Hardware store getting historical marker
BY JEANNE WILLIAMS
TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER
CAMERON - E. L. Wied Hardware fell only one decade short of leaving its boot prints into
21st century merchandising.
Had it not closed its doors to commercial trade in 1990, the store might still be hawking
its anachronistic wares: crock butter churns, coffin handles, horse-shoe nails, and
kerosene lamps left over from the original inventory.
Though it carried a supply of pre-World War II hardware leftovers, it stocked innumerable
items sought by modern day, loyal clientele who bought water pumps and plumbing
equipment, electrical supplies, hunting gear and guns, plows, saddles and tack, rope,
wire, hammers, nails, saws, paint and gardening tools.
Even though this sturdy old hardware outlet transcended the days of the telephone,
telegraph, world wars and military actions, television, satellites, trips to the moon,
space shuttle flights, computers and the World Wide Web, it might have been much more
comfortable in the horse and buggy days of its late 1880s origin if one judges its
This old hardware store brags about its old age, boasting a classic, Western street
facade with its showy false front, pressed tin ceiling, elongated, rectangular frame
structure, and solid wooden decking inside.
Today, this architectural, commercial museum piece is implanted firmly in a side of town
that once represented a microcosm of an eastern European-style market place patronized
most of its life by throngs of Germans and Czechs living in Milam County.
E.L. Wied Hardware represents the last thriving commercial business from the old days
still operating in a southern sector Cameron titled by locals as “Old Dutch Town.”
The old store will be recognized for its worth in Texas heritage during 5 p.m. ceremonies
Saturday when a Texas Historical Marker honoring the business will be unveiled by local
dignitaries, friends and family, including Wied’s brother Stanley Wied, in addition to
Alfonse Matocha, nephew of the store’s originator A.J. Matocha.
Matocha, the son of a glassblower, was born in 1876 and immigrated at age 3 with his
family to Galveston, where they moved overland to Milam County. The Matocha family became
farmers. At age 18, Albert Joseph opted to work in a hardware store. He opened A.J.
Matocha & Co. Hardware & Implements in Dutch Town in 1898.
The old building of today was pieced together using materials from a dilapidated dance
On May 6, 1920, a fire damaged the hardware store. Matocha bought the German dance hall,
divided the building into parts, and used oxen to move the sections to his store for
Matocha died in 1945, and the business was operated by his wife Tressie Mondrik Matocha
until 1946, when she sold the store to WWII veteran E.L. “Bubba” Wied and his wife Agnes
“In the early years, my mom worked at the store every day and did most of the
bookkeeping,” said their daughter, Jolene Wied Regan. “I have been told many times by
those who knew them that the store would not have flourished without my mom, as my dad
would have given everything away. My mom continued to work in the store for 35 years,
until their divorce in 1980, at which time a division of property gave the store to my
The store’s appearance was unaltered for most of the years of operation, Regan said.
“Every few years someone would come by and paint the sign on the side of the building,
including the Coca Cola ad,” Regan said. “The front porch originally was made of wood,
however, after it rotted through, it was finally replaced with a cement porch.”
Wied’s merchandising mantra maintained “if you can’t find an item in his store, you
didn’t need it.”
After Wied’s death, his wife, Billie Wied operated the store until 1990, and today mulls
about mystery items that constituted hardware standards of the olden days.
“I found a box with parts for repairing lighted coal miner’s caps. I still find things
that I don’t know what they are,” said Mrs. Wied, who worked with the Milam County
Historical Commission in procuring a Texas Historical Marker for the building.
Closing the store in 1990 and ultimately selling the inventory was one of the hardest
things she has ever had to do, she said. In recent years, she bought the building from
the Mondrik family.
The state medallion will be a fitting finale for a Cameron business that touched two
centuries and supplied countless families with everything from wagon wheels and thumb
tacks to paint and water pipes, said Mrs. Wied.
E.L. Wied Hardware is the first business in Old Dutch Town to receive a Texas Historical
Marker, she said. Before World War II, Dutch Town boasted grocery and drug stores, café,
hardware store, two blacksmith shops, feed store, a cotton gin, gas stations and other
stores. Papa John’s café was the gathering place for dominos and visiting, as well as
servings of the house specialties, chili and beef stew.
DUTCH TOWN’S NEW MARKER - A Texas
Historical Marker was unveiled at the
E.L. Wied Hardward Store building in old
Dutch Town in Cameron on Sept. 10.
Pictured are (L-R) Billie Wied, owner of
Wied Hardware Building, Stanley Wied,
brother of late E. L. Wied, Jolene Wied
Regan, daughter of late E. L. Wied and
Althonse Matocha, nephew of the founder
of the store, A. J. Matocha.
Rockdale Reporter - September 22, 2011