Wolf River, one of the five original townships, was organized in 1855. It is one of most resourceful of the townships, containing an overshare of the excellent lands of the foremost county in the state. Along the line of the Rock Island railroad, between Troy and Purcell, lies 30,000 acres of land as fair and fine and rich as any that the sun, in his daily journey around the world, finds to shed its glory on. The township is, in fact, one large and beautiful farm, lavishly soiled and plentifully watered by copious springs and clear-running streams. There are scores of farms in the township, whose owner hold them above $100 an acre, a pretty fair, price for ground twenty-five miles from a city! The first settlements were made on Wolf river in 1854-5. Some of the earliest settlers are here named: Parker Hooper, John Cummings, A. Q. Rice, J. C. Clark, Geo. Dittemore, Nathan Springer, John Prawl, Hugh Robertson, Grandison Wilson and John Wood.
The township has six towns - Leona, Severance, Moray, Bendena, Denton and Purcell. Three railroads - the Grand Island, the Rock Island and the B. & M. pass through the township.
John Cummings and Caroline Hooper, both of the Hooper's ford country, Were the first to be joined in wedlock in Wolf River township. The cremony was performed by Squire A. Q. Rice, one of the very first justices, in the spring of 1855.
The credit for having been the first white child born within the boundaries of this township is given to Perry Dittemore, a son of one of the very first pioneers, George Dittemore. The birth occurred in the Wolf river country in 1855.
The first death to occur was that of J. Waggoner, or Wagner, in 1855, mentioned elsewhere.
According to Bird's History, the first election in the township was held at the house of Milton Utt, at what was known as the Sac village, on the first Monday in October, 1855. Another account, more descriptive, yet lacking in date, is as follows: "The first election in Wolf River township was held in a blacksmith shop Dear Hooper's ford. Everything was quite primitive. The voters handed their tickets to one of the judges who deposited them in an iron kettle upon which he sat." This, if the account be true, was, indeed, an original election.
A. Q. Rice and S. D. Gilmore were the first justices of the peace, appointed in September, 1855. William Lewis, the first constable, was appointed at the same time.
The very first settlements were made in the township by John Prawl, Nathan Springer, Parker A. Hooper and John Cummings in 1854. In 1855, G. R. Wilson, C. C. Clonch, George Dittemore, S. D. Gilmore and W. T. Rittenour, took up claims along the river. In the same year, W. Wood and Hugh Robertson staked their claims in the northeastern sections, while the Gronniger family came to the Independence country. In 1856, John Wood, George Bromley, Laban Jackson, Osul Nelson and George Malon took up claims in the northeast, while Charles Phillips, Thomas Lyons, Abram Bennett and Pat. Kirwan located in the eastern parts. Silas Loyd, David Hoppins and John Starr made their dugouts in the southern sections in 1856 or 1857.
More than three-fourths of the early settlers of eastern Wolf River township came from Ohio, and each brought with him and retained his politics and religion.
A store of provisions was kept by Abram Bennett, on his farm near Prairie Grove, during the years 1856-7-8. He supplied the travelers who passed through on the old Pottawatomie trail. Perhaps this was the first store opened in the township. It stood on what is now the Wynkoop farm half a mile west of Bendena.
Here is a copy of the advertising card of the first physician to locate in our township, the advertisement appearing in Smith & Vaughn's Directory:
During the early days, 1856 to 1858, there hung in the postoffice at Doniphan a list of the names of fourteen residents of the Syracuse neighborhood. Anyone of the fourteen calling at the postoffice brought the mail for all and left it at Syracuse for free delivery. A little later they had a postoffice of their own.
One of the early blacksmith shops in the eastern part of the township was owned by Grandfather Osul Nelson and Samuel Hardy, first opened in 1857, on the Nelson farm just west of where Moray now stands. The blacksmiths needing coal went prospecting and discovered a mine in the Syracuse neighborhood which furnished them a supply. It was not the best coal in all the world, but it was the cheapest to be found. The shop did good business sharpening breaking plow shares, welding log chains, clevises, wagon tires, etc., and had the patronage of the travelers on the early trails, going out from St. Joseph
Another early shop, owned by Jacob Bursk, was located on the old Pottawatomie trail about three-fourths of a mile east of Syracuse. The site of this shop is still marked by a clump of trees, and scraps of iron used in the old place may still be found there. Bursk did much work for the emigrants and freighters. It is said that they kept him on the jump from morning till night as long as he remained. During the summer the lightning had been unusually severe, two men having been killed within a half mile of Bursk's shop, and Bursk decided to return to Ohio, where the lightning was not so freakish.
