In 1927, there were 15 grocery markets within or very close to Hawley Borough. One of them was L.L. Rollison at 521 Church Street. Leroy Lafayette Rollison took out a large ad in the Hawley centennial history book published that year, and written by Michael J. McAndrew.

HAWLEY - In 1927, there were 15 grocery markets within or very close to Hawley Borough. One of them was L.L. Rollison at 521 Church Street. Leroy Lafayette Rollison took out a large ad in the Hawley centennial history book published that year, and written by Michael J. McAndrew.

While listed as a grocer, Rollison sold a lot more than only food. His advertisement read:
CHOICE GROCERIES, Floor Covering, Leather Traveling Bags, Blankets and Bathrobes, Shades,Lace, Curtains and Draperies, Specializing in Ladies’ Dresses, Hose and Silk Underwear of All Kinds, Large Selection of Mens’ Hose, Shirts and Pajamas, etc., at L.L. Rollison’s 521 Church St., Hawley, Pa., Telephone 44.

We know the building as the home of the Hawley American Legion, Wilson-Kelch Post 311. The veteran’s group has occupied 521 Church Street for approximately 70 years.
Rollison was in business on his own at this location for abut 21 years, but its history as a general mercantile extends back further.

Welsh & Ames

John S. Welsh, with business partner Moses Westbrook, was operating a general store on 18th Street (Main Avenue) in 1890. Sometime by April of 1896,  Welsh (1846-1925) had gone into partnership with his brother-in-law Homer G. Ames (1871-1925) and was doing business on 16th Street (Church Street). Welsh & Ames Mercantile Company was located at 521 Church Street.

John Welsh’s wife Lena (Schlager) was a sister of Fannie Schlager, who was wed to Homer Ames.

A news brief in the Scranton Tribune, from September 28,1899, told of the amazing apples being displayed at Welsh & Ames. They had two red apples picked from an orchard in Paupack, each weighing 16-1/2 ounces and measuring 13-1/4 inches in circumference.

The 1912 Hawley directory lists Leroy L. Rollison, a clerk working for Welsh & Ames.
As some point by 1917, Welsh had left the firm and the store was being run by Ames and Rollison.

Upon Ames’ death in 1925, the store was run by his business partner, Rollison. The building remained in the family until it was sold to the American Legion, apparently soon after the end of World War II.

Rollison was still running the store as late as 1944 when he was listed in a Hawley street directory that year.

His granddaughter Sally Jordan, who now lives in Virginia, shared fond memories of her grandfather’s shop. “It was an old fashioned country store,” she said, and sold groceries, dry goods, clothing and assorted home furnishings. He would sit at an old roll top desk. She recalled there were “big barrels.” Sometimes she would go with her grandfather when he would deliver a grocery order.

Spanish American War

Leroy L. Rollison was born June 10, 1880 (a couple references give the month as March), to Arthur J. and Margaret A. (Bortree) Rollison, at Arlington, Salem Township, Wayne County, Pa. His father was a farmer and also listed as a miller. There were at least three children in the family, Matilda E., Orra A., and Leroy L.

Leroy attended Hawley Graded School, where he graduated in 1898. Commencement was held May 27 at the Standard Opera House on Church Street in town. He was listed in the program as giving an oration entitled, “The Battle of Marathon.”

He had joined the Pennsylvania National Guard, assigned to E Company 13th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Co. E was based at the armory in Honesdale. He was inducted on January 15, 1898 at Scranton. In April 1898 Governor Hastings ordered the Regiment mobilized due to Mount Gretna due to the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in the Havana harbor. His Regiment was at Camp Alger near Falls Church, Virginia at the time of his high school graduation.

It isn’t clear if he did not report until after graduation or if he was on the program but did not attend the ceremony.

Co. E remained stateside during the Spanish American War. Rollison was discharged at Camp McKenzie, Augusta, Georgia, on March 11,1899.

Married Ethel Welsh

He married Ethel Lena Welsh, the daughter of the co-owner of Welsh & Ames, John S. Welsh, and his wife Lena Welsh. Ethel was also born in 1880.

They were both in a wedding party in April 1903, when Pauline Schardt was wed to Albert A. Grambs. Leroy was groomsman and Ethel was maid of honor.

On July 3, 1905, Ethel and Leroy were united in holy matrimony. The wedding was performed at the Welsh home on Church Street (near Maple). Following an elegant dinner, the couple left on the 3:20 p.m. Erie train at the Hawley Depot, for New York City.

They first made their home at Scranton.  Leroy was working for the Pennsylvania Telephone Company at Scranton, on the “loop” gang.

The couple raised two daughters, Elizabeth (Beth) Helen, born in January of 1908, and Marion J., born in 1914.

Beth was married to George Ford, and raised three daughters. Marion was wed to Paul Weber, and had a son and daughter.

The Rollisons lived at 205 Maple Avenue in Hawley, but sometime between 1920 and 1925, they moved to 402 Church Street. The house is on the corner with Maple Avenue, opposite the Lutheran Church.

This is where they would continue to reside.

Fond memories

In 1898, the John Welsh family and the Homer Ames family bought a piece of land, with 70 feet of lake frontage on the north shore. The Welshes had a cottage on the left and the Ames’ cottage was next door on the right.

Sally Jordan, who was one of Beth’s daughters, said that they had the summer vacation cottage at Fairview Lake for many years (the Welsh cottage). It was next door to her cousins, the Jameses (who had the Ames’ cottage). Her grandfather would decorate a boat for the annual May Day celebration. One picture of the boat makes it look like a pagoda, made of flowers.

When Leroy Rollison was single, a news brief in 1902 informs us that Leroy went camping at Fairview Lake (it was called “Big Pond” at the time) with George Thompson.
Joan James Douglass, of Tafton, said that her mother was a cousin to Ethel Rollison.

(Joan’s grandmother was Fannie Schlager Ames.)

Leroy Rollison, she said, was known by a nickname, “Bob” to his friends. She said she always knew him as “Bob.” His grandkids, however, called him “Bocky.”

Douglass, who is now 89, said she’d stop in the store many times on the way to or home from school. Her father, Harold F. James, who later was a school teacher in Hawley, as a young man worked in the Welsh & Ames store. One day, he was in the cellar of the store where food stuff was stored in barrels. He left the spigot open to a barrel of molasses, and made an awful mess.

In 1911, Rollison received instructions in Scranton, on how to operate an automobile.
One of Douglass’s fond memories was “Bob” Rollison’s old car. It was a really old model, that had to be started in front with a crank.

She said he stored it in the barn out back of the house, and was his hobby. When the cousins came together, she said, he would treat them to a ride down to Bingham Park, with the top down. “That was a thrill,” Douglass said.

Another fond memory Douglass shared was the fresh home baked cookies the Rollisons always had ready when the cousins came to visit. They were baked in their old cook stove that warmed the kitchen.

The Rollisons liked to play pinochle on Wednesday evenings, Jordan said. Joan Douglass recalled her family getting together with them to play.

Leroy Rollison was a member of the American Fraternal Association in Hawley, and was elected as vice-president in 1908.

It appears that Leroy L. Rollison retired, when his store building was sold to the American Legion around 1946. Ethel died in 1951. Her husband died in 1958 and both were laid to rest at Green Gates, Hawley.

Main sources:
Family anecdotes
Vintage newspapers at
History of Wayne County, PA (1998) by Walter B. Barbe and Kurt A. Reed
Census and other data at Hawley Public Library