History Surar Creek Township, Randolph County,
Missouri (part 2)
From: History of Randolph and Macon Counties, Missouri
National Historic Company
St. Louis, 1884
FOUNDRIES AND MACHINE SHOPS.
We have already noticed the machine shops of the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railroad located at this point.
But they do no custom work, and confine themselves to that of the road to which they belong, and its numerous branches
and feeders. The western roads, hundreds of which are annually built, and few of which have machine shops of their
own, will for many years afford ample custom for all the shops likely to be erected in this State. The work can
be done here cheaper, better and more speedily than even along the line of these roads, as we have the timber and
the coal and are nearer the great iron furnaces of Missouri. Experienced and intelligent machinists connected with
the Wabash shops regard Moberly as the best point in the State for the establishment of such an enterprise.
COTTON AND WOOLEN NULLS.
This region is peculiarly adapted to the growth of sheep and the production of wool. Sheep require to be fed
but little. The blue grass of our pastures and forests affords sufficient nutriment nearly all the year round.
Very recently our farmers have turned their attention more particularly to the breeding of sheep. They have not
only largely increased their flocks, but they have now the best breeds of wool producing animals, including both
the finer and coarser grades. As an evidence of the rapid growth of this industry in Randolph county alone, we
may say that in 1879 there were but 18,000 sheep in the county. In 1880 the number had grown to 23,000, and in
1883 to 32,000. The Cairo Wool Growers' and Sheep Breeders' Association, which was organized several years ago
at a point six miles north of this city, has done much to promote the wool interest and to give a new impetus to
WAGON AND CARRIAGE FACTORY.
Two establishments of this kind are found in this city. The vehicles here manufactured are celebrated for their lightness, strength and durability. They are made from the growth of our native forests and are a credit both to the workmen who manufacture them and to the country in which they are made. But in this, as in other departments of mechanism, the capital invested is too small for the demands of the country. Hundreds of wagons, buggies, carriages and other vehicles are annually shipped here from abroad and sold to our farmers and the citizens of our towns. There is no reason why such products of skill should not be made here cheaper and better than in Fort Wayne, Ind., or Rock Island, Ill. Our timber is better, our land is cheaper, our food costs less and we are nearer the center of the great Western market. Even the factories we have, pinched as they are for want of means, are steadily growing and making money for those who operate them. The market cannot he supplied beyond the demand. All the vehicles manufactured would find ready sale within the compass of a small adjacent territory, unless the manufactories were on a very extensive scale, and in that case the boundless West and Southwest are at our door. As wealth increases, the demand for luxuries also increases, and fine carriages are more common now than the plainest spring wagons were a few years ago. This is true of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and other Western States.
TOBACCO AND CIGARS.
In this immediate vicinity the tobacco crop is as certain and as profitable as any other planted by the farmer.
A very superior quality of the White Burley and other varieties of tobacco are raised, most of which must be disposed
of in distant markets, as there are no parties here who handle it in bulk. The tobacco of this section is not excelled
in texture, color, body, or flavor by that raised in the best fields of Virginia and Kentucky. In fact, at the
annual award of premiums by the St. Louis warehouses, North Missouri has almost invariably received the first prize,
although competing with Western Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, and Iowa.
Although numerous creameries have been established in the country, Moberly enjoys no such enterprise. Here, There our native grass sustains the cattle for eight months in the year and where provender is so cheap when they require extra food, would seem to be the proper location for a butter manufactory on an extensive scale. It is profitable alike to the farmer and the manufacturer, as the high prices for butter that always prevail in St. Louis, Kansas City, Hannibal and other large cities with which Moberly is connected by rail, would enable the latter to pay high prices for cream and receive in return a large profit on his products. These institutions have been successful everywhere they have been tried by competent men, and there is no field which suggests a better assurance of profit than that in the vicinity of Moberly.
