Theodore Arthur Darling (1890-1971), Tire Man

AWR 4-20-1922

Abilene Weekly Reflector – April 20, 1922

Theodore Arthur Darling was born on October 29, 1890 in Gypsum, Kansas to George O. Darling and Mary Henrietta Geaque.  Theo lived and worked on his father’s farm in Eureka Township, Saline County, Kansas.  On November 16, 1910, Theo married Cora May Hartman whose parents (Samuel Hartman and Sarah Warfel) lived near Carlton.  The young couple moved to Abilene around 1912, where his older brother, Oliver Lewis Darling owned a draying company.  Theo worked at a creamery and the family lived at 1502 NW. 3rd Street along with his widowed mother.  They would live at this house for nearly 30 years.  Oliver lived a block away at 1400 NW. 3rd Street.  Theo and Cora would have three daughters: Henrietta May, Rosetta Elizabeth (White), and Merle Irene (Zimmerman).

By 1920, Theo was working as an insurance agent and soon after decided to open Darling’s Vulcanizing Tire Service at 311 N. Cedar Street (currently Stephens Chiropractic).  The shop moved next door to 309 N. Cedar Street (currently Dance In Motion) and became known as Darling’s Tire Service.  The company move to 413 NW. 3rd around 1928 (currently John’s Upholstery).  The business was a family affair with employees including his daughter, Henrietta May Darling (Mauldin), son in-law Roy Wesley Mauldin, nephew Lewis George Darling, and nephew Morris Edwin Darling.  The business would move a final time to 308 N. Buckeye Avenue in the 1930’s (currently Shivering Sheep and Material Girls Quilt Shop).

Darling's Tire Service in the mid 1920s- exterior

Darling’s Tire Service (abt. 1928) located at 413 NW. 3rd Street, Abilene.  L to R: Morris Edwin Darling, Roy Wesley Mauldin, Henrietta May Darling (Mauldin), Lewis George Darling, and Theodore Arthur Daring (on motorcycle).


413 NW. 3rd Street as it is today (2018)

Darling's Tire Service in the mid 1920s- interior

Interior of Darling’s Tire Service at 413 NW. 3rd Street (abt. 1928)

In 1941, Theodore sold the business and purchased a farm outside of Seymour, Missouri in Webster County.  There he would engage in farming and was active in the Masons.  Theo died in Seymour, Missouri on March 18, 1971.  Cora would return to Abilene where she died on October 26, 1985.  They are buried Seymour Masonic Cemetery in Seymour, Missouri.



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Joseph Gerald Armitage (1836-1900), Merchant and Missionary

Born on October 28, 1836 in Three Rivers, Michigan, Joseph Gerald Armitage grew up on the family farm in Lockport Township, St. Joseph County, Michigan.  His parents, William and Lydia Armitage, were natives of England.  Joseph grew up working on the farm and married Mary Elizabeth Clark in Nottawa, Michigan on February 5, 1861.  The young couple’s only child, Jennie, was born on March 1, 1862 in Three Rivers.

The family moved to Abilene in 1879 and Joseph worked on a farm before entering the furniture and home furnishings business.  The Armitage’s were strong in their Methodist faith and were prohibitionists.  When a petition was presented to the Abilene City Commission in April 1880 to prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquors, J. G. Armitage was a signatory.  He was also a steward of the local Methodist church.

AWC 9-8-1882

Abilene Weekly Chronicle – September 8, 1882

The Armitage’s moved into the vacant house at the southwest corner of Mulberry and 7th Street.  In 1881, Joseph and William Henry Irion formed a furniture retail company.  Irion & Armitage carried furniture, stoves, glassware, cutlery, and sewing machines.  In 1882, the business was considered an “everything” store and located in the newly constructed commercial block on the eastside of Broadway (207 N. Broadway).  This space is now the south third of the USD 435 administrative offices and include the School Board Meeting Room.

