The History of Eudora, Kansas
The History of Eudora, Kansas
Clifford Nowlin, author of My First Ninety Years: A Schoolmaster’s Story of His Life and Times, noted in 1881 that, “the village of Eudora was largely German” and mentioned its Turner Hall, local brewery, and beer saloons. That population expanded a year later when the “Orphan Train” came to Eudora in 1882, according to Train Arrivals in Kansas, with its East Coast orphans available for anyone willing to adopt them.
A look at the Polk’s Directory shows a couple of Eudora hotels during this time, including the American House (Mrs. J. Hiddleston, proprietor) around 727 Main Street and Commercial House (John Anderson, proprietor). The American House was first called the Pennsylvania House (later after a Dr. American) and was operated by W. M. Baker, an uncle of Mrs. W. A. Fuller, in 1880, and may have been Eudora’s first hotel. Another early hotel showed up in the 1873 Douglas County Atlas as H. Raum’s hotel at 707 Main Street in 1880s and 1890s, M. Copp ran the Union Hotel also known as Copp’s House, charging $1 a day for room and meals; he sold it to S. E. Brune in 1889, who named it the Eudora Hotel. By 1893, it was the only hotel in Eudora and was destroyed by a fire. Western Kansas World reported Oct. 14, 1893, that a coal oil lamp exploded and caused the fire that destroyed this hotel’s contents at an estimated cost of $3,500; the hotel carried insurance for only $2,000. Charles Lothholz bought the property in 1896 and built a bungalow style home on the site at 621 Main Street Terrace. Frank Lavo owned a rooming house at 709 Main Street where the present Eudora post office is during this time, and Jacob Dolisi also had a rooming house, 11 E. Seventh Street, from 1888 to 1924, according to the Community Heritage.
Samuel Billings and James Skeen stonecrushing company debuted as well as the town’s two billiard halls (Meyer & Bomen, and J.P. Price) along with E.A. Weibel’s saddlery and the meat stand of G.W. Wall and N.J. Baker. Chris Klein also operated a meat market. A canning factory was built in 1885; Charles Pilla set up a “fruit evaporation” processing plant before 1883 that hired up to 75 people in the peak season to pare and slice apples and peaches, took its place before Pilla demolished it in 1895.
The Delmonico Restaurant operated, then “absquandered” in 1889. Charles Willsdorf sold apple cider vinegar. For a short time, too, Eudora had a broom making manufactory called Snyder & Smith. It also had a suspender company established by Scott Gloyd and his wife, in a two-room building, the first one north of the Pilla store and west of the downtown public square in 1894.
Three years later, the company had grown to encompass a whole floor at the Durr Building north of the railroad, employed 12 men managed by Frank Sweet, made 80 dozen pairs of suspenders sold by six salesmen traveling in Kansas and Nebraska. Gloyd sold the company to Victor Suspender in Lawrence in 1899 because of ill health.
Groceries also were common Eudora businesses. M. N. Wilson, Anton Gufler, Charles Schroeder, Louis Neustifter, and John Hammert, operated groceries as did the Seiwald brothers (“Dealers in poultry, game, and country produce”) who attached a rear ice house in 1892. After Frank Seiwald sold his grocery stock to Charles Pilla in 1897 and closed his grocery on Church Street between Ninth Street and Tenth Street that he opened in 1890, a Humphrey family rented it a few months before Mr. Humphrey shot Mrs. Humphrey (but missed) and went into hiding. After another batch of renters, Herman Greiner occupied the building, and later a Mr. Erwin from Tecumseh opened his small-scale general merchandise store there in 1905. Seiwald razed the store and used its lumber to build a house in 1910 on the site.
The grocers and others also shipped butter, eggs, and chickens to larger cities. In August 1889, for example, the following shipments were made: C. Pilla (1,140 dozen eggs, 970 pounds of butter); Thorne (25 pounds butter); Gardner Hill & Co. (120 dozen eggs, 25 pounds butter); Daugherty (25 pounds butter); and Neustifter (90 dozen eggs). The next month others shipping out produce were Kellerman & Seiwald who dissolved their partnership that same year with Frank Seiwald running the operation (210 dozen eggs, 90 pounds butter) and Wilson & Barrett (150 dozen eggs and 30 pounds butter) who had a grocery on Main Street. Besides these shippers, Ogle joined the list in October with 150 dozen eggs and 80 pounds butter; Brender with 15 pounds butter; and Schaette with 25 pounds chicken. Smith sent out 493 pounds of dressed fish that month, also. Armstrong showed up on the shipping list of December with 31 pounds butter as well as Westerhouse with 30 dozen eggs and 18 pounds butter.
