Pages 96-99, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.





In the spring of 1887, the present busy little town of Elsmore was not in existence. At that time its site was an open prairie, and people who wanted more than a sack of flour or a package of coffee, must necessarily go to Humboldt, Iola, or Fort Scott for their needs, or go without. The country surrounding at that time was sparsely settled, most of the land being owned by non-residents, and lying open and uncultivated, except now and then a leaguer had broken out a small patch, built a cheap box house and settled down to fight the railroad company through the courts for the land, believing, true or not, that the land had never been honestly earned by those claiming ownership, and that some day it would be opened by the government for settlement.

At this time Old Elsmore was the center of attraction for people in Elsmore township They went there for their mail, to vote, to buy groceries from the little country store that was run by different men at different times among whom were W. D. Cox and J. G. Kenyon, both of this place at the present writing. Along in the fall of 1886, the talk was heard that a railroad might be built from Kansas City to Parsons and that it would pass through Allen county, and forthwith the representative men of Elsmore township began to figure on getting it through this township. After the usual preliminary survey, resurveys and talk of better routes, the promoters of the Parsons and Pacific Railway Company decided that if Osage, Marmaton and Elsmore townships would each vote to take twenty thousand dollars of common stock in the company, at par and pay for it in twenty year 6 per cent bonds, they might be able to build the road this way: any way, they would like for the people to vote on the proposition, and they did. The result was favorable to the bonds. Among the considerations, however, the Parsons and Pacific Railway Company was to build a depot and maintain a station, telegraph office and stock yards within one-half mile of the center of Elsmore township, and when this agreement is considered, it is easy to account for the present location and town of Elsmore.

About Aug. 25, 1888, Messrs. W. D. Cox. H. W. Cox, N. L. Ard, O. P. Mattson, J. L. Roberts and J. A. Nicholson, purchased of the owners of the S. E. quarter of section 7, 26, 21, twenty acres in the southwest corner of said land, and proceeded to lay off and plat the town of Elsmore. The first business to be established was that of W. D. Cox, who moved his country store from Old Elsmore to the right of way near the southwest cor-


ner of town and sold goods of every description to citizens of the community, as well as furnishing the contractors who were building the road many of their supplies. As soon as the town site was platted, W. D. Cox moved his store to the place where he now carries on business. E. Peters followed with a little store on the south side and later built where the M. L. Decker residence now stands, and carried a very good general stock. The business changes of the town have been many, but in almost every instance the change has been to the advantage of the town. L. T. Donoho was the first postmaster, J. L. Roberts the first hotel proprietor. The Fisher Lumber Co. were first to open a lumber yard, securing free lots from the town company, but losing them through failure to fulfil their part of the agreement. On their withdrawal came J. H. Osborn & Co., of Humboldt, who opened and maintained a yard that has been one of the strong firms of the town and at the present time one of our best firms. Winfield Samuel was our first druggist. Following him were Springer, Butler, Barton, Braden & Rees, and then S. H. Braden, who at present owns the fine brick building occupied with his large stock, equal to that of almost any store in the county. In the fall of 1890 Thos. Bettes built a block of four large business rooms, which were occupied by Lardner, Love Bros., general merchandise, E. Butler, drugs, and Martin & Adams, general merchandise. In 1892 J. P. Decker & Co. purchased of Martin & Adams their stock of merchandise and continued in the Bettes block until 1895, when the Decker block on the south side of the street was built and occupied by them.

By this time the town was making a strong growth and despite the hard times of '95, '96 and '97, new buildings were built and new firms continued to locate until at the present time we have four general stores as follows: Smith & Sons, McCaslin & Kincaid, the Elsmore Cash store, (J. P. Decker) and A. M. Tippie. W. D. Cox & Son now handle hardware and implements, grain, coal, furniture and undertaking goods. Krokstrom & Nelson have a large stock of hardware, implements, wagons, buggies, harness, etc. H. S. Richards is our harness maker and carries a good stock of goods. Mrs. H. S. Richards and Miss Carrie Rice each have a choice line of millinery. J. H. Ward does the barber and laundry work of the town; W. S. Samuels provides the soft drinks, candies and cigars to the trade and also feeds the hungry short order lunches. Mrs. Sparks conducts our hotel and enjoys a splendid trade; G. H. and H. E. Blakely recently purchased J. G. Kenyon's livery business and combining it with that of the Star livery barn, built a large new barn and do a thriving business. Besides W. D. Cox & Son. W. W. Moffitt and W. L. Higinbotham each do a grain business and find plenty to keep them busy. C. W. Nelson, J. T. Barron and C. W. Mosier are our blacksmiths; C. H. Woodard and A. C. Snyder our carpenters; Milton Watson our painter; Palmer and Rogers, our masons.