Irion & Armitage constructed an elevator in their store for raising and lowering heavy articles between cellar and second floor and would later remove walls in the 2nd floor to open up a large furniture department.  In November 1882, the business purchased the stock of Clyde James McDivitt, who suffered and eye injury and could no longer conduct business.  They would also add an organ and piano department.  Despite these investments in stock and their building, the stock of Irion & Armitage was sold during a close out sale in April 1884.  William Irion decided to remain in Abilene and specialize in pianos and organs.  Joseph would form a short-lived partnership with P. J. Bunker, which was dissolved in January 1885.

A. J. Armitage home at 614 N. Spruce- prior to remodeling

Armitage House at 612 N. Spruce Street prior to an exterior remodel

In April 1883, Joseph purchased two lots at the southwest corner of Spruce and 7th Streets, where he built the house addressed 612 N. Spruce Street, which still stands today and is currently addressed 614 N. Spruce Street.  He served as the assistant superintendent of the Methodist Church.  Joseph was involved in the Republican Party.  He was a convention delegate for the 3rd Ward of Abilene.  Joseph ran for the city council in 1885, but was defeated.  However, in 1890 he was elected to the Abilene City Council.  He was sworn in as a City Councilman on April 10, 1890 and was appointed by Mayor A. W. Rice to serve on the Police, Finance, and Ordinance committees.  He served one term.  He was a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen (A.O.U.W.).

During December 1885, Joseph traveled to Chicago and other eastern cities purchasing stock for the Armitage Novelty Bazaar, which he opened in the McCurdy Block, which was a newly completed two-story brick building at the northwest corner of 3rd and Buckeye (where Benjamin F. Edwards and American Family Insurance is now).  The McCurdy block had three store fronts with the Armitage Novelty Bazaar occupying the middle room (102 NW. 3rd Street).  Joseph would carry a variety of items and seasonally would introduce something new to the store.  For instance, in the spring of 1889, he stocked an entire floor of just baby carriages, doll carriage, and express wagons.  A few months later he had a special on coal oil, baking powder, and carpet tacks.

DCN 4-24-1890

Dickinson County News – April 24, 1890

Armitage’s son in-law, was Albert Edward Bishop, who was a partner of J. B. Case.  Case & Bishop’s department store occupied 3 store fronts on Broadway Street (208-210-212 N. Broadway).  This space is currently occupied by the Rivendell Bookstore, Picture This Plus, and Abilene Chiropractic.  In October 1889, the Armitage Novelty Bazaar was moved to the basement of the Case & Bishop store.  This arrangement only lasted three months, with the bazaar going back to the 102 NW. 3rd Street location.  The rumor at the time was that Case & Bishop had decided to start carrying their own stock of novelties.  That following April, the bazaar moved to the McInerney block (300 N. Broadway) and occupied the entire basement and half of the main store.  The other half of the main floor was occupied by the McInerney Boot and Shoe store.  This is the space that Treasurer by Tracine has occupied for the past several years.

Armitage Novelty Bazaar - 1890

The Armitage Novelty Bazaar – 1890

Disaster struck on the morning of February 10, 1893, when Mr. Taylor, who had an art gallery on the 2nd floor, was moving some shelving that fell and broke a lamp.  The oil from the lamp burst into flame and caught the room on fire.  A large crowd gathered as firemen arrived and deluged the room despite having a hose burst.  The art gallery was nearly an entire loss and the bazaar and shoe store were flooded.  Much of the Armitage stock was damaged.  The loss amounted to $500, which was insured for $2,000.  In September 1893, the Armitage Novelty Bazaar moved to its final location.  This time they traded places with Martin Shearer’s boot and shoe store, which was located just one door north (302 N. Broadway).  This space is currently occupied by Amanda’s Bakery and Bistro.  They promptly painted and made other improvements to the building.  Over the years, among the bazaar’s employees were George Waters, Sam Waters, and Henry Haston.

