From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
Its the old timers in this town who relate the really interesting historical facts of Leavenworth in its earlier days. Such was the case when Mrs. Sadie Howard, 81-year old Negro of 201 Ohio, disclosed some fact concerning the "Castle" and its inhabitants yesterday.
Sadie, Mrs. J. W. Brocks' personal maid for a year, is in the position to know interesting anecdotes concerning a family that everyone in Leavenworth has been interested in.
Mrs. Howard did not work in the historic castle now being razed at the corner of Sixth and Shawnee but in the frame house at the same site which burned in 1886. She related though, that it was very beautiful and had much of the unusual and oddness within its walls that the newer residence had.
The fire, which completely destroyed the Brocks' first Leavenworth residence, started in the middle of the night in the Burns Livery Stable just east of the home. It grew with such a violent force that it destroyed the entire stable with the 25 or 30 horses housed there and spread on the Brock home, which became a complete loss.
Explaining the fire Mrs. Howard showed various emotions. One of sorrow and then some of amusement of herself and her actions during the fire.
It seemed that Sadie was required to wear the most stylish of clothing and took great pride in the fact. A few days before the fire she had been invited to a ball to be held across the street at the Odd Fellows Hall (now Davis Funeral Home) and had just purchased a new outfit for the occasion. She had the garments spread out on a large table and every night before she went to bed she tried the clothing on and paraded in front of the mirror achieving the desired effect. The night of the fire there was no time to save any of the clothing and it was all destroyed. With twinkling eyes she related yesterday how she mourned the loss of her "party" clothing.
At the time of the fire Mrs. Brock had taken her neice, Rhoda McFarland, to Boston for enrollment in school there and when she returned and found her home destroyed she put into action her plans for the home of her dreams, the Castle.
Sadie was at that time released from her duties in the Brock home and moved to Kansas City. She did not return to Leavenworth until 1941.
In trying to describe the Brock home or any member of the family Sadie was at loss for words. She spoke fondly of Mrs. Brock and commented on her beautiful gowns and other clothing. She was especially impressed with Mrs. Brocks' shoes.
"They were not the type of shoes you see ladies wearing today," she said. "but shoes made of silver and gold materials with high tops". Sadie revealed that Mrs. Brock had about 40 pair.
"I was very proud of my job there," she said, "as it was one of the most fashionable homes in Leavenworth at the time. Many of my girl friends were employed in similar work in other homes here, but note of them could compare with me," she proudly reported.
Even the carriage of the Brocks was unusual it was revealed, built low to the ground where the passengers sat but the coachman rode in front on a very high seat. He wore a most fascinating uniform with polished gold buttons and a high stovepipe hat. It was really an impressive sight in that day.
Among persons employed at the Castle during the time Mrs. Howard was were: George Wickly, Charlie Quinn, Nat Burns, John Bland, and Mat Turner. Sadie has since lost track of them but recalls many pleasant memories.
"I could fill a book about thing that happened then if I just, had time to remember it all, Sadie said, "but it would take too long."