He Saw Pioneer Days
in This Area

An article by William Charles Parsons, born 15 April 1877, on life in the Barnard area,
appearing in the Minneapolis (Kansas) Messenger in the mid 1950's

Submitted by Glenda Garrelts Mattes


A Resident of Kansas Since 1881

W C Parsons saw a frog pond grow into the town of Barnard. He knows what it's like to travel across the country by wagon and knows how the shoe and harness repair business can change over a period of 25 years. He has operated a shoe and harness shop in Minneapolis since 1936.

Mr Parsons was born in Pontiac, Michigan, but the family moved to Kansas when he was a small child. "My grand father made buggies and wagons by hand in Michigan, but came to Junction City when the large companies started to mass produce wagons back east," Parsons said. "My Father and uncle followed their folks to Kansas the following year, to work in grandfather's shop."

A few years later, in 1886, the Parsons family moved to a farm six miles southwest of the present location of Barnard. "We made the move in February, and bad weather caused us to hold up several times. Once we were snowed in for about a week, then after moving as far as Industry, we gave up the trip entirely for two weeks, waiting for the weather to improve."

"At the time we moved to the farm, Barnard was nothing but a frog pond." Parsons said. "The house on our farm was a pretty fair one for those days, although it consisted of just two rooms and an attic, and was half log and half native stone. The six children in our family slept in the attic, which was reached by climbing a ladder."

Mr Parsons remained on the farm until 1924 when he moved into Barnard and started his eldest girl in high school. The following year he started a shoe and harness shop there, which he operated for 11 years.

In 1936 he moved to Minneapolis where the youngest of his four children finished high school. His first shop in Minneapolis was in a home on the corner just north of the present Bohnenblust Implement building. The house was later moved to the south part of town and is now occupied by Mr & Mrs Jim Bills. "During those first months I had to work in the country part time to make enough money for food," Parsons said.

However, after the first six months here the business was well enough established to support the family. The Parsons shop was next located in the basement of the Parker house hotel, for five years and was then moved to its present location on Second street where Mr Parsons has been doing business for the past nine years. "I have lots of friends here, and feel that Minneapolis has been very good to me," Mr Parsons said.

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