While commerce was a big part of Mr. Armitage’s life, his faith was equally as important and his success as a merchant allowed the Armitage family to pursue good works.  His business travels allowed him to see much of the U.S..  He would soon travel for other reasons.  Prior to the spring of 1893, Joseph had traveled to Colorado and Galveston, Texas looking for prospective business opportunities.  After the spring of 1893, his travels began to take on spiritual meaning, which led the Armitage and Bishop families in a different direction.  Mr. Bishop’s family moved in with his in-laws in April 1893.  Bishop had taken a leadership role with the Methodist church and together the extended family prepared to serve others.  That August, Joseph, Mary, and daughter Jennie Bishop, traveled to northern Michigan and participated in a Methodist summer resort for several weeks.  On his way back from Michigan, Joseph spent a few days at the World’s Fair in Chicago.  The following January (1894), Joseph and Mary, took the Rock Island railroad from Abilene to California and would stay there for over 3 months.  In October, the gospel tabernacle moved to the second floor rooms at 302 N. Broadway and operated a church and school.  In addition to their home, Joseph purchased a full section (S3, T13E, R1, 4th PM) in Lincoln Township (4 miles west of Abilene) from Lewis A. Benedict in 1894.  He would rent out this pasture out for several years.

DCN 4-2-1896

Dickinson County News – April 2, 1896

All of the preparations in 1894 and 1895 culminated in the Armitage’s and Bishop’s announcing in April 1896 that they were liquidating their businesses, real estate, and possessions to devote themselves to missionary work in Honduras.  They were scheduled to take a voyage to Honduras from New Orleans on May 7, 1896.  The Amritage’s would maintain their home on Spruce Street.  After making their announcement the families traveled to Concordia, Kansas to visit Mrs. Armitage’s brother, James W. Clark.  Herman E. Brumm, the grocer, purchased the Armitage Novelty Bazaar stock and consolidated it with his grocery store.  Brumm moved into the bazaar location at 302 N. Broadway Street.

The Kansas Gospel Union held a 3-day convention at the First Baptist church in Abilene beginning on April 24, 1896.  Albert Edward Bishop addressed the convention in what became his farewell speech to the community.  After the convention, the Abilene Gospel Union left for Honduras in groups.  Mrs. Armitage traveled with Miss Belle Purvis and Mr. L. H. Jamison from Abilene.  On May 25, 1896 in San Pedro, Honduras, Joseph wrote a letter that was published in the Abilene Weekly Reflector.  In this first letter, Joseph states that the missionaries arrived in San Pedro to a Methodist church and mission house, which had not been used for sermons in three years.  They held meeting and sermons in Spanish and English.  He described the local society, homes, markets, and prevalent diseases.  Another letter was received in August, in which the missionaries moved to Santa Rosa in the mountainous interior of Honduras where constant rainfall and dampness.  He describes the climate, local agriculture, and food imports.  Joseph and Albert were taken ill and weak, which he attributed to the climate.  Six weeks later the gentleman were recovered.  Mrs. Armitage had a bout of dysentery and was slow to recover.  This put a strain on Mrs. Bishop, who became solely responsible for cooking and maintaining the household.

The Armitage’s returned to Kansas in November 1896 to regain their health and visit relatives in Concordia.  They recovered at their home in Abilene and returned to Honduras in February 1897.  It was reported that in addition to operating the mission Albert Bishop started farming and speculating in coffee.  Bishop and Reverend W. L. Upshaw were maintaining 40 acres of corn near Santa Rosa.  The mission work prospered and church attendance was growing rapidly.

In April 1899, Joseph returned to Abilene to manage some personal business.  He reported that the mission in Santa Rosa was thriving and are moving from rural Honduras to the large city of Guatemala City, Guatemala.  Two months later, he left for Guatemala City traveling through Port Barrias.  In November 1899, the Armitage’s sold the home on Spruce to William E. and Eva I. Howard.

