Texas Celebrates A Grocery Success Story

A Slice Of Texas

The Butt family before 1914 and after the death of Mr. Butt. Howard is seated on the chair arm beside his mother.

The Butt family before 1914 and after the death of Mr. Butt. Howard is seated on the chair arm beside his mother.

In 1905, Clarence C. and Florence Thornton Butt moved their family to Kerrville, Texas where Mrs. Butt established  Mrs. C. C. Butt’s Staple and Fancy Grocery with the aid of a $60.00 loan. Although I would love to know who loaned her the money, that part of the story remains a mystery to me.

Florence Butt bore the responsibility for the store since her husband suffered with tuberculosis. Her family lived above the store as was so often the custom, and at least three of the Butt sons acted as delivery boys for the grocery.

In 1919, Mrs. Butt turned the reins over to her youngest son, Howard Edward Butt who immediately began to make the changes that would lead to his great success in the grocery business, first changing the name to the C.C. Butt Cash Grocery, a cash and carry store that now included a meat market.

By 1931, H.E.B. had increased his holdings to almost twenty stores worth 2 million dollars. In the mid 1930s, the man changed his company name to H.E. Butt Grocery Company then in 1942, he opened the first H-E-B in San Antonio, Texas…the same year that he put air-conditioning in his stores.

A deacon in the Baptist Church, H.E.B. carried no beer or wine in his stores, a policy that continued until his son took over in the 1970s.

When Howard Edward Butt died in 1991, the company “had grown to 175 stores and twenty-one video stores, a milk plant, a pastry bakery, a meat processor, an ice cream plant, a packaging and canning operation, a fleet maintenance and construction division, and 30,000 employees.”

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About Fredda Jones

Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for texansunited.com and marketing small-town Texas.
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2 Responses to Texas Celebrates A Grocery Success Story

  1. James Read says:

    The person that loaned Mr. Butts the money to start his grocey store was Pattillo Higgins. He was a friend and fellow member of the church with Mr. Butts. Mr. Higgins was the person responsible for the drilling of the Spindle Top the first oil well on the Texas Gulf Coast at Beaumont. The full story can be found at the petrolum museum in Beaumont or in the book Spindletop by James A Clark and Michel T. Halbouty.

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