The Emporium

This photo and information was submitted by Teri Bell Hopper.  Thank you!

My Grandfather was George Lawrence Bell. His wife, Effie Lou Ellen Leveretts.  After George Lawrence Bell moved his family to Big Spring with the railroad, he met up with William Derling.  He and William went into several business ventures together.  One of the ventures was the opening of the first mercantile store in Big Spring.  It was located on North Second Street.  As seen in the photo, George is the man behind the gate on the right
"The Name of the store was "The Emporium". General stock included some grocery items, fresh vegetables, dairy product, household items, tack, building materials and tools, sewing items for the ladies including the best material money could buy, furniture and upon occasion, fresh meat.  They also stocked feed for animals and hay and seed.  They sold general mercantile at first, adding the sale of water soon after.  They delivered water to homes and business' with large water wagons.  Beer and ice was soon added to the inventory at the store and it was the first store in the county to sell these items.  Ice cream soon followed as another one of the adventures for George and William was to open an ice house behind the mercantile store.  Later, they would open a Gin and Power Plant.
First ice makers seem to have been importers of ice.  The first ice makers in Big Spring were William and George.  
They also  installed  electrical power generator.  This led to the courts granting William a franchise to prospect for water anywhere in the Coahoma area and to have use of roads for pipeline right of ways.  While on this project he and George built the first gin in Coahoma.  Part of the gin project in Big Spring was diverted to the establishment of the power plant.  George and William erected the first arc light on the courthouse square.  When the arc lights were erected on the square of the courthouse one of them was put up for free.  The other light was erected for $15.00 a month.  This eventually led to the beginning of The Big Spring Power and Light Company.  George also helped others in Big Spring erect The Big Spring Opera House Company. Programs at the Opera House included concerts, lyceum groups, road companies, lectures, theatrical productions and all other sorts of entertainment, including dances.  The facility became the community center, and various lodges and unions booked it for special parties as well as for home talent and minstrel shows." (Taken from the book Gettin Started  by Joe Pickle)
They made their residence at the City Park, then called The Water Works, now named The Comanche Trail Park.   George was the first official caretaker of the park.  He was instrumental in digging the first water well at the park, which is still used frequently by the residents of Big Spring.

George also helped build the first sub-station in Colorado City, Texas and worked for a time as a lineman for the telephone company.  He helped erect the telephone poles in Big Spring and on the road to Colorado City. Ettie worked for the telephone switch board in her home.  Her telephone number was number 1. to Big Spring with the Railroad.


George L. Bell also owned one of the first Model N Fords in Howard county.

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This page was last updated on -01/01/2013