In 1860, G. M. Clem, a Virginian, settled on the upper Independence and opened a shop in which he did work for neighbors in both Doniphan and Atchison counties. The shop was situated on the northeast corner of the place, just one-half mile east of where the Mt. Vernon school house now stands. For many years it was a land mark. Every neighbor's house was referred to as being situated so many miles in this or that direction from "Clem's blacksmith shop".
Later, along in the middle '60s, Francis Fry opened a shop which was continued for many years. At first it was located on the Pottawatomie trail, a little less than a mile east of the old site of the Bursk shop. Within a few years he removed the shop to his house, where he did work for the neighbors until late in the '70s. It was in this shop that the first glass ball trap ever used in the county was made. Fry was also a gunsmith.
In 1858, a mill was built on Wolf river by a man named Bartlett. Three or four years later the dam was washed out and the mill as abandoned. The site of the mill was above Severance about three miles.
About 1858, a postoffice was established at Walnut Grove, near Bayne's bridge, and Capt. Hugh Robertson was made postmaster. Some time later the office was removed to a point on Wolf river, where the mail, according to the testimony of an old resident, was kept in a dry-goods box.
A big Fourth of July celebration was held at Syracuse in 1858 or 1859. A big hailstorm was one of the attractions not announced on the bill of the day's programme.
In, 1861, a Miss Strode taught a subscription school in a small cabin situated on the prairie about half a mile north of where Bendena now stands. The seats were rude benches fastened to the walls. There were no desks to lean upon.
Perhaps the first cotton raised in the county, was on Wolf river in 1861. A farmer raised fifty pounds and it was said to have been almost as good in quality as that raised in the South.
J. P. Bitner, who for five consecutive years, was trustee of Wolf River township, from 1862 to 1866, had, at one time, as much as $800 of the township's money on hand at his house. At that time the county was full of robbers and Mr. Bitner was placed in an unenviable position, for the law required that he should post up a notice stating how much money of the township' she[sic] had on hand. Wishing to comply with the law, he was placed between the horns of that fabled monster called a dilemma. He knew that most likely he should be robbed within twenty-four hours after it had became generally known that he had so much money on hand, yet he actually complied with the law by posting up the required notice. No sooner was the notice posted than a friend, who understood the difficulty, slipped around while Mr. Bitner was not looking and tore off the notice, thus preventing the opportunity for a possible robbery. And Mr. Bitner never asked who it was that tore down the notice.
Wolf river was called Shnetonga Sepo by the early Indians. We regret that we are unable to find the significance of the word. No doubt the name is appropriate. Indian names usually are faithfully descriptive, conveying the true idea with great accuracy, if not always in terms exactly suited to delicate ears. It is said that the name "Wakarusa" was thought beautiful by the very refined ladies and gentlemen from the East, until the Indian legend concerning the river of that name was told about. The legend says that an Indian maiden (more practical than modest), while fording the river on horseback astride, getting into deep water, cried out to her friends on the bank the single word, "Wakarus", "a", which signifies "hip deep". After the legend had been "told around", the name became unpopular and unpronounceable with the Class "A" Esthetics.
The young fellows, of the Syracuse neighborhood had considerable fun mixed with excitement in the early days of the civil war. The Syracuse prairies were used as a drilling ground. Many a dashing charge was rehearsed there, and many a raw soldier received a full share of "kicks and cuffs and sharp rebuffs". One of the lieutenants was a spry young man weighing a little less than 250 pounds.
