Maple Hill State Bank.
J. Thomas & Son.
Dr. C. E. Yates.
Maple Hill is one of the newer towns of the county, yet it has an interesting eary[sic] history. It was a part of the Pottawatomie Reserve and the French who settled in the vicinity were, with the exception of a few adventurers, the first settlers in the county. This settlement was made in 1844 at the time of the ratifiaction[sic] of the treaty between the Government and Indians. Chief among these French people was a large family of Bourassas, of which Mr. Eugene Bourassa seems to have been the head. They built grist-miIls and saw-mills and the old dams are still to be found on Mill Creek. Their principal business was grist and lumber work for the Government. They also supplied the Indians and goods. There was another family came with the Bourassas in 1844, Shorey by name. One of the early landmarks is a stone set up by the explorer, Freemont, who stopped with the Bourassas in 1843, on his way west. Later others were added to the settlement. One of the first marriages on record is that of Isabella Bourassa and R. H. Watterman in 1859.
In 1864, Maple Hill was organized as a voting precinct and the polls were at Watterman's place. This place is known as Rocky Ford. The Santa Fe Trail crossed the Kaw River just above the rocks. The first postoffice was on the Watterman place; later it was moved to Eugene Bourassa's, then to Wellhouse's, and from there to George Mouer's.
In 1861 the treaty for breaking up the Pottawatomie Reserve was ratified, and in 1866 the allotments of land was made to the Indians, and the surplus lands opened for sale by the Santa Fe Railroad Company. This encouraged immigration, but settlement was slow. It was the habit of settlers to stop at Mill Creek for a sojourn of a few weeks or months, and go on west. In 1872 there were about eighteen families living in the settlement.
The early settlers of Maple Hill do not tell so many stories of hard times as do the settlers of other vicinities. They did their trading at St. Marys and sent their children there to school until a schoolhouse was built at home. They were on friendly terms with the Indians and liked them very much as neighbors. The French settlers intermarried with them. These Indians have the reputation of being industrious and fair in their dealings. They lived in small buildings, and were selfrespecting enough not to beg.
There was no road at this time except the Fort Riley branch of the Santa Fe Trail.
The stone schoolhouse was built in the early days in a historic spot. It began with one pupil - Eugene Bourassa. The teacher's name was Loofe. This schoolhouse was a kind of public hall in the early days, and all meetings, religious and secular, were held in it. S. H. Fairfield used to collect taxes there, before Maple Hill and Newbury townships were divided.
In 1873 there was a large influx of settlers from Massachusetts. They were the children and relatives of Santa Fe officials, and had plenty of money. Things began to hum. They built large stone houses and fitted themselves out regardless of expense. From all accounts their occupation was farming, cattleraising, and money-squandering.
In 1882 a man came who has ever since figured prominently in the affairs of Maple Hill. This was George Fowler, a son of the Fowler who owns the packing-house in Kansas City. He fenced in considerable land, and incidentally fenced up the Santa Fe Trail.
There was a leap in the value of lands as they began to be fenced and brought under culture. About this time the nucleus of a town was formed.
About 1884 a store was started by Brooks and Verits, on the Pine Ranch, about two miles south and west of the present site of Maple Hill. Soon after the third partner, J. N. Dolley, was taken in. They did business in this manner until about 1866, when Mr. Brooks retried and Verity and Dolley continued the business. The postoffice, which had for years before been established and had gone from one farmhouse to another, was moved into the store in about 1884, where it remained until moved to the railroad town in 1887.
Dr. Kemper was the pioneer doctor, having come here and established a practise near the old Maple Hill store in the early eighties, and moved into town.
The stone church was built and dedicated tbout[sic] 1885, and services were held there until 1902 or 1903. It being so far from town the Congregationalists moved into town and built a new church. Much credit in building both these churches was due to Rev. W. S. Crouch and his helpful wife.
