Biography of Murray Carleton

In the year 1873 Murray Carleton entered the business circles of St. Louis in connection with the wholesale dry goods trade, but while he has steadily developed his interests and has won notable success in founding and conducting the Carleton Dry Goods Company, this represents but one phase of his activity, for at all times the subjective and objective interests of his life have been well balanced. He has ever recognized his duties and obligations to his fellowmen and has been a contributing factor to the promotion of many lines of work which have had for their object the betterment of conditions and the uplift of the individual. His life, broadly useful as well as substantially successful, should serve as an inspiration to the young and a source of encouragement to all.

Mr. Carleton is a native of Cumberland, Maryland, and the son of a merchant and railway contractor, Henry D. Carleton, who resided in that city. From an early age the present St. Louis merchant has been dependent upon his own resources and made his initial step in business as an employee in a newspaper office in his native town when a lad of thirteen years. There he remained for a period of six years, gaining valuable experience in his newspaper training, for such a work always brings the indi­vidual wide and comprehensive knowledge of things current in the world and promotes an alertness of mind that is perhaps manifest in no other business as quickly and forcefully as it is in the gathering of news.

With Murray Carleton’s advent into the business circles of St. Louis in 1873, he became identified with the wholesale dry goods house of Henry Bell & Son and from that point has made steady progress, winning various promotions until he reached the presidency of the Carleton Dry Goods Company, which is the outgrowth f the old firm of Henry Bell & Son. In 1875 Daniel W. Bell became owner of the original establishment and conducted the business under his own name until his death in 1878, when the firm of J. H. Wear, Boogher & Company was organized by former employees of the Bell establishment, Jesse L. and John P. Boogher and James H. Wear. At a later date the firm style of Wear, Boogher & Company was assumed and on the 1st of January, 1884, Mr. Carleton became a partner in the undertaking, having in the meantime gained comprehensive knowledge of every phase and principle of the trade as affecting the sales and the office management. Three years after he acquired an interest in the business it was incorporated under the style of the Wear & Boogher Dry Goods Company, which on the 1st of January, 1900, was succeeded by the Carleton Dry Goods Company, organized by Murray Carleton, who has since occupied the presidency. This is today one of the large and important commercial institutions of St. Louis and stands as a monument to the business ability, keen sagacity and broad commercial vision of the founder. James Russell Lowell has said, “An institution is but the lengthened shadow of a man,” and by this the measure of Mr. Carleton’s business ability, his executive force and his undaunted enterprise may be taken. He has now long occupied a central place on the stage of activity in connection with the wholesale dry goods interests of St. Louis and has also extended his efforts into other fields, becoming identified with the St. Louis Transit Company and the United Railway Company, both of which elected him to the presidency. He is likewise a director and senior vice president of the Boatmen’s Bank and his opinions upon business matters are considered a valuable asset in the conduct of any public enterprise or undertaking. At the time of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition he was chosen one of the directors and likewise served on its executive committee, contributing to the success of the fair which was here held and which was one of the epoch making features in the history of Missouri and the country.

In 1884 Mr. Carleton was united in marriage to Miss Annie Laurie Hays and they became the parents of eight children, one of whom, Susan R., has passed away, while those still living are: Murray, Jr.; Hope D., who enlisted in the United States army as a private and was promoted to sergeant, being in overseas service in France and highly complimented in reports by his superior officers; Dorcas, now the wife of Louis Wynne Martin of St. Louis; Esther, the wife of Captain Richard Moore, Junior, of St. Louis; Ruth, the wife of C. L. Wood of Denver, Colorado; Patricia and Annie Laurie, both at home.

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That the social interests of life have made strong appeal to Mr. Carleton is shown in his membership in the Log Cabin, St. Louis Country, Sunset Hill, St. Louis, and Noonday Clubs and the Missouri Athletic Association. These interests, however, constitute but one phase of his activity outside of business. He has always been mindful of his duties and obligations to his fellowmen and has long been a devoted and faithful member of the Centenary Methodist Episcopal church, contributing generously to its support, taking active part in its work and serving as chairman of its board of stewards. For twelve years he was also one of the trustees and the treasurer of the Barnes Hospital. For many years he served as Sunday school superintendent and is still a trustee of the Young Men’s Christian Association of St. Louis. He has been quick to meet the needs which have arisen as the result of the World war and was chairman of the Missouri Division of the European Relief Committee for the starving children of the war ridden countries, raising more than three hundred thousand dollars for this cause. His life has been fruitful of many good results. His standards and his ideals are high and he has improved every opportunity to bring about their practical acceptance. Strong and purposeful, he has accomplished much not only in the upbuilding of his own fortunes but in the promotion of the world’s work along the lines of intellectual and moral advancement and of benevolent and charitable work.



Stevens, Walter B. Centennial History of Missouri (The Center State) One Hundred Years In The Union 1820-1921 Vol 2. St. Louis-Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company. 1921.

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