Monday, August 29, 2016

Press Scribe Visits Shady Grove

Mr. J. B. McNeely, was the press scribe back in the year of 1912. As he visited all the little towns selling advertisements for the paper, he would write about them and then share the news with the readers of the Press.   Through these entertaining articles we can learn a lot of history about our towns of long ago.

August 25, 1912
Shady Grove is situated in the eastern part of Crittenden County near the Webster County line.  It is a village of about three hundred inhabitants and the merchants are enjoying a good trade.  
There are three dry good stores, one drug store, grist mill, post office and cold drink stand.  Here are the names of the business firms as we take them from our note book.  
  • Drs. Jeff McConnell and G. C. Collins are the physicians, and there are no better to be found in this end of the State.  They carry a stock of drugs in connection with their professional trade.
  • Owen Beard wants to sell you cold drinks.  Give him a call.
  • Messrs J. H. Lamb and W. F. McDowell are the blacksmiths and they can make anything from a horseshoe nail to a steam thresher.
  • Mrs. B. C. Birchfield wants to supply you in  the latest styles of ladies hats.  Call and see her.
  • Fred Lemon wants to trade with you, he handles a variety of goods.
  • W. D. Tudor is the postmaster and no better can be found than Willie Tudor.  He is polite and attentive to everyone that has business with him.  
  • T. C. Land is the barber; he is careful in his work and gives satisfaction.
  • Richard McDowell is the carpenter and is kept busy.
  • Tudor and Horning are dealers in general merchandise and controls a large trade, in fact, all that Shady Grove need to do is advertise her business for she is situated so as to draw a large trade.
  • Sheck C. Towery and wife, Josie, keep one of the best hotels in this section of the state.
  • Opportunity for worship is well provided for.  There are two churches, Baptist and Methodist.  
  • There is also a splendid school building.
All this wonderful old establishment buildings are gone now, only the Baptist Church building is still standing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hunt Brothers Feed Store

In January 1984, one of Marion's favorite stores was getting ready to close it's doors.  It had to happen sooner or later.  But the closing of Hunt Brothers Feed Store would be a sad day for many friends and customers.

The feed store was always a favorite loafing place for folks with a little time on their hands.  A good game of checkers or just a laugh or two could always be found at Hunt Brothers, and the 35-cent soft drinks were an attraction too.

But time just wouldn't stand still for the feed store.  After nearly 30 years in business at the East Bellville Street location, an era had ended.

The feed store opened its doors for the first time July 1, 1954, as Guess and Hunt, a partnership between Bill Hunt and Homer Guess.

On Jan. 1, the following year, 1955, John A. Hunt bought out Guess and the name became Hunt Brothers.

A few year later, in January of 1959, Arnold 'Shorty" Hunt replaced John A. in the business after John A's health wouldn't allow him to continue to operate the store.

Since then Shorty and Bill became fixtures in the place, and they catered to the needs of even the smallest gardener.  

Over the years, as the feed mills came to town, the large volume feed and seed business dropped off.  Where the store once sold 25 tons of feed per month, recent sales dropped to about one ton per month.  

But the slack was taken up by the paint business which remained good all along.  The store started with a line of Jim Martin paint, and also sold Vanex Color, Inc., paints.  

After 30 years of faithful service to the public, the friends and customers would miss stopping by Hunt Bros., and Bill and Shorty said they would also miss their good customers and friends.

Just one of our old county stores that has left good memories for a lot of people, and good memories of some fine Crittenden County folks.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Marion's Cannery

In 1943, Mr. W. R. Winfrey, county extension agent was working to get Marion to have a community cannery.  

A boiler was needed to establish the local center, after the boiler was accrued and placed the other equipment would be gotten without delay.  

The best location was found to be behind the Marion High School building on College Street.  (The building is still standing today.  It was later used as a Band room for Marion High School and then the location of the mentally challenged pupils.  Today it is an apartment.)

