On June 19, 1869, W. K. Hayes located on the north half of the southwest quarter of section 19, North township, and in connection with Milton W. Eves opened a small stock of general merchandise. Mr. Hayes was on September 25, 1869, appointed postmaster of a new postoffice established at that point and named Mendota - "the place of meeting." Whether it was the place of meeting of the two branches of the Labette, or the two branches of the M. K. & T., neither of the latter of which was then located, or of the traveling public, perhaps it is too early to write with interest. When a hundred years of tradition and myth shall have gathered round it,, the future historian can write a chapter upon the founding of the office which will be read with delight. But as a sober, historical fact, and to somewhat curtail the wings of mythology, it may be recorded that it was because of the proximity of the site to the confluence of the Big and Little Labette that the name Mendota was chosen. In the winter of 1869 Mr. Hayes took his goods to a house he had built farther south, near Steel's mill, at the junction of the two Labettes; but in the spring he removed back to his old stand.
In 1870 J. J. Pierson succeeded Mr. Eves as a partner of Mr. Hayes, and the firm Hayes & Pierson continued in business at this point until November, 1870, when, the town-site of Parsons having been located, they moved to a point on the east side of the railroad track, northeast of the passenger depot, and just north of where the Belmont House now stands.
Sections 18 and 19 in North township, and 13 and 24 in Walton township, formed the body of land selected by the company on which to lay out a town. Most of this land was already occupied by actual settlers, some of whom had acquired, or could obtain, title, and some of whom had only a squatter's right. John Leonard was on the southeast quarter of section 19, Abraham Fults on the northeast quarter, John Kendall on the northwest quarter, W. K. Hayes on the north half and Aaron Midkiff on the south half of the southwest quarter of the same section; John Davis was on the northeast quarter of section 18, Abraham Cary on the northwest quarter, and Mr. Simpson on the southwest quarter of the same section; Anson Kellogg was on the southwest quarter and S. Eves on the northeast quarter of section 24; Henry F. Baker was on the southeast quarter of section 13, and H. L. Partridge on the southwest quarter and George Briggs on the northwest quarter of the same section. Some of the remainder was claimed by non-residents. Several of these parties were unwilling to dispose of their interest, and negotiations to secure title were in progress for some time.
The first intimation that the public generally had that a town was to be located at this point was on October 26, 1870, when L. F. Olney, a civil engineer, got off the train and inquired of some parties at work on the ground where the city of Parsons is now built, if they could tell him where Parsons was located, saying he had come to lay off a town. Nothing was done by him for several days excepting to look over the ground and make observations. On Sunday, November 6, 1870, C. G. Wait, the railroad engineer, located the connection of the Sedalia and Junction City branches of the M. K. & T., and two days later Frye & Pierce, grade contractors, broke dirt at this junction. It was known that here was to be the railroad town, and, before the survey commenced, in addition to two or three business houses which preceded it, on November 11, 1870, John Austin had on the ground the first dwelling put thereon, aside from those which were there at the time of the location. He put it upon what proved to be the northeast corner of Central and Crawford avenues, and at once occupied it for a dwelling, and also for keeping boarders. In front of this building the next spring he set out some maple trees, which were the first trees planted in the place. On these premises Dr. G. W. Gabriel has for many years had his home. It was about the middle of November when Mr. Olney commenced the survey of the town-site, and it was not completed until about the middle of January.
Isaac T. Goodnow, N. S. Goss, F. C. White, O. B. Gunn, Norman Eastman and Robert S. Stevens were the incorporators of the town company. The charter was filed in the office of the Secretary of State October 24, 1870, and authorized the company to purchase lands and lay off a town at and adjacent to section 19, township 31, range 20. The company was formed expressly for the purpose of laying off and building a railroad town. It was believed that the junction of the two branches of the M. K. & T. was the most feasible point for the location of a town, where would almost certainly be located the machine shops and offices. Of course these parties knew the point where this junction must be made before their incorporation, for not only was section 19 designated in the charter as the central point, but their surveyor was on the ground before the railroad engineer had actually designated the connecting point. The intention being to have a railroad town, of course no more appropriate name could have been selected than that of the president of the road, who would thereby, if for no other reason, be interested in its support and growth.
