Mt. Pleasant Businesses 1881


In looking over old local papers, catalogues and other printed matter, which drifts to our desk, we find flowing along a steady stream of local history. For instance, we have before us the 1881 premium list of the Henry County Fair, which is filled with the advertisements of local merchants, and their names and their businesses are indeed part and parcel of local history.

For instance, the first item is the announcement of the Perry Organ company. There is history connected with that. If we get it right, S. H. Perry came here from Burlington to install the pipe organ in the Baptist church, which later was blown down by the great Grinnell cyclone at the same site as the present church.

Liking the place, and further local orders for organs being promising, Mr. Perry located here and built a factory on the lot now owned by Mr. Lubelchek on East Washington street. A. Rommel was for a time associated with Mr. Perry in the business. We are not sure, but it is probable that the old organ in the Asbury church was built by this firm.

On another page is the announcement of the B. H. Crane, hardware, on the East side of the square. The same business is handed down to George Crane and the store is on the same old location. "Acorn" stoves were the leader in those days.

John Wallbank was in 1881 operating a boot and shoe store on the north side where the Spurgeon annex is now operating. When Mr. Wallbank came to town he located on North Main about where Brown's market stands and then moved to the north side. Later to the East side.

Van Cise & Throop were operating a hardware store on the north side about where Gilliland's grocery is and over it was published the old Free Press. They were urging farmers to purchase their "Improved Revolution Milk Pan" and Berlin Earthenware.

Dr. T. L. Beers, many remember him, had his dental parlors in one of the McCoid law offices on the North side, and was offering "No. 1 Set of Teeth for $8.00," and doing "dental work at half the prevailing cost and particular attention paid to gold and silver plate." He also recommended artificial teeth on rubber. Old timers will remember the set of false teeth which mechanically chawed away as an advertisement, at the foot of the stairs.

S. N. Thompson was selling China, Glass and Queensware and announced that he had been in business for twenty three years. Said the adv., "Look for the Sign of the Big Pitcher", which was about where O'Connor's grocery is now. The firm was strong for board fence signs.

Houseman & Buchanan were selling "The Genuine Imported Williams Singer Sewing Machine" for $20.00. They stated boldly that it was just as good as the American Singer, except that theirs was much superior which sounds like boasting. The store was where the Furniture Mart now is located.

A. E. Andrews ran a restaurant in the old Ambler Block now occupied by the Brown Lynch Scott store. A specialty was "wedding goods in latest style on short notice" and there by hangs a tale.

About this time a man named John Bartlett, a batchelor, lived northeast of town on the Mike Welsh farm, which is just this side of the creek as you drive out to the Willits farm.

John became matrimonially inclined, and hooking up with an agency was soon on his way. Finally the matter came to the point where the bride, sight unseen, was to come west to marry John. Bartlett secured the services of John Noble, to look after the license, and be handy man at the wedding.

It was arranged that when the bride got off the train she was to take the bus to the Andrews restaurant, walk in and call for a cup of coffee. Where upon Bartlett, waiting of course, would then sit down close by and say "I'll have a cup of coffee, too."

Along one evening the lady landed here, drove down to the restaurant, was duly identified by her future lord and master, and the wedding took place and they left for their home in the country.

But Noble could not keep the secret, and let a few of the boys in on the wedding, and they, rascals that they were, got up a charivari and when the newlyweds were comfortably alone the music began.

But the newly weds were obstinate and refused to appear. Whereupon one of the young blades got up on the roof and covered the chimney with a board, expecting to smoke out Mr. and Mrs. Bartlett. But they didn't, for a singular incident interferred.

The man on the roof suddenly noted a brightening glow back in town. As he watched it grew brighter and redder. It was a fire. The party broke up and rushed to town. The old Tiffany House was ablaze and was destroyed. It stood where the Central States building now stands. George Thomas has a guilty knowledge of the Bartlett wedding party. It was on the night of Feb. 14, 1882.

We note the announcement of the firm of Thacker & Werner, which manufactured window blinds "East of the Congregational Church." The church stood on the corner opposite the Brazelton hotel, and the blind factory was on the alley to the east. Next door or possibly in the same building, Ed Taft made trunks, stove polish, and "Big 4 Soap" in connection with his tinshop.

A. E. Williams ran a horse shoe shop where the stand pipe now is located, and later became city marshal. Many will remember Art Williams.

