The Biography of Wilbert S. Myers
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A Biography of Wilbert Sterrett Myers


Wilbert Sterrett Myers was the son of Isaac Myers and Margaret Ann Whitmore, and was the youngest of their nine children.Wib Myers, about 5 years-old He was born on 3 Jun 1871, in Miami, Saline County, Missouri. His middle name of "Sterrett" was chosen to honor one of his father's friends in Virginia and was not connected with the family's history.

His mother and father, natives of Rockingham County, VA, moved to Miami, MO, in 1868, having lost their home and property (in Augusta County, VA) in a loyalty dispute following the Civil War. The man who held their mortgage, in Virginia, refused to sign the "Oath of Allegiance," which ultimately resulted in a confiscation of the property. Isaac had been a highly respected carpenter in Staunton, VA, having constructed many of the buildings on the University of Virginia campus, but would have to start all over again in Missouri.

The family, numbering six children at the time, selected Miami to be their new home, probably because Margaret Whitmore had a sister already residing there, Mrs. Jonathan Miller (Adeline). They arrived with little to their name and all the children had to go to work at a young age to help support the family.

In the photo, at right, Wilbert S. Myers is about 4-years-old

Wilbert(called "Wib" or "W. S.") was 13-years-old when he began work at a Miami grocery store. He says, "I was so small, I could barely see over the counter!" And his only pay was in groceries, which he took home to his father, mother, and siblings. Then, at 15, he had to quit school, as he was hired to work full-time at G. T. Taylor's Dry Goods, starting at a salary of $10 a-month.

From that day, Wib turned his energies toward learning the dry goods business and became increasingly involved in the people and the community of Miami Township. In his formative years, Miami was a thriving community, located on the banks of the Missouri River and a growing center of commerce, as most goods were transported by steamship.

When Wib was about 17-years of age, he began to keep a diary, sparse at first, but by 1889, he was becoming more descriptive of the people and daily events of the township. Through these diaries, and scrapbooks, we can get a picture of the townspeople, the culture, and the daily routine of the times. There are also many references to births, marriages, and deaths, so the diaries are also a source of genealogical data.

Also, at seventeen, Wib began to take notice of a young girl, five-years his junior, whom he simply calls "somebody" in his writings. Year to year we can follow the course of this love story, which finally results in his marriage to Emma Josephine Wheeler, in 1898.

After 13-years under the employ of Mr. G. T. Taylor, Wib and his next-older brother, Lemuel Allen Myers, decided to buy Taylor's business, and, in 1897, reopened the store as "Myers Bros. Dry Goods."

But America was changing. The River commerce was giving way to the railroad, and Miami had lost in her attempt to lure the rails in her direction. The future held little promise.

Another of Wib's brothers, Lyttleton Emery Myers, had gone to Los Angeles, California, many years earlier, and often wrote of the business opportunities there. "Lem" made a trip to the area and was especially attracted to the town of Whittier, just 16-miles east of downtown Los Angeles. So, in 1905, "Myers Bros." of Miami, MO, closed its doors, to become "Myers Bros. Dry Goods" of Whittier, CA, located at 109 South Greenleaf Avenue.

The business continued in Whittier until it was sold in 1972. It's name evolved from Myers Bros. Dry Goods Company, to Myers Department Store, to Myers Whittier, and occupied four different locations, all on Greenleaf Avenue, in what is now the historic area of "Uptown Whittier."

W. S. Myers died suddenly of a heart-attack on March 30, 1940, and is buried at Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier. Following his death, Wib's son, Robert, entered the dry-goods business, along with Lem's son, Lewis, and the cousins ran the Store until Lewis died in 1964 and Robert retired in 1965. Richard and Ralph Myers, sons of Lewis, ran the Store until 1972, when it was sold to Boston Stores.