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HAMILTON MERCHANTS IN 1868-69

Narrator: Irving Harper, 72, of Hamilton, Missouri

Irving Harper was born 1861 in Illinois, the son of Joseph W. Harper and Frances Allen. His father came to Hamilton prospecting in December 1867 and arranged to buy a livery stable. In April 1868, the whole family came. They stayed at the Western Hotel (George M. Goodman owner) until Mr. Harper built a home. He had bought land to the west of town, a mile out. Property which is still in the family belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hooker (Minnie Harper).

Mr. Harper went into the livery business with Wm. Goodman of the Hotel. The barn was back of the Hotel and faced on the alley (now running back of the McLean Hotel). Livery barns did a rushing business and they kept fifteen to twenty horses for hire and two or three drivers and hostlers. His rival in business was Weldon who had his barn on Main, occupying the space from the present Baker Drug store to the Post office. The Weldon barn was the stage stop for state coaches from Lexington to Gallatin, a thing which had already stopped before Mr. Harper came. In the early seventies Weldon sold to the Paxton Brothers who kept it till the 1875 fire. The Paxtons later had a site two blocks up north and still later on the present Tiffin Building site. Henry Thornton opened up his livery barn about 1870 on the site of the Mrs. Carrie Thornton homes.

There were many gaps then in the various business sections of Hamilton. The Goodman block embracing the Western Hotel and a grocery stood where the Whitman building is now. Right north of it was Phil Covington's restaurant, a mere shack and on its north was another Shack - the first location for John Minger's restaurant, but he soon moved into a similar shack on the east side right opposite. At the north end of the block was the Rohrbough store. That finished that block in 1868. On the opposite block to the east - was the Kemper store, the Ervin Drug Store, Reed's Dry Goods, William Drug Store, Goldberg the Jew (not long), Minger, Weldon's livery. North of this block was the "Brick Bank" which Cochran had just sold to J.F. Spratt his son-in-law who soon took in R.B. Houston as partner.

On the block opposite stood McAdoo Drug Store, the Harper Furniture and Higgins lumber yard; across to the north was Reddie Lumber yard and further north the Morton Brothers in Hardware and Tin shop.

South of the track, Main Street was beginning also to build up. At the north east corner (site of First Bank) was the office of Squire A.D. Davis, facing north. Then came a long space; at the south east corner was the Witwer Wagon yard. On the opposite side by the tracks was an elevator owned by George Lamson and Charlie Goodnow. Then came a grocery store lately owned by Spratt who sold it I.J.C. Guy. There were several frames along there which changed hands so often that they defied remembrance but in one of them on the upper story Professor Hill had a school, and above another the Congregational people had church after they had left the Wilmot home until the old brown church was built.

Broadway was quite a business section too. Mrs. Dodge (later Mrs. Dwight) had a Millinery shop (on site of Hawks Filling Station) in her home while her husband Austin Dodge had a blacksmith shop about where the Parker grocery stands, just across from the home. Goodman and Lamson had a lumber yard on the present site of Ralph White house which Chandler ran for them. Further north on Broadway a little west of the present library was a Shack where O.O. Brown began his store and home. He was soon to build two good store rooms to the south, one of which the brick stands yet belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Lee Souders. At the library corner was the small Millinery Shop of the Clark Sisters. North of the tracks on Broadway was the old corner store in 1869 belonging to one of the Brosius boys. Going on north to the corner opposite the present Deems home was a small frame - the old Green Stage office, used for different uses.

Back of the depot to the north, was the original Main Street, already in 1869 losing its prestige. Next to the Brosius corner store to the east was the little Richardson store and Post Office and several of the earlier buildings to the east. Here was Manuel's Saloon. Another Saloon was on the Broadway right of way belonging to Dave Buster.

Directly south of the depot and standing on a high ridge on the present location of the library was the Hamilton House with an extensive front porch and a long flight of steps leading to the depot.

Even on Kingston Street, there was business. Bennett Whitely had a little general store on the south east corner opposite the park in the building often called the Baptist Chapel those days. This building was soon to have a windmill attachment for the Shellbarger mill and also to house some of the grades of the Hamilton School. It ended its existence as a barn.

Interviewed July 1934.

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All photos are copyright KingsCross Farm, 1997 & 1998
All written material other than reference material copyright KingsCross Farm 1998