From the Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, 22 July 1976
By Rachel Ruggels
The spot of land is our land. It lies north of the Salina river on sloping hills. Parts of it are very beautiful with trees and flowers and well kept homes. Somewhere the bits of junk and weeds have taken over and are not so lovely, but for 90 years it has been a town.
That is a long time to remember so this history is, like all history, based on the memory of facts handed down by parents, friends. The things those people still living here, saw happen.
Going back still further the things really began in 1965 when six men came back to settle the land they had claimed when they were stationed at Salina during the Civil War belonging to the First Colorado Cavalry. D.E. Skinner, Isaac DeGraff, R.B. Clark, J. Adams, E. Johnson and W. Thompson started a settlement a mile east which they called Colorado. Soon J.J. Peate and Chalmer Smith joined them. Waldo Hancock, of the state militia, came in ’69. There were buffalo and all sorts of wild animals along with friendly or hostile Indians.
By the early ‘70s families came to settle. The Kissicks, Skinners, Kernohans, Bloomhearts, Greenes, Kopfs, Harshbargers, and Webbs. And ten years later there were many, many more.
All goods had to be hauled from Minneapolis for the post office and Kernohan store at Colorado.
In 1886 the Union Pacific started building a branch line and Volney Ball, who owned the land, was instrumental in getting a station put here; so Beverly came into being. The town was platted. Main street and to the east Agnes Avenue, Colorado and Christy. West was Murry, Otis and Oakland. East west streets running north from the present bank site – First, Second and Third. The one by the railroad tracks seems to have no name, the farthest south was Monroe.
Everything was moved to Colorado. The post office run by a Doctor Adamson who also kept hogs. Mr. Kernohan built a new building and moved his old one up on the hill for the family to live in. He built onto and around until it became, and still is, the largest house in town. A hotel was built by Mr. Tussle and a hardware by the Welch brothers. More and more houses and businesses were built as time went on.
In 1905 the town was incorporated as a third class city and T.F. Webb as mayor and there were five councilmen. There was the Beverly State Bank with the Skinners in charge and Mrs. Anna Pautsch as clerk. A drug store owned by Mike Cox with not only a complete line of drugs, but there was a marble topped fountain backed by a huge mirror, tables with wrought iron chairs where you could enjoy the most delectable soft drinks, ice cream cones and sundaes for five or ten cents. There was a harness shop, restaurants, other stores, barber shop, doctor’s office with a dentist on Mondays. Mr. Fritts had a hardware and eventually built a large brick building across from the bank. A carpenter shop, creamery, and a hotel. On the street west of Main was another hotel, a lumberyard and a livery stable. You could leave your horses, or rent one or a team, buggy, wagon by the hour day or week. The sign over the door admonished – “Whip light, drive slow, pay up or don’t go.” The town well in the middle of the street was first a wooden enclosure with buckets on a pulley to draw the water, later a pump but there was a trough for watering stock. And then there were cars. Will Miller built the stone building and he with Tobe Bloomheart had a garage. Jack Meili still uses the building. On North Henry Schroeder Sr. had a blacksmith shop where he did all sorts of things including shoeing horses. Later where it burned it belonged to Has Powell and sometime after it was rebuilt Gilbert Hansen put in his welding shop.
There was a town band, and junior band. A fancy band shell where they gave concerts on Saturday nights along with ice cream socials over on [M]ain.
The Baptist Church, the first built in Beverly, had services with ministers from out of town and an occasional resident pastor, but always Union Sunday School. The building was turned over to the Community Church when organized about 1922.
The Methodist Church built in 1898 was on Main Street where the City Park now takes over, and moved to the present location in 1916. It is said because it was too noisy Sunday mornings due to the cattle driven down the street to the stockyards for afternoon shipment to Kansas City or St. Joe.
Since steam trains took so much water the railroad put in a large water tower, windmill and pump house. Two elevators stood nearby. There were passenger as well as freight trains. The station became a popular gathering place, to see the train come in and to see who arrived or left. There were many traveling salesmen, or drummer[s] with their big sample cases. Mr. Neel was always there with his large draw wagon and team of horses to pick up baggage, freight, milk cans. He would deliver almost anything anywhere.
It was there that the town turned out with flags flying and the band playing, to send the boys off to World War I. only one did not return. Years later the next generation of boys went both east and west to the Second World War – and this time there were four gold stars in the windows. Then there was Korea and Vietnam and one we called our own did not come home.
The first school house, a two story frame building heated by a big pot bellied stove, stood west of the brick one on the hill until 1911 when both grade and high school gathered there till 1922 when the High School moved south. In 1955 the grade school children went to their new building. The annual School dinners, a favorite gathering for the community, lasted until shortly after the high school was disbanded and moved to Lincoln.