In this department of manufacturing, as in almost every other in which individual capital alone is invested, the demands are greater than the capacity of the factory. A short time since a pottery was established in this city which has been doing a prosperous business from the beginning. It has a capacity of only 20,000 gallons per month, and the ware is beautiful in color and excellent in material. The clay is obtained at a convenient distance from the factory, and the glazing is derived from the East. The market for this ware is to be found in all the surrounding country, and the goods do not need to he shipped to distant points. This industry can be indefinitely extended by the addition of larger capital.
The principal streets of Moberly have been lighted with gas since November 30, 1875. The gas works are located in the northern part of the city, so that the inhabitants are not disturbed by offensive odors from the works. The gas is made from the coal taken from the mines of this vicinity, burns with a clear and beautiful flame and is supplied to consumers at $2.50 per thousand cubic feet. There are seven or eight miles of mains and connections, affording a cheap, safe and brilliant light for shops, stores, factories and private residences.
WATER AND WATER WORKS.
It would naturally be supposed that a city located on the dividing ridge between the waters of two such streams
as the Missouri and Mississippi would he destitute of water power, and even of sufficient water for manufacturing
purposes. Such was the fact in the early history of Moberly. But our country possesses a peculiarity that compensates
this absence of large streams. Below the soil is a subsoil of clay of fine texture almost impervious to water.
Lakes and ponds constructed by artificial means, retain the water drawn from the adjacent country until exhausted
by evaporation or by artificial means.
BUILDINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATION.
In 1876 a building and loan association was organized, and many a poor man has reason to rejoice at the establishment of such an institution. The association has been in operation for over seven years, and hundreds of houses have been erected under its auspices. It has enabled men of small and moderate income to buy or build their houses. The individual securing the benefit of the association pays for his property by monthly installments running through a series of years, and in most instances these payments but little exceed the amount the beneficiary would be compelled to pay in rents. Money that would otherwise go into the pockets of landlords, and for which tenants would receive the equivalent of only a temporary shelter, is by this process expended in permanent homes which it is both the pride and pleasure of the occupant to improve and beautify and adorn. The peace, permanency and prosperity of a city depend in large measure upon the number of citizens who own them property on which they reside. If the number he large there will be just that many whose interests are involved in the improvement of the place, the erection of public buildings, the promotion of education, morality and religion, and the enforcement of order. A very large proportion of the people of Moberly own their own homes.
In the summer of 1878 some enterprising gentlemen of this county determined to organize an agricultural society.
The Moberly District Fair Association was the outgrowth of this movement. A tract of land, lying in the south eastern
part of the city and containing 86 acres, was purchased for the purpose, and on it were immediately erected buildings
suitable for such an association. Plank walks extend from the business part of the city to these grounds, distant
not over half a mile. The entire 86 acres are enclosed by a substantial plank fence. A grand stand, 28x70 feet,
and rising to the height of 30 feet, well covered and comfortably seated, overlooks the whole ground. There is
seating room for several thousand visitors. There are also dressing rooms for ladies and a floral hall. Just in
front of the stand is a judge's stand in the form of an eastern pagoda. A magnificent mile track, probably the
best west of the Mississippi river, is laid out so that every step of a horse may be seen as he goes around. Jockeys
who have tested it say that it is a very fast track, and the speed that has been made on it would confirm this
opinion. There are numerous stalls for the accommodation of horses and cattle. Other improvements are to be made,
and it is safe to say that these grounds in a few years will be second to none in the West outside of St. Louis.
There is an abundances of room for the construction of art halls, machinery apartments, and other necessary buildings,
besides:L large area for ornamentation. The first fair was held in September, 1878. The sixth annual fair was held
in September, 1883, when over $5,000 were distributed in premiums. A large number and great variety of stock was
shown, as well as machinery, domestic fabrics, farming implements, agricultural products, etc. On one day of the
fair it was estimated that there were between 7,000 and 8,000 people in the enclosure.
RAKE AND STACKER FACTORY.
Very recently Messrs. Fort & Wayland of this city have built near the Union depot a house for the manufacture of the Champion stacker and rake. The building is of brick, 40x80 feet in size, besides a neat brick office and shed for storing and seasoning lumber. The machinery for this factory is now being put in place. The firm contemplate employing 25 or 30 hands, and will begin work as soon as their arrangements can be completed. It is also in contemplation to connect a foundry with the factory to make the necessary castings and do some custom work.
