression caused many wage earners to lose their jobs, so people could only buy those items that were absolutely essential.  The business was able to survive through the 1930’s from the sale of Maytag washing machines, radios and Singer Sewing machines.  The Maytag company developed a two-cycle gasoline engine for use on its washers, and these sold well to the farmers before rural electrification brought electricity to the farms.  You could tell from quite a distance away who was washing clothes by the sound of these Maytag washing machine engines.

Photo Caption – page 221p:
The photograph below shows Grant and Leon Keagle with the popular aluminum tub Maytag washing machine, with a young James Keagle sitting on the top lid.

During the 1940’s, World War II caused the production of non essential goods not needed for the war effort to be drastically curtailed.  Factories were needed to product military supplies.  This made for difficult times for all retail stores selling non essential consumer goods, as they were unable to get things to sell.  Even after the end of the war, it took some time before factories could retool for their usual line of consumer goods.  Somehow the business was able to survive these trying times.

After the death of Grant Keagle in 1954, the name of the business was changed to “Keagle’s Music Store,” and moved to a new location on the west side of Sullivan street.  Leon and Eleanor purchased a building that was formerly Ayers farm equipment store.  They ran the business from this location for a few years, then bought a building directly across the street.  They continued at this location until ill health forced their retirement.  The last few years saw a decline in the number of sales, but they preferred to spend their days downtown at the store as they had done for over fifty five years.  This kept them in contact with the many friends they had acquired over the years.  They had operated the business from 1914 to 1971, a period of fifty-six years.

--Roger M. Keagle

Photo Caption – page 222p:
The Troy Street Store as it appeared in the 1950’s
Tri-Counties Page 16165
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 04 AUG 2008
By Joyce M. Tice
Email: Joyce M. Tice

The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933