In August 1943 the cannery was ready for operations.  Facilities were available to anyone at the rate of two cents per can, or anyone could bring their own jars and lids if they wanted to.  If you didn't, these items could also be purchased at the cannery.

Someone would be present who was acquainted with the use of the equipment and proper methods of preparing foods for canning and preserving them.

All cans were to be sealed electrically with skilled workmen to handle the operation of the sealer.

The cannery was open all day and and also at night.  It was also equipped with tables and everything that was needed to prepare your meats and vegetables for canning.  There was only a small fee charged for people that did their own work, it was to pay for fuel, water and electricity.

In October of that year the Press tells that over 4,000 cans of corn and pumpkin had been cleaned, prepared, processed and canned by approximately 100 families.  Eighteen pints of jelly was made in 30 minutes and more than 2,000 quarts of vegetables canned.

In July of 1951 the cannery was still open and running, on a three day week schedule.

I don't have any information on when the cannery closed down or what happened to the machinery that was used.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Beginning of Repton Community

The Ohio Valley Rail Road began construction of its tracks along a right-of-way which bisected the Old Mattoon flats or camp-ground in the late 1880's.

 It was the practice of the Railroad company to set up supply-points for their construction crews along the route, unless there were already town or villages nearby which could be reached, and these spots were selected considering the later establishment of depots and loading pens.

As the tracks ran a mile south of Moore's store at Mattoon and a few miles north of Willow Grove, (near the entrance of Wilson Farm Rd.) the OVRR set the supply point at the railroad crossing of the Marion-Fishtrap Road near the Repton Branch bridge. 

Two merchants from Union County, Silas McMurray and J. S. Sullivant were coaxed by the Railroad into building two general merchandise stores on this site. 

 The busy little village of Repton soon sprang up around the stores and the railroad tracks as a depot, warehouses and extensive loading pens for livestock were built along the switch tract there.   

This picture was made in 1997, just two years before the railroad tracks were removed.  In the early days, the large stock pens were located to the left of the little depot.  Farmers drove their stock here from as far away as Weston and Bells Mines to be held until they could be loaded on the train cars and hauled to the stock yard in Evansville, Ind.

There was also a Post Office established here and a Repton Baptist Church built a short way from the center of town not far from the little depot office.  The Repton Post Office was discontinued in January 1958, with it become Marion, Route 7 & 8.

In 1957 the Repton Baptist Church was discontinued at this location and a new church was built near the village of Mattoon near Highway 60.  It is still an active church today.

The situation remained static, with population and business centers at Moore's store and Repton in the neighborhood, until the advent of the modern transcontinental highway system with the construction of U. S. 60 in the mind-1920's.

 The new highway bypassed far to the north of Repton, taking the business, which now began to flow more and more on the wheels of the automobile, away from that village. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Marion's First Brickyard

 The old office of the Travis Brick yard.  Torn down many years ago.

After the close of the Civil War, the great increase in the business zone in Marion, plus the movement of freed slaves from the farms to the cities to secure employment, called for additional mercantile lots and an increased industries for Marion.

Herod Travis, a former slave, got several former brick-maker's together and founded the Kiln that produced most of the brick, if not all, used in Marion's construction before 1917.

Many of these brick-maker's had learned how to make brick while they worked on their former owner's farms through out the county.  Several of these rural farmers had small brick making operations so that they were able to have their own bricks made for their homes and outbuildings.  The bricks were hand-made and sun dried from the abundant Crittenden County clay.

A picture of some of the early hand-made, sun-dried bricks.

 The brick making office was located at the corner of North Maple and Travis Streets.  Travis Street, today, was named for Herod Travis.

Herod Travis died Dec. 7, 1899, and has a stone in the old Colored Marion Cemetery, located at the end of Weldon St.  He might be called the "father" of his people, the honored and revered "Uncle" of his race.  He was industrious and frugal; he had many good business qualities, keen, but strictly honest.