SCROLL AND FANCY WORK.
There is also an establishment for the making of fancy wood work, such as brackets, banisters, shelving, and all kinds of tasteful and ornamental work, models, patterns, and everything that can be made of lumber. The factory is well equipped with machinery, and has workmen skilled in the art. It has been established about a year and has already secured a large and profitable business.
Messrs. Strattman & Bro. have a valuable soda water manufactory in the city, and supply the local trade and much of the surrounding county with bottled soda. They have an artesian well of great depth and the goods are made from the purest material. The industry is still increasing in patronage, and Large quantities of the product are disposed of.
As previously remarked in this review, the clay and sand of this section constitute the material for a superior
quality of bricks. This manufactory is a growing industry, and those engaged in it find the demand from this city
and from the neighboring towns and villages greater than their capacity to manufacture. During the past season
there have been burned at the Moberly kilns 5,000,000 bricks and at least one contractor has fallen short half
a million. The product of the kilns is a hard, firm brick, of a bright red color, close grain and compact structure,
able to withstand any pressure to which bricks are ever subjected.
Time and space would fail us in enumerating the minor manufactories of Moberly, those in which one to six men
are employed. They embrace every branch of industry usually pursued in a growing young city, and give employment
to a large number of skilled laborers.
REAL ESTATE AGENCIES.
There are several real estate agencies in the city that buy and sell wild lands, farms, town lots, residence and business houses. The business is an active one, and is growing rapidly. Messrs. Stewart, Wilson & Brand are the oldest firm in the city, and their agency embraces a wide territory in this and adjoining counties. Messrs. Porter, Hunn & Porter are next in point of age, and have in their hands a great many thousand acres of both improved and unimproved lands, town and city residences and lots. Messrs. Hannah & Gravely do a large purchasing, selling and exchange business, and John L. Vroom has every kind of real estate property for sale. The transaction in this line of business annually will aggregate $140,000 to $150,000.
The trade of Moberly is steadily growing. It now embraces a wide area, extending into all the adjoining counties. And this circumference is continually widening as the city grows in population and wealth. Within a few years a great many new business houses have been erected, all of which have been promptly occupied by traders and merchants. Not only have the numbers multiplied, but the value and variety of goods handled have been largely increased, showing a healthy growth in these departments of commerce. From all the surrounding country come citizens to trade with our dry goods, millinery, grocery, drug, hardware, lumber, clothing and boot and shoe merchants.
We have eight dry goods houses, carrying heavy stocks and exhibiting for sale the finest textures as well as
the coarser and more popular fabrics. The amount of money invested grows larger and larger annually as the area
of trade is widened and the city grows in population. The annual retail sales amount to $200,000.
The schools of Moberly are her pride. The public school buildings are three in number, to wit: The Central building
having 11 rooms, built at a cost of $16,000.
The churches in the city are 11 in number, as follows: 1 Old School Presbyterians; 1 Old School Baptist; 1 Missionary Baptist; 1 Episcopal; 2 Methodist Episcopal; 1 Cumberland Presbyterian; 1 Christian; 1 Catholic; 1 colored Baptist; 1 colored Methodist. Nearly all these have established pastors and regular services.
Moberly is well provided with commodious and well kept hotels. The Grand Central, elegantly furnished and equipped, has 80 rooms, and is second to no house in the interior of the State. It is owned by William Smith and is ably conducted under the proprietorship of Geo. S. Merritt. P. J. Carmody is the proprietor of the Merchants' Hotel, a large three story structure of 60 rooms, supplied with all modern conveniences. The Commercial is also a commodious house, conducted by George W. Morris. The Florence, conducted by W. G. Herold, is located near the Union depot and is an excellent house. Numerous smaller houses are also well kept, while restaurants, eating houses and boarding houses afford convenient refreshments for the stranger or sojourner.
