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The Skaggs Saga, The Safeway Skaggs Family

Rebel Fortunes in the south took a turn for the better after the battle of Kings Mountain in 1780. To safeguard a base for military operations, General Cornwallis withdrew the British forces from Charlotte. The new battle ground now centered around the northwestern part of South Carolina. A poor choice for Cornwallis as this area was ideally suited for mounted guerrilla tactics. With room to maneuver, the rebels could dismount to fire their rifles or smooth bore muskets from behind trees, then outride the British infantry to hide and strike again. Rebel victories at Fishdam Ford and Blackstock in November brought in new recruits until General Sumter’s militia numbered almost one thousand men. Among the angry young men willing to take up arms was a seventeen year old James C. Skaggs of Laurens district #4. General Greene grasp of guerrilla warfare along with Morgan’s ability to effectively deploy raw militia troops proved to be a victorious combination. To divide the British, Greene split his own smaller army and sent part of them under Morgan’s command westward across the northern part of South Carolina. General Morgan may have deliberately allowed his force of nearly one thousand men, almost half of which were local militiamen including Skaggs’s unit, to be cornered by eleven hundred regular British troops at a place called Cowpens

. Morgan placed his regular troops on a crest and formed his militiamen into two front lines under Pickens command. The first line was composed of sharpshooters who were instructed to pick off British officers and then fall back to join the second line. The second line, in which James C. Skaggs probably stood with his men, were to get off at least two shoots and then retreat to the left flank of the Continental line. A militia officer present at the battle in January of 1781, recounts:

The morning of the 17th…. Was bitterly cold. We formed in order of battle, and the men were slapping their hands together to keep warm. An exertion not long necessary. . . About sunrise, the British line advanced as a sort of trot with a halloo. It was the most beautiful line I ever saw. When they shouted, I heard Morgan say, “They give us the British halloo, boys. Give them the Indian halloo, by God!” and he galloped along the lines, cheering the men and telling them not to fire until we could see the whites of their eyes. Every officer was crying, “Don’t fire!” for it was a hard matter to keep us from it… The militia fired first. It was for a time, pop-pop-pop, and then a whole volley; but when the regulars fired, it seemed like one sheet of flame from the right to the left. Oh it was beautiful!

The British countered by attempting to encircle the Continental’s apparently unprotected right flank. The emergence of Morgan’s cavalry hidden behind the crest and the militia who had marched from the left flank around the crest to the right ensured the American victory. “Never before in the war had a Revolutionary army won so complete a tactical victory over an opposing force made up largely of British regulars.

The rest of the war may have seemed anticlimactic to Skaggs militia unit. To prevent interruption in their hit and run tactics, Morgan now delegated to Pickens militia the task of conveying the numerous British prisoners up the Catawba River to their final destination in Virginia. James Skaggs adds that the prisoners were marched “with great haste” and the militia was back in time to join General Greene’s forces at the battle of Gilford Courthouse in March where the British won a Prrrhic victory. After the battle at Gilford, Cornwallis took his forces to the North Carolina coast for want of supplies, while Green returned to South Carolina.

James Skaggs ,mentions being back in South Carolina in the spring or early summer of 1781. He was with Sumpter at the surrender of Orangeburg and was among Pickens scouts attempting to delay the British relief troops sent to lift the siege of the British garrison at Ninety Six. Skaggs missed the battle of Eutaw Springs, but helped recapture some post in Georgia. He was discharged in the winter of 178182. Although Skaggs never received a written commission, he served as a lieutenant the entire time and adds that “he never left his post during all this service unless when in immediate neighborhood of his fathers, when he made a visit of a few days and immediately returned.

After the war, James Skaggs moved northward to the neighboring district of Spartanburg, still in South Carolina, where it is believed he married his wife Elizabeth. It is known that at least one of their sons, Solomon, was born there about 1793. The Christopher Skaggs still living in Spartanburg district according to the 1800 census may have been a brother to James.