The town having been located, the company soon encountered difficulties in acquiring title to as large a body of land as they hoped to secure, and we may readily believe that it was for the purpose of influencing these parties to make terms that the action of the town company - an account of which is given below - was taken, rather than with any serious intention of carrying out the determination therein expressed, for no steps were taken looking to an abandonment of the site which had been selected and partly surveyed; but for some purpose, probably by the company's direction, certain resolutions by it adopted were published in several papers, and more or less was said through the press on "Parsons defunct." I will here refer to what appeared in but one paper, although the same was copied in the county papers and more or less commented on.
Near the close of 1870 the following appeared in the Humboldt Union.
"At a meeting of the board of directors of the Parsons Town Company, held at Sedalia, Mo., on the 14th inst., the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
"Whereas, The Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Company having decided to locate its machine shops and other important buildings elsewhere than at the junction of its Sedalia and Neosho divisions, thus rendering the building up of any large town at the junction impracticable:
"Resolved, That the board of directors of the Parsons Town Company hereby abandon all idea of locating or building a town on sections 18 or 19, in town 31, of range 19 east, or anywhere in the vicinity, the decision of said railway company above referred to rendering such action necessary.
"Resolved, That the treasurer of said town company is hereby directed to sell all lands intended for town-site purposes at such price as he may deem fit and proper, at the earliest day practicable.
The difficulties encountered by the company in acquiring title having been overcome, and the plat having been surveyed and placed on record, the sale of lots commenced on March 8, 1871. Prior to this time all who had located had done so without any written permission or promise of obtaining title, but with the understanding that when the company had perfected its arrangements, they would be entitled to procure their lots at a reasonable price. There was quite a strife for the honor of being the purchaser of the first lot. Colonel Willard Davis was the agent of the town company, and Abraham Cary was successful in bringing enough influence to bear to get from him the first deed issued by the town company. It was for lots 14, 15 and 16 in block 42, where the opera house now stands. The other parties on the ground obtained title as fast as deeds could be executed and terms agreed on, and from this time on the permanency of building and business was assured.
When so many were coming in about the same time, and no records of the names when locations were made having been kept, it is difficult to speak with certainty as to the precise order in which firms were established, and as to who is entitled to the honor of being the first one to open up his line of business in the new town, but the old settlers seem to agree substantially upon the following: Sipple Brothers, from Dayton, and Hayes & Pierson, from Mendota, were on the ground about the same time, and there is a difference of opinion as to which was there first.
Aside from the houses that have been placed by the settlers prior to the location of the town, the first house to be put upon the town-site, probably, was a store building belonging to William H. and John I. Sipple, which they had put up during the summer at Dayton, some five or six miles below Parsons, and which they moved on wagons and located upon what was afterwards laid off as lots 1, 2 and 3, in block 19, subsequently occupied by the Abbott House. They arrived with their building on November 5, 1870, and were the first to open a stock of goods, which consisted principally of groceries and provisions. If I am right in assigning Sipple Brothers the first location, then the next store to be opened was by Hayes & Pierson, who almost immediately after the arrival of Sipple Brothers, if they did not precede them, removed their little frame building from where Mr. Hayes had at one time kept store, at Steel's mill at the forks of the Labette, as already described, and located it on the east side of the railroad track, just about where the Belmont House now stands, and opened therein a general stock of merchandise. The building afterwards formed a part of the Belmont premises. E. K. Currant brought his store building from Dayton and located it upon what became lot 1 of block 25, on Skiddy, now Washington avenue. He associated with him in business Messrs. Cook and Allen, and opened out the most extensive stock of general merchandise that was then kept in town. Adam Gebert and Abraham Cary located on lot 2, block 25, next to Mr. Currant, and opened the first hardware store in town. The first lumber yard to be started was put in by Mellville, Plato & Co.; and the first drugs were sold by T. R. Warren, who came from Leavenworth county, and before the close of the year had put up a small building on the northwest corner of Washington and Central avenues, and had placed therein a stock of drugs. The houses from Dayton had only just arrived when those from Ladore, located about the same distance north as Dayton was south, began to make their appearance. It was said that from 50 to 75 houses were moved from Ladore during the winter.
