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This article was written for the Statesman Journal and published October 2015. It is reproduced here for reference purposes.

Interior view of Haniger Hat Shop. WHC 1994.056.0001

Interior view of Haniger Hat Shop.
WHC 1994.056.0001

“Wait a minute. Don’t be in such a rush spending your hard cold cash for clothes until you know where to spend it to your advantage. There are many good shops in Salem and one you can’t afford to miss is the Haniger Hat Shop, 190 N. Liberty. Don’t think hats are the only item. It’s amazingly full of the prettiest coats, dresses, blouses, sweaters, smocks, umbrellas, at popular prices, and Margaret Haniger’s quick, smiling “Let me help you,” makes a warm, friendly contact. Truly we don’t know of a busier place, in proportion to its size, in all of Salem, a real popularity house.,,.”

The Haniger Hat Shop was a Salem institution for over 30 years. Its origins began in February 1924 as the Women’s Shop which, as the name implied, catered exclusively to women’s patronage. The Oregon Statesman newspaper reported its grand opening in the Adolph-Waters Building in the February 24, 1924 edition. The shop was a partnership between Miss A.E. Lyons and Mrs. M. Haniger. Miss Lyons took charge of the hosiery, underwear and corset department while Mrs. Haniger handled the millinery department.

It is interesting to note that the corner of Liberty & Court streets where the shop resided was actually the third structure built in that location. The first was a small one-story Chinese washhouse. Then in the mid-1880s, a two story building was built with two shop spaces and a meeting hall above. After much neglect, the property was purchased by Joseph Adolph and George E. Waters and a new building constructed in 1923. Driving past the Adolph-Waters building today you’ll notice that the current tenant is Top Drawer Upscale Resale & Boutique.

In 1926, two years after the store’s opening, Margaret bought out her business partner and changed the name of the business to Haniger Hat Shop. She also added women’s clothing and outerwear to her merchandise selection. The store remained open until 1955 when Margaret retired and closed the business. The prime real estate location was taken over by Edna Phelps and Joy Cohen who opened a new women’s apparel shop called Cover Girl.

So who was Margaret Haniger, longtime women’s apparel shop owner? According to a Daily Capital Journal article dated September 27, 1943, Margaret “became the light of her parents’ home in Bozeman, Montana; been holding her own beautifully in Salem since 1922,

[and] learned millinery in Butte, Montana.” With these two location clues (Salem and Montana) and dates (1922 and 1943) we turned to U.S. Federal census records on Ancestry.com to give us a framework to begin our research with. She is listed on the 1930 and 1940 census records as a resident of Salem, Or., birthdate estimated at 1890 and birthplace as Montana which confirms the newspaper information.

Additional records suggested by Ancestry.com lead us to her maiden name “Lynch”, parents Patrick and Christina, husband Louis Camillus Haniger, and three sisters Julia, Mary, and Lillian. Through Butte, Montana city directories (phone books) we learn that she was initially employed as a milliner at the Hennessy Company, a mercantile business operated by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company. And as we dig deeper through online digital newspaper sources we find the story of the early death of her father in 1907 when Margaret was 16, due to miner’s consumption. And that is where the trail goes a little cold. So what brought a sweet, vivacious miner’s daughter all the way to Salem from Montana? Perhaps further research will provide more clues to fill in the gaps in her story.

To leave you with a chuckle, here’s one last newspaper account, rather tongue-in-cheek, that appeared in Capital Journal reporter Don Upjohn’s column “Sips for Supper” dated January 28, 1944.

“Got quite a start going past Haniger’s place of business on Liberty street this a.m. Always having the corner of an eye open for attractive bits of scenery we noted out of a little more than a corner of same a charming model standing in the window, arms outstretched, gazing off into space, and another attractive bit of scenery kneeling by the model carefully brushing off the hosiery of the attractive looking model. It was about then we jumped sideways; the model rolled its eyes, kicked a foot and laughed. We jumped sideways toward the curb and sizing up the situation discovered it was only a couple of girls putting on a little show and having a little fun. But, gosh, for a minute we thought maybe Galatea (statue that came to life according to Greek mythology) really had come to life.”

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