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Livingston County History
Celebrating 150 Years, 1821-1981
Published by The Retired Senior Volunteer Program
In 1886 L. J. and Louis Jarrett obtained a 25 year franchise from the city of Chillicothe permitting them to erect a telephone plant. This was started with 16 phones. Five years later it was sold to Col. W. B. Leach and Dr. A. W. McArthur. At this time all patents were owned by the Bell Telephone Co. and a few years later Col. Leach was one of the first telephone men to break away and purchase independent apparatus, installing a new board of the American Electric Co. The growth of the plant continued steadily and in 1903 the switchboard was again renewed, Leach and McArthur purchasing a Stromberg-Carlson Visual Signal Board. In December 1904, Dr. McArthur’s interest was sold to W. H. Ellett and C. L. Waite. The People’s Telephone Company, was organized and property incorporated for $40,000.00. In 1908, the capital stock was increased to $50,000.00 and bonds issued to the amount of $35,000.00 and C. L. Waite was selected for manager. An office building was erected at 610 Webster St. (now Chillicothe Beauty Academy).
The Leeper Hotel, now the Lambert Hotel, was built by Andrew Leeper and S. McWilliams in 1884 and was Chillicothe’s largest hotel for many years.
The Luella Hotel and Luella Opera House were big entertainment, named for Mrs. Luella Myers, wife of Zibe B. Myers. The Luella Hotel stood where Strand Hotel does now, Opera House where Coffee Shop is. The Opera House was very elaborate, it had nice plush seats, beautiful stage scenery, and a balcony. A stock company would come to town and might stay a week putting on several shows. The Luella Opera House was also used for high school graduations. In 1901, there were seven graduates; they all made speeches. The parquette was at the street side of the opera house where they sold tickets; the front had beautiful colored glass. A Will Rogers movie was being shown at the Opera House in 1933 when it caught fire. Smoke started coming up through the floor, and the fire department asked everyone to leave. After that the theater moved into the Ritz Theater in the Masonic Building.
The Henrietta Hotel occupied space in the 600 block of Locust Street; O. P. Clark purchased the hotel building in the early 1900’s from the Henry family and for many years operated the Clark’s Pharmacy, better known as the Rexall Drug Store at the southeast corner of the square. The building was destroyed by fire in the 1920’s. It was replaced by Mr. Clark.
From 1871 to 1887, the New York Store occupied the three story building on the west side of the square, which in turn became too congested for the increased trade and in later years moved into the spacious new home known throughout the north of Missouri as the “Big Store” located at 501 Locust. Fifty people were 10 regularly employed throughout the store of 60 odd departments. Overhead cash carriers were installed. The firm’s buyers made from three to five trips to New York every year to keep the stocks replenished. The basement was given over to a stock of notions, tinware, graniteware, glassware and china. The carpet department contained a wonderful assortment of carpets, rugs, linoleum, mattings, etc. The main floor was lined with shelves that contained a complete assortment of high grade materials from the foremost mills of the world. The south side of the main floor held shoes, underwear and hosiery stocks. The “Daylight Annex” across the alley in the rear was the ladies ready-to-wear department. The founder of the establishment was A. McVey and his associates were J. H. Barclay, vice-president and treasurer and M. W. Little, secretary. Howard’s and Junior Life Styles are now located in the first floor of the building.
The gentler sex wore hats in the early 1900’s more than now and there were many millinery shops. One of the early ones was the Ault Millinery Company on the east side of the square. The business was established by Mr. and Mrs. Ault in 1905. The celebrated Gage line of pattern hats Was carried as well as the products of their own workshop. Katie and Mary Maguire also had a millinery shop in the 500 block of Locust and designed most of their own hats. Another designer of hats was Alpha Stephens, who also had a millinery shop.
It was upon the basis of “Quality” that the Crow Cigar Co. was organized for the manufacture of cigars in Chillicothe in 1879. Employed from 19 to 25 hands the year around. The leading brands were “Chillicothe” a ten-cent cigar and “Our Crow”, “Arbitrator” and “Commercial Club”, 5 cent cigars. The factory was located at 419 Monroe St.
In the early 1900’s, three brothers and two sisters from Illinois opened their business, “The Farrington’s”, just off the square on Webster Street. Nearly every evening the merry throngs of grown ups and children congregated at the popular ice cream parlor and refreshed themselves with the firm’s own make of ice cream, candy and the delights of the soda fountain.
The only commercial greenhouse in North Missouri was located on West Calhoun St. This institution was started in 1904 by R. L. Isherwood. It supplied the demand for cut flowers in Chillicothe for many miles around.
