Candy pulling parties, duck hunting, cribbage, croquet, lawn tennis, baseball― all were popular pastimes in town as the nineteenth century came to a close. The Eudoras, the town’s baseball team that formed in 1890, typically played teams from Blue Mound, Black Jack, Prairie Center, Hesper, and Harmony on Ash Street between Thirteenth Street and Fourteenth Street. About one baseball game, the newspaper wrote:
“A crowd of alleged ball tossers from Lawrence invaded our quiet hamlet Saturday afternoon and crossed bats with the local team. Two innings were played when the visitors concluded they had enough. The score was 18 to 1 in favor of our boys.”
The A.O.U.W Hall, shown here on the left, built in 1891 joined Durr’s Hall, the site of many concerts and entertainments, as a venue for social occasions. The Eudora Literacy Society, Gun Club, and Eudora Dance Club with its annual masquerade supper, kept social calendars penciled in. To Miller’s Grove in Lawrence went wagonloads of Eudora revelers to the German Day festival with the Clearfield band supplying the music even though town leaders thought the festivities should be held in Eudora.
Life wasn’t all fun and games. When Sam Grimes assaulted his father-in-law, Leslie Hobbs, a blind, elderly man who lived with his wife, Elvira (Grisham), in Kaw Valley, local citizens were outraged. Fred Brender’s son, Willie, age 3, sat in a live bed of coals at his father’s smithy. Although his clothes were on fire and skin from his back peeled off, he survived. S.W. Caldwell’s house at 839 Main Street also caught on fire, in this instance, from a defective flue. Buckets of water pulled from nearby wells couldn’t extinguish the flames, so fire fighters pushed in the walls with poles, but the house burnt to the ground. Diphtheria, too, swept the community, taking many of the young, including Suzie Curlett, 8; Freda Loepple, 12; Agnes Gloyd, 9; and Bonnie Carr, 9.
In 1975, Ralph Reed studied voting patterns of Eudorans from 1880 to 1900. Describing Eudora as having a large German-Catholic population from the Reich area of Germany, Reed discovered that Eudorans voted predominately Republican. They also voted opposite from the rest of Douglas County and the state of Kansas. When other voters supported change, Eudora opposed it; the same was true for wanting change when the rest of the voters did not. For example, Eudorans strongly voted against giving women the vote, favored adding justices to the state Supreme Court, and (by almost 100 percent) opposed a Prohibition Amendment that outlawed alcohol. It’s not surprising that Eudora citizens voted against alcohol prohibition: Each Sunday was “bock beer day,” according to Eudora newspapers that commented frequently on the unruly incidents associated with drinking the “bock,” a dark beer at the bottom of a beer barrel.
Free homesites in Oklahoma drew the interest of many in Eudora during 1893. Participants in the land rush there included Jacob Schafer, H.A. White, Al Durr, Carl Durr, H. Oberholzer, H. Hagenbuch, W. Stadler, M. Eisele, M. Gufler, E. Fischer, C. Fischer, Chris Kaiser, Bernard Hammert, Dug Smith, Tom Hughes, C. Mathews, A. Knop, C. Griffith, Mel Wilson, George Gufler, C. E. Taylor, and J. Schoenhofer. Only one of the group obtained land, and it was in the bottom of a gully, 25 feet deep.
A few years later, there was news of an oil boom in Oklahoma. Once again, a number of men from Eudora left to stake out land for homesteading. Daniel Reber covered a lumber wagon with canvas, put straw in the wagon bed, and fastened two long boxes by the end gate to feed the horses. He tied a sack of corn under the wagon to feed the horses in case they could not find corn along the way. He packed blankets, food, coffee pot, and tin cups for the meals he cooked with Charles Gabriel, Ed Diedrich, and Gus Fiehler. Reber was one of them who eventually returned to Eudora.
Business heyday. On the business front, in 1890 A. L. Barker, Edwardsville, bought out the wagon making stand of Brueggan, ran it a few months, then went home and Brueggan took back his stand. Emma Kunkel and Met Hastings bought the millinery of Mrs. Pittsford. The elevator got machinery to make rye and buckwheat flour. The Seiwald brothers shipped their apples to points in Colorado — three to four train carloads in the height of the season. Trains of this time also shipped wheat, corn, cattle, and hogs on a regular basis.
