Mrs. Beardsley Millinery

Have you noticed the mural Mrs. Beardsley’s Millinery on the south side of 214 North Harrison Street (formerly known as Danner’s)? Mary “Mollie” Beardsley was an entrepreneur in the early 1900s when most women did not attend college or run businesses. We want to share her story during this National Women’s History Month.

Mary “Molly” McClain was born in Indiana in 1855 to parents John and Susan McClain. Mollie attended Franklin College, where she met her future husband. She married Dr. Edmund Beardsley in Franklin, Indiana, on June 12, 1883. The couple moved from their former home in Decatur to Alexandria in 1906.

An August 22, 1906, Alexandria Times-Tribune article noted that Dr. Edmund Beardsley was a homeopathic doctor specializing in eye, ear, nose, and throat ailments. He and his wife purchased offices in the Crist building (214 North Harrison Street) from the Union Clothing and Shoe Store, which had been in business there since 1897. The doctor planned to run his medical practice in the upper-floor office, while his wife, Mollie, would run a millinery store on the main level.

Mrs. Beardsley's Millinery Mural
Mrs. Beardsley's Millinery Mural (Photo Courtesy Alexandria-Monroe Township Historical Society, 2023)

Judging by all the Alexandria Times-Tribune ads in the early 1900s, a lot of competition existed for millineries. Mrs. Beardsley would compete against hat designers in the well-established Patterson’s Department Store, The Boston Store, and Duffield’s in the Brannum Hardware store.

To compete against these stores, she expanded her shop to include other offerings and millinery services. Many might recall their parents and grandparents shopping at the Beardsley 5 and 10c Store.

After Dr. Edmund Beardsley died on February 28, 1921, Mollie continued to run her store. This store remained in business until 1934, when the Glogas family purchased the Beardsley retail space.

(Note: According to various Alexandria Times-Tribune articles, Glogas Dry Goods Store was in business until 1947, when it sold its retail location to Huebners. The Huebner store space eventually became part of the Danner Brothers’ store, which was in business from 1927 to 1987.)

Mollie Beardsley died on December 11, 1943. She was a much beloved and remembered contributor to Alexandria’s early retail spirit.

Many fondly recall Ferman Johnson’s strong business leadership, which led Alexandria women to enter the retail business industry in the mid-20th century. Now, we can celebrate Mollie Beardsley, who forged the way for Ferman and the many current female local business owners who flourish in the 21st century. Thanks to “Mrs. Beardsley,” whom we celebrate as part of Alexandria’s foundational history.

Mary "Mollie" (McClain) Beardsley
Mary "Mollie" (McClain) Beardsley ca 1890s (Photo Courtesy Vince and Vickie Beardsley)
1907 Ad for Mrs. Beardsley's 5c and 10c Store in Alexandria, IN