After a decade in the Spartanburg district, the Skaggs family continued on their northwesterly route by settling in eastern Tennessee. They would stay in this same general area for nearly one hundred years. From a seventy-one year old memory, James Skaggs recollected that he first moved to Jefferson County around 1795 and a year later to Knox County. The deeds of Tennessee reveal that James Skaggs actually bought land in Hawkins County from Thomas Flippan in 1792. Know and Jefferson Counties were formed that same year out of Green and Hawkins Counties. It is probable that James Skaggs spent the rest of his life in Raccoon Valley on the North fork of Bullrun Creek just to the northeast of Maynardville in present day Union County, which was formed out of Knox County in 1850. There was still a Skaggs Cemetery on the northern edge of Maynardville as late as 1952, as can been seen on the USGA survey map of this area.

Between 1792-1825, James Skaggs bought around 3,000 acres of land of which 1,150 acres he afterward sold. His lands ranged northward two or three miles from the foot of Comb Ridge to the mouth of Cave spring on the clinch River, including farming acreage in raccoon Valley and Little valley. Most of his expansion in land purchases occurred between 1792-98, He was forced to sell back almost half of his acreage in 1794 to the original seller, Joseph Beaird for 1000 pounds. This may have been out of a need for short term capital as he repurchased 400 of the 550 acres involved from the same man the next year. Skaggs sold another 300 acres in 1797 for $1,000 but half of his property was deeded over to a probable close relative, Thomas Skaggs. In 1798, he bought 680 more acres from Beaird, including 200 acres on Flat Creek. Probably a further need for cash necessitated the sale of 73 acres for $146 dollars in 1799. The 170 acres at the foot of Comb Ridge bought in 1805 came from what appears to be another close relative, Charles Skaggs Sr. And were sold off in 1825 to yet another relative Eli Skaggs. Finally, he deeded 50 acres on Bullrun Creek to his son Solomon, in 1818 for $100.

Of the three probable close relatives, Eli Skaggs bought 700 acres on Bullrun Creek, 965 acres on Flat Creek, and 200 acres on Chestnut Ridge bordering the Clinch River between 1793-1812. In 1816 Eli deeded 150 acres on Bullrun Creek to his son James, out of affection only. According to the 1830 census, Eli was 5-10 years older than James C. Skaggs. Since James C. Skaggs did not have a son by the same name, the James Skaggs, Jr. In the 1830 census probably refers to Eli’s son and possible nephew of James Skaggs (the James Skaggs Sr. Listed in the census). Eli was prominent in the early Baptist movement in Knox County and was associated with this church at Little Flat Creek founded in 1796. His branch of the family gave their name to the nearby community of Skaggston. Charles Skaggs Sr. Bought 640 acres from Beiard in 1793. Most of this land was apparently sold between 1805-8, including 250 acres on Bullrun Creek. The recipient of 160 acres in Sugar camp survey was Charles Skaggs Jr. Neither Charles is mentioned in the 1830 census. The only mention of Thomas Skaggs occurs in 1797 when he purchased 150 acres on Bullrun Creek, where he was already dwelling, from the 640 acres tract originally sold to James Skaggs in 1793.

Eli , James C., and Thomas were not the first Skaggs surname to enter Tennessee. One of the Longhunters and a land agent active in the area between 1770-75was Henry Scaggs. However, they were all subject to the same depravations and dangers of the frontier life. The Cherokee and Creek Indians were an active threat before 1795, although it was probably the earlier treaty of 1791 with the Cherokees which encouraged the later Skaggs, among many other immigrants, to settle in Tennessee. Know County citizens made up most of the militia which invaded Cherokee country in 1793.

The Skaggs found a heavily forested area made up of “long parallel valleys separated by narrow even crested ridges.” In contrast to the ridges, the valleys contained a fertile, loamy soil. Their home would have been a log house with either a dirt or punchon ( the flat side of a log split in two) floor. The roof consisted of clapboards secured by wooden poles and pegs. Windows were primitive and glass ones a luxury. One pioneer recalled knocking out a chinking between the logs in the summer to allow in more light and air. The furniture was equally humble. “Early bed frames were slabs of wood supported at one end by wooden pegs driven into the wall; mattresses were beds ticks filled with straw or pine needles and covered with animal skins.