A handwritten August 5, 1889 account in the possession of Harriet Schubert Banks titled “At Pillas Store, read: Eggs. 3 cents a doz. Butter 8 to 12 cents per pound. Aug. 5. In this very hot and sultery afternoon with the thermometer reaching 110 in the shade a Lady by the name of Mrs Wm Gabriel drove up to the hitching rack, in the spring wagon __ Eggs and Butter to be exchanged for Groceries. As usual I was the lucky one to bring in the case of Eggs containing 30 doz, and as I stood before Mrs Gabriel, with the question, Do you know much this 30 doz Eggs will bring, she wanted to know how much and when I told her 90 cents she said you put them right back in the spring wagon I am going to feed them to the hogs.
"Mrs. Gabriel was also a good butter maker, and the side at the store was to send out to the good butter makers ferkins (containers) of 5 and 10# to be filled, then name of the good butter makers to be written on the lid. Often a container of good butter was sold out to home customers, after which the container was filled with old strong and tainted butter to be shipped to some commission house or soap factory. It was a strict order to erase the name on the lid when the container was filled. Through some error, the name on the 10# container of Mrs. Gabel’s butter was overlooked and when the returns from the commission man by the name of Henry Kusel arrived the following note was attached to the remittance—You tell Gabriel he needs __blow his horn all he has to do is set the butter out.
"On the Grocery side over the counter is a hanging shelf with a number of hooks on which the bologna was on display. John Madl, a good catholic would come in the store and when he reached the bologna display would look around the store and if no one was in sight he would take out his pocket knife and whack of a piece. It was his regular habit, so I I happened to see him come in on a Friday, I would hide behind the spice case and he would stand at the bologna display and look around the store and not seeing me would take out his pocket knife and just as he was about to cut off his usual price I would call out-This is Friday John the knife would go back and his pocket No bologna that day."
Daniel Philips and Jacob Stuff sold farm implements, and so did Charles Pilla who also added a brickyard to his general store. Other occupations were Hubbard Carr (lawyer), R. A. Buttz (herbs and extract supplier and drug store owner); Schubert selling furniture; Christian Fischer (hardware), Peter Huber (tailor), Benjamin Dickover (barber), and shoemakers: Charles Willsdorf, Julius Yahn, and Henry Ziesenis. Fischer, born in Naila, Bavaria, Germany, came to Eudora in 1875 after learning the tinship trade from his uncle. He operated his hardware and tinshop until 1888, when he moved to Kansas City, Kansas, and on to Port Arthur, Texas. Like many who lived in Eudora for relatively short periods of time, he chose to be buried in Eudora and was in 1911.
Origin of a few long-term businesses. Several businesses that started in the 1880s would continue for several decades. One was Ernest Kraus’ livestock business between Ninth Street to Eleventh Street between Acorn Street and Fir Street. Later the company added cream and eggs to its stock. (In 1918, Henry Frye, Ernest’s nephew, joined the company and continued it after Ernest’s death.)
Another was the Fuller hardware store, which was lit with natural gas from a gas well and had a porch swing under its awnings for customers to sit. W. A. Fuller, dealer in hardware, implements, stoves, windmills, and pumps, opened the shop in 1884 and stayed in business for 42 years. “We sell goods, sure to please you,” was one of his slogans. The 1908 newspaper carried an advertisement of J. I. Case Plows sold by Fuller and listed these satisfied customers: Garratt, Schneider, Dicken, Koehler, Vitt, Welborn, Grosdidier, Waston, Dissinger, Allen, Bryant, Smith, Ward, Griffin, Hohnes, Foust, Warsup, Pellet, Hill, Fitagibben, Adler, Musick, Schehrer, Vogl, White, Osborn, Deckwa, Jamison, Kraus, Leamer, Boling, Westerhouse, Wichmann, Seiwald, Abels, Combest, Pellett, Broer, Garratt, and Vitt. In 1928, Olive Nuttall wrote of Fuller’s store, saying Eudora had a lot of characters in those days and remembered “Yankee” Fuller as one who shook customers’ hands saying to her, “Good morning, princess, and “How are you, princess?”
