Friday, June 01, 2012

Circle round the square: 1920

Although Will D. Allender would not recognize the businesses --- other than Pipers --- the buildings along the north side of the square would be roughly the same as they were in 1920 should he decide to take a stroll along it this morning. This postcard view probably was taken ca. 1950.

Will D. Allender, who arrived in Chariton on the 12th of March, 1920, took a virtual walk around the square rather than a stroll down memory lane 20 years later, on March 12, 1940, when as editor of The Chariton Leader he reminisced. For those of us who make a game of trying to figure out which business was located in what building and when, it's especially interesting.

Allender, who was a native of Davis County, outlived this brief memoir by 22 years --- dying in 1962. Upon the death two years later of his wife, Audrey, First Presbyterian Church and the Chariton Public Library were named principal beneficiaries of their estates. The Will D. and Audrey B. Allender Trust was used to establish the former music room on the lower level of the library, now home of the Lucas County Genealogical Society library. Both Will and Audrey are buried in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery on the north edge of Bloomfield. But if you pay attention, their memories live on in Chariton. Look on the the east bank of shelves in the genealogical library and you'll find their portraits.

This memoir has been republished elsewhere before, first I think in the Lucas County Genealogical Society newsletter, then again on the society's blog, which is located here. The circle round the square begins at the current Chariton Newspapers building, a half block east of the northwest corner of the square. If trying to match businesses to buildings, remember that there were fewer double-front businesses on the square during 1920. Allender also loses track of who was where on the south and east sides. Here's the memoir:


Twenty years ago today I arrived in Lucas county to make Chariton my home.

Someone has said to look forward 20 years seems like a long time. But to look back over two decades seems a comparatively short stretch indeed.

Woodrow Wilson was president and Wm. L. Harding was Iowa's governor in 1920, and the time I arrived was less than a year and a half after the signing of the armistice.

The time consumed in coming from Bloomfield --- 70 miles distant --- covered a part of two days. That was an unnecessary outlay of time, for I could have left there and arrived here the same day if I had chosen the right trains. Today motorists drive the distance between the two towns in less than two hours, but cross country driving in 1920 was not so general as now.

My night's stop on the initial trip was at Ottumwa. Fairly early the following morning I went to the Burlington depot in Ottumwa where I met former Governor Carroll, who was boarding the same train for a point west of here. Being a former neighbor of Carroll's he invited me to visit with him on the trip. This invitation led to my introduction to the late Dr. Charles Stewart, who boarded the train at Albia and rode on into Chariton with us. As their talk was in connection with republican politics in Iowa I turned a deaf ear and watched the scenery glide by until we arrived about 9:30.

I doubt if the above is of much interest to you, but if you have lived here as long as I you may find it interesting to learn of some of those who were in business here in 1920 (I don't pretend to remember all of them) and note the changes that have occurred since then.

When Washington Irving wrote "Rip Van Winkle" he created a character who fell into a deep sleep which lasted 20 years and when he awoke he had difficulty in finding anyone in his old surroundings he knew or who remembered him. If Rip had fallen asleep in Chariton the day I arrived and should awaken today he would find changes almost as great as he did in Irving's novel.

W. D. Junkin and F.W. Meyers were publishing the Herald-Patriot. H.W. Gittinger, The Leader. The latter paper was then put out in the Smyth building back of the northwest corner of the square where the Farmers Mutual Insuroance Association office is now located.

Suppose we start from our present office and take an imaginary trip over a portion of the business district and see how many of a modern Rip Van Winkle's acquaintances can be located. Since this is done partly from recollection and partly by referring to the files we may overlook a few old timers. If so, it isn't intentional. Keep in mind, Rip might not have remembered much better than I.

Starting from our present location we will cross the alley (to) where Mrs. J. O. Crips operated the White Front hotel and cafe. That building is now a part of Hotel Charitone. On the corner where the hotel stands was then a vacant lot.

Across the street west Joe L. Piper's grocery was then operating. Now it is Piper Bros. Next door west was John H. Darrah's Fair store. Also on the north side of the square, and in about the following order these business concerns of 1920 were located: J.C. Flatt, candy and ice cream; Brewer & Blake, clothing; Harry Blanchard's Blanchard Supply Store; upstairs Chas. Noble and Arch Hawkins dealt in real estate; Spurgeon Mercantile Co. was located where Roush Bros. now conduct a drug store, and the next door west was Ray Smith's meat market.

Across the alley was the State Savings bank, with the following directorate: G. J. Stewart, Geo. F. Carpenter, L.B. Bartholomew, G. C. Blake, John Culbertson, Lester F. Smith and Fred S. Risser. Next door west was Edwin Jarl's grocery store, R.E. Counce hardware, Israel Bros., drygoods and ready-to-wear, Alf Timmins' Golden Eagle clothing store and Jay Smyth's Commercial bank.

Upstairs on the north side was located the Up Stairs Shoe store and a number of offices, some of which were occupied by Gookin & Co., Charles Wennerstrum, lawyer, Dr. Magers, osteopath, and others.