In 1891, Dr. W. L. Newlin moved to Overbrook; Robert Bartusch put a well behind his bakery and living quarters above the store; Jacob Dolisi, owner of the Seventh Street Meat Market, built a 21-foot by 21-foot ice house on the Wakarusa levee (and also redid the foundation on his house); the cheese factory in the “old sweet corn building” was moved to Dr. Bishoff’s farm in Hesper for Swiss cheese production; Hillyer & Head bought H. Schueete’s Eighth Street Meat Market; Joshua Reber built a new 20-foot by 25-foot blacksmith shop opposite his old one; and Ida Brender took over the millinery business (1891).
T. Haelsig made harnesses. A. F. Haelsig, jeweler and watch repairman, also sold pharmacy items, including liquor and fine wines for medicinal use. Another business proprietor selling alcohol was John Buck, who claimed to have “best” liquors and “tip-top” beer; John Hammert served the “choicest” liquors at his saloon. Illegal “joints” such as one in Clearfield owned by John Madl in 1898 or “Sandy Hook ” and “Santiago” that operated just north of the Kansas River and closed in 1899 popped up from time to time until the 1920s, much to the ire of authorities. M. N. Wilson and W. R. Barrett dissolved their partnership in a general merchandise store in 1892. William Schubert sold furniture and was an undertaker at 715 and 719 Main . Wrote Harriet Schubert Banks January 29, 2008: I would that someplace on that north wall [719 Main, site of present-day Jasmine's] is an entrance to the brick. I remember that the stairway went up to the second floor on the on that south[?] side of the furniture store. Grandma and Grandpa had an apt. up there along with another apt. in the back for Uncle Edwin. There was one bathroom and that was off the hall. There was an embalming room in the back of the barber shop as I remember it.”
E. Wilson, Horton, visited Eudora in 1892 and thought it needed a bank. Subsequently, the State Bank of Eudora, shown here, opened in 1892 with Wilson as cashier and a board of directors headed by Charles Pilla with August Ziesenis, Adolph Lotz, C. N. Bishoff, Henry Abels, and Elmer Williams of Kansas City. Other early officers affiliated with the bank were A. Lotz, W. W. Bromelsick, E. Gerstenberger, A. J. Jennings, John Selzer, Carl Durr, Jim Hadley, George Brune, and C. Thoren. Its opening was delayed a few days because of the death of Elvin Wilson, 11, son of E. Wilson, who died of whooping cough the day before the opening. To make the bank’s vault, five thousand bricks and one cord of stone were used. Among its offerings were steamship tickets to Europe. By 1900, the bank had a capital of $10,000 and a surplus of $820.
The cold winter of 1893 prompted area ice harvesters to cut ice from the Kansas River. The Dolisis took in 200 tons; Charles Bartusch, who had moved his ice house east of the bridge to the west side of it, almost as much; Bartz and Albright, 100 tons; and Frank Seiwald, the same. Charles Pilla and W. J. Fowler harvested ice for personal use, taking in 25 tons each. When it got cold, the river drew many skaters, for example, Ida White who skated from Lawrence to Eudora one cold winter day in 1894 in two and one-half hours. And, in 1894 “The mayor gave permission to an old German man to make willow baskets in the house on Leander Island,” reported the April 19, 1894 newspaper. As did W. A. Fuller, John Brender sold hardware and stoves. Henry Abels, a postmaster at one time, and a Meyers sold coal and livestock. Abels regularly shipped train carloads of hogs with Kraus to the Kansas City markets.
During this time, the Eudora Mills at Fifth Street and Locust Street was up and running day and night, at first grinding corn meal and feed. The mill had its own side track off the Santa Fe Railroad, and tramps often lived in parked railroad cars there. The 1886 Polk Directory lists the owners as Rahskoff and Hiddleston; in 1888, it was Hiddleston and Griffith, and John Parcels, Lawrence, bought an interest in the mill, too. In 1889, the company put up a stone coal house. By 1890, the Eudora Milling Company directors were E. W. Friggith, C. W. Putnam, C. E. Griffith, and J. W. Parcels who oversaw the flour and mash products made from the full roller process. Parcels ran the mills starting in 1892 until at least 1900, because a 1900 directory lists it as King & Parcels with a full roller process carrying these brands: Gilt Edge, Cream of the City, Straight Patent, and Trade Union. According to an 1892 and 1894 directory, the business was known as the Jewett Milling Company. The 1895 state census valued the mill at $7,000. Four employees processed wheat and corn there with a 50-horsepower steam engine. And, in 1901, Walter Bromelsick owned and operated the Eudora Mills, which was producing flour by that time, until 1913 when he sold it to Arthur Anderson of DeSoto. At the time Bromelsick left, the mill had an 80-barrel capacity and an elevator that could store 18,000 bushels of grain. Bromelsick remembered Eudora in his will and left the high school his collection of books in 1938.
