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The Brownson & Rankin Dry Goods Co.

Identifier: RH-A-3867

Scope and Contents

This collection is comprised of one booklet titled, “Miniatures From Paris, Showing the Leading Designs (From Life) by the Great Parisian Modistes.” It was a Holiday Inn postcard from Sprinkle Road, donated by Starring Endowment.


  • Creation: 1898

Brownson & Rankin Dry Goods Co.

The Brownson and Rankin Dry Goods Co. operated roughly from 1887 to 1901 by Edgar E. Brownson and Edmond S. Rankin on 105 W. Main Street in Kalamazoo, MI. The two men met while working at William B. Clark and Son dry goods and carpets store, located at 131 Main Street (and later 111 W. Main Street) for Frank M. Clark. The Brownson and Rankin Dry Goods Co. specialized in dry goods, millinery, cloaks, furs, draperies, curtains, gloves, and fine umbrellas.


Edgar was born in Michigan in April of 1847. His father, Apollo, originated from New York and his mother, Mary, from Vermont. Edgar married Frances (Frannie) Anna Howard on September 12, 1872 in Kalamazoo. Frances was born in Canada on January of 1850, and immigrated to the United States in 1852. Her father was born in England, and her mother in Ireland. The couple had two children, Howard Eugene born in May of 1874, and Gladys M. born July 10, 1886. By 1898, Edgar was working as the President and General Manager of the company. His son, Howard, worked as the secretary and treasurer, and George E. Bardeen of Otsego was the Vice President. They lived at 115 Burr Oak; however, by 1910, Edgar, Frances, and Gladys were living in Pasadena, California. Edgar continued to work as a dry goods merchant in Los Angeles, California, and he died there on August 16, 1926. Frances passed as well on January 20, 1931.

Edmond S. Rankin

Edmond S. Rankin worked as the Insurance Agent for the Brownson and Rankin Dry Goods Co. He was born April of 1861 in Arcola, Illinois. Both of his parents were born in Pennsylvania. He came to Plainwell with his parents in 1870. His father, Dr. John Rankin, served as physician and druggist there and in Richland for the rest of the century. Edmond, after schooling at Carrier Seminary, Clarion, Pennsylvania, returned to Kalamazoo as a clerk in William Clark's dry goods establishment. It is then that he soon joined with Edgar to begin their own dry goods store. In 1890, Edmond and his wife, Elizabeth, and three step-children, Guy, Pearl, and Irene, moved to a new home at 629 W. South Street, which remains historic today. Unfortunately, Elizabeth died on December 14, 1901. Edmond then married Emma M. Guillotte (b. January 9, 1974) of Saginaw on Oct. 10, 1903. He was elected Mayor of Kalamazoo for a term in 1901; and he continued to be well-known in state business and Masonic circles. By 1904, Edmond had his own business as a General Agent for Fire, Life, Accident, Liability, Fidelity, Steam Boiler, Plate Glass Insurance. During World War I, he became a Vice-President and Secretary of King Paper Company and served as a director when that firm merged with Allied Paper. He died on February 14, 1924 in Kalamazoo.


1 Volumes

Language of Materials


Physical Description

The collection consists of .05 cubic feet and is composed of one thin booklet, 5 ¼” x 3 ¾.” The covers says, “Miniatures From Paris. Autumn and Winter, 1898-99, Millinery” written in dark blue ink with a dark blue border. There is also a signature by Félix Fournery with the year ’98. The majority of the cover features a woman in an orange and black Victorian dress with white neck frills and a large black feathered hat. There are also yellow and orange leaves blowing in the wind. The back cover has no details. It was published in the Autumn and Winter of 1898-1899 by the Brownson and Rankin Dry Goods Co., in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The original cover design was done by Félix Fournery of Paris. The photographs were taken by Reutlinger of Paris. The Copyright is owned by the Baldwin Syndicate, 1898.

There is some minor staining on the booklet and the staples have been removed.


Information provided was found through research of census, marriage, birth, and death records as well as Kalamazoo City Directories. The majority of the information found on Edmond S. Rankin came from Kalamazoo Public Library’s “All About Kalamazoo History” section of “Houses and Buildings.”

The Brownson & Rankin Dry Goods Co. Finding Aid
Abbey Buckham
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections Repository

Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US
(269) 387-8490