Four Generations of Boot Making
MORE THAN HISTORY, LEDDY’S IS TEXAS HERITAGE
M.L. Leddy may not have had aspirations of earning an international reputation for quality, handmade boots when he left his family cotton farm in 1918 — and he probably did not envision icon status when four years later he purchased the saddle and boot shop where he had been working in the small west Texas town of Brady. However, with self taught talent and the help of his brothers, M.L. achieved all of that and more.
In 1922, saddle making and boot making were common trades. What distinguished the Leddy brothers from other craftsmen was their desire to make only the best, and offer that product with unparalleled customer service. The “Leddy” standard quickly became a tradition. By 1936, their reputation exceeded their borders and they moved their business to San Angelo, Texas. Demand for their products continued to expand and a second location was opened in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards in 1941.
In the early 1950s, M.L.’s sons Dale, Hollis and his son-in-law, Jim Franklin, made the decision to purchase the business from its founders. By 1986, M.L.’s grandson Wilson Franklin continued the tradition of family ownership, and M.L.’s dream of the organization remaining a family operation continues today with fourth generation family members now working in the business.
As the retailer grew and evolved, Leddy’s added a full offering of fine Western wear and other products, such as custom hats, belts, sterling buckles, jewelry, accessories, and a full line of tailored and fitted men’s and women’s clothing from makers such as Hickey Freeman, Oxxford Clothiers, Ermenegildo Zegna, and the M.L. Leddy’s private label. Currently there are two retail stores; in the Fort Worth Stockyards, and in historic downtown San Angelo.
The expert level of detail and skill put into every custom handmade boot, saddle and leather product continues to set M.L. Leddy’s apart. For many families from across the country, buying a pair of custom, handmade Leddy’s boots has become a tradition, some spanning four generations. It is not uncommon to witness a grandfather bringing in his grand children to be fitted for a pair of their own.
Every custom handmade boot owner has his or her page in M.L. Leddy’s celebrated history books. These books are actually old-fashioned bank ledgers, where the individual foot measurements of more than 250,000 customers have been painstakingly recorded by hand. Footprints of people from all walks of life are on pages next to presidents, royalty and rock stars. The ledgers date back to the founding days of the company, and continue to be used today. A hand written code inked inside each boot top allows Leddy’s to trace each pair to its original owner.
A visit to M.L. Leddy’s is like a trip back in time, where old-fashioned values are refreshingly new again. In the historic Fort Worth Stockyards location, hand-laid brick streets welcome customers into a rough-hewn world of knotted pine, pressed tin ceilings and the unmistakable smell of leather. Thousands of handmade boots are majestically placed toe to heel along time-worn wooden shelves. In the original San Angelo store, Leddy’s fabled custom boot makers can be seen crafting each boot by hand using the same methods passed on since 1922. As landscapes blend with cityscapes, and people spend their days between Texas’ wide-open spaces and urban centers, it is comforting to know that M.L. Leddy’s will remain as it always has been.
The next generation of Texans are invited to add their own story to the pages of M.L. Leddy’s rich history.