Others associated with the mill, were C.E. Sheldon (who bought it around 1915 and operated it for decades); J. Adams (who owned it 1927, according to the Sanborn map that showed it on Locust Street with a flour and feed warehouse, the mill built in 1886, crib bed and elevator built in 1903, with the engine room and cob room on the eastern end); and William Trefz, a long-time miller, there. Sam Jewett and R. D. Mason, both of Lawrence, invested in the mill in 1894 and put in new flooring and windows. John Parcels oversaw the remodeling. Jewett died two years later. Charles Gabriel also had a mill; his was on the southwest edge of town, according to his advertisements, and specialized in corn milling.
The Eudora Creamery Company, shown here, also got its start, which was in 1893. The one story, 48-foot by 28-foot, five-room structure almost went up in a smoke a few months later when fire destroyed the nearby elevator and mill. The creamery took off in 1895 when it finally got out of debt, added a separator, and shifted its drainage course from a small creek to the Wakarusa River . The creamery took in 1.4 million pounds of milk from July of 1894 to July1895 and made 62,217 pounds of butter sold primarily in Kansas City. The company's directors at this time were Charles Lothholz, Charles Pilla, William Lothholz, C. Thoren, Barclay Thomas (president), Joseph West, J. Canary, and William Altenbernd. Eli Wherry, too, had helped start up the creamery. C. F. Pressey was a "butter maker" in 1891, and Edward Brune had worked there, too, managing the butter-making department. William Trefz assisted manager D. Walter at that time. S.E. Brune took over the position for a few months in 1894, then J.P. Dunlap managed it from 1894 to 1898, and, in 1899, Albert Scholl was manager. Sold in 1900 to private owners, the creamery was called Brady-Meriden Creamery Company, manufacturers of Gilt Edge Creamery Butter. By 1925, the creamery was run from a headquarters in Kansas City, which built a 12-foot by 40-foot addition to house the engine and unloading dock. It processed 1,000 gallons of milk daily under the direction of Will Mertz (shown here with John Dunlap) of the business that year and used 45 wagons and trucks. Sibleyville, which had a skimming plant that was part of Eudora’s creamery, burnt in 1906.
Other businesses, directories noted, included Sidney Caldwell’s barbershop; John Brueggen’s wagon shop; Gardner, Hill, & Company; Anton Getker’s undertaking establishment; H. Hoffman’s general store; Phinicies’ grocery; Seiwald brothers’ grocery; George Stadler’s grocery; J. E. Dolisi’s poultry; Mary Scheliefer’s dressmaking; and L. Moll’s bakery and restaurant. Louis Moll also sold beehives and beekeeping equipment. Making harnesses were Traugott Healsig and William Coates. M. N. Wilson bought the general store of his father, J.P. Wilson, in 1894 and took W. R. Barrett as a partner in 1898.
Records kept by Carl Lotz claimed Eudora also had a sulphur match factory (Xfer Hellmiller), Fowler’s restaurant, Fowler watch repair, Ed Rutter pool hall, and flax rope factory (owned in part by Charles Pilla) between 1884 to 1909. Also there was, at least a carp fishery that produced 6,000 pounds for market during the year, according to The Annals of Kansas, 1886-1925 edited by Kirke Mechem. Henry Copp owned the German carp fish farm that had four large ponds, three spawning ponds, and a nine-foot deep, fattening pond with six stalls. The ponds drained into each other and were detailed in a December 1896 Eudora news article.
Bismarck Hotel. Anton Getker built the Bismarck Hotel, 6 West Sixth Street, which opened in August 1895. Some accounts say A. Gufler also invested in the hotel that had a stone section called “The Jug” because of its saloon. Mr. A. Smith and his wife closed the hotel in 1897 because of insufficient business and used the structure for a house as did the Fetterling family in 1898. In 1910, George Mertz, a carpenter, owned it and offered meals for 25 cents at the hotel before George Schneider (shown here in photograph with Bismarck to left) took over management. By 1909, George Liggett was its proprietor.
Olive Nuttall wrote in her Mini-Memories that the basement contained a beautiful dining room and a porch facing south along the public sidewalk. Wrote Nuttall: “I can remember going by and seeing the dressed-up men sitting in the big arm chairs, their feet propped up on the porch railing, smoking their pipes. To a little kid like me, they looked and acted rich.”
