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Livingston County History
Celebrating 150 Years, 1821-1981
Published by The Retired Senior Volunteer Program
Livingston County closed out the nineteenth century with much of the energy, optimism and gayety of the period. In April 1891 the New York Store flourishing with success celebrated its 25th anniversary. It was recorded in the Chillicothe Constitution as “an evening of aesthetic abandon.” (1) The following Oct. a Matilda Fletcher was giving her noted lecture in city hall, “is man an angel?” (2)
If you wished to rent a hack or carriage for a wedding or pleasure party Wilson Bros. Buggies and Carriages had stables on north Locust (Chillicothe). They were advertised as “neat and clean with teams stylish and safe.” (3)
The Chillicothe Commercial Club (4) in 1891 publicized the city: population - 8,000 - three trunk lines: C.B.&Q., Wabash, and Chicago, Milw. and St. Paul, three daily and weekly newspapers, good hotels, opera house of 800 capacity, improvements for 1890 - $300,000.00 fair grounds (65 acres) with one of the best race tracks in the state, and home of 62 traveling men. The location is so handy of egress and ingress that it is made a Sundaying point.
A new business in May 1891 was a soap factory, Velker, Johns and Son (5) located one mile northwest of Chillicothe on Springhill Road. Farmers were asked to bring in their rendered or unrendered tallow and all grease and save their wives the trouble of making soap. They could get cash or trade for soap.
The city fathers were letting a brick paving contract (6) in Apr. 1891 for the east and north sides of the square. H. G. Getchell & Co. of St. Jo. received the bid @ $1.82 per sq. yd., 10 cents for grading and 15 cents for curbing, a total of $5,168.00 for entire work. Property owners paid $1,200.00 and the city $3,876.00. The $7.00 difference was unaccounted for.
Paid advertising of medical cures for any and all ailments filled the newspapers. Lavishly proclaimed were the merits of Smith’s Bile beans, Dr. Dye’s Voltaic Belt for nervous debilitated men, Prickly Ash Bitters (7) (for liver and kidneys), St. Jacobs Oil - great German remedy for pain, and Orange Blossom (8) - a positive cure for all female diseases.
The Chillicothe Normal School (9) was founded by Allen Moore I in 1890. Courses included pedagogy, science, music, business. The school grew to a 3 building campus. Educational changes brought the end of the private normal school. The Chillicothe Business College which emerged in 1910 achieved an enviable record drawing students from all over the country. Again changing educational patterns brought a decreased demand for business colleges. After 23 years service to Livingston County this school too closed.
The importance of the business college during this period is indicated by the founding and growth of another school, The Maupin Commercial College, (10) by Dolph Maupin in 1898. It was located on the 3rd floor of the New York Store Bldg, at the corner of Clay and Locust. Walter Jackson joined Maupin in operating the school. In 1909 Jackson purchased the school, changed the name to Jackson Univ. of Business,” (11) and moved the operation to the 3rd floor of the present Penney Bldg. on the southeast corner of Locust and Webster. By 1944 this school too shared the fate of other private business colleges and closed its doors.
Ice was still delivered by wagon from the year’s winter harvest (12) taken out of the Grand River in the cold months. In Feb. 1899 thousands of pounds of cat and buffalo fish (13) were being caught from the Grand River at Graham’s Mill. A hole was cut in the ice and the fish surfaced for air.
An employee disgruntled at being fired from Jake Frank’s Bakery (14) opened faucets on molasses barrels and provided an ankle deep syrupy floor for his employer.
In 1893 free mail delivery began in Chillicothe (15) and in 1899 rural (16) free delivery arrived. The rural carrier could take passengers in his buggy, collect subscription money for papers - in fact generally make himself useful for $400.00 a year and whatever patrons gave him for doing their errands.
The hot summers attracted customers to the Mooresville Springs (17) where the pure water and invigorating air restored the bloom of youth. The Fiske Hotel did a brisk business. In fact Col. W. B. Leach was dickering to buy the Springs, but Mr. Moore who owned adjoining land said no deal. In the fall of 1899 a worthy entertainment was a barn raising (18) at the Nutwood Farm when 50 friends gathered for the all-day project including plenty of feasting.
Forty boys returned from the Spanish American War (19) in Feb. 1899 and were given a public banquet and reception. The ladies of the M. E. Church South served the tempting meal to 100 at 50 cents a plate.
As the nineteenth century closed, signs of change were in the forecast. The Chillicothe city council (20) in Aug. announced the days of wooden sidewalks were almost over promising an ordinance to that effect. In July the governor (21) had promised more mail carriers but only if new walks were built and houses and streets numbered. Brick sidewalks were the coming thing.
Livingston County had grown from 20,668 in the 1890 census to 22,302 in the 1900 census. The Livingston County Court in its annual report for the closing year accounted for the building of more than 40 good bridges (22) at the cost of $15,000.00. The Court was preparing for the increase in trade and prosperity in the 20th century ahead. -- Lillian DesMarias
1. Chillicothe (Missouri) Constitution Tribune, April 8, 1891
2. Ibid., October 17, 1891
3. Ibid., October 17, 1891
4. Ibid., October 10, 1891
5. Ibid., May 19, 1891
6. Ibid., April 12, 1891
7. Ibid., Feb. 15, 1891
8. Ibid., September 7, 1891
9. A History of Livingston County, Missouri, published by the Livingston County Centennial Committee. 1937. 130-131.
10. Chillicothe, Missouri: the City With edited by J. A. Perry. 1909
11. A History of Livingston County, Missouri, published by The Livingston County Centennial Committee. 1937. 129.
12. Chillicothe (Missouri) Constitution Tribune, December 12, 1898
13. Ibid., February 20, 1899.
14. Ibid., March 16, 1899.
15. A History of Livingston County, Missouri, published by the Livingston County Centennial Committee. 1937. 80.
16. Chillicothe (Missouri) Constitution Tribune, April 3, 1899.
17. Ibid., July 17, 1899.
18. Ibid., November 30, 1899.
19. Ibid., February 20, 1899.
20. Ibid., August 21, 1899
21. Ibid.. July 3, 1899.
22. Ibid., November 27, 1899