Historic business, fire, library on same corner

Sometime in 1873, E. M. Scarbrough rode horseback to Rockdale to establish a business.

Representing H. P. Hale and Company of Hearne, He bought a lot for $150 on Main Street.

After the railroad was completed through town, a two-story wooden building was constructed on that lot and Hale and Company occupied the building.

Scarbrough was a silent partner until Hale's death in 1882. At that time Scarbrough & Hicks store was established, moving to the East Cameron and Ackerman corner location.

R. H. Hicks, former bookkeeper for Hale, became a partner and Scarbrough & Hicks became one of the strongest mercantile establishments in Central Texas in 1889.

E. M. Scarbrough moved to Austin and four years later opened a branch business in that city.

The Rockdale store operated as a partnership until 1913 when John Hicks and associates acquired the Scarbrough interests.

The store continued to operate until 1935 when it burned to the ground. Two men lost their lives in that fire.

A new store opened the following January under the ownership of J. O. Newton and Sons.

By the mid 1940's Newton and Sons building no longer existed.

Childhood memories recall Rockdale celebrating Christmas with Santa and Mrs. Claus and a big live Christmas tree.

Santa and Mrs. Claus greeted children as they received paper bags of candy and fruit.

By 1961, donations were being accepted to build a new city library on that location.

Dr. George Hill Patterson, who resided in California, honored his mother by his donation to build the library building.

The Lucy Hill Patterson Memorial Library was dedicated in 1963.

The library is home to Milam County's Genealogy records and files.

Not many small towns have a library like Rockdale's. It is a great educational resource.

People of Rockdale can boast of this establishment and the resources it brings to the surrounding population in Milam County.

The Scarbrough Building still stands in dow ntow n Austin, on Congress Avenue, but has changed from mercantile goods to professional space.

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2009-08-27 digital edition

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