The hotel was built in a hollow with a retaining wall on the east and south sides, wrote Mary Williams Knisely, the grand-daughter of Mary Elizabeth (Layne) Erwin who lived in the hotel until 1931. In Memories of Bismark Hotel, Knisely wrote the long front porch on the south led onto a sidewalk with stone steps on the west leading to the downstairs area. The two-story stone building was connected to a one-story building used as a kitchen and torn down in the 1920s. The first floor had one long room on the west with a stairway on the north leading to the dining room below. This floor served as an office and lobby complete with spittoons and couches with three rooms reserved for the proprietor. A pot-bellied stove provided heat in the winter for the room and wood was brought from a stone shed on the west side of the yard. Guests stayed upstairs in five, unheated rooms lit by kerosene lamps. They used the outside toilet or "doniker" in the west part of the yard or "slop jars" in their rooms. The well on the north provided the water for guests' china bowls and pitchers. Knisely wrote in another account that during the “teens,” Jimmy Heffner, a short, heavy-set man with glasses who smoked big, puffing cigars, ran the hotel, then went “back East.” He stored the linens and furniture upstairs. The newspaper reported that Emmett Holland and his wife bought the hotel in 1913 and renamed it the “Holland House.” In August 1915, the owners sold the hotel contents, including seven beds, six bureaus, six washstands, six small tables, a gas range, and 125 towels.
George Lothholz then rented the hotel to Mrs. Leander Erwin. “Doc” Shannon, a veterinarian who "constantly smelled of the pungent odor of the stable" was a permanent resident in the northeast room on the second floor for many years before he shot himself at another location. Knisely wrote: “His room was never cleaned, and it was so crowded with objects that it was scarcely possible to get to the bed. Old Doc seldom changed his clothes (or his bed linens) and he reeked of veterinary medicines.” On September 18, 1979, the structure was gutted by fire. No one was in the building rented by the James Oglesby family and owned by Frances Estrada.
Latter half of decade. Township assessments in 1895 show 123 foreign-born in the city’s 674 population, and 153 foreign-born in the township’s 1,374 population. Out of every 17 foreign-born citizens in the city, only one wasn’t German. A similar ratio existed for the township. Non-Germans may have resented the many Germans as evidenced in 1899 by George Schroeder who lived at the corner of Eighth Street and Main Street. He called Charles Giertz, 16, a “Dutchman” and hit him in the face; he was fined $10 for these actions. The assessment also showed 152 houses in the city, and 19 “old” soldiers; the township had 25 “old” soldiers.
F. F. Allen bought the blacksmith and wagon repair shop of Frank Sommer, the son of Max Sommer, on Church Street in 1896. Sommer went to New York City and married Sophia Pregenzer, a visitor to Eudora, at the Church of the Immaculate Conception there and said he planned to stay in New York City; however, he and his new family later moved to Lawrence. J. A. Eales, owner of the Eudora Cash Store, promised to keep prices low because he didn’t accept credit. Henry Hagenbuch got back in butchering business with Bernard Hammert in 1897, a short-time partner who later moved to Oklahoma in 1900 and advertised (in a 1908 Eudora Weekly News edition): "I am prepared to kill your hogs and cattle, render your lard and make your sausage." Remembered Maggie (Reber) Hagenbuch:
“Harry and I helped his father in the meat business. Butchering was done in a slaughter house on the banks of the Wakarusa. Mom [Mary] Hagenbuch would walk from her home at Ninth and Church each day to the slaughter house to bring our lunch in a basket covered with a clean dish towel. She made delicious baked goods.
“We did country butchering for everyone in the area. We made liver sausage, pork sausages, head cheese, rendered lard, and ponhaus, also known as scrapple. Customers would come from as far away as Kansas City to buy our meat products. It was my job to feed the sausage machine, and one day I got careless and cut off the tips of two fingers.”
The three-room slaughterhouse was east of the ice plant on the Wakarusa bank near the Santa Fe Depot. One room was for slaughtering, another for rendering, and open for sausage making. About 25 hogs were slaughtered weekly from mid-November to the third week in February, ready for salt or smoke. It closed in 1936.
Families also butchered their own meat during this time. Ella (Reber) Gerstenberger in “Biographical Sketches,” prepared by Lauretta Trabant in Eudora Community Heritage told how Fred Arkle, John Mieneke, and John Everley helped her father, Daniel Reber, butcher hogs in the lower part of the family yard. They hung the hogs in a big walnut tree over night. The next day, the family cut up the meat and rendered lard in a kettle outdoors; during the afternoon, they stuffed sausage in clean hog intestines. Ella Reber sat at one end of the board that held the sausage machine and ran the press. The Rebers also dried fruits and vegetables on the porch roofs and processed the food in the oven before packing it in gallon jars. They salted green beans, cucumbers, and other vegetables. Apple butter was made in a big iron kettle over a yard fire and sold by Louisa Reber who would sell some and put one-tenth of her sales proceeds into a baking powder can over the cellar door for church. The family also churned butter in a wooden tub that they delivered and sold for 20 cents a pound.