One of the first teachers in the Syracuse school district, No. 7, was "Old Maid" Baker, a lady scarcely on the sunny side of forty. Her christian name we were for some time unable to ascertain; but one of the old settlers of the neighborbhood informed us that her name was Fanny. This same gentleman had the pleasure of taking the lady and her trunk from Prairie Grove to Doniphan when, responding to a "call of duty", she started for the South to help educate the Negro. Miss Baker was a highly educated lady, and was considered a most excellent teacher. She was wealthy, also, and was the owner of a quarter section of land on which a Mr, McNulty now lives, near Denton.
During the '60s, wild turkeys were plentiful along Wolf river. In our youth we have patiently listened to the recitals of tales told by turkey hunters of the Hooper's Ford country, and to make a careful estimate of the number of birds killed there by these marksmen of unerring aim during the early days, we should feel like placing the number at 18,701, taking for correct their own reports. Yet it is scarcely possible that each hunter killed as many birds as have been reported, and in justice to our readers we feel that the estimated number should suffer a generous reduction. A well known failing of weak humanity is to overestimate and enlarge. Objects viewed in the blinding light of fame or glory often assume distorted proportions, and soft colors are made to blend and blaze riotously. Then, let us content ourselves by believing that the actual number of turkeys killed in these early times was much less than the above named figure, and that the narrators of the stories were honest men led, for the moment, from the straight path of veracity by the flashlight of enthusiasm. Hower,[sic] turkey shooting was, for many years, a favorite sport on Wolf river, and once in a while a bird strayed across the country to Independence, just to excite the curiosity and stimulate the ambition of the high prairie marksman.
Andy Weir, Joe Malon, Bob Pope, Sam Poynter and other good fiddlers, whose names we have forgotten, furnished the music for the dances attended by our fathers and mothers during the '60s and '70s, when high-heeled boots, corduroy pantaloons and paper collars for the men, and grape-vine hoop-skirts, Grecian bends and waterfalls for the women, were in fashion,
One of our early settlers traded his oxteam for a barrel of whiskey, and the friends he invited in that winter to help him drink it, declared that the old man had made a good trade.
At the time of the earthquake on April 24, 1867, a young lady pupil in the Syracuse school, which was then situated about a mile north of its present location, became the innocent victim of a misunderstanding. The teacher, absorbed in her writing at her desk felt a jar which shook not only her desk, but the whole house. Glancing up to learn the cause of the disturbance, her eye met the frightened gaze of this young lady pupil. Quickly arriving at the conclusion that the pupil was the author of the mischief, the teacher accused her of having used the desk for a drum. The young lady declared her innocence, but the teacher was in a pout, and made the pupil stand on the floor as a punishment for her supposed misdeed. Later, investigation on the part of the teacher proved that Dame Nature had had a spasm, and that the young lady pupil had been misjudged and wrongly punished. The teacher had mistaken an expression of fear in the pupil's face for a sign of guilt.
One of the largest eagles ever killed in the county was shot by John Gray in 1868, on the southeastern section of Wolf River township. The bird measured 8 feet, 6 inches in expanse of wings.
A third of a century ago, in 1871, the farmers of Wolf River township cut 3,565 acres of wheat, making 88,406 bushels; 1,465 acres of barley, making 25,334 bushels; 10,872 acres of corn, making 378,640 bushels; 1,482 acres of oats, making 44,064 bushels.
On the Charles Ladwig farm, on the boundary line between Center and Wolf River townships, a short distance east of where Bendena is now located, there was kept, 1873, a pet deer that belonged to Victor, the youngest son of Mr. Ladwig. The deer had been brought from the West by the boy's uncle, but it never made a desirable pet on account of its disposition to butt visitors and make itself generally obnoxious when there was little or no provocation. It refused to reform and had to be killed.
The first threshing done by steam power was by Cook & Otten of Wayne township, who brought their outfit into this township about 1877.
One of the first self-binders to come into use in the township was a Walter A. Wood wire binder, in 1879, and was owned by the Gray Brothers.
About the year 1883, ten or a dozen of the farmers of the southern and eastern portion of Wolf River township, tried the experiment of having negroes do their farm work. After the first year's trial a few of the farmers let their negroes go and employed white men. After the second or third year the remainder of the farmers discharged their colored help and again took white men into their fields. These negroes were a jolly set, all Southern born, jet black and genuine sons of the cotton field. After their day's labor they would congregate at night at some neighbor's house to sing their Southern melodies, in which happy occupation they often would continue until a late hour. Stealing watermelons was their favorite pastime. One of the most successful raids on a watermelon patch, of which we have any knowledge, and in which we confess to having been implicated in our younger days, was conducted by one of those colored gentlemen of which we write. They were a jolly set but failed to suit their employers. They bore the family names of distinguished men.
