Biography of Chester Elwood McCourt
Tulare County, CA Biographies

Chester Elwood McCourt, senior member of the mercantile firm of McCourt Brothers, dealers in men's clothing and furnishing goods, in Porterville and Tulare, a veteran of the World war, and long recognized as one of the leaders in the commercial life of this section of the state, is a native son of California and his activities always have centered in this state. He was born on a ranch (the old Ben Woodson place) in the vicinity of Lodi, in San Joaquin county, January 8, 1888, and is a son of Robert McCourt and Martha Woodson, the latter of whom was a daughter of one of the pioneers, Ben Woodson, one of California's " '49ers", who had crossed the plains with a wagon train in the year in which the great tide of emigration turned this way, following the announcement of the discovery of gold in the hills and river valleys of California.

C. E. McCourt's education was finished in the schools of the city of Fresno and he early entered upon his mercantile career, beginning at the age of twelve years to work during school vacations as a wrapper and errand boy in one of the stores of that city. When he was sixteen years of age he became employed as a clerk in the clothing store of Redlick Brothers, in Fresno and was later employed in the department store of the Kutner-Goldstein Company in, that city. From Fresno, with a desire to extend his mercantile experience, Mr. McCourt went to Sacramento and in that city became employed in the hat department of the Albert Elkus store at the corner of K and Ninth streets.

While in Sacramento, Mr. McCourt accepted a position with Henry Lions & Sons of San Francisco, at that time the largest exclusive clothing store west of Chicago. From there he was called to Fresno to take charge of the furnishing goods department of The Fashion Shop, and a Year after identified himself with Arthur McAfee of Fresno, who at that time was recognized as the leading clothier of the San Joaquin valley.

Mr. McAfee also was interested in a store in Porterville known as the Lamkin-McAfee Company, and Mr. McCourt was sent to Porterville to look after the McAfee interests in the year 1910. During that year Mr. McAfee disposed of his interest in the Porterville store to Mr. E. E. Graham, a pioneer of the district in the orange industry, and the firm name was changed to the Lamkin-Graham Company.

A year later happened the atrocious murder of Jack B. Lamkin, shortly after six o'clock, in the store on Main street. It was then that Mr. McCourt was made manager of the Lamkin-Graham Company, and during this year bought stock in the incorporation. Business grew to such an extent that Mr. McCourt brought his brother Harold H. McCourt from Fresno, who had quite an experience in the clothing and furnishing goods business, and he, too, bought stock in the incorporation.

The year 1913 the incorporation needed larger quarters, and the Baker block was remodeled to care for the ever increasing business, which is the present location of McCourt Brothers' Store in Porterville.

The year 1917 Mr. C. Elwood McCourt enlisted in the army and served for a period of nineteen months, and during his absence Mr. E. E. Graham sold his interests in the incorporation and the firm name was changed to the Lamkin-McCourt Company. After arriving home from service the McCourt Brothers sold their interests in the incorporation and took over the Tulare store as their's individually, under the firm name of McCourt Brothers.

While in Tulare Mr. C. E. McCourt served as exalted ruler of Tulare Lodge, No. 1424, Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, having joined as a charter member. He also served as a member of the executive committee of the Tulare Board of Trade, and took a very active part in the Lions Club of that city.

In the month of August, 1925, the McCourt Brothers purchased the Lamkin Clothing Company store in Porterville, and Mr. C. E. McCourt is again in charge of the store he opened in the year 1913, Mr. Harold H. McCourt remaining in charge of the Tulare store.

History of Tulare County, California
By: Kathleen Edwards Small
Kings County, California
By: J. Larry Smith
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago 1926

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