During the fall and summer of 1886 several surveys were made up the Mill Creek Valley, crossing the large ranches and its prosperous farms. The survey made up the railway company, called the Chicago, Kansas & Nebraska, was afterwards bought by the Rock Island interests. After passing the junction of Mill Creek and the Kaw River in Northeast Wabaunsee County, the interests intended to form a junction between the Fort Worth and Colorado lines at a point about one mile east of the present site of Maple Hill, which was the most natural place. As there was a fight between the two large ranches, the Fowler Ranch and the Pierce Ranch, as to where the town should be located, the Rock Island decided to go where they were given more encouragement (McFarland) and the two factions were left to fight out their own town battle. The Fowler site was finally, after a very warm fight, successful in capturing the town, and in August, 1887, after the depot and side-tracks had been build, Mr. Fowler advertised a free excursion to Maple Hill from Kansas City and Topeka. Three trains were needed to carry the crowd. A free dinner was also given, also a free dance at night in the Hereford barn on the Fowler Ranch. At the time of the sale of lots there had been only a few buildings erected. J. N. Dolley had a store and warehouse near the corner of Third and Maine Streets, which was the first store in the present townsite. J. H. Verity and the Pierce interest had a store just west and south of town, where the postoffice was kept, as J. H. Verity was the postmaster at the old store which was about a mile and one-half south and west. A few years later a stone store was built on Main Street, near the Fowler elevator and Pierce & Co. succeeded J. H. Verity and occupied the stone building, R. S. Smith occupying the former Verity store, which had then been moved to the south end of Main Street, as a hardware store. This store was soon transferred to Warner & Griggs, of Topeka, who conducted a paying business there until about 1901, when they sold to Taylor Bros. The Pierce store existed and did a thriving business, but much of this was credit, until about 1893, when they were succeeded by Wm. Robinson. Shortly after this store had changed hands, J. N. Dolley purchased the stone store and rented Rhinearson his former stand and the two stocks were transferred to W. R. Bracken, who conducted it for about a year and moved the stock away. About 1893, J. N. Dolley took in a partner (David Stewart) and the firm was known as Dolley & Stewart and the stock increased. A furniture and clothing department was added. From 1893 this firm carried a larger stock of goods than is usually found in a small town, being about a $20,000 stock, and had a good selection of anything that could be desired.
The first house built in Maple Hill was the Gilbert Stewart property, which was formerly the farmhouse on the Fowler Ranch. Mr. Simms built on Third and Fowler Avenue which was really the first house built after the starting of the town. Joseph Hetherington started a blacksmith and wagon-shop near Third and Fowler the same year. W. B. Small built the Windler Hotel, lit it by gas and heated it by steam for several years. It was well kept and did a good business during the summer as a fishing resort and many people from Topeka and elsewhere made this their favorite outing place. Reed & Smith thinking there was prospect for a larger town during the boom days of the eighties and nineties bought forty acres of the Stone farm and plotted it into a suburb of the town. This is now nearly all taken several parties owning four to six tracts.
About 1888 Thos. Brownlee was appointed postmaster, which position he filled until about 1892, when J. W. Clark, our pioneer harnessmaker, was appointed his successor. Mr. Brownlee started a general merchandise store on a small scale while in the postoffice, which he afterward continued and increased until about 1902. J. W. Clark kept the postoffice about two years and resigned about 1893, and Geo. H. Smith, the pioneer druggist, was appointed. He held the position until the fall of 1897, when H. E. Beaubien was appointed. He held the place until October 1, 1889, when H. R. Williams was appointed and has held the position ever since. Soon after Mr. Smith was removed as postmaster he sold his drug stock to Charles F. Payne of Topeka, and moved to Spokane, Washington.
In the early spring of 1900 when everything was dry, in the small hours of the night, Maple Hill receiver her first backset. Some one discovered a fire at the rear of the drug-store and gave the alarm. In a short time there were several men on hand with buckets and water, but not until the fire had made such headway in the drug-store that no one could enter. This fire destroyed five buildings, the drug store, Dr. Menard's office, adjoining it, the Axley store, and Stewart's meat market and ice-house. By heroic work the contents of all but the drug-store were saved. These buildings were soon replaced by better ones.