A Wolf River township man, who resided in Doniphan in the early days, described Captain Dunning's band of "Tigers" as being fine looking, brave men, dressed in gray pantaloons and blue shirts with red cord ornaments on the breasts, all anxious for smell of gunpowder and a little of the experience of battle.
The town was laid off in 1869 by C. C. Clonch, John Severance and Dr. Robert Gunn, and $500 was donated to the railroad company to build a depot at the place. When the railroad was built through Ryan Station, which was located about a mile and a half east of Severance, the company agreed with Joel Ryan not to put in a station within three miles of Ryan's. Nevertheless, soon after the locating of Severance, the railroad company put in a platform and a side track at Severance. Ryan went to law with the company, and after a great deal of wrangling the trouble was settle in a way, and a depot was built at Severance in 1874.
The first building on or near the townsite was the log cabin of C. C. Clonch, which stood some distance west of the present site of the mill, and which was erected in 1854. Here, in 1855, Clonch was attacked by Swintz and Waggoner, whom he met at his door with a shot gun. With a single shot Clonch killed Waggoner and fatally wounded Swintz. These were, perhaps, the first deaths in the vicinity. The trouble is said to have originated over the alleged trespassing of stock.
The first grain dealer was Adam Brenner, 1869. Win. Ward engaged in the grain business two years later.
The first store building was erected by Alexander Gunn, in 1869. The building is still standing and is in use by Wm. Ward.
The first blacksmith was Al. Porter, who came in that lucky year, 1869.
In the same year a postoffice was established with Alexander Gunn as postmaster. A few of his early successors are here named: A. S. Campbell, Nathan L. Springer and N. A. Springer.
J. J. Glass, (Johnny), was the first to don the "pinafore" and dish out "wet goods" to the thirsty, in the hilarious year of 1869.
Winchester Bell was the proprietor of the pioneer shoe shop.
The first hotel was erected in 1869-70. Its first proprietor was Elder Wright, who had been a preacher in Kentucky.
A mill-dam across Wolf river above the town was built in 1809, by Reuben Small, Thomas H. Franklin and Hazel Frick, and in 1871, a mill was erected within a quarter of a mile of the town limit, west. In the year 1900, the mill was removed to town, the dam having been usless for many years.
The first school house "on the hill" was built in 1871, at a cost of $1,200. The building, which is still standing, was bought by the Christian church people in 1894, and has since been used for church purposes. Some of the earlier teachers of this old school are here named; D. J. Mawherter, 1871-5; D. L. Carpenter, 1876; Wesley Trevett, 1877; Emma Plank, 1878; Lou Clonch, 1879; D. L. Carpenter and Georgia Scott, 1880; T. B. Marshall and Lena Linder, 1881.
The first hardware store was opened in 1871, by L. C. Nelson.
The first school was taught in 1871, by David J. Mawherter, an old-fashioned teacher of the old-fashioned school, with paper collar and red hair, worn pompadour. Mr. Mawherter was the first teacher of the author of this book, at Prairie Grove, in district No. 8, in the eventful year of 1869.
John Toner opened a harness shop in 1871.
In November, 1871, James A. Campbell and his brother, Arch. S. Campbell, opened up the first drug store. They had been in business in Chicago until the time of the great fire, in October of that year.
The Methodist Episcopal church was organized January 25, 1871, by Presiding Elder W. K. Marshall. The first pastor was Rev. G. Wood, 1875. In 1874, a church, costing $2,700 was built. About the same time a parsonage, costing $1,000, was erected. A tireless worker for the church was Mrs. Catharine A. Ripppy
Dr. D. J. Grandstaff, a Virginian and the first town physician, located in 1871. He was followed by Dr. Bell. Dr. G. J. Archer of the Syracuse neighborhood, had been practicing in the country for some nine or ten years.