The morning of April 26, 1900 in Guatemala City started for the missionaries as it usually did.  Joseph woke up early and was soon struck by neuralgia of the lungs.  He did not seemed distressed about his condition until a few minutes before he died around 6 am.  After Joseph’s death, the Bishop’s would make Los Angeles, California their home when they were not in South America.  Mrs. Armitage lived in Concordia, Kansas when she was not doing mission work.    They would visit Abilene when their travels brought them close to their old home.  The A.O.U.W. provided a financial gift to Mrs. Armitage and she gifted an illustration of Mary Queen of Scots before Queen Elizabeth to the Abilene A.O.U.W.  Their return trips to Guatemala would take them through ports on both the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.

Mary Elizabeth Armitage would continue her mission work in Guatemala City until her death in that city on March 19, 1923.  Joseph and Mary are buried in Guatemala City.



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George Clay Anderson (1856-1930), Abstracter and Insurance Agent

George Clay Anderson 2

George Clay Anderson

On December 9, 1885, George Clay Anderson celebrated his 29th birthday and his second week as a resident of Abilene, Kansas.  For the next 45 years, George would become one of the most recognizable and respected members of the community.  George was a native of Bracken County, Kentucky on the southern back of the Ohio River.  He was born in Rock Springs, Kentucky and for a time resided in Augusta, Kentucky.  Around 1879, George started working as a deputy county clerk and had this position for six years.  He married Ms. Ada Lee Norris in Bracken County on the 15th of December, 1880.  While in Kentucky, the couple had two children: Grace Greenwood Anderson (Ryan) and Harry Norris Anderson.

Ada Lee Norris Anderson 1

Ada Lee Norris Anderson

Their three other children were born in Abilene: Edith A. Anderson (Shockey), Mary Elizabeth Anderson (who died in infancy), and Ada Lulu Anderson (Murphy).

George, along with his younger brothers, Thomas and William H., established themselves in Abilene by November of 1885.  Upon arriving in Abilene, George began working as a clerk in the Shane & Emig grocery store.  However, within a couple months, George was working for the abstract, real estate, and insurance company of J. H. Brady & Company.  Ada and the children remained in Kentucky until their arrival in Abilene in April 1886.  The family lived in part of Mrs. Gorden’s house in the 500 block of NW. Third street, formerly occupied by Mrs. Worthington.

ADR 3-25-1891

Abilene Daily Reflector – March 25, 1891

Shortly after the new year of 1889, George Merrill split from J. H. Brady to start his own abstract and loan company with Mr. Anderson has his employee.  The George Merrill office was in the old offices of Doc McMaster & Company over Vanderbelt’s Emporium, later known as the toothpick building at 200 N. Broadway.  Two years later in January 1891, George and his brother William started their own abstract and insurance company.  The new firm was located in the Union Pacific Railroad annex along with the Kansas Farm Mortgage Company.  The brothers would work for the Kansas Farm Mortgage Company while operating the Anderson Brothers Abstract Company.  The annex was located at the northwest corner of the Union Pacific Depot and Henry House Hotel, approximately at the south side of the intersection of NW. 2nd and Spruce Streets.  Later that year, George became a solicitor for the Home Insurance Company of New York.  In 1894, George was an assistant to the postmaster in addition to conducting his own business.

In August 1894, the family moved to the Walnut Grove stock farm in Grant Township south of Abilene.  The farm was owned by the Travelers Insurance Company and had been managed by Frank L. Ball.  Frank moved to Wichita.  A year later tragedy struck the family when Ada died of pneumonia after a month long illness.  Her funeral was held at the Christian Church in Abilene on November 28, 1895.  She is buried in the Abilene Cemetery.  Managing the stock farm, running the abstract and insurance business, and raising four children became difficult even though his sister in-law, Lula Norris, had been living with the family for many years.  In April 1896, Frank Ball returned to his old position as superintendent of the Walnut Grove stock farm and the Anderson’s moved back to town.  The family moved to the Floyd property on NW. Third, now owned by Prof. Jewett.  The following February the family moved to the house on NW. 3rd Street, which had previously been occupied by M. B. Fulton.