The year of 1897 started with “Outrage and Murder,” the headline about the discovery of young girl’s body found four miles southeast of Eudora in the Hesper area (the “Steve Woodard” farm) by Herman Stadler and friends while hunting. For two days, hundreds of people came to Eudora to view the strangled, raped body of the young girl until a Shawnee County sheriff identified her as Annabel Williams, 12, who apparently was killed by her father with the assistance of his companion, Macy Jane Mayer. Changing her story at least three times, Mayer first said she killed the girl. Then she said she left the girl in the ravine, and later said she gave the girl to someone else who must have killed her. Mayer was acquitted of the crime even though she said in testimony: “. . .but we went on and crossed the river at Eudora. The girl took a fit while we were going through Eudora, and I drove on past the town and took the girl out and laid her down on a drain behind a hedge, about ten miles southeast the other side of Eudora and left here. She was not dead when I left her.” The girl was buried in the Eudora Cemetery.
Eudora residents who signed up to serve in the Spanish-American War included Charles Starr, a member of a medical crew, and Harrison Wilburn, who served from 1897 to 1900. A.J. Snyder enlisted in 1898 with Company H. 20 th Kansas regiment and served in the Philippines. William Schroeder, a member of the 17 th U. S. Infantry, served in the Philippines; two Thrall brothers, Robert Holmes, and Ed Diedrich were in the U.S. Calvary in Troop E.
In 1898, the local newspaper featured these letters:
Dear Santa, I am afraid if I don’t write to you I won’t get anything. Please bring me a big pretty doll all dressed up fine with shoes and stocking on a book and dishes and Ruth Belle a big rag droll dressed up nice to and a red wagon to ride in. She is big enough to pull it. Don’t bring her any dishes less they are tin. Bring Douglas and Roy and Juanita what you think they would like. They are nearly grown up. Please remember my mamma and papa and all the people on the corner. Good-by. Keystone Corner is where I live and my name is Katie Harris.
Dear Santa Claus, Please dear Santa Claus bring me a doll and a bureau. Ross Koch, 5 years old.
Dear Santa Claus, Bring me a hobby horse. Dear Santa Claus bring me a drum and a second reader. Gustave Koch, 6 years old.
Dear Santa Claus, Please bring me air Gun and pair of leather gloves. Freddie Koch, 6 years old
Dear Santa, Please bring me a watch and some nuts and candy. Brother Willie wants a watch and some nuts and candy. Yours Truly, Charlie Brazil
Dear Santa Claus, Today school is out and I am so anxious for Christmas to come. Please bring me a pair of skates and an overcoat and my little sister Fany she can not write yet and she wants me to tell you to please bring her a trunk, a doll, some candy and nuts. Willie Getker, Leavenworth
For Christmas, I would like to have a set of dishes and a hat for my dolly and George wants a sled. Sure I hope he will get it so will leave my dishes alone. Ora Spurrier
Dear Santa, Please bring me a ring and a book. Sister May wants a toy swing and a doll’s chair. We want some candies. Yours truly, Estelle Brazil
On December 31, 1899, the Kaw Valley State Bank just started by Charles Lothholz showed total assets of $16,008.20. Wrote The Eudora News 50 years later: “It was comparatively easy to start a bank in those days since the government did not dabble into everyone’s affairs. Mr. Lothholz built the present building and placed one of his sons, George, in the bank as cashier.”
The Lothholzes dominated the early years of the banks’ officers with Charles, George (shown here in photograph), and William Lothholz running the bank along with C. J. Achning. The first years were trying: the bank only had one business account, which was the Gardner, Hill, and Company Department Store, and one public account, Eudora Township, because Lothholz was the town treasurer, according to the Kaw Valley State Bank 50th Anniversary booklet.
When Charles Lothholz died in 1909, son William took over the presidency until 1932, and William’s son, Oscar, served as director until 1972; George continued as cashier until 1917, then Everett Cory took his position until 1932. The corner location on Main Street was a premier real estate location. Joel Gustarson, a Lawrence stonecutter, listed the "bank in Eudora" in his portfolio of projects.
Copyright 2015. Higgins, Cindy. Where the Wakarusa Meets the Kaw: The History of Eudora, Kansas. Eudora, KS: Author.