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Thomas Judd’s Store Day: A History of St. John’s Oldest Company George, from sheep stocks to nostalgic sweets

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The history of the first owner

Since the German’s arrival in 2015, Liverpool has experienced calm seas while, in sharp contrast, United has made a series of hires and firings, including Louis van Gaal, José Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Michael Carrick, and Ralf Rangnick. With Erik ten Hag as their new manager, they are now in the Premier League’s relegation zone.

A well-known businessman in early St. George was Thomas Judd. He left England in the early 1860s, moving to Utah, after his family joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was born in 1845. In the Navajo Indian Wars of 1866–1870, he played the bugle.

Judd served as bishop of the St. George 1st Ward for 18 years, from 1879 to 1897, after which he was called to colonize Whitewater, Nevada. He returned to St. George when he finished his assignment there and sold his much of his interest in LaVerkin, including what is now the Pah Tempe Hot Springs.

The store became very successful. Instead of selling the treats it does now, it first catered to the needs of the area’s cattlemen and sheepherders, which were a major economic engine in Dixie’s early days. Back then, it sold everything from hay and grain to Levi’s and sheep supplies. It also carried groceries and dry goods, including clothes, kerosene, hay and fabrics. Thomas Judd died in 1922. His son, Joseph, continued to run the store and then turned operations over to his son, Tom.

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In the early 1980s, St. George City wanted to condemn the store and turn it into a parking lot, but thankfully Dr. Mark and Barbara Greene purchased the building in 1982 and incorporated it into Green Gate Village. Tom Judd continued to operate the store even after the Greene’s bought it and retired in 1988.

The “school” business Judd’s store seemed to have a symbiotic relationship with the school across the street, first the Woodward School, which now serves as part of the Washington County School District offices, and then later with West Elementary, which stood where the 5th District Courthouse now stands. Students from the two schools were regulars at the store during lunch to get their fill of candy for the day.

Some West Elementary 5th and 6th graders even drew posters protesting the closed-campus policy. The posters read “Mr. Judd, we want you” and “America, land of the free, that’s why Mr. Judd stays.” The teachers also said that the candy wasn’t good for their students and contributed to hyperactivity

The store proprietor at the time, Tom Judd, Jr., wasn’t keen on the decision. He admitted that, at the time, the store depended on students’ purchases, which he estimated accounted for approximately 50 percent of his business. The little store had a hard time competing with larger chain stores. However, in 1983, the West Elementary faculty and principal decided to implement a closed-campus policy, barring students from purchasing anything from the store during school hours.

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