AWC 6-12-1896

Abilene Weekly Chronicle – June 12, 1896

William H. Anderson died in Abilene of a heart attack in 1903 and the name of the firm changed to G. C. Anderson Abstract Company.  In May 1905, the G. C. Anderson Abstract Company moved into the middle space of the Perring Building, which was addressed 203 N. Spruce Street (most recently Etherington Real Estate).  In the spring of 1914, the abstract company moved back to the Union Pacific Hotel Annex at the Southeast corner of Spruce and NW. 2nd Streets.

George Clay Anderson 1

George C. Anderson

In 1904, Miss Bertha C. Barnes moved from Chapman, Kansas to Abilene to work under her brother in law, Thomas J. Rexroat, as deputy Register of Deeds.  George and Bertha quickly became acquainted and their relationship blossomed.  The couple went to Lawrence, Kansas in June 1906 and were married on the 24th at the home (808 Indiana Street) of her sister, Mrs. Elvina M. (Elmer L.) Case.  The family moved from 907 NW. 3rd Street to 920 NW. 3rd Street Bertha was born and raised in Chapman and would be deputy Register of Deeds until 1910.

In 1910, she was the Republican candidate for the

Bertha C Barnes Anderson 1

Bertha C. Barnes Anderson

Register of Deeds.  There were five primary candidates for the position with Bertha winning by a slim 10 vote margin over Jacob L. Worley.  Mr. Worley demanded a recount.  Probate Judge Anderson appointed a committee of himself, Newton Cole, and Joseph Edgar Keel to conduct the recount.  The recount resulted with Worley gaining 11 votes and Anderson gaining 10 votes and was settled with Bertha having a 9 vote victory.  That November, Bertha was elected the Register of Deeds over D. Simpson with a vote of 2,246 to 1,802.  During her reelection bid in 1912, Bertha trailed Thomas Easter by 55 votes.  A recount discovered that of 250 ballots that were marked as void, 58 were declared legal.  Although Bertha gained votes, it was not enough to overcome the 55 vote deficit.

From his earliest days in Abilene, George was civic-minded and was involved in several of the local clubs and associations.  In 1888, George was on the committee that drafted the constitution and by-laws of Abilene’s Cleveland Club.  He was a member of the Elks Club, Masons, Ancient Order of United Workmen (A.O.U.W.), the Knights of Pythias (K of P), Woodmen of the World (W. O. W.), F. A. A., Abilene Commercial Club, and others.  In 1900, George was appointed a district manager of the Bankers’ Union of the World and would travel throughout the county on behalf of the organization.  He was also involved in the Carnival Committee parade planning.  George served on the Dickinson County Fair Association and managed publicity for the event.  George served as President of The Twilight Baseball League in 1914 and was a member of the Abilene Country Club.

George was active in County politics.  His political affiliation was with the Populists and Democrats and served the county party in a number of capacities.  He began by volunteering as a polling place clerk during the elections in 1890.  In 1893, George was the Democrat candidate for Dickinson County Register of Deeds.  He came in third place with a respectable 1,019 votes behind Mr. King (1,710 votes) and Mr. Frazier (1,413 votes).  The following year, George along with Judge Hutchinson and A. W. Livingston conducted an audit of the County Treasury.  In 1898, George was nominated by the Populist-Democrats as a candidate for the Abilene School Board for the 2nd Ward.  However, he refused to run and was replaced by Edwin B. Malott.  In July 1918, George was the first person to apply for car tags in Dickinson County

George died on May 2, 1930 and is buried in the Abilene Cemetery.  Bertha continued to operate the G. C. Anderson Abstract Company until her death on September 11, 1958.  Bertha is buried in the Abilene Cemetery.



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Franklin Bradford Bearce (1847-1906) – Clothing, Shoes, and Home Furnishing Merchant

Franklin Bradford Bearce, son of Zebulon Harlow Bearce and Harriet B. Bradford was born in Turner, Maine on March 4, 1847.  Frank grew up on Turner and by 1881 he was working in Chicago as a wholesale clothing dealer.  In January 1881, Frank and his brother in-law, Lothrop Hedge Faulkner, partnered to open L. H. Faulkner & Company clothing and shoe store in the Opera Block.  In 1882 the business moved to 207 N. Broadway (currently the south 3rd of the USD 435 administrative offices) in the Knox Block.  Mr. Faulkner was the managing partner while Frank stayed in Chicago and served as the buyer.  L. H. Faulkner & Company occupied two store fronts on Broadway Street and carried clothing, shoes, boots, and furnishing goods.  In the summer of 1884, the business leased an adjacent building, connected the spaces with a brick archway, and opened an expanded boot and shoe department.