In the winter there was sledding, for the hill just west of town was steep and was alive with the young and not so young. There was skating on the river or ponds. Then in the spring daisy picking in the pastures, violets along the railroad tracks and long hikes on Sunday afternoons. There was Memorial Day with the Civil War veterans in their blue uniforms and wide brimmed hats with the gold braid, shined buttons glistening and swords clanking. Hay racks bright with red, white and blue bunting. Little girls in their new shoes and little boys in sailor suits or white duck trousers climbed aboard each with a basket of flowers and small flags. First to Monroe cemetery then back to town where everyone, with the band escorting, marched out to the North cemetery. There Mr. Pete [sic] led the children to decorate the graves of the old soldiers. He was a fascinating figure with his stories on Indian skirmishes, especially of being the first scout to reach the soldiers trapped on Beechers Island, and on occasion he would show the ring he took off old Roman Nose’s finger. Another captivating narrator was Mr. Hancock with his tales of pioneer days and Chalmer Smith had a few tales of his own.
Later in the summer came the three day picnic in the grove south of town. A carnival company complete with Merry-Go-Round and concession stands set up. Streets were laid out, a platform built for programs and dancing. The town practically closed its doors and moved down setting up tends, large or small, owned or rented. Beds, stoves, and rocking chairs appeared. Restaurant stands with their pop, hot dogs and candy took over eating problems – others with merchandise to sell or simply to look at were there. The out of towners driving in their buggies or wagons filled with eager children as well as the grown ups, swelled the day time crowds. There was even a taxi service from town run by Mike Cox who owned the first car in town. This not only saved a long hot walk, but enabled one to boasts that he had ridden in a car. What bigger thrill and all for a nickel. Dr. Anderson also had a car he could use in good weather, these vehicles had no tops or doors, were mounted on running boards, with right hand drive and a horn on the side controlled by a big bulb to squeeze, loud enough to scare all the horses to say nothing of small children.
For a time there was only one telephone in town. Located in the drug store where messages were taken and delivered and if necessary calls could be made out of town. If anyone wanted to talk to a neighbor they yelled across the back fence or walk over. If that was too far (a mile or more) hitch up the horse and buggy and drive, that usually meant spending the day, or at least eating with the friend. When a company was formed, lines strung and a central office established, Mary Hall was among the “Hello Girls.” It was a great convenience to call there to find out what was happening, the time of day, or where the doctor was at the moment and why.
In town there have been revival meetings, chautauquas, and Wild West shows all in large tents.
There was a tower and large bell in the Methodist Church yard which called the Sunday morning worshippers, tolled for the dead and Campbell remembers, as a small boy, rushing there to help pull the rope thus ushering in the New Year. Not the least of its uses was the strident call, along with the school bell, for help in time of fire. That meant for everybody to rush to help for there were only buckets to transport the water. Men and older boys carried or passed buckets from and to hand and climbed roofs, while women and small fry pumped. It wasn’t easy for every well for blocks around was in use. One spectacular fire occurred around 1911 or 1912 when half a block on the east side of main street was pretty well destroyed. There was an implement shop, store and the building where Mr. Hancock had a real estate office and photograph gallery along with the Post Office run by Mr. Harry. All of this was later rebuilt and used by many different businesses. Bergmans had a general store with a produce house and in back was an icehouse filled in the winter with water from the river – fine for making ice cream and probably if it didn’t look too murky for lemonade and iced tea. Nobody seemed to have any ill effects. There was even a bowling alley for a short time. Some ten years later the same half block on the west side was pretty well destroyed. The hardware store and furniture store on the corner was pretty well gutted, the rest burned entirely, a meat market and one of the few two story buildings which had earlier been Bloomhearts store. At that time it was owned by Oscar Anderson on the first floor. The second reached by an outside stairway was used in the front by the telephone office until the new brick place further north was built and Linnie Greene ruled for many years. The rear portion was “The Hall” used for town affairs. Meetings, elections, bazaars and programs the most remembered were the home talent plays with the sweet young maidens, the sneaky villain and Fenton Hall, the hero, whose handsome face made all the girls’ hearts flutter. Ralph Hall, the comedian, always good for a laugh. These two for years also entertained with folk and humorous songs and were not adverse to bringing out fiddle and guitar. These entertainments carried over into the Township Hall and became varied in nature.
For many years there was a weekly newspaper “The Beverly Tribune.” No one seems to know exactly who started it, or just where. It ended about 1929. There was always a millinery shop for the ladies as long as they wore hats and later on a beauty parlor.
A second lumber yard was built on main street and the Union State Bank was organized with Painters at the head and the brick building on the corner. George Schroeder then took over. He had been in the hardware business.
In 1929 the Beverly State Bank took it over and moved form the present post office building. R.D. Campbell was at the head, he had come to Beverly as a station agent many years earlier.
The first street lights were acetylene and each evening the old lamp lighter made his rounds. Finally a plant was installed in the basement of the telephone office. Houses no longer had to be ignited by coal oil or gasoline lamps and main streets were a great white way.
Somewhere along the line five stores dwindled to one. Three restaurants to one. No hardwares, and population dropped from somewhere near 300 to about half that number. But it’s still a good place to live, as the old timers know, and the new citizens are finding out. There is a lot to do so remember that.
This is your town and this is my town. A town with Pride for all to see. Let’s make it bigger, let’s make it better. This town was built for you and me.