History of the Hecla Mercantile & Banking Company
Incorporated at Glendale in 1886
The Hecla Mercantile & Banking Company was a firm based in Glendale with branches at Melrose, Hecla, and Lion City. The company organized in 1886 as a subsidiary of the Hecla Consolidated Mining Company. At its organization it had a stock of $100,000 and was a consolidation of four previous companies (Gaffney & Purdam of Melrose; Armstrong & Losee, and N. Armstrong & Co., Bankers, of Glendale; and Wilson, Rote and Company of Hecla). Henry Knippenberg was the president of the company from its inception until the early 1900s. The store at Melrose went through many transitions after the collapse of the Hecla Company. The Mercantile building was constructed first and the bank building was added on in 1889. Today, the building sits empty but serves as a reminder of Melrose, Montana's grander days of being the shipping depot for the Hecla Company. The Hecla Mercantile & Banking Company transitioned into the Melrose Mercantile Company.
(1886 APR 24)
The old Avery property has been sold to Henry W. Kappes for the consideration of $1,000. The same property was afterwards sold to H. Knippenberg for the same consideration. A.R. Gates, of Helena, and Henry W. Kappes have bought out Armstrong & Losee and N. Armstrong & Co.The Hecla Mercantile and Banking Co. has been organized for the purpose of buying out Gates & Kappes, (formerly Armstrong & Losee and N. Armstrong & Co.,) also Henry W. Kappes at Hecla and Gaffney & Purdum at Melrose. The Hecla Mercantile and Banking Co. has paid up capital of $100,000, and the officers are Henry Knippenberg, president; A.R. Gates, vice president; George B. Conway, secretary and treasurer. The directors are H. Knippenberg, A.R. Gates, Henry W. Kappes, Wm B. Gaffney and Thos. Sappington.
The following order, issued at Glendale, is self-explanatory: “To HECLA EMPLOYEES: The employees of the Hecla Consolidated Mining Co. are hereby notified that every man always had, has now, and will continue to have full and perfect freedom to buy all his own and family supplies wherever and whenever he may select. The Hecla Consolidated Mining Co. has no store, or any interest in any store, but pays all employees monthly in cash. The stories now being circulated to the contrary by unprincipled men not in our employ are false, and the authors of these stories know them to be false.
H. KNIPPENBERG, Gen Manager”
(1886 MAY 08)
Montana Business Changes:
The following business changes in Montana Territory are reported by the Bradstreet Commercial Agency for the week ending May 1, 1886:
Glendale - Armstrong & Losee, general store; succeeded by Hecla Mercantile & Banking Association.
Hecla - W.W. Kappes, general store; succeeded by Hecla Mercantile & Banking Association.
Melrose - Gaffney & Purdum, general store, succeeded by Hecla Mercantile & Banking Association.
(1886 JUN 19)
The Hecla Mercantile and Banking Co. has reduced prices very much, and so all the people feel happy over the change, for example: Hams 12 cts., sugar 8 ½ cts., eggs 20 cts., coal oil $3.50 per case.
(1886 JUN 26)
The Hecla Mercantile and Banking Co. contemplate having a “grand opening” upon the completion of their new and magnificent store room. Invitations will be sent to all in Beaverhead County, and the rich and the poor will be asked to meet upon a platform of low prices for goods, which none but the H.M. and B. Co. can offer.
(1887 NOV 11)
The Hecla Mercantile Co. has moved its dry goods department into the commodious brick lately vacated by Kaufman. In the new quarters the company will have ample room to display its stock and meet the run of customers. Henry Kappes is the busy, wide awake business man of Glendale. He is superintendent of the Hecla Mercantile Company, with houses at Glendale, Lion City and Melrose. Kappes is sharp enough to “copper the turn” in all business deals and come out winner.
(1890 Jan 17)
The Hecla Mercantile and Banking Company’s annual meeting was held on the 7th, inst. H. Knippenberg, H.T. Sappington, C.R. Harvey, W. Knippenberg and G.G. Earle were elected directors, with the following officers for the ensuing year: H. Knippenberg, president, C.A. Harvey, secretary, and W. Knippenberg, treasurer.
(1890 April 11)
R. C. Hull and J. Jameson have severed their connection with the Hecla Mercantile & Banking Co. and returned to their homes in the East. The former is succeeded by Will Knippenberg and the latter by J. E. Allen, from Green Castle, Ind.
(1891 APR 17)
The Hecla Mercantile & Banking company will soon erect a warehouse, forty by eighty feet, near the Melrose depot. Their increasing business makes more room a necessity.
(1891 APR 24)
Col. Jencks, contractor and builder from Butte, was here this week to complete a contract for the building of a warehouse for the Hecla Mercantile Co. at Melrose.