Cow Butter Store Records

Identity elements

Reference code

2.3.5

Name and location of repository

Level of description

Title

Cow Butter Store Records

Date(s)

  • 1894-1940 (Creation)

Extent

14 boxes
(4 cubic feet)

Name of creator

(1892-1944)

Biographical history

The Cow Butter Store operated in downtown Tacoma at or near the corner of Pacific Avenue and Jefferson Avenue for 52 years, from 1892 to 1944. The owner and proprietor, James A. Sproule (1865-1949), an immigrant from Ireland, arrived in Tacoma after having apprenticed in the grocery business in Liverpool, England. He was en route to Australia where his sister lived when he discerned the advantages of starting a business in Tacoma. In 1914 he leased his store for two years and traveled to New South Wales, visited his sister, and promoted Tacoma as a place name there.

Mr. Sproule was active in civic affairs and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1910. He belonged to many fraternal organizations, including Woodmen of the World and the Improved Order of Red Men. When the question of the 1885 Chinese expulsion from Tacoma was revisited in 1895, he served as one of three replacements in the Committee of Fifteen. He was president of the Mount Tacoma Club, which lobbied for changing the name of Mount Rainier, and summited the mountain in 1903. He served as vice president of the Washington chapter of the American Medical Liberty League, and maintained a stance against mandatory vaccination.

He was married in 1893 to Eliza Eccles (circa 1868-1928), and had two children. A daughter Eliza, known as Ella or Babsie (1895-1999), married F. Bernard Wright. He established Wright Western Marine, a marine supply business now known as Tacoma Propeller. His son Jasper Edward, known as Ed (1899-1960) operated Ed Sproule’s Butter Store from 1925-1936 at 1110-1114 Pacific Avenue.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

Includes business ledgers containing financial information, store inventories, and other information about the operations of the Cow Butter Store. These ledgers also contain a wide range of enclosed material including correspondence, newspaper clippings, writings, and ephemera.

System of arrangement

Ledgers have been arranged chronologically. Loose enclosures have been removed and rehoused in files. The material removed from each ledger may not correspond to the dates of the ledger from which they were removed.

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Archivist's note

Arranged and described by Ruth Keller, November 2021.

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