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Wier family rich in Miss. business history

September 17, 2011

By RUTH MORGAN
For Starkville Daily News

Wier Drug Company was one of the oldest businesses in Starkville. It is also thought to be the second oldest drug store in Mississippi.
R. K. Wier bought Davenport and McDowell Drug Store in 1890 having worked there for several years. For the first two years after buying the business, he lived upstairs over the store. Before the turn of the century, liquor was sold in drug stores, and Davenport and McDowell were the agents for I. W. Harper Whiskey. Wier, however, would not sell liquor.
In 1942, the store was passed to his son, Robert G. Wier and in 1970 to his granddaughter, Alice King, and her husband Jimmy Parker. In 1972, the Parkers purchased the building next door to the east.
The original store, owners unknown, was located in the block to the west of the last building. After the business section of Starkville was destroyed by fire in 1875, the store was rebuilt in the present location which is now Sullivan’s Business and Office Supply.
The first telephone company (Cumberland) in the county was owned b R. K. Wier in 1897. It was located across the street in the Rousseau house on the north corner of Main and Montgomery.  Wier sold the telephone company in 1905 for $7,000. At that time, the telephone company was serving 243 residents and businesses.  Alice King Wier Parker told me a few weeks before she died that the reason he sold the telephone company was to get money to build the Wier home which still stands prominently on a hill overlooking Main Street.  The home was built at 401 Main Street in 1906.  It still stands proudly today overlooking BancorpSouth which is directly across the street. 
Miss Loui Wier grew up with her brother and sister in the house on Main Street where they made frog houses out of the mud in the big ditch in front. After the death of their parents, Miss Loui lived in the home and built three apartments in it. Almost all of her tenants were students at Mississippi State. She said, “they were a joy to me.” She kept up with a lot of them.  She often had them down for a hot bowl of soup or a piece of cake.  She even had second-generation tenants.  A young man lived in one of her apartments 20 years ago as a baby, when his father was a student at State.  Then he and his bride lived there while he was a student at State.  Marilyn Purdie, long time Extension Home Economist, rented one of the apartments for many years.
Her yard was filled with flowers in which one part was a rose garden. Jonquils lined the fence. Local people have fond memories of the home as that of the owner of the second oldest drug store in Mississippi and as that of LouiWier who taught school and retired in 1963 with 46 years of teaching. 
After completing elementary and secondary school at Overstreet School, Miss Loui attended IIC (Industrial Institute and College, now Mississippi University for Women), receiving a degree in history in 1917.  She moved to Drew, then a town just 25 years old and taught fifth grade there for two years. 
She drank her first cola drink in 1918 when she went to Ruleville to celebrate the end of World War I. Miss Loui said that these men and their families helped thrive at a time when others were suffering because of the depression.
The next year, Miss Louie taught English at Longview High School. “I don’t know about the students, but I sure learned my English that year,” she laughed.
The following year, Miss Loui returned to Starkville teaching fifth grade at Overstreet. By that time, schools such as Sessums and Adaton had been consolidated with Overstreet and children from these schools were coming into town for classes.  At that time, also, Overstreet had all 12 grades.  It was not until 1927 when the high school on Greensboro Street  (now the Greensboro Center) was built that Overstreet became an elementary school.
A little known fact about Miss Louis’s career is that one year she coached a football team. All students had to have one hour of physical education and her boys decided they wanted a football team. So she was their coach.  She thought they were pretty good for many of them went on to play high school and college football.
At the end of World War II, Miss Loui moved to Danville, Va., where she had relatives and taught two years there. The pay was better but she soon got homesick and decided to move back to Starkville. After teaching one year at Weir, Miss Loui returned to Overstreet, which by that time had a new building. She was eligible to retire in 1961 but at the request of the school board, she taught two more years, retiring in 1963. This was a good thing because salaries were greatly improved and it increased her retirement check.
Travel was always a favorite pleasure for her. While teaching, she took many trips all over the U.S., Alaska, Canada and Europe. She shared her experiences with her pupils and felt that traveling helped her make her classes interesting.
As a teacher, Miss Loui believed in finding each child’s interests and abilities and working to help the child be the best he could. There were no specialized courses such as vocational and special education, and sometimes teachers failed to meet the needs of some students. Many children just had to leave school.
Miss Loui did not think she was a very strict disciplinarian, but some of her students may disagree with that. One fifth grader said, “Miss Loui was an excellent teacher but we knew she meant business.”
Every teacher had a paddle in those days. There were three things you could do with your paddle. You could display it on the wall or somewhere where it would be a reminder to the children, you could hide it and only bring it out when needed or you could throw it away. She said, “I guess I did all three at one time or another.”
An active member of First United Methodist Church, Miss Loui was coordinator of the children’s division for many years. She was a member of the Woman’s Bible Class, Circle IV of the United Methodist Women and sang in the church choir.
In the last years of her life, she had eye trouble, which cut down on her reading but she continued reading using talking books on records and cassettes. People from the church would stop for a visit and read to her which she really enjoyed.
Family meant a lot to Miss Loui who played an important role in the lives of her nieces and nephews. Her sister, Helen Wheat, lived in Florida and they swapped visits often.
Students who attended Overstreet School from 1919 to 1963 have fond memories of Miss Louie. Just ask one of them.

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