At the time of the location of the town, Henry F. Baker was living in a log house where the roundhouse now stands; and the town was scarcely located until John Austin moved his dwelling-house down from Ladore and placed it on the northeast corner of Central and Crawford avenues. Both of them at once commenced keeping boarders. Mrs. Catharine Hurton soon after erected a respectable-looking building, which she opened up as a boarding-house. W. P. Squires was on the ground about the same time; Finus Smith had a two-story 24 by 40 feet building at Ladore, which he tore down and brought to Parsons, and erected it on the northwest corner of Central and Johnson avenues. The proprietors of all of these houses, as well as several parties who only had tents, were furnishing board in November, 1870. It was not long until the Parsons House was opened up by Knapp, Noyes & Chamberlain. On March 8, 1871, E. B. Stevens and U. L. C. Beard commenced the erection of the Belmont House; the same month the Lockwood was commenced, and finished so as to be opened on the 8th of May. It was not until June 1, 1872, that J. C. Karr commenced the construction of the St. James, on the northwest corner of Central and Forest avenues. This was a three-story brick - one of the finest buildings in the city. Of the numerous other houses which followed these I will not attempt to speak, only to mention that about 1880 the Abbott House became the principal hotel in the city, and thus remained until the Matthewson House was erected, in 1886.
The saloon-keeper was not long behind anyone else who proposed to start business in the new town. John Austin, Wm. Dana, Z. T. Swigert, Chas. Hazard, and probably others whose names I have not learned, were all on the ground engaged in the sale of liquor in November, 1870. Mr. Hazard moved a two-story building from Ladore and located it on the north side of Johnson avenue next to Smith's hotel, which stood on the corner. This was the first building moved from Ladore.
Conrad Hinkle and wife Lena were the first to furnish meat to the new comers. For a time they brought it in a wagon, but soon had a general meat shop opened. Dr. C. B. Kennedy removed a large livery stable from Ladore and located it on what became block 110, where the Catholic church was later constructed. J. Moore had the first furniture store; Fred Walker opened the first blacksmith shop; and Walker & Thomas were the first real-estate agents. B. Sandercook was the first shoemaker; W. G. Douglas was the first tailor; E. P. Flummer opened the first bakery; A. J. Peabody was the first harness-maker. Most of these houses were in operation before the close of 1870, and all of them when the sale of lots commenced, in March, 1871.
A. L. Hutchison and T. R. Warren were the contestants for the honor of being the first physician in the town; and of attorney, J. G. Parkhurst, T. V. Thornton and E. E. Hastings could hardly tell who was there first but perhaps the race was won by Mr. Parkhurst.
The first religious services of a public nature upon what became the town-site were held in Abraham Cary's log house on the northwest quarter of section 18, in North township, in the summer of 1870, conducted by A. W. King, of Osage township. Mr. King preached here frequently during the summer and fall. John Leonard, who lived on the southeast quarter of 19, was a Christian preacher, and sometimes preached in Mr. Cary's house after King had commenced holding services. The first sermon preached in the town proper was over Mr. Hazard's saloon, on December 15, 1870, by A. W. King. Rev. H. H. Cambern was the next preacher on the ground. No religious exercises of any kind were held regularly during the winter of 1870 and 1871. There was no place provided for holding such services, and whenever they were held it was in some business room temporarily fixed up for the purpose - probably in a saloon almost as frequently as in any other room. Of the organization and building of the various churches, I speak in another part of the work.
On February 22, 1871, on the petition of Simon Saddler and others, the probate judge made an order incorporating the town of Parsons, and appointed Abraham Cary, E. K. Currant, J. G. Parkhurst, John I. Sipple and John W. Rhodus as trustees. Thomas V. Thornton was the first clerk appointed by the trustees; H. L. Partridge was justice of the peace in Walton township at the time of the settlement of Parsons, and became the first justice of the peace in Parsons. From November 8, 1870, to March 8, 1871, he tried seven criminal and 26 civil cases. He also married the first couple in town, they being Z. T. Swigert and Josephine E. Parker.
The town was organized as a city of the third class, and on April 17, 1871, the first city election was held, at which the following officers were elected: Mayor, Willard Davis; police judge, H. L. Partridge; councilmen, Abraham Cary, William Dana, Charles Watson, S. B. Plato, and John W. Rhodus. The first meeting of the mayor and council was held April 28, 1871. On organizing, G. C. West was appointed city clerk. The city having attained a population of over 2,000 inhabitants, the evidence of which was furnished by a census taken by order of the city council, the Governor issued his proclamation, dated February 25, 1873, declaring Parsons a city of the second class.
