Henry David Lee and four business partners established The H.D. Lee Mercantile Company in Kansas. They sourced groceries and other staples from around the world and packaged them for distribution to dry good and grocery stores under the Lee brand.
As the region’s population grew, demand for goods that couldn’t be grown or made locally increased, and Lee expanded its offerings to meet consumer needs. Dry goods merchants could order nearly anything from The H.D. Lee Mercantile Company’s 1899 Notions Catalog—from air rifles, apple butter, baseball mitts, bib overalls, coffee grinders and fabric to maraschino cherries, stationary and school supplies, toilet paper, whistles and Worcestershire sauce. Between 1900 and 1909, Lee established The H.D. Lee Flour Mills Company, Lee Hardware Company, and Kansas Ice and Storage.Show more