Julius and Louise Lotz started their paint (including the Sherwin-Williams brand) and decorating business in “Haelsig’s building” on Main Street in 1885. This store was moved to the corner of Church Street and Eighth Street, according to an 1895 news item, and later moved back to Main Street. (After Julius died in 1928, Clara Lotz kept it going with the aid of Pat Kellum, an interior decorator.) Two years later, Henry Hagenbuch, a carpenter who came to Eudora in 1882, and his brother, Jake, rented the butcher shop, tools, and slaughterhouse from Henry Schuette. A year later, they closed their doors, but would re-open again in a few years as the City Meat Market
And, in 1886, Maurice Cain started Eudora News. He was editor for four years and later moved to Colorado Springs, according to a June 13, 1940 news item. Subscriptions cost $1 a year. Business ads from the first year included those for the Grocery Store (Charles Neustifter Brothers’ “C. Street Grocery” at 710 Church that ran 1886-1930s, later torn down); meat market (Jake Hagenbuch); John Hammert (drugs, notions, stationery, and choice family groceries); Commercial House (owned by John Anderson); Henry Vols, manufacture of handmade cigars on the corner of Eighth and C [Church] street; Chicago Paint and Paper Store (owned by William Vols at Eighth and C Street until he moved to Chicago in 1895 and sold his store to the Lotz family); and Alice Ogle’s dressmaking at “M. R. Cain’s residence.” Ogle’s advertisement said she specialized in the Butterick system of cutting silk dresses. “C” Street, known later as Church Street, also featured Summers & Blakely blacksmithy and George Stadler’s grocery on Seventh Street.
One business that didn’t last long, but was built with high hopes was the Eudora Mineral Springs resort northwest of Tenth Street and Cedar Street by the Wakarusa River. In thoughts of rivaling Excelsior Springs in Missouri, the developers, including O. G. Richards, Eudora, and W.T. Sinclair, Lawrence, constructed a few buildings and a wooden dance pavilion near the property’s 10 natural springs (now swallowed up by the Wakarusa River when it changed course). The resort advertised “games of all kinds,” including nine-pins, swings, and shooting targets as well as fine meals served at all times and Buch’s Orchestra.
The water, which the developers claimed to have iron, magnesia, sulphur, salt, and soda, was advertised as “warranted to cure all diseases arising from bad blood, rheumatism, gout, liver complaints, disease of the kidneys, dyspepsia, indigestion, general debility, nervous and female diseases and all other chronic diseases.” A Durr was quoted in an 1887 news item as saying he shipped the bottled water across the United States, with a lot going to Iowa. Ernest Kraus also had a business interest in the property.
After a brief heyday, the enterprise folded in the summer of 1889, and was sold at a sheriff’s sale for tax default, according to the April 17, 1890 Lawrence Journal-Tribune. Its estimated value was $4,400. The Eudora newspaper reported that the property was sold to satisfy August Ziesenis’ mortgage and he was the one who bought the property for $3,500. A couple of weeks later, another sale was held for the same property because of sale mismanagement, and O. E. Leonard bought the acreage for $4,100. By 1897, a saw mill operation was housed here. Glenn Wineinger and a group of local historians examined the old barn on the site during the 1980s and theorized the barn had been made from the original pavilion with a later west side addition. Posts inside are native trees with bark intact. The Eudora News Weekly did report Joseph Schopper, who owned the land at that time, built a new barn in 1905. Northwest of the barn near the river was a one-lane wooden bowling alley with a concrete foundation. Bowlers used wooden bowling balls.
Paul Sommer, a Eudora history enthusiast, said the alley was popular in the early 1900s. To the north where today’s sewage ponds are was said to be a racetrack.
In 1889, F. Ziesenis prettied up the two old post office rooms and opened a store stocked with clothing, boots, and other items, and Maggie Strohmeyer, Ohio, started her dressmaking business from the George Sponagel home. To reach these and other businesses, Eudora finally had a new ferry to cross the Kansas River. Prompted by a committee led by Charles Lothholz, carpenters built a 43-foot by 12-foot ferry in October 1889 that operated on a cable system.
Another new addition was the all-female Gremms Orchestra who banded together in 1889 to play at Turner Hall, the annual masquerade, and other events. Wrote the paper: “Eudora now has a first class, female Orchestra, something that no other Kansas town can boast of. Not even our sleepy sister up the Kaw can say so much.”