Corn was the principal crop, especially as it could be planted around obstacles without completely clearing the land of trees and stumps. Wheat, cattle, and hogs were the major sources of income. Cotton was not a leading cash crop in Knox county; although each farm probably had convenient plots of cotton, flax and tobacco for home consumption. Hay and pasturage were sold to drovers. Corn yields in 1795 averaged sixty bushels to an acres (with highs of seventy bushels) and brought 25 to 33 1/3 cents per bushel in Knoxville. Wheat sold for 66 2/3 cents a bushel.

There is little mention of the children of James C. Skaggs in the legal records of Knox County in the first three decades on the 1800’s. the eldest son Solomon, married a Rachel McDaniel on April 19, 1813, when he was about 20 years old. Five years later he was able to buy 50 acres from his father. The second son Moses, first appears as a witness to a marriage of John Chesney and Sarah Skaggs in 1815. The third son Charles is mentioned in marriage to Elizabeth Booker in 1832. They were married by his supposed brother in law George Graves, a justice of the peace. This appears to be the same Charles Skaggs who purchased 150 acres on the east fork of Bullrun, the next year from Eli Skaggs. In 1836, Charles and Elizabeth sold sixteen acres on Flat Creek to George Booker. A Charles Skaggs also sold 150 acres on Bullrun to Moses Skaggs in the same year. Apparently, the nine children and heirs of James C. Skaggs mentioned in the Rev. War pension papers lived on their fathers property, which was divided among them at his death in 1838 at the age of 75.

Some ideal of the financial ability of the children of James C. Skaggs can be gleaned from the deeds and census records. James C. Skaggs was selling land at $2.30 per acre at the end of the 1700’s. In Knox County, “farm land prices averaged $5.83 per acre in 1850 and $13.67 in 1860. Presuming that the nine children of James C. Skaggs inherited his property equally, each might have held 150 to 200 acres. How well did they do with their inheritance? It would appear that the most successful was the third son Charles; and the least successful was the youngest son Freeman J. Skaggs.

The eldest son, Solomon, was able to buy 275 acres of his own in 1841. Like his father before him, Solomon sold the same 50 acres received in 1818 to his eldest son, Hardin, in 1845, in both cases the eldest son was about 25 years old. (description of land) In 1846, Solomon sold his 275 acres for $800 to Ezra Buckner of Grainger County. The land was on Bullrun Creek along the line of the heirs of James Skaggs. Solomon Skaggs then moved north to Claiborne County where he settled at the mouth of Straight Creek near Wladen Ridge. He sold land there in 1848, and listed his worth in real estate in the 1850 census at $300 (probably a deflated estimate). Solomon appartently sold all his remaining holdings (50 acres for $700) in this county to his son William in 1856. The old couple returned to live near their two eldest sons on Bullrun in Union County. Their son Sterling sold them a lot for $150 for their lifetimes with the right of reversion at death. Rachel Skaggs outlived Solomon to die intestate with property worth $534.

Moses Skaggs does not seem to have acquired any further land. His estimated wealth in real estate was listed as $300 in 1850 and $1,000 in 1860. His personal property was listed in 1860 as $250, but the next year Moses was forced to sign a trust deed to his 200 acres to cover an indebtedness to John Chesney. Moses widow still help real estate worth $980 in 1870.

Charles Skaggs’ value in real estate was estimated to be $600 in 1850. That same year, he entered a claim on public lands for 1,000 acres. In 1854, he made an entry for 5,000 acres in Beard’s Valley on the Bullrun. The 1860 estimate for Charles’ wealth was $1,000 in personal property. In 1857, Charles Skaggs sold 75 acres near Buffalo Ridge for $300 or $4 per acre and then bought the same property back in 1861 for $800 or $10.67 per acre. However, the new grantor seems to have been his son-in-law, Absalom P. Ledgerwood. Thus, this transaction may have been reflective of family aid more that rising land values.

