Lamar Cecil Oyster

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
September 26, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 277-278
Harrison County

LAMAR CECIL OYSTER, M. D. A busy physician with an
extensive country practice in Harrison County for twenty
years, Doctor Oyster eventually discovered a taste and
talent for commercial lines that brought him into the ranks
of merchants. To mention that he is proprietor of “The
Big Little Town Store” is sufficient to identify him with
West Virginia’s most successful country merchants.

Doctor Oyster since he was three years of age has lived
in Harrison County, near Lumberport. The accident of
birth makes him a native of Kansas. He was born at
Paola in that state December 14, i873, son of John H.
and Elizabeth (Denham) Oyster. His father was a native
of Washington, D. C. The grandfather, David W. Oyster,
went out to Kansas about 1859, and was a participant
in the great free state struggle there. The mother of
Doctor Oyster was born near Lumberport, August 17, 1848,
one of the six children of John B. and Elizabeth (Smith)
Denham, and granddaughter of David B. and Elizabeth
(Robinson) Denham, and her maternal grandfather was
James Smith of the Simpson Creek vicinity of Harrison
County. Mrs. Oyster was born and reared on her father’s
farm about a mile south of Lumberport. She is a Metho-
dist. Doctor Oyster has never married, and he and his
mother have always lived together, he being her only child.
They have been very much devoted to each other all the

Doctor Oyster was educated in public schools of Lumber-
port, in the Fairmont State Normal, and for four years
was a teacher. In 1901 he graduated from the Baltimore
Medical College, and for upwards of twenty years he prac-
ticed medicine at Lnmberport and vicinity.

In the meantime, December 8, 1911, he became a member
of Hedges and Oyster Company, general merchandise. In
the growing business of this concern he found his time
and interest more and more engaged until in 1919 he bought
out his partner and has since given his time almost ex-
clusively to this store. He carries a stock of general mer-
chandise, and only one other store in Harrison County
individually owned has a larger stock.

The business has thoroughly justified its name of “The
Big Little Town Store,” and that title has been widely
advertised. Doctor Oyster believes in advertising and the
principle that the “more you tell the quicker you sell.”
Few men are better equipped to conduct an advertising
campaign. He knows the community, he knows its needs
and its pace. he knows his business, and he has the art of
weaving into his advertising many matters of incidental
interest so that his business talks are as eagerly read as
the news columns of local papers. In the interest of his
business he publishes “now and then” a store paper known
as “The Oyster.” His was the first store in West Virginia
to publish such a trade paper, and in fact it was one of
the first store papers in the country. While its primary
purpose is to put before the public a timely account of the
merchandise, “The Oyster” is also a medium of community
news and contains many paragraphs of the Doctor’s wit
and philosophy. His store paper has been widely quoted,
and he has written a great deal for other trade papers.

Doctor Oyster through his business and through his per-
sonal interest contributes to the growth and development
of his home town. He is a stockholder and director in
several corporations, including the Lumberport Bank and
the Mound City Glass Company. In politics he is a re-
publican, and is affiliated with the Independent Order of
Odd Fellows and the Benevolent and Protective Order of