In November of the same year, in the night, fire was again discovered, this time on the outside of the building occupied by Dolley & Stewart's clothing and furniture store. This fire spread until it swept away the barber-shop next door and Dolley & Stewart's warehouse in the rear, but by heroic efforts the Fowler cribs and elevator, as well as a large quantity of the contents of Dolley & Stewart's warehouse, also the stone or main store of Dolley & Stewart, were saved. New warehouses and other buildings were at once built and business went on as usual, until early in the spring of 1901, the alarm of fire was again heard at an early hour in the morning, this time to find the stone store had been afire for several hours on the inside, caused by spontaneous combustion. After this fire Mr. Dolley withdrew from active business in the mercantile line and Mr. David Stewart, together with Robert Best, formed the firm of Stewart & Best, and bought out Thomas Brownlee, at the old original Dolley stand. This firm was soon succeeded by David Stewart, who again burned out in the fall of 1903, fire having caught from the adjoining building. He at once moved into other quarters and continued business. Mr. Dolley was then in the real estate and insurance business. In 1904 he entered politics.
Thomas Brownlee moved to Dover and died in 1905. W. R. Small closed the Windler Hotel in about 1899 and moved to Blackwell, Oklahoma. While proprietor of the hotel he served two terms as Register of Deeds of Wabaunsee County. Gilbert Stewart, the pioneer butcher, sold out about 1900, bought a farm and was not actively engaged in business until 1907, when he began to buy and ship hogs.
R. T. Updegraff, who started the first lumber-yard, began business about 1888, and continued in it until January 1, 1905, when he sold to Star Lumber Company, to act in the capacity of President of the Maple Hill State Bank, which was organized in the fall of 1904, with R. T. Updegraff as president, and Chas. P. Banker as cashier. In 1907 he bought an interest in the store, established by F. L. Grove in about 1898, at this time being owned by T. W. Ormsbee, and formed the Maple Hill Mercantile Company.
W. S. Isham had been tinner here for several years until a mail-box for rural mail patrons was patented in 1902, and a company formed to manufacture the boxes. It was called the Maple Hill Manufacturing Company and was composed of J. N. Dolley, W. S. Isham, P. C. Chamberlain and H. R. Williams. This firm did business for two years. During the first year 10,000 of these boxes were made and shipped. About ten men were employed during this year. The second year was not so prosperous and in the fall the whole business was sold out to W. S. Isham.
The Business Men's Commercial Club was formed in 1900, with W. J. Todd as president, John Turnbull, vice-president, and G. P. Sturgis, secretary and treasurer. Its objects were the welfare and the benefit of the business interests of Maple Hill. They did many commendable things, among them being the planting and cultivating of about one hundred shade trees along some of the principal streets.
Maple Hill has two churches, the Congregational, established in the old Adams schoolhouse about 1862, and the M. E. Church, established about 1888. The school-building built in 1904 is the pride of the town and surrounding country.
The Stockgrowers' State Bank was organized in October, 1906, with Franklin Adams, president; J. N. Dolley, vice-president; and J. D. Weaver, cashier. They did a general banking business and are doing a fine business for a small town.
For several years after the second fire there was no hall in town for lodge work or public meetings, but in 1905, J. D. Weaver put up a two-story stone building - a storeroom below and hall above.
|R. T. Updegraff, leading business man of Maple Hill is president President of the Maple Hill State Bank, head of the Ormbee & Updegraff Mercantile Company, the principal general mercantile store. He is also owner of the Winkler Hotel, meat market and a splendid farm near the town. Mr. Updegraff is a native of Ohio but has been in business here ever since he came to Kansas. No man in the county has more diversified business interests than he has and made such a gratifying success. He is the fortunate possessor of a beautiful home and interesting family. To do business in Maple Hill you must see Mr. Updegraff.|
Chas. F. Payne, the only druggist at Maple Hill, was born in London, England, in 1863. At the age of 15 years was apprenticed to a chemist and druggist at Folkeston, County of Kent. After serving his apprenticeship and having passed the examination he secured a position with a leading firm of druggists in Colchester, Essex, where he remained four years, rising to the position of head dispenser (or prescription clerk); resigning to come to the United States in 1887. Mr. Payne has been in business in Maple Hill for over eight years, coming to that place from Topeka, and enjoys the patronage and confidence of the best people in the community. His store is well stocked and is neat and attractive, a feature of the store being no liquors handled for any purpose.
Transcribed from Business directory and history of Wabaunsee County pub. by The Kansas directory company of Topeka, Kansas, 1907. 104 p. illus. (incl. ports.) 21 cm. Advertising matter interspersed.
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