There are no entries of land transactions for Freeman J. Skaggs in Knox, Union, Grainger, and Claiborne counties. Hard times may explain his attempt to revive his father’s claim to a Revolutionary War pension in 1852. The 1850 census does not list any wealth in real estate for him. Sometime between 1863-1873, Freeman became the first of his family to move from Tennessee to Missouri, where he lived in Miller County.

Solomon’s sons attempted to ensure their social mobility by expanding their land holdings, adding side occupations, marrying late and judiciously, and by migrating. Of the four (possibly five) sons, the two eldest, Hardin and Sterling, were the most successful in acquiring land. The 1850 census shows Hardin and William living together with Hardin’s real estate estimated at $150. Sterling was living in Knoxvile where he was listed as a clerk. Apparently William never owned land in Union County and had moved on to Claiborne County to join his father by 1856.

William Skaggs was the first to marry at the age of twenty-eight in 1851. Hardin and Sterling were approximately thirty-five years old each when they married. Comparisons of the known ages at marriage over three generations reveal that Solomon’s sons tended to marry later than the preceding or subsequent generation. The average age at marriage for four out of the five sons of James C. Skaggs was twenty-seven versus nineteen for three of the four sons of William Skaggs. William and Hardin married well; both choosing daughters of Daniel McPhetridge. McPhetridge’s wealth in real estate was estimated to be $1,000 in 1850 and $5,000 in 1860, with $2,700 in personal property. In his will dated 15 June 1882, McPhetridge states that earlier he had advanced land and money to his two married daughters as their share of his estate.

From 1850 through the end of the century, Hardin and Sterling Skaggs were active in buying and selling land in Union County, often together. Hardin entered a claim on the public domain for 1,000 acres on the Bullrun in 1850. By 1856, they had moved into Maynardville where they bought eight town lots, and sold two before 1860. Between 1857-1860, they bought 930 acres of mainly ridge land at an average of $2.14 per acre. Another 429 acres of bottom land along the Bullrun and Crooked Creeks cost them an average of $7.34 per acre, the highest amount being paid was $10.96 an acre for 74 acres in an unspecified area. Their sales were fewer but probably profitable. Acreage along the Bullrun and comb Ridge consisting of 300 acres, which cost them an average of $2.08 per acre in 1857, was sold three years later for $2.53 an acre. Their 80 acres on Chestnut Ridge doubled in value in three years. They gave $150 for this tract and sold it for $300 in 1862. The 200 acres on Crooked Creek which sold for $7.50 per acre in 1858 for $9.00 an acre. However, the inducement to sell may have been related to the Civil War, and any profits eaten up by the inflationary war years.

Other records indicate the extent to which each brother had prospered. The new direction clearly led away from farming to general stores and the ministry. The impetus in both areas may have come from Sterling’s earlier experience as a clerk and his later spiritual call. The 1860 census for Claiborne County is difficult to read, but it would appear that William’s real estate was worth $500 and personal property was $250. Then year later, these figures had doubles to $1,000 and $500 respectively. The 1880 census reveals that William Skaggs had branched out from farming to become a merchant. His sixteen-year-old son, Daniel, may have been employed as a clerk in the father’s store, which was attached to their residence.

Perhaps William’s capital came form his wealthier brothers. Hardin’s realty of $1,500 and property of $200 in 1860 had increased to $3,000 and $1,000 respectively by 1870. Sterling Skaggs was listed as a farmer in 1860 worth $4,500 in real estate and $3,500 in personal wealth. Between 1860 and 1870 when the former figure became $3,000 and the latter $600, Sterling gave up his secular calling for the ministry. The drastic changes in the figures could reflect the unreliability of the census estimates, but may represent the sacrifices of becoming a minister, particularly in wartime. It is not yet known when Hardin and Sterling began their store, but the H & S Store clearly functioned in Maynardville after 1880.

