Clifton Paisley


Tallahassee was a properous community, and the tastes of her citizens on the eve of the Civil War ran to luxury goods and labor-saving devices as indicated in the daybook for 1860-1863 of the William P. Slusser store on Monroe Street, Tallahassee. In the fall of the year, when schooners, barks, and brigs arrived at St. Marks port to pick up the some 50,000 bales of cotton shipped yearly out of Apalachee Bay, the vessels unloaded a variety of consumer goods that were eagerly awaited: bathtubs, washing machines to replace or at least to supplement scrub boards, and pumps and lead pipe to conduct water from cisterns to inside bath and utility rooms. Bird lovers purchased expensive cages for their canaries, and many paid $40.00 to $50.00 for cooking stoves, $30.00 for refrigerators, and $5.00 for ice cream freezers. Sillabub churns, patented egg beaters, and sad iron heaters were in demand. Expensive roofing and gutter materials — zinc, tin, iron, and lead — were used on the fine houses along McCarty and Calhoun streets and the stores on Monroe. While most of these commodities were purchased by the more affluent whose prosperity was buoyed by twelve-cent cotton, goods were available for everyone. Especially were there toys for children, rich and poor. In the weeks before Christmas the Slusser store shelves were piled high with toy steamboats, trumpets, guns, china and crying dolls, mechanical squirrels, India rubber balls, and toys on wheels, many of which sold for only a few cents apiece.