Scope and Contents
One folder containing a photograph, merchandise tokens, and an historical write-up about the Levine brothers documents a small part of the history of Levine Bros. General/Department Store in Sealy, Texas, between the years 1947 and 2018. Of particular interest is a photograph of Gus and Maurice Levine taken in 1947 inside their store in Sealy.
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Permission to publish material from the Levine Bros., Sealy, TX records must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.
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Biographical / Historical
Gus Louis Levine, with only an eighth grade education, opened a very small general store on Fowlkes Street in Sealy, Texas in 1915, after he left Brenham at the age of twenty. In 1917 he bought the Otto Albert store (built around 1890) at 217 Main Street in Sealy. Here they sold groceries, hardware, saddles, harnesses, and feed. A few years later they had an Oliver tractor dealership and sold the first tractors in Austin County. Abe Levine joined the business after World War I, and Maurice Levine became the third partner in 1924 after attending Brenham’s Blinn College. He pitched for the Blinn baseball team and was known as “Lefty” Levine. In 1928, they constructed an adjacent building of equal size. Two large archways were put in the partition wall enabling customers to go from the grocery store to a new “dry goods” store. The new addition offered men’s, ladies’ and children’s clothing, shoes, fabric, sheets and towels, tables and chairs, and Samsonite luggage. The brothers were always looking for new ventures. In 1940, they started ranching, which developed into a cow/ calf operation. Maurice usually looked after the cows and also worked at the Wednesday cattle auctions started by C.A. Mewish of Bellville.
Gus, died in a train crossing accident on December 29, 1948.
From 1930 until the late 1950s, tokens and coupon books were used in the store in lieu of cash. Levine Bros. had a large number of share-croppers and farmers as customers, and this offered them a simplified manner of managing their accounts. This also fit within their scope of business since the Levine Brothers were the major cotton buyer in Austin County. Usually a family, depending on their cotton acreage and family size, could get about $10-40 monthly to be paid in full upon the sale of cotton and corn in the fall. Tenant farmers paid as rent to their landlords one-quarter of their cotton harvest and one-third of their corn harvest. If there was a crop failure, the unpaid balance would be carried over without question until the next year.
The store continued in this fashion until 1966 when Gus's son, Melvyn Levine, remodeled the building and converted it to clothing, footwear, and jewelry only. Levine Bros. closed December 24, 1994.
Excerpts from: http://txjhs.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/2015-Dec.pdf