Frank married Anna Dwight Faulkner, one of his business partner’s sisters, in Plymouth, Massachusetts on December 15, 1886.  The couple moved to Abilene in 1887 from Chicago, Illinois and purchased 904 NW. 3rd Street, which was the home of Dr. J. E. Herbst.  Their home cost $3,000.  The couple was blessed with the birth of their daughter, Nannie, in November 1888.  However, joy quickly turned to tragedy when Anna died at home on December 3, 1888 due to an inability to recover from childbirth.  Anna’s funeral was at the Trinity Lutheran Church and she is buried in the Abilene Cemetery.

Nannie died In Aug of 1889, while visiting family in Fremont, Ohio.  That December, Frank purchased the home of W. G. Cowles on Grand Avenue for $7,000.  Shortly thereafter he married his sister in-law, Elizabeth Cole Faulkner, who was the widow of Charles Amsden.  They were married in Fremont, Ohio at her home on January 9, 1890.  Elizabeth came to Abilene with her two children, Susan Hedge Amsden and William Faulkner Amsden.

AWR 9-25-1890 #2

Abilene Weekly Reflector – September 25, 1890

In September 1890, the company officially changed the name to Faulkner & Bearce.  In 1892, the company purchased the stock of competitor Hazlett & Hynds and sold it at a deep discount.  Among the firm’s employees were William Henry Sunderland, Harold F. Bearce, William H. Hoon, Frank Parker, Harry Binder, Charles Schively, William Shellhaas, Henry Knoder, W. L. Hutchinson, Wesley S. Harley, and Will Seward.  Faulkner & Bearce also had a store in Herington, which they closed in January 1893.  The following year, the stock was condensed from two store fronts to one and the firm was dissolved when Frank purchased Lothrop’s interest.  The new firm was called F. B. Bearce.  In December 1895, the stock was being liquidated to satisfy the mortgagee’s.  Frank retained the business and continued to sell high quality men’s ware and shoes.

ADR 5-16-1894

Abilene Daily Reflector – May 16, 1894

Frank B. Bearce, Clothier moved from 207 N. Broadway to 211 N. Broadway, at the southeast corner of Broadway and NW. 3rd Street. Frank hired Mathias Witt, who was a stone mason by trade, to lay an intricately patterned tile floor at the new location. When the new location opened it features large display windows on 3rd Street, a handsome tin ceiling, new furniture, fitting room, and shoe department, and youth’s department.  Electric lights were added to the store in September 1901.

Bearce at 211 N Broadway

Franklin B. Bearce Clothier Located at 211 (213) N. Broadway Street

Mr. Bearce decided to close the business in April 1902 and began a close out sale.  The stock was for sale by the trustees with William Hoon continuing to sell the stock until December.  Following the closing of the company, Frank moved to St. Joseph, Missouri to become a traveling salesman for the Hirschman Brothers & Company, which was a leading clothing manufacturer based in New York.  The Bearce’s kept their house on Grand Avenue and had a number of renters, including United States Senator Joseph Ralph Burton.

Mr. Bearce was also keen on public matters.  He was a candidate for the school district in 1897 and served on the annual Corn Carnival’s finance committee.  He served as Treasurer at the Trinity Lutheran Church.  He was also involved in the local baseball scene.

Elizabeth died while trying to recover from an appendicitis operation in Fremont, Ohio on February 16, 1904.  She is buried in Fremont in the Oakwood Cemetery.  Frank died on September 28, 1906 in Auburn, Maine.