Politically, the Skaggs family would have been in Knox County when Tennessee became a state in 1796. It is not known if any of the family vote in the referendum for statehood, but Knox County was overwhelmingly in favor of the proposition by a vote of 1,100 to 128. Knox county was Whig country. The lack of interest in cotton cultivation may have accounted for the relatively small slave population and the tendency to support the Whigs. While Knox County’s population nearly doubled between 1796-1860, the slave population remained stable with 2,365 slaves in 1796 and 2,370 slaves in 1860. East Tennessee voted for the union by a margin of better than 2 to 1 in June of 1861. The Knox County vote alone was 3,196 for union and 1,226 to secede. That at least one member of the Skaggs family did not agree with the majority can be seen in the family group of Freeman J. Skaggs who insisted on naming his last-born son (born 22 March 1861), Jefferson Davis Skaggs. Such sentiments may also account for Freeman’s early move to Missouri between 1863-73.

Educational opportunities in eastern Tennessee in the last half of the nineteenth century were still meager, but improving. In Knox County, only one-third of the school-age children attended daily, although more than half were enrolled. In 1880, it was reported that the available texts included, “American spellers and readers, American arithmetic’s, Clark’s grammars, Mitchell’s geography’s, Butler’s history, Safford’s geology, Lupton’s agriculture, Mitchell’s outline maps, and American reading charts.

The first step in loosening the roots of William Skaggs from the main branch of his family was his move to Claiborne county. By 1880, two of his married sons were living near William, but there were no other Skaggs families in that county. William’s home is still in existence, but the original log cabin has been covered over by later additions. In 1871, William Skaggs and his neighbor, Jacob Walker, donated a lot on Straight Creek near Norris Lake to the United Baptist Church. The U>S> Geological Survey map indicates the nearby Skaggs Cemetery.

William Skaggs died before 1884. His eldest son, Newell, sold off 30 acres for $100 and returned to Union County in 1882. Two years later he was living in Indian Springs, McDonald County, Missouri when he sold his one-sixth interest in their father’s estate of 80 acres to his brother, Samuel M Skaggs, for a mule worth $80 and a wagon and a set of plow gears valued at $20. In May of 1884, Vandellee Phelps, Elbert of Eldridge Skaggs, and Samuel M. Skaggs sold their share of the 80 acres to their brother-in-law, William L. Grubb. Each share sold for $100. The youngest son, Daniel M. Skaggs, sold his share the next year. The 1900 census reveals that the widow of William Skaggs was still living in Claiborne County with the Grubbs, but her sons, except for Daniel, had all left for Missouri.

It was probably soil depletion, lack of sufficient land of their own, western wheat competition, and the depressed conditions generally after 1873 which enticed the Skaggs to move to Missouri. At the time of their migration, Newell had two children, Eldridge had seven, and Samuel had five (ten more children would be born of the union of Samuel M. and Nancy E Skaggs in Missouri). Eldridge, Samuel, and Daniel also tried merchandising. Newell peddled from his wagon on a regular route. Daniel’s store was unsuccessful, partially because of his overgenerosity.

In addition to farming, Samuel M. Skaggs tried his hand at managing a store and post office in Cato, Missouri, before settling along the eastern side of Newton County, Missouri. Missouri would prove to be their hove for approximately twenty years until they moved to the Pacific Northwest. Samuel Skaggs entered the Baptist ministry sometime between 1888 and 1900. His family resided in Newtonia township in 1900. Nearby was the family of his brother, Eldridge, who moved from Tennessee after 1897. Newell Skaggs may have joined them after the death of his first wife. His second marriage took place in the fall of 1899 with Samuel M. Skaggs as the officiating minister.

Of the first eleven children born to Samuel and Nancy Skaggs, nine were living in 1900. Their six sons were referred to later by their initials rather that their given names. However, some unusual switches took place under this practice. The surviving eldest son was named P. Oscar Skaggs at his birth in 1881, but was later know as O. P. Skaggs. Aron Sylvester Skaggs, born in 1886, became S. A. Skaggs. The most interesting change involved the next to the youngest son named Samuel Olnie Skaggs at his birth on 14 November 1895. The name Olnie became Lennie. The next step was to refer to his as L. S. Skaggs.