Dr. Guy S. Hopkins, who was a resident of Severance from 1874 to 1879, lost a child here by accidental poisoning. In August, 1879, the doctor and his wife removed to Gardner, Johnson county, Kansas, where, about thirty days later, another child, a girl, was born. During the doctor's residence in Severance, a strong friendship sprang up between his family and the family of Judge W. H. H. Curtis, and when this new little girl was born in Johnson county, the doctor named her Grace Curtis Hopkins, in the honor of Judge Curtis' daughter, Grace. About 1888 or 1889, the doctor's little girl was taken into a company organized for the purpose of reproducing Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett's famous "Little Lord Fauntleroy", receiving the part of the "Little Lord". Little Grace being a child of uncommon beauty, and possessing remarkable dramatic talent, for one so young, soon won her way into the hearts of the theater-going people of the two continents. Her mother accompanied her in her travels with the company, and she has played "the Little Lord" to great audiences in the capitals of the United States, England, Ireland, Scotland and Australia. All her successes and the flattery and admiration of the thousands that have seen her, failed to turn her "pretty golden head", and she remained, a sensible, sweet American girl, and today she is a bright star in the theatrical firmamaent.
Simon L. Ryan, the first servant of the "Blind Goddess", located here in 1875. Mr. Ryan was also the first station agent here, 1874.
In 1877, the town was incorporated. The first officers were: Mayor, W. H. H. Curtis; City Clerk, L. C. Nelson; Police Judge, J. A. Campbell; Councilmen, Amos Sanford, Dr. G. S. Hopkins, W. D. Rippey, Walter Clonch and John T. Kirwan. The first meeting of the council was held April 15, 1877. The town park was bought and improved by this council. W. D. Rippey is the only surviving member of the council of that year.
Small-pox made fatal ravages in the town in the winter of 1877-8. Some four or five persons succumbed to the disease.
A Severance man in poor health, failing to find relief by the use of Walker's Vinegar Bitters, so heartily praised by Horace Greeley in his time, tried General Pleasanton's "Blue Glass Cure", in 1877, and reported that relief had been obtained.
King Lodge, No. 144, I.O.O.F., was organized September 17, 1877. The first officers were: J. A. Campbell, N.G.; W. B. Hargis, V.G.; A. S. Campbell, R.S.; G. T. Dooley, P.S.; A. E. Cyphers, treasurer. About 1884, the Order built a large hall which has a large stage and plenty of room for the audience. In the second story is the lodge room, ample and well furnished. Severance is a first-class play town, and the old stage in this hall has been well worn with the "tread of many famous feet".
B. F. Harpster was the first to open a bank in the spring of 1878. It was a private bank. Mr. Harpster continued in the banking business here until about 1895.
In 1879, Thomas McGee was found dead lying on a railroad bridge on the east line limit of the town. The coroner's jury found that he had fallen there during the night, and that his death had been caused by the rupture of an artery in the brain.
In the same year, Marshal Joseph Sykes was stabbed and killed by Ira McIntyre, at Sykes' door. This occurred on the old hotel block, the exact spot being unknown; but the location of Sykes' house was on the northern part of the block, not far from the railroad.
Early in the '80s, the Franklin Brothers, Ed. and Will, had a job printing establishment here. They did some most excellent work, and a great deal of it, for the merchants. One of the jobs turned out was a book of poems for a rising young poet of the county, printed in 1884, with red marginal lines and colored paper cover.
A Public Library was established in 1881, which is still in existence, furnishing the reading public with the newest and best literature.
Along in the '80s, the Barlow boys, local terrors from Union township, put a few dashes of red paint on the town, on one or two occasions. About the same time they robbed the postoffice at Normanville and shot Mrs. Normile, wounding her seriously. The Police Gazette published pictures of "the boys" and gave an account of their raids.
In 1882, the first elevator was built by Snively & Moll, at a cost of $4,000.
In 1882, St. Vincent de Paul's Catbolie church was built at a cost of about $2,000. Father Pirmin M. Koumly, O.S.B., of St. Benedict's parish in Union township, was placed in charge.
