E.W. Thomson Drug Company was established in 1873 by Mr. E.W. Thomson, a pharmacist from Alabama. He had brothers and a son who served as a U.S. Ambassador, a General of the U.S. Army, and an Admiral. His sister, who married a Mr. Hawley, had serveral poems and songs published. The Hawley home was located at what is now 510 Second Street in Delhi. Mr. Hawley drilled the first oil well in this area. Unfortunately, it was a dry hole located in the Bush Community.
Mr. E.W. Thomson opened the drugstore in 1873. Just after the turn of the century, around 1905, construction began on a new brick building for the pharmacy. In order to do this without closing down, the old wooden building was moved into the street west of the current location on Depot Street which runs parallel to the railroad tracks. During construction of the first brick building on the block, business was never interrupted.
Around 1898, E.W. Thomson’s son, E.W. Jr. graduated from Tulane Medical School. After graduation, he traveled for three months up the Mississippi Delta to Memphis to study Yellow Fever. Letters from father to son were found in the Hawley home, after it was purchased by Neal Doyle McEacharn in 1954. E.W. Thomson, Jr. mentioned mosquitoes as an “awful menace” and how they seemed as prevalent as the Yellow Fever.
Thomson, Sr., apparently prospered in Delhi, as several postcards from his travels to Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico were found in later years in nooks and crannies in the drugstore. Mr. Thomson, Sr., fell dead of an apparent heart attack while working at the pharmacy counter. Unfortunately, his son Dr. E.W. Thomson, Jr., also died early, not long after setting up a medical practice in Delhi. His appendix ruptured and he was rushed by passenger train to Shreveport for surgery, but he died during the surgery. After the death of E.W. Thomson, Sr., in 1904, his widow, Mrs. Jessie Thomson, moved to Oklahoma, retaining ownership of the building and possibly the business. The sister of E.W. Thomson, Sr., and her husband Mr. Hawley ooperated the drugstore for awhile, hiring pharmacists to run the pharmacy.
Before World War I, the entire block of Depot Street burned with the exception of the brick building housing the drugstore. Mr. Bob May, son of Dr. May, stayed up all night to watch the block burn. The fire was varified when, during renovation, the entire east wall was discoved to be fire-blackened. Almost all of the retail buildings in the block were reconstructed of brick. Incidentally, the bricks used in the reconstruction came from the Delhi Brick Works located three blocks east of the First Baptist Church of Delhi.
Neal McEacharn and Neal McEacharn, Jr. purchased E.W. Thomson Drug from the Hawleys and heirs of E.W. Thomson in 1922 after the return of Neal, Jr. to Delhi from duty in World War I. They hired Mr. S.A. Mayes, better known as Mr. Sam “Doc” Mayes, as their pharmacist and employed him for more than forty years. During that time, E.W. Thomson Drug became the highest prescription volume independent drugstore in Louisiana. This was due in part to Mr. McEacharn and Sam Mayes recruiting a young Dr. Lorenz Teer to establish the Delhi Clinic and Sanitarium.
Upon graduation from “Ole Miss” Pharmacy School in 1954, Neal, Jr.’s son, Neal Doyle McEacharn, returned to Delhi and began work at E.W. Thomson Drug Company with Mr. Sam Mayes working six to seven days a week, with most days from 7:00am to 9:00pm. Neal Doyle, along with his five sisters and one brother, had practically grown up in the store. They helped wherever needed, even offering curbside service from the soda fountain. This was often the hangout after the “picutre shows” let out at the Cave Theater on the weekends. Thomson Drug would stay open until midnight on Saturday nights accommodating folks that came into town form the countryside to get an ice cream treat or fountain drink. Neal Doyle McEacharn and Sam Mayes continued to build up the business by that kind of hard work. Mr. Sam Mayes died of a heart attack while squirrel hunting with some friends on Sunday morning in October 1973.
Neal Doyle enlarged and remodeled the store in 1970 and began the task on contacting all the heirs of Neal McEacharn, Sr. and Neal McEacharn, Jr.; and on December 20, 1972, bought the business. Neal Doyle worked at the drugstore for thirty-six years, spending many long hours there until his retirement in 1990. W. Bruce McEacharn, Neal Doyle’s son, spent two years at “Ole Miss” and then transferred to Northeast Louisiana University, graduating from pharmacy school in December, 1979.
Bruce began working at the store in January 1980 and had the privilege of working with his dad for ten years. Bruce bought the store from his dad in January 1990 and continues to work there today. Bruce broke tradition and started closing the store on Sundays for the first time in 117 years. In 2006 the store began closing on Saturdays. The store continues to remain open Monday through Friday. The soda fountain was remodeled in 2008 to incorporate a full grill which is usually filled to capacity at lunch most days.
We would like to thank God for all the blessings that He has given to our family throughout the years from Thomson Drug. We give the Lord credit for all the success we have had in this business. We are grateful to all our customers that we have had the privilege to serve for one hundred forty years (as of 2013) and for making this store the oldest drug store in the state of Louisiana and possibly the nation. We look forward to serving this community for many more years to come. As owner, I also appreciate Mr. E.W. Thomson for being the God-fearing man he was and for having the vision to establish this store in 1873.
W. Bruce McEacharn, President
E.W. Thomson Drug Company, Inc.