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Collection Title: Thigpen (S.G.) Papers

Press Release:

HISTORIC THIGPEN HARDWARE COMPANY MATERIALS DONATED TO USM
January 17, 1997

Historical materials from the seventy-eight year business of the Thigpen Hardware Company in Picayune have been donated to the department of Manuscripts and Archives in the McCain Library and Archives of the USM University Libraries by Mr. Tommy Thigpen, grandson of the founder of the store, prominent Picayune businessman, civic leader, and Pearl River County historian Mr. S.G. Thigpen, Sr.

Samuel Grady Thigpen came to Picayune from Jasper County in 1917 after graduating from Mississippi College and teaching school in Poplarville, to work for the Crosby and Rowlands Lumber Company. In 1919 he opened the Thigpen-Whitfield Hardware Company in downtown Picayune with his partner Barney Whitfield.

The Thigpen Hardware Company, as it was named after Mr. Thigpen became sole owner in 1938, was a general merchandise and building materials enterprise, selling everything from tractors to toasters. It has been located in the same building on the main street of Picayune since 1923.

The Thigpen Hardware Company played a central role in the daily life of Picayune and the surrounding region. People came from all over to do business and talk with their neighbors, especially on Saturdays, when the store stayed open until midnight. "Grandpa" Thigpen was a favorite of the children, who gave them free chewing gum and kept in the front of the store a carnival mirror that returned a funny image. Especially popular was "Peanut Day," when customers could eat all the free peanuts they could hold.

Mr. Thigpen was not just the owner of the Thigpen Hardware Company. He has also been called "Picayune's prime booster." He promoted nationally the sale of land for growing tung oil trees and sold more than 50,000 acres of land for that purpose in Pearl River and Hancock counties.

A customer could buy land from Mr. Thigpen, then visit the Thigpen Hardware Company and buy the tractor to work the land, the lumber with which to build the house on the land, and the appliances for his wife. Next door in the Thigpen Furniture Company was for sale the furniture for the house.

Twice a day every day Mr. Thigpen broadcast a news and swap 'n' shop radio program from a booth overlooking the interior of the store. On Sundays he broadcast his "Old Time" program about the history of the Pearl River region. He also produced a store newspaper.

Mr. Thigpen founded and was president of the First National Bank in Picayune and served as president of the Mississippi Retail Hardware Association, the Mississippi Farm Implement Association, and the Picayune School Board, Hospital Board, and Chamber of Commerce.

In 1960, at age seventy, Mr. Thigpen "semi-retired" and began to interview "one old person per week" about the history of Mississippi. The result was five books which he wrote between 1965 and 1975: Pearl River: Highway to Glory Land, Next Door to Heaven, A Boy in Rural Mississippi and Other Stories, Work and Play in Grandpa's Day, and Old Days and Old Ways. He also wrote historical columns and contributed articles to several Mississippi newspapers.

After a long and very productive life, Mr. S.G. Thigpen, Sr. died in 1981 at the age of ninety-one.

His grandson Mr. Tommy Thigpen has donated to USM historical photographs of the Thigpen Hardware Company and the Pearl River region, a scrapbook that documents the history of the store, tapes of his grandfather's radio programs, copies of his books, issues of the "Store News" newspaper from 1924 to 1973, and other items.

Related Collections:

Mr. S.G. Thigpen Oral History Interview, transcript call number F341.5 .M57x vol. 74 (McCain Library)

Books:

Copies of books by and about Mr. S.G. Thigpen are available in the Cook and McCain Libraries:

Next Door to Heaven (Picayune?, Miss.: 1965), call number F347.P3 T49 (McCain).

Pearl River; Highway to Glory Land (Kingsport, Tenn.: Kingsport Press, 1965), call number F347.P3 T5 (Cook, McCain).

Thigpen, Julia Arledge, Ninety and One Years (Picayune, MS: S.G. Thigpen, 1965), call number F347.J4 T4953 (McCain).

A Boy in Rural Mississippi & Other Stories (Picayune, Miss., 1966), call number F347.P3 T46 (Cook, McCain).

Work and Play in Grandpa's Day (Picayune, Miss., 1969), call number F341 .T5 (McCain).

How Being Different Paid Off (Picayune, Miss.: s.n., 1969?), call number HF5823 .T44 1969 (McCain).

Old Days and Old Ways (New York: Vantage Press, 1975), call number F341.6 .T4 (Cook, McCain).


Accession Number: AM 97-4

Inclusive Dates: Undetermined.

Volume: 3 cu.ft.

Given By: Donated by Mr. Tommy Thigpen.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Form of Material:

Historical materials documenting the life and times of Samuel Grady Thigpen, Sr. donated by his grandson Mr. Tommy Thigpen.

  1. Scrapbook of the Thigpen Hardware Company compiled by Mrs. Ruth Walker, Mr. Thigpen's assistant for fifty-five years.
  2. Photographs of the Pearl River County area.
  3. Audio tapes of Mr. Thigpen's radio programs.
  4. Copies of the Thigpen Hardware Company newspaper "Store News", 1924-1973.
  5. Copy of Mr. Thigpen's 1965 book Pearl River: Highway to Glory Land.
  6. Publisher's run of the above book.
  7. License plate promoting Picayune as the center of tung oil production.
  8. Mr. Thigpen's personal embossing stamp.

Accession Number: AM 97-11

Inclusive Dates: ca. 1920s-1981.

Volume: 5 cu.ft.

Given By: Donated by Mr. Tommy Thigpen.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Form of Material:

  1. Tintype plate, 4"x5", of Mr. S.G. Thigpen, Sr., ca. 1920s.
  2. Nineteen audio cassettes of Mr. Thigpen's "Old Time" radio program, Jan.-Dec. 1981.
  3. Reel-to-reel audio tape of Mr. Thigpen's "Old Time" radio program, undated.
  4. Reel-to-reel audio tape labeled "Paul Harvey w/ Thigpen Quote", Oct. 13, 1975.

Accession Number: AM 2000-75

Inclusive Dates: ca. 1914-1989

Volume: 17 cu.ft.

Given By: Donated by Mrs. Ruth Walker.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Form of Material:

Materials relating to S.G. Thigpen, Sr. and the Thigpen Hardware Company.

  1. Office files.
  2. Scrapbooks.
  3. Tax receipts.
  4. Ledgers.
  5. Newspaper clippings.
  6. Scripts of radio programs.
  7. Copies of "Thigpen's Store News".
  8. Copies of stories collected by Mr. Thigpen.

Accession Number: AM 2000-94

Volume: 5 cu.ft.

Given By: Donated by Mrs. Analynn Thigpen Holloway.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Form of Material:

Four cubic feet of research materials pertaining to books written by S.G. Thigpen, Sr., and one cubic foot of miscellaneous files, newspaper clippings, and family history, donated by Mr. Thigpen's daughter Mrs. Analynn Thigpen Holloway.


Accession Number: AM 2000-97

Inclusive Dates: 1944, 1972

Volume: 2 items

Given By: Donated by Mrs. Ruth Walker.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Form of Material:

One 10" x 25" panoramic photograph of Cannon Company, 26th Infantry, Camp Shelby, Mississippi (June 1944), and an envelope postmarked May 17, 1972, addressed to "Pig Pen Store."


Accession Number: AM 2001-45

Inclusive Dates: ca. 1965-1970

Volume: 101 pages

Given By: Donated by Mrs. Ruth Walker.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Form of Material:

Typescript of "In the Beginning... ( An Autobiographical Approach to the Life and Times of the Period 1890-1917 in Rural Mississippi)" by S.G. Thigpen.


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