(Editorial Note: Part 133 of a series of further development in the early days that impacted Franklin County. Sources: Hometown Album, compiled by Newell Hart; Life History by daughter Minnie Struve; Preston News, 1910, 1916; Hometown Sketchbook, researched by Newell Hart; Franklin County Citizen, 1919; Images of America, Preston, by Necia Seamons.)
During the Fall of 1910, in Preston, the milliners were in competition for sales of their creations. The town had several hat shops, some within just a few doors of each other on the street. Chief among these ladies were Mrs. Wm. Struve and Mrs. W. A. Skidmore. In an October issues of the Preston News large ads were placed by these ladies.
“Fetching Hats for Winter – Most every woman is thinking of the ‘first hat’ now—something in the favored light felts or charming close street hats such as we are ready to show you at any time. Scratch and beaver felts adorned with huge willow plumes, new shaped wings and fluffy pompoms are splendidly adapted to fall wear, and fashioned art! all to tempt the tryer-on with their becomingness.
“We have prepared a revelation for you when you call at our store. Some specially chic things are shown in our windows today. One must see them to understand and fully appreciate their unusually winsome styles. Mrs. Struve’s, one door south of J. O. Smith Mercantile”
Then by Mrs. Skidmore: “OLD FASHIONED HAT PARTY — Stevens Hall, Oct 15th — We have secured a bunch of old fashioned hats which are really the finest creations ever built to wear. We have them for sale, your choice at 25 cents each, one door east of the Elite Millinery Store and can be procured there. Everyone will be expected to wear an old fashioned hat. Prizes given for the most Peculiar Shapes (hats). Also Prizes, Dances.”
The Elite mentioned by Mrs. Skidmore, was operated next door by Mrs. Hale.
These two women must have made interesting competitors. Marinda Monson Skidmore was born in 1871, in Richmond, Utah. she was the wife of W. A. (Lonnie) Skidmore who had part of ownership of Superior Lumber Co. of Preston. The family moved here in 1902, and had seven children. She regularly had advertising in the Preston news sheets.
Madsmina Oskar Struve, five years younger than Marinda Skidmore, was born in Germany. She and her husband, Wilhelm, converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and came to this area because John Christensen, from Preston, ID, was the only person they knew in America. He had been the missionary that taught them. They arrived in 1903, with a family of four children and another soon to be born. Able to speak both Danish and German, Worm Creek, as Preston was known, was a good fit, due to the many settlers here from both those countries. Minnie Struve had been a seamstress in the old country and had desires to learn millinery. She and her husband invested $27, all the cash they had, in a catalog order for hats from Montgomery Ward. It was disappointing. Luckily, a salesman friend saw the dilemma and gave them some cheap trims. Minnie set about designing the order, sold the hats for either $12 or $14 because she couldn’t pronounce the English word ‘thirteen,’ and the Struve Millinery Shop was in business.
The Struves had a Danish friend who had fashion sheets that showed the very latest in women’s fashion nationwide. This info made it possible for Minnie’s design to be totally up to date. The family moved into a building on Main Street, using the street floor for the shop, living and design quarters upstairs. Minnie was known for her creative skills. The business expanded to include jewelry and other accessories. If a townswoman did not have the price of a new hat, she could bring the old one into the shop and Minnie would bring it up to date. Also she would accept produce: eggs, a chicken, garden vegetables, etc for the price of her work. The Struve family grew, until there were 11 children, who helped in the shop.
During the years of WWI the creativity and generosity of these women picked up the spirits of the female residents of the area. In the spring of 1918 Marinda Skidmore gave the profits of a weekend’s sales for the benefit of the local Red Cross chapter.
The Struve building is still very identifiable in Preston, with the Struve name on the upper story. Today the Patino Store in State Street conducts business out of that building. At one time it had vines growing from the basement to the roof of its two stories. In the 1940’s the hat business moved upstairs and the downstairs was rented to Hannah’s Sweet Shoppe, just across the street from the Persiana (located at 77 S. State, Preston), when dances were a regular part of entertainment for the entire nation.