Since the organization of the city it has had the following mayors and clerks: Mayors - April 17 to November 22, 1871, Willard Davis; November 22, 1871, to April, 1874, E. B. Stevens; April, 1874, to April, 1875, Angell Matthewson; April, 1875, to April, 1877, G. W. Gabriel; April, 1877, to April, 1879, P. Y. Thomas; April, 1879, to April, 1881, J. W. Thompson; April 1881, to April, 1885, G. W. Gabriel; April, 1885; to April, 1887, A. O. Brown; April, 1887, to April, 1889, G. W. Gabriel; April, 1889, to April, 1891, A. F. Neely; April, 1891, to April, 1895, J. M. Gregory; April, 1895, to April, 1897, E. B. Stevens; April, 1897, to April, 1899, C. K. Leinbach; April, 1899, to April, 1901, C. Rockhold. Clerks - April to November 22, 1871, G. C. West; November 22, 1871, to April, 1872, H. L. Partridge; April, 1872, to April, 1873, Edgar E. Hastings; April, 1873, to April, 1875, G. W. Hawk; April, 1875, to April, 1876, A. M. Fellows; April, 1876, to March, 1877, Frank L. Gage; March, 1877 to April, 1878, E. S. Stevens; April, 1878, to April 1882, A. A. Osgood; April, 1882, to April, 1883, R. T. Halloway; April, 1883, to October, 1884, Ira F. Adams; October, 1884, to May, 1885, Will W. Frye; May, 1885, to April, 1887, N. F. Mills; April, 1887, to April 1889, Mrs. Mary S. Outland; April, 1889, to April, 1891, R. D. Talbot; April, 1891, to April, 1895, A. H. Tyler; April, 1895, to April, 1897, Maurice Davis; April, 1897, to January 8, 1901, James T. Weaver; January 8, 1901, Maurice Davis was appointed to fill the vacancy
On November 2, 1871, a meeting was held which decided upon organizing a literary society and library association. On the 8th of the same month the organization was completed by electing W. H. Maxwell president and A. B. Truman secretary. During the winter literary exercises were maintained, participated in by the leading men of the town. On December 29th the library received its first donation of books, amounting to 22 volumes, and during the next few weeks several other donations were made of a like character. On October 26, 1872, the association held its first annual meeting, and re-elected W. K. Maxwell president, and elected E. B. Stevens vice-president, and James Wells, Jr., secretary. This seems to have ended the efforts at that time for the establishment and maintenance of a library.
In the summer of 1879 a new lyceum was organized, and Rev. P. M. Griffin elected president. Literary exercises were conducted by it for some months.
In 1877 Mrs. Ella B. Wilson, Mrs. Kate Grimes and Mrs. Polly L. Cory secured the formation of a library association. In this association they remained, as I am informed, the controlling spirits, Mrs. Wilson taking the principal part in its management. She traveled over a large part of the United States, soliciting funds for the erection of a building, as well as books and works of art for the foundation of a library. Large sums of money were contributed, and very fine donations of books, statuary and other articles of interest and value were gathered. Practically it was a gift of the country generally to Parsons at the earnest solicitation of one woman. With the funds thus contributed as a basis of operation, a site was secured on the southeast corner of Forest avenue and Nineteenth street, on lots 14, 15 and 16, in block 53, and the erection thereon of the building started. A loan of $10,000 was procured, and the lots and building mortgaged to secure the payment of the same. A very fine three-story building was erected and finished, which, on December 25, 1883, was formally opened by appropriate exercises, among which was an address by Governor Glick.
In the second story of this building were placed the books and works of art which had been contributed, and it was believed the hardest part of the work was then accomplished of securing a large, prosperous and permanent library. But times changed; contributions of money did not come in; there was no means provided for paying the indebtedness contracted in the erection of the building; the mortgage was foreclosed, the property sold, and the seeming bright prospect for a great library vanished from sight.
On January 24, 1872, the attorneys in town established a bar association, and for some weeks thereafter had public lectures from its members on different phases of law.
Was organized in the Sun office, March 8, 1872. Dr. T. R. Warren was the first president.
On November 17, 1880, a number of ladies met at the home of Mrs. T. P. Atchison and organized a society under the name given above. The following officers were elected: Mrs. David Kelso, president; Mrs. M. F. Stevens, secretary; Mrs. W. H. Wagoner, treasurer. The society has maintained a continuous existence, and has done a great amount of literary work.
This society was organized December 8, 1881. Miss Phrone Emery was its first president, and Mrs. Jennie Davis, secretary. It was at first called the Young Ladies' Reading Society, but in September, 1885, was named the Macaulay Club. Since then it has been an active factor in the literary work of Parsons.