Sipple Clothing Co. established in 1886, grew from a small store to one of the largest in North Missouri. The store carried Hart, Schaffner & Marx, Stetson hats and shoes, Manhattan shirts, Munsing underwear, and boys clothing. It was located on the north side of the square.
Chillicothe Steam Laundry owned and operated in the early 1900’s by John Slifer, employed 14 persons. An advertisement in a local paper reads: “The only country laundry in the world using a Troy No. 5 collar and cuff ironer. The only small town laundry in the world having its own water and gas plant. Our equipment is extensive and expensive and was bought for you.”
The Tootle-Campbell Shirt and Overall Co. of St. Joseph, owned a branch factory here, around 1915 - location where the Boss MFG Co. is.
Frank Way’s Foundry and Machine Shop, one of the oldest as well as one of the largest general machine shops, had its beginning in 1877. The plant occupied almost an entire block of frontage on Elm and Calhoun St.
In 1858 a branch of the State Bank of Missouri was established, with John L. Leeper as president. In 1886 it was succeeded by the People’s Savings Bank.
The First National Bank was originally organized in January, 1887 with a capital of $50,000, located at the northeast corner of the square. Serving as presidents during the years were J. M. Davis, T. C. Beasely, and J. T. Milbank.
The Citizens National Bank was organized in the spring of 1889 and officers were Thos. McNally, president; L. A. Chapman, vice-president and Dr. W. Edgerton, cashier. The bank was located on the southwest corner of square.
Other banks were: Chillicothe Trust Co, Farmers and Merchants Bank, they were also referred to as the Mansur bank and the Boehner bank.
Doctors in early 1900’s were Dr. W. R. Simpson, Dr. R. Barney, Dr. J. C. Shelton, Dr. H. M. Grace, Dr. W. M. Girdner, Dr. L. E. Tracy, Dr. B. N. Stevens, Dr. David Gordon, Dr. J. W. Trimble and Dr. Arthur J. Simpson.
MacDonald Jewelry on the east side of square, operated by A. B. MacDonald featured attractive displays of rich cut glass, silverware, and diamonds. It also had an optical department. The Wm. E. Crellins Jewelry Store was also on the east side of square.
The Jenkins Hay Rake and Stacker Co.’s factory came to town in 1907. M. R. Jenkins was one of the pioneers in the invention of sweep hay rakes and stackers having received his first patent on them in 1880. The product of the factory was handled by the Moline Plow Co. and that great firm’s many branches. The factory was located where the Milbank Mill now has its plant.
The firm of Brownfield and Hubbard manufacturers and wholesaler of confectionery and ice cream was on North Washington Street in the late 1880’s. They later purchased three buildings on West Jackson, which they remodeled into factory, storeroom, and offices. In later years the business went under the name of Brownfield-Bird and was located at 508-510 Webster Street.
Chillicothe in the early 1900’s boasted having one of the finest and most modern veterinary hospitals in the state and was appreciated by owners of valuable draft horses as well as roadster and carriage horses. Drs. James J. Bennet and D. F. Williams founded the institution in 1907 and the hospital was located on the 500 block of Elm St.
In 1876, S. A. Stone began the sale of pianos in Chillicothe in the 500 block of Washington Street. They did one of the largest music businesses in the state. The first floor of the building was given over to piano, sheet music, small instrument and graphophones departments as well as the office. The upper floor was fitted into rooms for the demonstrations of the pianos and organs. The building was equipped with elevators and boxing and shipping departments, and the company made a specialty of sales in carload lots in smaller towns. They sold a lot of sheet music and did a good business in piano tuning.The merchandising firm of “Botts and Minteer”, whose place of business was known as the “Farmer’s Store” was organized in 1883 with three partners under the firm name of Gunby, Stevens and Botts. The store was located on the north side of the square and the firm went through seven changes of partners in the seven years up to 1900 when it finally became the partnership of Botts and Minteer. In 1887, the firm moved into the three story building on west side of the square where it continued to operate for many years. The three floors were each 40 x 112 feet and a passenger elevator gave customers rapid and comfortable transit to several departments. On first the general dry goods stock and immense shoe department; second floor clothing and ladies’ ready-to-wear, each complete with the latest creations for correct out-fitting for men and women; third floor carpet department with latest designs in carpets, rugs, matting, curtains and linoleum. The Farmer’s Store had the only elevator in town and the children loved to ride in, it. -- Mrs. Ed (Grace) Saale