Col. N Greusel operated a dray line. Many remember him. Tall and military, he served in the Mexican war, later in the Civil war, and came out with the Brevet rank of Brigadier general.

August Hettick in those days ran a restaurant in the Schliep building on the east side and Wm. Schliep next door with his large cigar factory.

The Mayhew Hominy Mills ground hominy in a mill where the Burton House now stands opposite the Farmer's Union warehouse, and teamed it to Keokuk, where it was sold to the government for soldiers rations. J. L. Goe teamed tons of it to Keokuk.

A. Herrick was running a grocery on North Jefferson street. One day a farmer came into Herrick's and said he had some of the finest pickles in the county and would sell at a real price. Herrick agreed to take all the farmer had. Then the pickles came rolling in, swamping the grocery. From that time on he was known as "Pickle" Herrick.

Joe Smith, the Boss Horse Shoer, in town, had a blacksmith shop about where the Gloeckler monument shop stands. His son, Tom Smith, later became a sort of local prize fighter. Lots of the old timers will remember Tom Smith.

B. F. Ross & Bro. were running a lumber yard, "Opposite Red Ribbon Hall." Red Ribbon Hall was Saunder's Hall now the Legion Hall. And the lumber yard and office was where the present garage stands.

A. E. Williams was the "leading horse shoer in the city" and his shop was down at the corner of Washington and Jackson. A. E. Virden was proprietor of a drug store on the west side where he sold "Patent Medicines, Perfumery, Colognes, handkerchief extract and shoulder braces."

At 33 North Jefferson street Herrick & Boyles operated the "Good Luck" restaurant. The late William Warwick owned a dry goods store a door or two north of Waugh's drug store.

S. M. Pyle sold drugs at his large drug store on the south side where the Standard Oil service station now stands and his leader was "Masury's Liquid colors and linseed oil, free from potash."

J. H. Ferguson ran a second hand store and auction room on the East side of the square. He was a Methodist preacher, and came here from Keokuk.

U. B. Pannebaker had a meat market on North Jefferson. His daughter, Cora, was connected with the teaching force of old Howe's Academy.

George H. Rudisell was running a sort of general store on North Jefferson. Wholesale groceries, grain, feed, etc. Later he got into financial difficulties. One day he accompanied his family to the railroad station to bid them good bye, as they were going away for a vacation. There were no parting tears, however. They took the old "K" line.

As soon as the train started, the bereaved husband stepped into a buggy and hastily drove down to the foot of West Monroe. Leaving the buggy, Rudisell boarded the train, joined his family, and they were never heard from again. It was claimed that he had bribed the engineer to slow down for him. Anyway that was the current story of his flight.

There was a lively weekly newspaper published over in the Ambler building on the East side called the "Herald". James Clark, who later ran the "One Horse Grocery" where the college gym now stands, was one of the publishers, and a man by the name of Brown was editor.

About his time the Herald, on the strength of stories told by discharged employees at the state hospital, printed a terrible attack on the hospital management, claiming a series of atrocious deeds, such as burning human bodies in the furnaces, brutality and other crimes. A great hearing went over the charges by a special state committee, but nothing was proven. Dr. Raney was superintendent.

John Eshelman, an uncle of the Eshelman brothers, ran a clothing house where Bert Jerrel now operates. Eshelman lived just west of the new city hall.

Peter Melcher had his marble shop on the south side. East across the alley, P. T. Twinting had his grocery, having bought out the business of the grandfather of the Hill sisters. Later he built and occupied the store now occupied by the Ely store on North Main. Mr. Hill's son, William, later built a large store which was burned down in the fire on the south side.

John Powell had a large auction room on the East side, with sales almost every day. He was the father of Miss Ida Powell, who gained fame as a singer.

Harter & Thomas operated a combined carriage and wagon factory and livery barn where George Ross' garage now stands, and across the street east where now stands the McCullough transfer office, stood in those days, the Talley brothers carriage factory and livery barn. The carriage business was brisk in those days.

W. H. Spearman was proprietor of the Wiggins House, as the Grand, or Dick's hotel, is now called, "Stabling Free".

And so on and so on. Change after change. The old passing off the stage, the new coming on. It was so yesterday and will be tomorrow. Soon the names of people now in business will be the speculation of the next generation.

-- "Bystander's Notes" by Charles S. Rogers, Publisher-Editor of The Free Press [weekly newspaper published in Mt. Pleasant, IA] Thursday, Sept 9, 1937, Page 4-5

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