Covington Grocery & Grain Company was established in 1901 and soon
grew into a major regional vendor with several branches in two states.
It is a tremendous success story, made even more so by the fact that its
founder, Ernest J. Domergue was a native of New Orleans, and came to Covington as a result of having fallen victim to the "yellow fever."
He recovered and eventually worked his way up in the business world as one of Covington's most successful entrepreneurs.
December 16, 1919, St. Tammany Farmer Advertisement
Below is a report printed in the March 15, 1919, edition of the St. Tammany Farmer which detailed its phenomenal growth and dividends.
HISTORY OF THE COMPANY
is with pride that we point to the history of the Covington Grocery
& Grain Company, Ltd., because it has not only been constructive in
the sense of its personal business achievement, but has been progressive
and influential in the extension and advancement of agricultural
interests and uplift movements.
with the growth of the business the establishment of new branches has
been accomplished by the adoption of modern improvements in new
buildings for safe storage and quick handling of products and for the
protection from fire. The mother institution at Covington has been
distanced by the rapid growth of business at Slidell, La., which now
exceeds that of any of its branches.
"The business started with
the Covington Warehouse & Commission Company, Ltd., organized by E.
J. Domergue and H. P. Gagnet and which was chartered July 5, 1901, with
a capital of $25,000.00, of which $5400.00 was paid in by December 31,
1901, on which date the company issued its first statement.
first board of directors and officers were: H. J. Smith, President; S.
D. Bulloch. Vice-President: C. H. Bickham, Secretary; Hardy H. Smith,
Treasurer: the late J. .B. Wortham, the late Leon Roubion, and G. S. E.
"Owing to the operation of the company, the handling
of wholesale groceries, etc., the name was appropriately changed to the
Covington Grocery & Grain Co., Ltd., September 12, 1904. It being
found that there were still greater opportunities of extending the
business by the establishing of branch houses in other sections, July
11,1907, the charter was amended so as to allow the Company to reach out
for business offered by an extended field. This resulted in the
establishment of the Slidell branch in the same year, the Bogalusa
branch in 1913, the Tylertown, Miss., branch in 1914, the Columbia,
Miss., branch in 1915, Laurel Branch in 1918, Franklinton branch in
1918, with preparation for a branch in New Orleans and Hattiesburg.
Company is rapidly becoming one of the most important institutions of
the kind in the State. Its combined sales, ending fiscal year December
31, 1918, are approximately three millions.
semi-annual dividends, ranging from 5 to 10 per cent, have been paid
during the Company's existence, and the prospects are very bright for
future increase of business.
"Realizing that large quantities of
feedstuffs were being imported that might be profitably grown at home,
the Company has urged and encouraged the growing of these crops and the
adoption and use of improved machinery and modern methods of
cultivation. To ofFer facilities for the marketing and handling of home
grown feeds and produce, it has anticipated putting up elevators. This
will not only give opportunities to the home farmer but will facilitate
prompt deliveries and the general service of the Company.
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In a 1922 book called "The History of New Orleans," the author John Smith Kendall noted the following:
Ernest J. Domergue, a native of New Orleans, laid the foundation of his
successful career in commerce and finance at Covington, Louisiana, and
quite recently returned to his native city, where he is president and
directing head of one of the largest wholesale corporations in the
South, the Interstate Wholesale Grocers, Incorporated.
Domergue was born at New Orleans in 1873, son of Ernest J. and Angel
(Abadie) Domergue. His father was born in Paris, while his mother was a
native of Northern France. Ernest J. Domergue acquired his public school
education at New Orleans, and left that city in 1885, during the yellow
fever epidemic. He was stricken with that disease, but subsequently
entirely recovered his health at Covington.
then remained at Covington, where he began his business career as clerk
in a store, later became a broker, and in 1900 organized the Covington
Grocery & Grain Company, a wholesale concern. He developed that to a
highly prosperous organization, and gradually acquired interests in
other wholesale grocery houses, and in order to be at the center of the
work of commercial concerns of which he is the head he returned to New
Orleans in 1920 to make his home.
Domergue with his own extensive interests and in association with
others organized the Interstate Wholesale Grocery Company,
Incorporated, and has since been its president. This corporation has
two million dollars capital, and is one of the largest, if not the
largest, wholesale grocery concern in the South.
headquarters at New Orleans, the corporation operates eleven wholesale
grocery houses, first among which is Mr. Domergue's individual business,
the Covington Grocery & Grain Company, which he organized in 1900.
others, conducted by the central office at New Orleans, are the Slidell
Grocery & Grain Company at Slidell, Rogalusa Grocery & Grain
Company at Bogalusa, Merchants' Grocery Company at Franklinton,
Nicholas Burke Company at New Orleans, Dupont Wholesale Company at
Houma, Percy-Lobdell Company at Thibodaux, Lockport Wholesale Company at
Lockport, Renoudet & Dietlein Grocery Company at New Iberia, all
these being in Louisiana, and also the Pearl River Grocery & Grain
Company at Columbia, Mississippi, and the Foote-Patrick Company at
Domergue is also president of the Commercial Bank & Trust Company
of Covington, and a director of the Bank of Slidell. He is a member of
the New Orleans Association of Commerce, Southern Yacht Club, and is a
thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason and Shriner. He married Miss
Belle Warren of Covington. Their four children are C. R. Domergue, C. O.
Domergue, Irma and Leo.
Branch Locations of the Interstate Wholesale Grocers
COVINGTON GROCERY & GRAIN CO., R. H. White, Manager
BOGALUSA GROCERY & GRAIN CO., F. W. Watts, Manager
FOOTE-PATRICK CO., R. L. Patrick, Manager
PEARL RIVER GROCERY & GRAIN CO., C. L. Simmons, Manager
TYLERTOWN GROCERY & GRAIN CO., J. L. Carr, Manager
MERCHANTS GROCERY COMPANY, C. L. Gayer, Manager
SLIDELL GROCERY & GRAIN CO., Main Office
OFFICE C. R. Domergue, Manager
Financial Statements Over the Years
August 3, 1918
Below is a 1905 account of the business: