Monday, April 27, 2009

E J Jennings, Pioneer of the Chain Store Concept

Last year I published an article in the West Hempstead Civic newsletter about prominent Lakeview resident Ephraim J. Jennings (the entire article can be read here). This post is a follow up to that article, based on new information I recently came across from two sources.

The first is a piece from the Feb. 22, 1908 edition of the Brooklyn Eagle that discussed early pioneer bakers in Brooklyn. E J Jennings was prominently featured in that piece which also included the photo below of our subject:

The claim in my article that Jennings ran the second biggest bakery business in Brooklyn came from "The civil, political, professional and ecclesiastical history and commercial and industrial record of the county of Kings and the city of Brooklyn, N.Y. : from 1683 to 1884" by Henry Stiles Reed (published in 1884). The Brooklyn Eagle piece of 1908, in fact, claimed that the E J Jennings Bakery was the largest bread, cake and cracker bakery business in Brooklyn, and had been the exclusive supplier of such giant accounts as the White Star Ocean Line Co. and the Barnum Circus. The article goes on to list the locations of Jennings stores across Brooklyn and Manhattan - 17 in all in Bklyn and another 6 in Manhattan, a staggering total for that era.

That brings us to the second source - Jennings' obit from the Oct 29, 1925 Brooklyn Eagle. There it states that Jennings was the innovator of the chain store system, and judging from the number of stores listed, that claim seems pretty accurate.

The obit also stated that Jennings tried to reenlist in the Army during WWI, but he was rejected because of his age, not surprising since he would have been 68 years old in 1917. But it does speak to his unswerving patriotism. Had the army given him a commission, he would have become the only soldier to have served both during the Civil War and WWI, and would have beat out Johnny Clem, the "drummer Boy of Chickamauga", as the last Civil War veteran to leave the army. (Clem retired in August 1915).


Jeffrey said...

Jacob- I appreciate your updates on E.J. Jennings. He is my third great-grandfather, whom I've only heard stories about through your blogs.
I knew of no other way to pass on my appreciation but to comment.
Thanks again,
Jeffrey H. Jennings

donnagene said...

I want to thank the collector and blogger of West Hempstead History. Who are you? Are there many who created these posts? I have spent most of today
glued to my laptop reading the history of the town my parents moved to in 1953.

My mother was a substitute teacher at Chestnut Elementary School and I attended Eagle Avenue when Marian Delaney was the principal.

I love history but know so little about my home town.