FRANK WINFIELD WOOLWORTH
KING of the FIVE-AND-DIME
April 13 1852 (Rodman NY) - April 8 1919 (NYC)
Frank Winfield Woolworth was born in Rodman NY, Jefferson County
on April 13 1852.
He was the son of John Hubbell Woolworth and Fanny McBrier of
Pillar Point NY, who were married January 14 1851.
John & Fanny Woolworth lived in a quaint 7 room farmhouse
which was owned by his parents, Jasper and Elizabeth "Betsey"
The modest farm house where Frank was born and
lived for 7 yrs is situated off Zoar Rd, on a little dead end road
amidst the rolling landscape of Rutland Hills in the town of Rodman
The little 7 room home still has its original
carved oval sunburst, and its original paneled door.
|The house and 150 acres were purchased
April 1 1850 by Jasper and Betsey Woolworth (Frank's grandparents)
from Anson and Ruth Moody. Prior to that, Jasper and Betsey Woolworth
had owned a small 80 acre farm in the town of Watertown which they
bought November 19 1844.
Across the road from the little house are the
|The driveway continues on up a little
hill into the woods and fields:
|On February 25 1859, Jasper and Betsey
sold the Rodman property to Chauncey B Lawton and purchased property
from Gilbert and Harriet Reed located partly in Adams and partly in
Frank's parents, John and Fanny, then purchased
a home and 103.5 acres just a short distance from Great Bend NY
on the road to Champion NY the following week. Frank spent most
of his boyhood days and youth on the Champion farm of his parents
only a few yards south of the Great Bend Methodist church which
the Woolworth family attended.
Frank later had rebuilt and dedicated on September
5 1915 beautifully tall-spired edifice that stands there today.
In June 1877, he returned to Watertown NY after
a 15 month illness at the home of his parents in Great Bend NY.
He was employed at a salary of $10 a week in the dry goods store
of Moore & Smith. With him he brought his young wife, the former
Miss Jennie Creighton, whom he had married June 11 1876 and they
established themselves in the wing of the above, then 30 Franklin
Street, and later 286 Franklin Street after the renumbering of the
streets. The house was owned by Nelson H Pierce, a painter and a
man of local prominence who lived in the top right part.
On July 17 1878, his daughter Helena Maud was born in the Franklin
Street wing. On April 20 1904, Helena married a New Yorker named
Charles E F McCann and they later had a daughter Mrs J V (Constance)
McMullan of New York City. Two other daughters included Edna and
Jessie, both born in New York City.
His daughter, Mrs Contance Woolworth McMullan had a vision of
making this modest Franklin Street home a memorial to her mother.
She purchased the home, but later abandoned the idea after not being
able to acquire the necessary adjoining properties.
The house was sold a few more times and subsequently razed in
NICKELS AND DIMES
In the spring of 1878 a man named Golding who had been a clerk
in the local Augsberry Bushnell store, told William H Moore about
a five-cent novelty counter idea. With $100 worth of cheap goods
and trinkets acquired on a New York buying trip, Moore started his
sale the following August with F W Woolworth in charge.
Woolworth cleaned the counter in one day. That was about 5 weeks
after his first daughter was born. Shown here is a 1905 photo of
the original location of FW Woolworth on Public Square in Watertown
|February 22 1879 Woolworth started
his own first store in Utica which later failed and closed the following
May 28 1880.
Confident in his new venture, he opened a store
in Lancaster PA June 21 1881 which was the successful beginning
of his chain of stores.
He saw an opportunity to open an entire store
around the concept of variety merchandising, at a cost of no greater
than a dime (unfortunately inflation made that no longer possible
in the 1930's) Up until that time, this method was used only on
specialty and novelty counters.
Many others followed in his conceptual footsteps
including McCrory's, JJ Newbury, SS Kresge (now KMart), and even
a 5 and dime chain (C S Woolworth & Company) developed by his
younger brother Charles Sumner Woolworth
When Frank Winfield Woolworth died in NYC on
April 18 1919, his total annual sales was $107,175,700 and his personal
fortune totalled $27,205,283.
|Other Woolworth related
- "I LOVE WATERTOWN" essay contests
were held open to students enrolled in the Watertown School systems,
including Immaculate Heart
- a 1979 100th Anniversary Commemorative coin
You can get a book about Woolworth at Google
Remembering Woolworth's: A Nostalgic History
of the World's Most Famous Five ...
By Karen Plunkett-Powell