Sometime after 1907, Samuel and Nancy Skaggs moved their family to American Falls, Idaho. The logistics required to feed such a large family plus a desire to help the local settlers led the Reverend S. M. Skaggs to start his own grocery store. Perhaps in imitation of his family’s trend, Samuel built a store “with his own hands, on rented land, with borrowed money.” From this tiny store (18 x 32 feet) in Idaho in 1915 evolved the ninth largest retailing firm in the United States in 1979. Much of the original business consisted of buying carloads of groceries and retailing them directly to the public from the railroad tracks. After selling the store to his third son, Marion Barton Skaggs, for 41,088, Samuel M. Skaggs moved to eastern Oregon.

The six Skaggs brothers were strong-willed men imbued with the Protestant ethic. Not only were they decisive and quick to take action, but they found it difficult to relax and enjoy most forms of recreation. They were intensely competitive, among themselves as well as with other. Both O. P. Skaggs and M. B. Skaggs claimed to have been the first in the family to found a grocery chain. O. P. Skaggs started in Idaho Falls or Elko, Nevada with Skaggs Cash Stores, each additional store bearing an even number. M. B. Skaggs in partnership with the other brothers, formed Skaggs United Stores, each additional store bearing an odd number.

O.P. Skaggs thrived on the purchasing ability and competitive power of his multiple stores. His trademarks were the orange-colored store fronts, the well scrubbed floors, and no credit. One store manager, John Zitting, was fired when it was discovered that he was buying a car on time payments.

M.B. Skaggs was twenty-seven years old when he bought his father’s store. In contrast to his brother, his trademarks were blue-colored store fronts and displays of merchandise in the aisles. One of the original goals of their father was to offer cheaper prices for cash to the local wheat farmers who were hard-pressed by the available credit terms. M. B. Skaggs added: “That was my good father’s principle. I guess I was more selfish—certainly more practical. I saw that opportunity lay in doing the same basic things as my father had done. But I think I also realized, even then, that if I would be content with a very small margin of profit I could build a correspondingly larger business.

By 1926, O. P. Skaggs had been bought out by his brothers, and Skaggs United Stores had expanded to 357 firms in ten states. Although minuscule compared to modern standards, each new store was expected to be not only successful, but to develop the capital and personnel for a future store. Part of their success was based on able store managers who were attracted by the policy of inventorying every sixty days and paying a bonus of thirty percent on the profits. One of those former managers later reported that “it was always comforting to know that the Skaggs brothers were working the same long hours as their managers . . . their hearts were really in the business.

In 1926, Skaggs United stores merged with 322 units of a Southern California firm formerly known as Sam Selig stores to become the present-day Safeway, with M. B. Skaggs as its first president. Skaggs held that position until 1934. The next year, the youngest brother L. L. Skaggs founded a Midwestern chain of drug stores known as Osco,, presently associated with Jewel supermarkets. Long’s Drug Stores of California were started by a son-in-law of M. B. Skaggs.

The devastating effects of the Great Depression were partially blunted for the Skaggs by the vigorous family drive and the cash, no credit policy of their father. This policy is still in force. Although the current definition has been refined to mean that “ the Company does not directly extend credit to its retail customers, but does honor bank credit cards. The “bank holiday” of 1933 crippled all businesses to same degree by preventing them from drawing on their cash reserves, but some Skaggs firms were able to quickly build up side bank accounts from their incoming daily cash flow while many businesses based heavily on credit went under.