The existence of this circle dates from the spring of 1883, when five ladies began reading together without any formal organization. On October 24th of that year a number of new members were admitted to the circle, a formal organization was had, and the following officers elected: Mrs. Wells H. Utley, president; Mrs. B. B. Brown, vice-president; and Miss Emma Julie, secretary and treasurer. The active membership is limited to 16. Its object is purely literary.
BANKING HOUSE OF ANGELL MATTHEWSON. - On June 6, 1871, S. P. Crawford and Angell Matthewson, of Parsons, and W. P. Bishop, of Oswego, formed a partnership, and on June 19th opened the bank of Crawford, Matthewson & Co. The first depositor was Oliver Duck; the first draft was issued to Currant, Cook & Allen. On July 31st Mr. Matthewson purchased the interest of the other two partners, and the business continued under the name of the Banking House of Angell Matthewson.
FIRST NATIONAL BANK. - On April 8, 1872, Matthewson's Bank was succeeded by the First National Bank, of which A. D. Jaynes, of Sedalia, Mo., was president, and Angell Matthewson, cashier. This bank had a paid-up capital of $50,000, and started with over $37,000 in deposits turned over to it by Matthewson's bank. On January 19, 1875, R. S. Stevens succeeded Mr. Jaynes as president. During January and February, 1877, while Mr. Matthewson was in the Senate, George W. Hawk, the teller, performed the duties of cashier. January 1, 1879, Lee Clark succeeded Mr. Matthewson as cashier, and held the position until October, 1890, when he became president, F. C. Stevens having been president immediately preceding him. E. B. Stevens became cashier on July 1, 1890, and still retains the position.
THE PARSONS SAVINGS BANK was organized in May, 1874, with Augustus Wilson president, and Joshua Hill, cashier; having a paid-up capital of $50,000. The first draft was issued to A. W. Gifford. on July 1, 1878, this bank was reorganized as
THE PARSONS COMMERCIAL BANK, of which Joshua Hill was president and George W. Hawk cashier. The latter has continued to fill the position of cashier ever since. For several years past E. H. Edwards has been president of the bank. It has long been one of the established institutions of the city.
CITY BANK OF ANGELL MATTHEWSON & Co. - This bank was organized May 1, 1879, with a capital of $20,000; Angell Matthewson and Merrit Noyes being the owners. On October 1, 1880, F. H. Snyder was admitted to the partnership and made cashier. Mr. Noyes died in 1883, and in November, 1884, Wm. H. Taylor was admitted to the partnership and the capital stock made $60,000, which was increased to $100,000 on February 1, 1888. L. E. Weeks was appointed cashier September 1, 1891. The firm failed in 1893, and the bank went out of existence.
THE STATE BANK OF PARSONS was organized in 1900 with a capital stock of $25,000. O. H. Stewart is president and F. H. Foster is cashier.
On July 14, 1879, the Parsons Building and Loan Association was organized, of which C. A. King was president, and J. G. Gray, secretary.
There are several parties engaged in loaning money, among them being Angell Matthewson and George H. Ratcliff.
During the early part of 1884 much complaint had been made about the condition in which the private and public premises, as well as many of the private alleys and yards, were kept, and the Eclipse was especially vigilant in looking after and giving publicity to these grievances. In July of that year the mayor and council appointed J. B. Lamb health officer. It was thought by some that this appointment was made rather as a burlesque in retaliation for the frequent appeals to the authorities to do a general cleaning up; but whatever was the spirit that prompted the move, it turned out to be a very wise one. The Doctor went at the work vigorously, and did good work in securing the cleaning up of the filth which had been allowed to accumulate, and probably saved the place a great amount of sickness. The work thus commenced showed the advisability of having some permanent arrangement for removal of filth and the preservation of the public health.
In 1885 steps were taken to put in a system of sewerage, and this was pushed forward until the business part of the city was well supplied with the means for the removal of all filth and the carrying away of the waste water. Later the system was made general for the city, so that now most of the inhabitants are favored with this convenience.
During the summer of 1882 the matter of supplying the city with water was discussed, and a company was formed for the purpose of carrying out the contemplated project. On September 15th, by an almost unanimous vote of the electors, the city gave its assent and promised aid. During the following year the works were put in under the general direction of C. W. Hill, but it was not until July, 1884, that they were completed and accepted by the city. Reservoirs were made upon the banks of the Labette some distance above the city, from which stream the water was procured. The city paid $3,000 per year for 50 hydrants. Soon after the completion of the works, C. H. Kimball and E. H. Edwards became the principal owners of the stock of the company and had the general management of its business. The operation of the works under the original construction never gave general satisfaction, and they were believed to be far inadequate to meet the city's needs. Early in 1892 steps were taken to secure a better supply by obtaining water from the Neosho instead of from the Labette. Mains were laid from the Neosho to the old reservoirs on the Labette and into the city. A new stand-pipe, one of the largest in the State, was erected in the city, and under the present arrangements the water system is very complete.
