Charles P. Shipley Saddlery & Mercantile Company History


Kansas City, Missouri 1885 - 1972

Charles Pervine Shipley was born in Wooster, Ohio on October 27, 1865 where at a young age he served an apprenticeship and learned Saddle Making. After completing his education and his apprenticeship in Wooster, Ohio at the age of 19 years old, Charles P. Shipley relocated 750 miles west to Kansas City, Missouri with $300 he had borrowed from a friend and in addition to moving, he started the Charles P. Shipley Saddlery.

The new business was largely a success and location had a lot to do with that having put his Saddlery business across from the Armour Packaging Company at the mouth of the Kansas River in the West Bottoms area of Kansas City. The first location opened by Charles P. Shipley was on James Street and around 1910 the Saddlery was relocated to Genesse Street a few blocks away and directly across from the Livestock Exchange Building. The business locations chosen by Charles P. Shipley were a large part of the success of the Saddlery which was always within a stone's throw from the Kansas City Stockyards, where all of the working cowhands would have exposure to his business when bringing their herds into the Kansas City Stockyards.

Shortly after establishing his Saddlery business, Charles P. Shipley was married in 1886 to Cora May Hendrickson of Olathe, Kansas. They had 4 children: Frank P. Shipley (b. 1887, d. May 23, 1903), Clyde L. Shipley (b. May 1, 1889, d. October 2, 1952), Charley P. Shipley II (Unknown). The 4th child, a girl, was born on March 1, 1897 as there is a recorded birth notice in the Kansas City Chronicle on March 5, 1897, although no additional information can be found beyond that notice.

On May 23, 1903 the eldest son of Charles Pervine and Cora May Shipley was struck and killed by a street car on 9th Street in Kansas City. Frank P. Shipley was 16 years old when he was killed instantly as a result of this accident. Frank P. Shipley was struck by an Electric Street Car while walking home at 12:15am on May 23, 1903. He was heading east on Ninth Street where he lived with his parents and brothers. The accident happened approximately 1 block west of his home, which was located at 3307 Ninth Street.

To compound matters, the saddlery location on James Street was heavily damaged in the Kaw (Kansas) River flood of May 31, 1903. The business, with virtually all of the products and tools inside, was destroyed. The C. P. Shipley Saddlery and Mercantile Company was rebuilt and continued on successfully, adding more and more retail products as the Saddlery grew.

The C. P. Shipley Saddlery and Mercantile Company was incorporated in 1910 under the corporate name of "Stockyard Harness Company" which is displayed with a picture of Charles Pervine Shipley in Catalog #8 circa 1910. At the time of incorporation, the C. P. Shipley Saddlery and Mercantile Company building was built at Genesse and 17th streets. A three story building able to house the manufacturing, storage, shipping and retail space needed by this time. Also by 1910, the C. P. Shipley Saddlery and Mercantile Company had expanded into catalog sales and the demand for the Shipley products ranged around the world. By this time, C. P. Shipley had become a very well known saddle maker who had a customer base consisting of the likes of Franklin Roosevelt, Tom Mix, Gene Autry, Will Rogers, Buck Jones and Tex Austin. In 1910, at the time C. P. Shipley incorporated his company, his son Clyde Shipley was named Vice President of the C. P. Shipley Saddlery and Mercantile Company, where his duties included overseeing sales and marketing.

In 1915, C. P. Shipley was selling spurs made by John R. McChesney, George A. Bischoff and Pascal Moreland Kelly at their respective shops, although they were marked and sold under the Shipley name. Apparently there was a disagreement between C. P. Shipley and John R. McChesney with regard to an invoice for goods in which Shipley felt as though McChesney had been harassing him for the money and at that time, Shipley threatened McChesney saying if he did not stop harassing C. P. Shipley for money, Shipley would buy his own foundry for making spurs, bits, etc.

In 1915, George A. Bischoff was having financial problems as well as sales and distribution troubles, so C. P. Shipley bought the business from Bischoff, relocating the business from Gainesville, Texas to Kansas City, Missouri. At that time, C. P. Shipley also hired George A. Bischoff and relocated his family to Kansas City to run his foundry, which was to be located on the third floor of the C. P. Shipley Saddlery and Mercantile Company building. In approximately 1915 or 1916, C. P. Shipley had George A. Bischoff running his foundry so he also purchased the Kansas City, MO Foundry Spur and Bit business of Oscar Crockett, bringing Oscar Crockett in to work with the C. P. Shipley Saddlery and Mercantile Company. Although by 1920, Oscar Crockett was owner of his own business again.

The period between 1910 and 1920 was a time when the C. P. Shipley Saddlery and& Mercantile Company had become more predominantly known for selling bits and spurs, even more so than saddles and harness equipment. The first half of the 20th Century were the Hey Days of the C. P. Shipley Saddlery and Mercantile Company with the company under the control and leadership of Charles Pervine Shipley until his death on September 13, 1943 from a stroke. Most of this success was attributable to the diversity of products offered by the C. P. Shipley Saddlery and Mercantile Company which by 1920, was selling saddlery, tack, spurs, bits, clothing and boots. They were even among the first to carry a full line of Women's leather and suede western wear. The mail order business had become so successful for the company that products were being shipped worldwide - located over the years in China, South America, Hawaii and throughout Europe.

The business continued to operate with Clyde Shipley taking the helm of the operation as President and Charley Shipley II taking Clyde's position as the Vice President, which continued until October 2, 1952 when Clyde Shipley passed away. Charley Shipley continued to operate the business until 1972 when the C. P. Shipley Saddlery and Mercantile Company closed the doors for the last time after 87 Years in the saddlery business.

Charles P Shipley
Charles Pervine Shipley pictured in C. P. Shipley Saddlery and Mercantile Company Catalog #8

C P Shipley Saddlery and Mercantile Building, Kansas City, MO
C. P. Shipley Saddlery and Mercantile Company Building on Genesse Street in Kansas City, Missouri

C P Shipley maker holster sheath loop mark
C. P. Shipley Maker Kansas City, MO Holster Sheath Loop Mark

C P Shipley holster skirt oblong mark
C. P. Shipley Kansas City, MO Holster Skirt Oblong Mark

C P Shipley saddle oval rosette mark
C. P. Shipley Maker Kansas City, MO Saddle Oval Rosette Mark

C P Shipley saddle oval mark
C. P. Shipley Maker Kansas City, MO Saddle Oval Mark

C P Shipley batwing chaps billet oblong mark
C. P. Shipley Maker Batwing Chaps Billet Oblong Mark

C P Shipley shotgun chaps billet oblong mark
C. P. Shipley Kansas City Shotgun Chaps Billet Oblong Mark

C P Shipley embossed snap cover for chaps pocket
C. P. Shipley K. C. Embossed Snap Cover Chaps Pocket


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