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Early Heavener business


J.M. (Joseph Milliard) Young was born in 1876 in South Carolina to Joseph W. Young and Melissa McWhorter. Melissa had three sons by a previous marriage and she and Joseph had 11 children. Melissa died in 1889 and Joseph (Sr.) remarried to Mary Sorrels and they had six children. So, J.M. was one of many children.  In 1881 the family migrated to near Greenwood, Arkansas and settled in an area known as “Nickel Town.”

By the age of 21, J.M. was in Heavener, Indian Territory. Four years later, he had already established the Young Mercantile Company. Upon statehood, J.M. Young was elected township clerk. In August 1907 he married Georgia Forbis of Hartshorne. They lived at Ave. B and West 3rd in Heavener.

John Houston Dunn was born to Levi and Caroline Dunn on Dec. 19, 1883, near Waldron. He helped his parents with the farm as did his four brothers and a sister. That changed on Jan. 1, 1906, when he began work for Young Mercantile Co. in Heavener. The business was housed in a 20 X 60-foot frame building which had living quarters in the back. John received $25 a month salary and paid $18 a month for meals and slept in the store.

John Dunn married May Cruthirds in 1909 and they lived with her parents, Robert and Sarah Cruthirds at Ave. B and West 2nd street in Heavener. They moved to Howe for a time when John bought an interest in Howe Hardware and Furniture Company, but soon returned to Heavener, to Young’s Mercantile and to their cottage northwest of the depot. They had a son, Hartwell.

By August 1911, J.M.’s younger brother, John Higgins Young, came to work in the store and in January 1912, John became the manager. J.M. was busy as he was vice president of the First National Bank of Heavener, a director of the First National Bank of Poteau, had an interest in the Mizell Hardware Company, was a property owner and the Young Mercantile was considered a leader in hardware, groceries and shoe sales.

In 1913 John H. Dunn and his older brother Will Dunn join the Young brothers as partners in the Young Mercantile business.

The next month John Young married Alice Webster. Alice was from Custer, South Dakota but had been in this area as early as 1900 because her father worked for the railroad.  Their daughter Janice is born in 1914.

In 1917 J.M. sold his interest in the store and became involved in real estate and soon moved to Fort Smith. In 1923, Will Dunn sold his interest as well, leaving John Young and John Dunn as partners and owners of Young Mercantile.  From the time John Dunn came to the small frame building in 1906, he had worked continually for Young’s except for the nine months he had spent in Howe. The business had grown and moved into an 80 X 80-ft brick building.  This continued for 30 years until the business sold to John Young’s son-in-law, Ed Lightfoot.

Edward M. Lightfoot was born in Fort Worth, Texas. He attended college in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1935. He and Janice Young were married in January 1937. In 1940, Edward worked for the War Department and was assigned to the CCC Camp at Stapp-Zoe. On March 2, 1941 he joined the US Air Force (World War II).  He served five years and during that time became friends with Claud Stanley from Parkersburg, West Virginia. Claud discharged on Jan 7, 1947.

By Jan. 9, 1947, Claud Dallas Stanley and Edward M. Lightfoot were the new owners of Young’s Mercantile in Heavener.

Perhaps civilian life was not suited for Edward Lightfoot as he re-enlisted in the Air Force in Aug. 1948. At that time, Young’s Mercantile became Stanley Hardware. Claud continued a successful business for many years. He died in 1999 at age 82 and is buried at Heavener Memorial Cemetery.


Ed served another 15 years with the Air Force and retired as Colonel in 1963. He died in 1987 and Janice died in 2012.  They are both buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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