The fraternal societies of the town are the A. O. U. W., M. W. A., K. and L. of S., and the F. A. A., all flourishing insurance societies with a membership of about 250 persons. The Elsmore Creamery Company, composed of about twenty of our farmers and two or three town men, was


organized in 1896. B. F. Ludlum was its first president and J. P. Decker its first secretary. At the present time J. M. Hill is president and J. P. Decker still continues as secretary. The company has its main plant here and has stations at Boyard, Kansas, and Stark, Kansas, and does a large amount of business in a year. The State Bank of Elsmore was organized in 1899 and opened for business in August of that year. A. F. McCarty, of Humboldt, was its first president and still retains that position. S. H. Braden was the first cashier, but resigned his position January 1, 1900, to better look after his drug business. Frank Goyette purchasing the larger part of his stock and becoming cashier, still retaining the position. B. F. Ludlum is vice president and Mrs. Nannie Goyette, assistant cashier of the institution, which is doing a conservative, safe business, its deposits at the present time exceeding $20,000, its loans about $15,000 and its surplus and undivided profits reaching about $600. The capital stock of the bank is $6,000.

In the early days of the town the Elsmore Eagle made its appearance and while a creditable country paper, did not pay its way and was finally allowed to die, the Iola Register getting its subscription list. Mr. L. E. DeHaven was editor and publisher and made the money to keep it going during its life teaching the local school. In 1896 A. F. McCarty came from Mapleton and started the Elsmore Enterprise and it soon became popular with the people of the community and was doing a fair business, when in 1897 Mr. McCarty secured control of the Humboldt Herald, abandoned the Enterprise and moved to Humboldt. In February 1899 A. F. McCarty and J. P. Decker concluded to revive the Enterprise and formed the Enterprise Publishing Company, Mr. McCarty furnishing the plant and Mr. Decker managing and conducting the paper. In February, 1900, Mr. Decker became owner and proprietor of the plant and paper and is conducting it at the present time, business being very good with him.

The Elsmore mill, J. T. Ralston proprietor, is another enterprise that is doing a successful business, dealing in grain and feed as well as doing grinding and a custom business. The trade of the town extends west half way to Humboldt, east into Bourbon county and north and south easily meets Moran and Savonburg half way, doing an especially large grain, broom corn, produce and life[sic],/i> stock business. A list of the leading business firms would include J. A. Nicholson who knows more about broom corn and hauls more of it than any other Allen county firm and Elsmore easily ships more of this commodity than all other towns in the county and more than any two other towns in Southeastern Kansas, the shipments from here the past season being more than 400 tons.

In 1883 Wood Hull school district was organized, the school house being built at a location one-half mile south of the present town site and H. W. Cox taught the youthful mind such branches as are common to our country schools, and in 1889 the district voted for removal to Elsmore and favorable to another room, which was built and L. E. DeHaven and Miss Etta Alford were the first teachers. (They afterward married.) Again, in 1895, the room for our young became too crowded and a third


room and teacher were added, new studies taken up and our school made rapid growth. In 1899 the patrons of the district realized that the schools might be improved and Prof. Ramsey, of Redfield, was employed. He at once took up the matter of a course of study that could be carried on systematically, and prepared one which was accepted by the board of education and which, when completed, fits the graduates of the Elsmore schools for entering the State University.

About the first of January, 1889, the U. B. society with Bro. Ayling as pastor met and organized and elected a board of trustees and circulated a subscription paper for a church, but failed to get enough subscribed and the matter was dropped. The same spring they organized a Sunday school. Rev. Ayling was followed by Revs. Finch and Cleaver, when in 1891 another effort was made to build a church and failed till in the summer of 1895 the corner stone was laid, and under the Rev. Kirkpatrick the following May the U. B. church of this place was dedicated. The following year they built a parsonage under Rev. Christlieb who was followed by Rev. Stone. The first Methodist minister who preached at this place was R. S. Barber whom the Moran charge under W. Emmerson sent here as a supply in the spring of 1890. In the fall of the same year Bro. Barber resigned to go to school at Baker University at Baldwin, Kansas. By special request Rev. C. H. Gauntz, of the Erie circuit, came in November of the same year and preached the remainder of the conference year, holding services on Saturday evenings. On the 9th of January, 1901, the Methodist church was organized with thirteen charter members, namely: C. D. Willoughby and wife, W. B. Tramell and wife, Timothy Hurlbert and wife, H. W. Cox and wife and daughter, Lizzie, G. W. Smith and wife and Marry Bettes. The following members were elected as trustees: C. D. Willoughby, W. B. Tramell, H. W. Cox, W. D. Cox and Timothy Hurlbert. It was decided at once to erect a church and, accordingly, Rev. Gramly and H. W. Cox were directed to solicit subscriptions which met with hearty response and in the following February the corner stone was laid, Rev. Brant, of Parsons, officiating. About the same time L. W. Keplinger, of Kansas City, Kansas, donated four acres of ground one half mile east of town to the M. E. board of trustees for a cemetery. Early in the same spring the cemetery was platted and ready for use and on July 10, 1891, Thomas Davis was carried there the first to his last resting place. September 27, 1891, the M. E. church, size 28x48. costing $1,300, was dedicated, President Quayle of Baker, officiating. The following Sabbath an M. E. Sunday School was organized and has been an evergreen Sunday School. The following year under Rev. B. F. Cargy a parsonage, 24x24, was built at a cost of $200. By some delay and the sale of the parsonage, owing to a change in the circuit and the pastor residing at a more central point, the church was released from all debt in the spring of 1900 and papered and repainted. The church has had the services of the following pastors: C. H. Gramly, B. F. Cargy, Wm. Leaser, J. K. White, J. S. Budd, J. H. Carter. The present pastor is H. I. Dolson.

Previous | Home | Next