V. I. Pierce Taken from his book ….“Yesteryear in Ozona and Crockett County”
A whole book could be written about the Carmichael-Perner Mercantile. Philip Perner was a wonderful businessman, and everybody liked him. That company had everything including a barbershop, saloon, wagon yard, tin shop, ladies wear and the main store, and a bank to finance the people.
When they sold you a windmill or a gasoline engine they didn’t just sell it to you, they took it out and put it up. They ran their business very efficiently, and anything they sold you was good or they made it good. That company was unequaled at the time in the state of Texas or any other place.
If you needed wood for your cookstove, fireplace or iron heater, you would just send them a note and they would deliver it to your house. They had a machine shop and could make any repairs you needed for windmills, wagons or gasoline engines. They ordered nothing; they had men who could make it. They had a tin shop. If you needed a water tank, any size, they made it, took it to your ranch and erected it for you.
They had a wagon yard where you could put your horses and feed them or they would feed them for you. This wagon yard also had a big camp house where you could cook your meals if you wanted to. Their saloon would cash your check for you. At that time Ozona had no real banks, so all five of the saloons kept a lot of cash to cash the cowboys checks.
Later on the company also had a big building with leather goods. Saddles with their name stamped on them were known as the best you could buy. They also made light harness. This harness business took a lot of time and good leather. The stage hacks alone kept about four harnessmen busy, repairing or making new harness.
The main store itself had anything you wanted, and when you bought a bill of goods they would arrange credit for it a long as you wanted. They had a dry goods department that kept mostly men’s work clothes. They also had a department of women’s clothing. If they had ready-made women’s clothes it was just calico wrappers. All the dress-up clothes for girls and women were made by women dressmakers who selected the material from bolts of cloth. Carmichael-Perner had long shelves in a big room full of the best material money could buy. A big counter, the length of the room, was used to unroll a bolt of cloth so the woman could see it and select the material for her dress.
Ozona had a lot of women dressmakers who made their living by sewing, making any kind of dress that might be wanted. They had patterns galore. Most wives made their men’s shirts, underwear and whatever else they wore.
I often wonder how the women managed to do as much work as they did in a day. They had lots of children, and each kid had a job to do each day. They did it and were happy.
Ranchmen paid their grocery bills once a year when they sold their steers or their wool.
Feed for livestock was unheard-of for range cattle or sheep, so what feed was sold was for livestock that had to be kept up in town. Ranchmen would gather mesquite beans and sotol seed in the summer and use it for horse feed in winter.
Phil Perner was the father of all the Perner children, grandfather and great-grandfather of the ones now living in the Ozona area. The night he died, July 30, 1905, we had taken his daughters June, three years old, and Louise, four, to our ranch 30 miles south of Ozona. There being no phone at that time, they sent a man in a buggy. He arrived at the ranch around midnight to bring the girls back to Ozona for their father’s funeral.
My father sent all the men out to find the buggy and hack horses. It was a moonlight night, so they were all found soon. We ate breakfast and were on the road to Ozona by daylight.
Phil Perner had died young, only 46. The day they buried him was the hottest day I have ever seen. It was a big funeral———buggies, hack wagons with chairs and seats, and people on horseback. It was probably as big a funeral as Ozona ever had.