Severance has been the home of three newspapers. The Enterprise, started by H. H. Brooks, in February, 1883; The Times, established in August of the same year, by E. J. Vandeventer; The News, born in April, 1889, is still living. The first editor was W. T. Randolph; the second, P. L. Gray; the third, L. P. Johnson; the fourth, Eva Ryan; the fifth, M. Lucey, and the sixth and present editor is Mrs. Hattie E. Peeler.
Frank Dixon's threshing machine broke through the Wolf river bridge at this place August 7, 1886. The engineer, Jake Mulkey, and his son, Caleb, went down with the engine and were badly bruised up.
Poke Wells, a notorious river horse thief from Missouri, was captured on a farm, one mile east of Severance, in the spring of 1887, and taken to prison. It was thought that he would be a hard man to take into custody, that he would not be taken alive, etc., but he was caught "napping", as it were on a very windy day, when his captors approached without being detected. When the officers came down on him they found him engaged in the very prosaic occupation of sharpening his pocket knife on the grind stone!
Severance had a conflagration Sunday morning, January 22, 1893, the most destruciive in its history, which swept one side of the street, almost the length of the block. About 4 o'clock that morning, a clerk sleeping in the upstairs of J. A. Dillon's store, was awakened by something falling in the room below. He found the room full of smoke, and saved himself by jumping from the window. The lower part of the store was in flames and nothing could be saved. This building was on the southwest corner of the block. The fire spread to the adjoining buildings on the north and swept the entire side of the block, except Campbell's drug store on the northwest corner. The other buildings burned were, Leonard's drug store, Harpster's bank, Vigus' harness shop and a billiard hall. All these saved a portion of their goods.
On the night of Hallowe'en, 1894, a crowd of boys and girls, while engaged in a Hallowe'en serenade, was fired on with a shot gun in the hands of a man named Wood, who became angry because the crowd had made too much noise at his door. Two shots were fired at close quarters into the crowd, which quickly scattered in all open directions. No one was seriously injured, but the doctor was busy for some time picking shot out of the lower limbs of half a dozen of the serenaders, both sexex having shared equally in the distribution of the leaden pellets.
A. C. Manwaring, once a resident of Severance, was elected to the Indiana senate from the Kosiusco and Wabash district, to fill a vacancy caused by the death of a senator, in February, 1895.
"Triss", a catchy little drama, was presented by the Severance Dramatic Company, in July, 1890.
One, of the most interesting games of bass[sic] ball ever played in the county, was played at Severance on July 4, 1896, between the Severance News club of little girls and the "old boys" of the G.A.R. It was not only a contest between youth and old age, but was, also, a struggle between father and child, for many of the girls were daughters of the veterans. The veterans' costumes consisted of check shirts, blue overalls and straw hats, while the little girls wore caps, shirt waists, and bloomers and short skirts. Each club had its friends who furnished plenty of applause. The veterans made many good hits, sending the ball far and high, but stiff joints and dried muscles hindered them from making many runs. The girls won the game, the secret of their success being in their ability to run bases and score tallies; indeed, they batted the ball harmlessly enough, as if it were a thing of delicacy. Although the day was very warm, the game did not lag until the end, and the audience was the most enthusiastic ever seen at a base ball game in this county. A game between June bugs and grasshoppers could not have caused greater excitement. The game was witnessed by about 2,000 people. Following is a list of the names of the players:
G. A. R. Club - Geo. H. Robb, Sam Moyer, Lafe Bowman, Bowen Small, Henry Dresser, Geo. Bird, W. Stewart and Wm. Ward.
Girls' Club - Daisy Robb, Pearl Turner, Virginia Crady, Linnie Hancock, Rosie Delaney, Lulu Weaver, Lottie Tracey, Katie Delaney and "Harriet" Chapman.