The corner bank was then two banks --- The Lucas County National and the Lucas County Trust and Savings Bank. Samuel McKlveen was president, W.A. Eikenberry the vice-president, L.H. Busselle, cashier, A.R. Hass, J.H. Collins and B.R. Van Dyke Jr. were assistant cashiers. Other directors were T.A. Bown, John E. Bonnett and Charles Hass.

North of the bank Pete Paton conducted a billiard parlor and next door to him was then as is now Dunshee Bros. hardware.

On ther corner where Montgomery Ward & Co. store is now located Horace Larimer conducted the Hollinger & Larimer clothing store in one half of the first floor, while the Consumers grocery occupied the other half. S. Oppenheimer & Son clothing store and C.E. Fluke, books and stationery were in the same locations. Jones & Briles, druggists, Ray Reed, jeweler, and Steele's Millinery establishments were next, and the Chariton National Bank was in the present location of the DeLuxe barber shop, with the following officers and directors: E. H. Perry, president; Jas. A. Penick, vice president; E.L. Gookin, cashier; J.C. Bennett and M.O. Johnson, assistant cashiers, and Henry S. Allen, Frank W. Byram, J.T. Crozier and Fred Yengel, directors. Bates Studio is in the same location now as in 1920.

Across the alley again the following places were operating in 1920: Dougherty drug store, G.W. Ensley hardware, Bell-Johnson tire shop, Alfalfa Creamery, Combs & Clouse music store, The Duddery, clothing, mananged by Loyd Mikesell, and Presley-Shipley, dry goods, on the corner.

In a frame building south of the present city hall was then located Harding & Viers marble works.

Where Clark's cafe is now located the Federal Bakery held forth. And on the south side, J.E. Hall's shoe store, Fletcher & Overton's grocery, Frank Willey's Red Cross Pharmacy, Snowball Cafe, Lincoln Theatre, Baylor-Davis furniture store, Chariton Plumbing and Heating, and the Elite Millinery store were located. On the corner now occupied by the Chariton Supply Co. (in 2012, Chariton Floral occupies what then was space for two stores) was then the location of the Mauk Hardware store. W.B. Dutcher, we believe, was also located on the south side of the square, as was also Joe Ritson's Busy Bee Shoe repair shop.

Just north of the post office, Dr. T.B. Throckmorton had his office. Garland's blacksmith shop was north of there and in the corner room occupied at present by Keith Gartin (groceries) was located the Chariton Storage Battery Co.

On the Crozier corner J.T. Crozier managed the same store his son Robert now manages. On the east side then the following firms were located in 1920: Goff & Rogers Cafe, Arvidson & Johnson Millinery establishment, A.C. Riebel harness store, Shirer clothing store, Melville furniture store, Southern Iowa Electric Co., Hunter Wilson, manager; Joseph Bros., N. Weiford's Shoe store, The Woman's Shop, Smith Piano Co., W.H. Lewis Grocerteria, and Mike Gauss drug store in the location now occupied by Jones Bros. The Tate harness store, we believe, was also opeating then on that side of the square.

Off the square John Risser sold automobiles in the building recently vacated by Ilo Hinton. The Douglas Ice Cream Co. was in the cement block building just north. Egon Reese sold Fords in the building now occupied by Paul Ferguson. Miley Bros. automobile establishment was on North Main street. The Coaley Auto Co. was another car establishment, Yeater and Shepard sold Oakland cars, and Wm. Schreiber was watching a diminishing carriage and wagon industry giving away to a coming motorized world.

Some of the others here then included August Lindquist, tailor; J.E. Wright, insurance; C.W. Stuart, attorney; G.W. Larimer, investments; Howard Culbertson, real estate; McCarthy, studio; Dr. P.T. Perry, dentist; Drs. T.P. and John Stanton; Dr. A.L. Yocom Sr.; Stewart & Co. and Eikenberry & Co. lumber; J. W. Kridelbaugh, Hickman & Wells, W.W. Balman, attorneys; L.C. Peake, jeweler; Yengel Bros., (meat) market; John Carroll, sewing machines; Dr. T.A. Bown, veterinarian; Gene Holmberg, cabinet man; Sam Beardsley, funeral director; Dr. John Bown, veterinarian; and the Bates hotel, managed by E.R. Welker.

Of course the above is not a complete list of all business firms that were here in 920. Few of those that were here then are here now, and in some of them the personnel has underone considerable change. The modern R. Winkle would find many of his former acquaintances had passed out of this life while others had moved to other locations. And in his wanderings about the town he wouldn't have been able to identify the present high school building, the city hall, the Ritz and State theatres, the Yocom hospital, Hotel Charitone, the Legion Home, the Country Club, the Gun Club pavilion, the wholesale grocery and a score or more of other buildings to say nothing to the more than one hundred dwelling houses there now that were unthought of when he dropped off to sleep and forgot to set the alarm.

But what I started out to say was today is the 20th anniversary of my coming to the best town in Iowa to make my home. It has been enjoyable living here and I hope to continue to call Chariton my home for the next 20-year period which starts tomorrow morning at 9:30.

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