In the haste with which this review has been gotten up, it has been found impossible to obain a detailed statement of the improvements during the season of 1883. But the amount of building has been very large. The number of houses erected in a given time has been exceeded in previous years, but the character of the buildings in 1883 is far superior to that of former years. Ten large and costly business houses have been built and over one hundred dwellings. These are all occupied soon as completed and are frequently rented before the foundation is laid. Vacant houses are rarely seen, and there is a constant demand for more dwellings. The improvements do not keep step with the increase of population. From the best information obtainable there has been expended the past year in buildings and improvements about $150,000.
The medical, legal and theological professions are represented by able and learned men. There are 13 ministers, 14 physicians (of various schools), and 8 lawyers resident here.
Moberly is well equipped in all departments. Her municipal government, at the head of which is Mayor D. S. Forney, is frugal, economical and yet liberal. The police force is sufficient to preserve the peace and keep an orderly city. The fire department is thoroughly organized, having a steam fire engine and a hook and ladder equipment and convenient cisterns in all parts of the territory embraced in the corporate limits. Our public halls are numerous and extensive. This review might be greatly extended but space forbids.
No banking institutions in the country are safer or are conducted on more correct business principles than those of Moberly. The capital stock is not large, but depositors are secure under the law of the State and under the safe methods adopted by the banks themselves. The Mechanics' Bank, W. F. Elliott, president, Howard Jennings, cashier, has a capital and surplus of $30,000, and is the oldest bank in the city. The Exchange Bank, Adam Given, president, O. E. Hannah, cashier, has been in operation nine years and has secured a large custom. The Randolph Bank was opened in 1882, B. F. Harvey, president, J. C. Shaefer, cashier. It has secured the confidence of our business men and is a reliable institution.
Our report shows a thrifty, growing and prosperous city. It will be observed, also, that there are many enterprises
that have no existence here that might be established with profit such as soap, cheese, butter, agricultural implements,
woolen, furniture, tobacco, and paper factories, a foundry, machine shops, nail mills and a host of industries
the products of which are now supplied by distant manufactories. Our central position, our railroads, our cheap
living, our superior coal fields and a host of other advantages, mark Moberly as one of the best locations in the
West for the investment of capital.
MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF TRADE.
The Moberly Board of Trade, under whose auspices this review is published, was organized August 6, 1883, and
is fully officered and equipped. The following gentlemen constitute the membership: -
Benevolent societies are well represented in Moberly. The following fraternities have lodges and are in a flourishing
condition: Masons, Knights Templar, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Knights of Honor, Knights and Ladies of Honor,
United Workmen, Order Railway Conductors, Brotherhood Locomotive Engineers. Brotherhood Locomotive Firemen, Good
Templar, Temperance Union, Brothers of Philanthrophy and perhaps others.
Seven drug stores, eight barbers, seventeen saloons, four hardware, six hotels, two opera houses, four millinery stores, seven restaurants, two painters, five meat markets, one laundry, fourteen physicians, five shoe makers, twenty groceries, three second hand stores, two marble works, five cigar stores, four boot and shoe stores, two fancy goods stores, seven dentists, one wall paper store, four newspapers, three clothing stores, three tailors, five general stores, two photographers, ten lawyers, three blacksmiths, one carpenter, three banks, six dry goods stores, two wagon makers, three lumber yards, three jewelers, one bill poster, one boarding house, two book stores, three harness shops, one pottery shop, one carriage manufactory, two bakeries, five real estate and insurance, one news dealer, one builder, two rag stores, one dye works, one dress maker, one pork packing house, one gas company, two sewing machine and organ houses, one bricklayer, one fruit store, three livery stables, one furniture store, two florists, one confectionary, one academy, one hide house, one gunsmith, one coal mine, one flour mill, one fish and vegetable house, one coal and wood yard.
COURT OF COMMON PLEAS.
The court of common pleas was established at Moberly in 1875, with jurisdiction over one township. The judge
of the second judicial circuit was ex-officio judge of that court. This was Hon. George H. Burckhartt, who has
ever since presided. C. H. Hance was the first clerk. The jurisdiction of this court has been enlarged so as to
take in Union, Salt River, Jackson and a part of Prairie townships.
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