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Livingston County History
Celebrating 150 Years, 1821-1981

Published by The Retired Senior Volunteer Program
reprinted by permission

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1950 through 1959 were characterized as years of development and construction for Chillicothe. The town had two mayors during this period, Bob Staton for the first three and R. B. Taylor for the next ten years.

The Chillicothe Industrial Development Company, the C.I.D. was organized in 1955 with the original purpose of assisting the Boss Manufacturing Company, manufacturers of gloves. It continued in trying to bring more industry to the area. In 1958, it helped with the establishing of Donaldson’s a company that manufactures filters for heavy equipment.

Donaldson’s helped bring in the Reynolds Tool and Engineering Company. The C.I.D. assisted with the land. The C.I.D. has helped in some way with other projects. Among them are the Livingston Manor, Mid-West Gloves Co. and the R. A. Sales. Chillicothe had been in need of new schools for some time. In the 50’s four public grade schools and one parochial school were built. In 1951 Central school was dedicated. It was followed by Garrison a school for black children. When integration took place in Chillicothe and the children of Garrison were placed in other schools, Garrison became one of the town’s elementary schools. The name was changed to Dabney. A new Dewey school was completed in 1953. The first four grades, called Dewey, were at that time housed in the high school. The new school was built on Dickinson, between Polk and Cooper streets. In 1954, the town voted to build a new Field school and to add a second floor and cafeteria to Dewey. The school board, Superintendent Raymond Houston and Ed Walters, who headed a committee for the drive to pass bonds, were responsible for this educational achievement.

Bishop Hogan was the new parochial school built during this decade. It was begun in 1957 and dedicated in 1958. The first plans called for a high school also, but they were discarded and the old Academy building improved for high school use. There were several new churches built during these years. Two of which were built in 1951. The First Presbyterian Church, at the corner of Elm and Ann was dedicated. The Rev. James McNeilly was pastor at the time. The congregation of the Church of Christ built a new place of worship. It also was located on Elm Street, one block south of the Presbyterian Church. In 1957 the United Methodist Church with the Rev. Don Cook as pastor, voted to build a new edifice on north Walnut Street. Plans for a building were approved a year later and construction took place. The Salvation Army was housed in an old house on Elm. In 1957 it was reconditioned and expanded into a functional brick building.

Other changes were being made in the community. The Ben Bolt Theater, under the management of John Newcomer, had been completed just prior to the fifties. During the first period there were three theaters in operation, the Ben Bolt, the Ritz and the Grand which specialized in westerns.

Woolworths was expanded by taking in the building to the south and a lunch counter was installed. This was in the middle of the block across from the east side of the Court house.

In 1953 the Producers Creamery built a new milk processing plant. There was a sand strip mining operation from a sand bar in the Grand River. Rural schools had been closing and it was necessary for a reorganization of the district. A new R-II district was formed with Chillicothe the center. In January 1957 the school board for the new R-II district was organized with Mr. B. W. Jones as president. Other members were Dr. Lee Jackson, Kirk Winkelmeyer, Merle Jones, Bryce Allen, and Russell Potter.

Mr. and Mrs. Horace (Bud) Mills gave the land for what is now Clay Street Park. In 1955 Jerry Litton, a senior at the high school, won the national F.F.A. oratorical contest in Kansas City.

As Chillicothe grew with new schools and new businesses it also began to grow with expanding residential areas. In northwest Chillicothe 16 and one half acres or 39 lots known as Sunset Heights, were opened for development by Leonard Nibarger. Six acres or 23 lots to the south and west off third street, bounded on the west by Grandview, were opened by Kenneth L. Rhinehart. Burnam Road was growing to the north and other construction was moving in that direction.

One disappointment for the area was the closing of the Chillicothe Business College in 1952. It was a school known throughout the United States and around the world. It began as a Normal School in 1890 and remained as such until 1909 when it become a business college. During the years, 120,000 students were enrolled, many of them from foreign countries. In 1955 a school known as Belin University acquired the property and operated for three years.

A glance through the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune gives some interesting facts. Prices from another era are always of interest. We read that pork chops were 50 cents a pound, beef roast 49 cents, ham also 49 cents. Coffee sold between 79 or 80 cents. Four 46 ounce cans of Libby tomato juice were $1.00, 2 cans of frozen orange juice were 25 cents. A pair of girls jeans cost $1.00. An ad in the paper quoted the price of 145 acre farm for $8,000.

The average teacher’s salary in Missouri was $2,626 compared to a national average of $3,160.

In 1958 Chillicothe was plagued again with too much water which flooded basements. One woman found her washing machine floating in the water and fruit jars bobbing around.

Also in 1958 there were 10,475 acres in the soil bank with a payment of $420,764 to 499 county farmers.

Women were recognized. Mrs. Elizabeth Tiberghein was chosen as driver of the week and the award given by Bob White.

A committee was formed for the purpose of encouraging the use of highway 36 and to gain more tourist.

Each decade has something about it that gives it a name. The years from 1950 to 1960 are known as the fabulous 50’s. The Chillicothe area lived up to that name by its accomplishments. 

-- Ermine Newbolt

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