During the years of 1894-5-6, five brick buildings were erected. Delaney & Lyous',[sic] Harpster's bank, now Morley's bank, J. A. Dillon's, now Gus. Ebner's, Ed. Heeney's, and the Turner hall. The years from 1892 to 1896, were the most prosperous ever enjoyed here. The Severance News, then an 8-column paper, had to put on side-boards to carry all the advertising - that is to say, it had to issue a supplement week after week. Ed. Heeney's appropriate title, "Car Load Heeney", was bestowed upon that hardware prince during this time. The Bank of Severance began reaching out for business to the farthest ends of the county, and soon found itself in the front rank. Gus. Ebner built a new store with a firewall, and sold shoes to everybody that had feet. W. N. Vanbebber had charge of the livery barn and his axle grease bill was no small item of expense, for the busy wheels of his rigs kicked up the dust continually. Franklin & Frick's mill kept rumbling on, singing the song of prosperity. Delaney & Lyons used printers' ink by the gallon, Burnett Brothers actually sold diamonds to the farmers, and A. B. Showers was kept jumping about in his restaurant sixteen hours a day. Mrs. P. A. Corcoran had a dozen boarders and never served them a lean meal. Frank Leonhard, druggist, prospered and was happy. Frank is still in the harness with new collar, tough tugs, brass buckles and plush back and belly bands. Dentist Doc Bennett waxed fat in purse and person, never deserting the town except for a few weeks, when, in 1893, astride of his good horse "Calamity", he raced with Lucy C. Hunnecut for a farm in the Cherokee strip. Bob Vigus, tonsorial artist, was continually busy in his neatest of parlors. He put his customers "next" from two chairs and was considered the most skillful barber in the county. J. A. Dillon, an excellent business man, was drawing trade from all over the county. J. R. Hopkins used half a page in the News to advertise his goods, and swelled his bank account to most comfortable dimentions. W. H. H. Curtis, one of the most able lawyers in the county, worked hard and won honor and the reward of coin. Judge Curtis has often been weighed in the balance and found full weight. Billy Ward, the pioneer business man, fed the hungry from his meat shop and grew fat himself. M. H. Peeler, dealer in grain, kept his elevator humming day and night. C. N. Willis, known in advertising as "Screen Door Willis", had gratifying sales. He was a persistent and sly advertiser. The Grand Island railroad received a good patronage from stock men, grain men and merchants, and the coffers of the county treasury were filled with tax money from the town. Truly Severance occupied a conspicuous place on the map. She continues to hold her own and, in our opinion, will never be induced to take a seat in the rear.
Present business houses in Severance: Ed. Heeney, hardware; J. M. Morley, Bank of Severance; Lyon's Cash Store; Gus. Ebner, shoe dealer; Ebeling & Laverentz, millers; Gregg & Gregg, hardware; J. H. Blevins, cider mill; J. W. Pry, auctioneer; Jake Kersch, clothier; David C. Hall, barber; A. B. Showers, confectioner; J. A. Campbell, notary public; T. H. Franklin, justice of the peace and insurance agent; A. J. Clyman, coal and grain; George Springer, general merchandise; Mrs. Hattie E. Peeler, The Severance News; W. N. Vanbebber, liveryman; Mrs. E. R. Chapman, milliner; Mrs. R. A. Corcoran, "Shamrock" Hotel; L. M. Bennett, dentist; Chas. J. Foster, stockman; A. D. Hall, blacksmith; Mrs. M. J. Hambaugh, milliner; Miss Belle Zimmerman, milliner; R. H. Merrick, dentist; T. E. Horner, M.D.; T. J. Francis, lumber; H. C. Hansen, insurance.
The town has, at least, four men who have been in business continuously for more than a third of a century. William Ward and J. A. Campbell, who came in 1871, W. D. Rippey, who was on the ground when the town was located, and Col. J. W. Pry, veteran auctioneer, and author of two manuscript books, "The Bachelor's Guide" and "Experiences of an Auctioneer".
Fire dates - Heeney and Lyon's hardware store, Frank Dixon's place and others on the north side of Linn street, 1883; Dillion's, Harpster's, Burnett's, Vigus', Leonhard's and the billiard hall on the east side of Dryden street, January 23, 1893; Leonhard's, on the south side of Linn street, 1894; Roach's elevator, 1901, and City Hotel, 190.3.
Transcribed from Gray's Doniphan County history: A record of the happenings of half a hundred years. By P. L. (Patrick Leopoldo) Gray. Bendena, Kan.: The Roycroft Press, 1905. 3p. l. -84, 166,  p. front., plates, ports. 24 cm.
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project