On December 11, 1882, the city council passed an ordinance giving an exclusive franchise for twenty-one years to Angell Matthewson to construct and operate gas works. The franchise was assigned to the Parsons Light & Heat Company, and in 1883 the works were completed, since which time those who desired it have been supplied with gas.
Since 1898 the city has been supplied with natural gas piped from Neodesha, which gas is largely used for heating and lighting.
On May 25, 1887, an ordinance was passed authorizing J. J. Everningham to erect electric works in the city of Parsons, and within a month thereafter this franchise was transferred to the Parsons Light & Heat Company, which was operating the gas plant. A system of arc lights was at once put in, and put in operation on September 25th. In the summer of 1892 the incandescent system of lights was added, and the capacity of the plant much enlarged.
In 1882 a system of telephones was put in providing for communication in the various parts of the city, and also a line was built connecting the city with Oswego; and on July 20th of that year Mayors Gabriel and Condon exchanged congratulations. The line between Parsons and Oswego was not maintained for any great length of time, nor was the city system very largely used after a few months of trial. In 1896 the telephone communication with other towns was again inaugurated, since which time the system has become quite popular.
One of the wisest investments made by the city in the way of improvement was that of building sidewalks and macadamizing its streets. The work of macadamizing commenced in 1878, and was gradually pushed forward for the next two or three years, until the streets in the principal business part of town were all macadamized, and good sidewalks have been laid in nearly all of the streets that have any large amount of travel. During the past few years the macadamizing of the streets has been very greatly extended, as well as the improvement and construction of new sidewalks.
The first building to be erected of material other than wood was put up early in 1871, on block 25, on the north side of Johnson avenue, by Ed. Foley. It was constructed out of cut sandstone, and made a very creditable appearance. The first brick buildings in town were erected in 1872. They were the passenger depot, the First National Bank building, the St. James Hotel on the corner north from the First National Bank, and the second ward school-house. The same year two or three brick business houses were put up - one by W. C. Calkins, on lots 13 and 14, block 33, and one by A. Royer, on lot 1, block 34. During this year T. C. Cory tore down his brick residence at Ladore and rebuilt it on the southeast quarter of section 24. This was the first brick residence in town.
Was incorporated January 15, 1896. A. A. Osgood served as president the first two years, and Dr. C. Rockhold since then. The State has made an annual appropriation of $700 for several years past to help support this institution. The building formerly used for the Hobson Institute was purchased for and is now occupied by the Home.
In 1899, under provisions of an act of the Legislature, a commission located a new insane asylum at Parsons. Litigation ensued that delayed the commencement of the work, but under the new appropriation made by the Legislature in 1901 work on the institution will soon be begun.
On October 7, 1871, the Sun published an article advising the people to turn out the first still day and burn around the town to protect it from fires. I do not know whether or not this advice was heeded, but it seems that no damage resulted from fire from that quarter.
During the history of the city there have been several quite extensive fires, but none that were at all destructive; in fact, most of them, in the business part of the city, while they may have damaged individuals, were a public benefit so far as the city was concerned, for it secured in the place of the buildings destroyed, others of a very much better quality. One of the first, if not the first fire in town to do any large amount of damage, was the burning of John Rhodus' boarding-house. On July 29, 1875, a fire occurred on Fourth avenue which destroyed nine business houses. The loss by this fire was estimated to be from $75,000 to $100,000. On December 26, 1875, the Lockwood House was burned; and on May 23, 1883, the City Hotel, which was one of the original hotels. Among the losses that have occurred from fire have been several of the mills and factories; one of the largest of which was on August 1, 1892, being the destruction of the National Mills. A number of other quite extensive fires have taken place at various times, the particulars of which I have not learned.
Of all the enterprises which have contributed to the prosperity of Parsons, none have approached that of the railroad influence, and especially the machine shops thereof. Work on the machine shops commenced in October, 1871, and by the close of 1872 they were completed and ready for operation. The roundhouse was not completed until May, 1873.
Transcribed from History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901
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