Few Business Houses

on the Square in 1859

Probably the best word picture of how Osceola looked just 8 years after its founding comes from a letter written by T.R. Oldham, first newspaper editor in the city. The letter was published in the 40th anniversary issue of the Sentinel in 1899. Oldham has told about the preliminary steps leading up to a trip made by he and his partner, G.L. Pike, to the village to determine if they should embark upon their publishing venture:

Our next step was to make a hasty survey of the town which was to be our future home. Upon inquiry, as I remember, we learned that the town contained some four hundred inhabitants or thereabouts. I will say here, before starting out on our tour of observation, that there were no stone or brick buildings in the town, but not long afterward F.W. Johnson built a large brick residence in the northeast part of town and Mr. Gustin built a brick residence just west of town.

(The printing office was located at the northwest corner of the square, apparently where the city hall is now situated--Ed.)

Going south from the printing office and about the middle of the block was a small building occupied by Col. Dare as a tinshop. I never learned just how the Colonel acquired his military title. South of this, on the corner, was a two story hotel run by Jim Brown. Jim was quite a familiar figure on the streets of Osceola those days.

Just across the street south was another two story hotel run by C.R. Johnson, who was at that time county clerk. East on the south side of the square were two cottages or one story dwelling houses. One was occupied by R. B. Parrott, a lawyer, who was shortly afterward elected District prosecuting Attorney. The other was occupied by Mr. Ridgeway, the postmaster.

A little further east was a one story building occupied by 'Squire Hess, a carpenter and cabinet maker and just east of this stood a small dwelling house occupied by Mr. Fowler. On the east side of the block was a two-story building occupied by Daily and Wilson as a general store.

East Side

On the east side of the square and a short distance from the south side of the block was a one-story building occupied by Archie Morrison as a tin shop. North of this was a one-story building occupied by H.C. Sigler as a general store. I had known Mr. Sigler when we were boys together in Middletown, Ohio--his father having been my father's family physician. Some distance north of the Sigler store was the law office of Scoville and Clark. On the north side of the block was a one-story building in which was the general store of Johnson Brothers, F.W. and B.C. Johnson, and generally known as the 'Wooly Corner,' designated as such on account of the strong abolition proclivities of its proprietors.

North Side

On the north side of the square and near the east side of the block was the general store of Howe and Richards. This was said to have been the first store established in the town. It was a long one-story buidng with an ell on the east side constructed of logs. West of this near the center of the block was the drug store of Dr. E.. Laws and brother, W. Y. Laws. Connecting with the drug store was the post office, also occupied by David Wilson, with a stock of dry goods or merchandise of some kind. Next to this was the bakery and dwelling of Col. Adams--the colonel had a way occasionally of wanting to 'paint the town red!' Next to this was the law office of P. J. Goss, and next to that the court house, the only two-story building on the north side of the square. It was not too imposing a structure to be sure, but I suppose it answered the purpose at tha time and probably for many years afteward. The lower floors were occupied by the county officers, while the upper floor was used as a court room and when court was not in session it was used as a school room.

Source: Osceola Centennial Issue 1851-1951, section 4, page 1.

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