After a stint with the armed forces during world War I, L. S. Skaggs returned to the grocery business and became part of the future Safeway management. His marriage to Vivian H. Howe resulted in the birth of their only child, L. S. Skaggs, Jr. The appointment of L. S. Skaggs, Sr. As intermountain division manager for Safeway brought them to reside in Salt Lake City in 1930. In 1939, L. S. Skaggs, Sr. Resigned from Safeway to enter the drugstore business. Two associates from Safeway joined with him to buy four of the Pay Less Drug Stores from his brother L. J. Skaggs. L. S. Skaggs, Sr.’s first four stores were located in Salt Lake City; Ogden, Utah; Great Falls, Montana; and Boise, Idaho. Pay Less was incorporated in 1947 and in 1970 was re-christened Skaggs Companies, Inc.

L.S. (Sam) Skaggs, Jr. Was only twenty-six when the sudden death of his father at the age of 54 required him to assume the leadership of the corporation in 1950. His widowed mother, Vivian H. Skaggs, was elected to the board of directors in the same year. L. S. Skaggs, Jr. had worked in the family business from the age of fourteen, completed two years at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, served in the Chemical Warfare Service of the armed forces in World War II, and had been married barely a year when this new responsibility came. Lack of experience at high corporate levels did not deter him from accepting the challenge and setting even higher goals. How well he succeeded can be partially summed up in the following figures: the inheritance of 11 drug stores with 9.5 million dollars in annual sales in 1950 was expanded to 202 drug stores and 39 super-centers (combination drug and grocery supermarkets) with over one billion dollars in annual sales in 1978.

The 1970s were particularly important expansion years for Skaggs Companies, Inc. Skaggs and Albertson’s formed a partnership in 1970 to pioneer the supermarket concept of both drugs and groceries under one roof (super-centers). Between 1974 and 1978, Skaggs Companies doubled in size and went over the one billion dollar sales mark annually for the first time in 1978. In 1977, they parted amicably with Albertson’s, each coming away with twenty-nine drug-grocery supermarkets. At the end of 1978, 95 percent of the Skaggs stores were located in suburban areas in 21 different states.

Drawing on the expertise gained from the tie with Albertson’s, L. S. Skaggs, Jr. initiated a merger with American Stores in order to penetrate the eastern market. This merger was approved on 29 July 1979 by over 80 percent of the shareholders. American added 785 food stores and 139 drugstores to the 241 Skaggs stores. Despite this imbalance, Skaggs is the surviving company. However, it was the decision of L. S. Skaggs, Jr. to retain the name of American Stores to appropriately reflect the coast to coast scope and emergence as a national leader of the new company. L. S. Skaggs, Jr. is presently Chairman of the Board as well as Chairman of the Executive committee over the ninth largest retail organization in the United States. American business thrives on competition. The result of this merger may represent the epitome of the competitive drive in modern capitalism. The head-to-head competition between the nation’s new number four supermarket and the number one chain, Safeway, and between the second largest drugstore franchise and the number six chain, Long’s , stems from original connections with the Skaggs family. It would be interesting to know how much business competition has generated by this same family through spin-offs of firms founded by them or created by executives once associated with them.

The leadership behind the dramatic growth from tiny grocery to mammoth corporation has earned the title of entrepreneurs for the six sons of Samuel M. Skaggs and his grandson, L. S. Skaggs, Jr. Each has contributed to the economic philosophy behind the success of the various Skaggs companies and the development of retailing in the West. Overall this philosophy might be summarized as: (1) sell at lower prices for cash, (2) be satisfied with a small profit margin resulting from large volume sales, (3) allow a certain amount of autonomy and other incentives to attract strong managers, and (4) move to , or acquire retail outlets in suburban shopping center. Such a philosophy is not unique to the Skaggs family, but their early recognition of its potential along with their native talents, hard work, and on-the-job training produced an unusual degree of business success and social mobility. As one financial columnist recently reported, “the Skaggs family is hardly known to the American public. But it has probably had more influence on American retailing than any other family.

Many fascinating areas surrounding this family remain to be explored. The social and geographic origins of James C. Skaggs attempt to understand the rise of this family as well as the contributions of the families which intermarried with them. Further research in both of these generations, particularly, require more attention in any attempt to understand the financing of successful retailing forms and the direction of modern American business history.