The following is from the Oct. 6, 2007, edition of The Ogden Standard-Examiner. In 2004, JCPenney donated its corporate archives and the papers of James Cash Penney (1875-1971) to SMU. The Penney Archives includes over 20,000 photographs, 1,500 linear feet of correspondence, speeches, ledgers, catalogs, and company publications documenting more than 100 years of corporate history as well as advertisements from 1903 to the late 1990's.
By Antone Clark
If his partners had gotten their way, J.C. Penney's company history would have been initiated in Ogden, not in Kemmerer, Wyo., and this week's return of the retail giant to Weber County would have just been another point in an even longer history here.
But the store's return to the county only revives another "what-if" tale for the area.
As the story goes, in 1901, James Cash Penney was a clerk in The Golden Rule store in Evanston when his employer, William Guy Johnson, and his partner, Thomas Callahan, approached him about opening a new store.
They wanted Penney to manage it as a full partner. The proposed location was Ogden.
But Penney, a native of Missouri, preferred smaller community settings to the bustle of the big city, said Joan Gosnell, a JC Penney Co. Inc. historian.
She works as a university archivist at the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where the JC Penney collection of documents and photographs is housed.
Penney recommended opening the first store in Diamondville, Wyo., or Kemmerer. The partners decided on Kemmerer.
"Penney was a small-town boy. Ogden was just too big," Gosnell said of the prospective move. She said the city's population of 35,000 at the time was daunting for Penney, who wanted an environment where he knew his customers personally.
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