“Ballard Reefers” and Men’s Knickers – Malone, N.Y. (1912)

Belleville is a rural community in Mifflin County of central Pennsylvania.

The area was settled by Amish and Mennonite settlers in 1791, and the “Plain People” still predominate on the surrounding farms.


The community of Belleville had a flourishing general store, named Watts Bros.

The store had been founded in the early 19th century by Daniel Overholtzer, an uncle of Samuel Watts who acquired the store and re-named it in 1850.

An interesting history of the Watts family can be found on-line; the family is descended from Isaac Watts, the English hymn-writer.


In May of 1912, the owner of Watts Bros. (or a clerk) noted the need for more inventory.

Accordingly, the store sent a postcard order to the firm of J. O. Ballard & Company of Malone, N. Y.

Malone is a town in the very northern region of New York State; it is near the St. Lawrence River and was raided by British soldiers from Canada during the War of 1812.


Interestingly, the postcard order form seems to have been attached to a calendar from the Ballard Company.

On the reverse, the Watts Bros. store requests Malone Pants, Malone Mackinaws, Ballard Reefers (a kind of outerwear, like a pea coat), and Men’s “knicks”, which I assume are short pants or underwear.

There is also an option for “Ladies’ and Men’s H. C.” and for “Ladies’ and Men’s A. C.”.

I do not know what the initials represent.

There is a notation to indicate that the postcard was received, and we assume that the clothing was delivered to Watts Bros. in Belleville.

One hopes that the citizens of the area were pleased by the selection at this local emporium.


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