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Francis M. Whitlaw (1852-1908), Grocer

Francis M. Whitlaw was born in Ireland in March of 1852 and married Medora M. Ames.  Medora was a native of Ohio.  Francis was a farmer and by 1881 owned a farm south of Enterprise, Kansas on Carrie Creek.  He grew corn and wheat.  The couple would have four children: Edward, Zulema, Emmet, and Fosdick.

AWR 1-2-1890

Abilene Weekly Reflector – January 2, 1890

In August of 1883, the Whitlaw’s decided to sell the farm, which encompassed a six room farmhouse and 160 acres.  In October the farm and their household goods were sold at auction.  Following the sale the family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio for a year before returning to Dickinson County.  While in Cincinnati, Francis was severely injured in an elevator accident while moving products between floors in a warehouse.  They purchased ground 3 miles east of Abilene and built a new home.  Francis returned to planting corn, wheat, and onions.

In the spring of 1889, the Whitlaw’s purchased the Clyde James McDivitt home at 501 NW. 3rd Street.  They kept the farm east of town.  It was at this point that Francis decided to open a grocery store.  At the time the firm of Hawk & Shelton dry goods was located at 214 N. Cedar Street (current location of Black & Company Realtors) and dissolving.  Francis partnered with H. C. Shelton, who had considerable mercantile experience.  The new firm of H. C. Shelton & F. M. Whitlaw opened on January 1, 1890.  George Loyd was their managing employee.

The Firm of Shelton & Whitlaw was dissolved after 6 months with Francis buying his partner’s interest with the new firm being named

ADR 1-17-1894

Abilene Daily Reflector – January 17, 1894

F. M. Whitlaw and Company.  Mr. Shelton stayed with the firm as a manager and buyer.  George Loyd and John Eagle were also employed by the firm.  Over the next year, the dry goods portion of the business was liquidated.  The Rescue store, which was located at 312 N. Broadway (currently the north half of The Other Jones Store), purchased Whitlaw’s shoe inventory and the remaining dry goods and millinery items were sold at a bankruptcy sale in the spring of 1891.

The firm’s finances were restructured and reincorporated as M. M. Whitlaw, which was strictly a grocery store.  George Loyd continued as the manager and the store remained on Cedar Street.  Francis attended the World’s Fair for three days in 1893 and shortly thereafter elected to do transactions on a cash basis only, so credit was not extended to purchasers.  At this time, Francis was involved in the Abilene Commercial Club, which later became the Abilene Area Chamber of Commerce.

In December 1893, the space at 206 N. Cedar (most recently J & I Ceramics) was being remodeled and the firm moved from 214 N. Cedar to the newly remodeled space the following month.  In late 1895, Jacob Isaac Gish’s meat market moved into the Whitlaw grocery store.  The following year, the grocery store and meat market moved to 211-213 N. Broadway (currently the USD 435 Administrative Offices) and opened on February 25, 1896.  The grocery store was on the corner of NW. 3rd and Broadway (213) and was connected to the butcher shop (211) by an arched opening in the wall.  George Loyd in partnership with Fred Johntz decided to leave the firm and opened a grocery store in the space vacated by Whitlaw’s at 206 N. Cedar.

Several businesses shuffled their locations in early-1898, including Whitlaw’s shop which moved from Broadway Street to 209 N. Cedar Street (currently the south half of Xpressions).  The new location was remodeled prior to the move.  Francis continued to invest in his farming operations with his purchase of the old Cuthbert 100-acre farm, which was located on the Smoky Hill River bottom land two miles east and one mile south of Abilene.

Due to Francis’ poor health, the Whitlaw’s decided to close the grocery store and in the December of 1900 the J. B. Case Company purchased the entire grocery stock.  Herman Hassler purchased the butcher shop and moved it to Enterprise.  Francis continued to farm even though his health was failing.  He traveled to Topeka for medical treatments in 1903.  That same year they decided to sell the farm and their house at 501 NW. 3rd Street.

ADR 9-28-1906

Abilene Daily Reflector – September 29, 1906

The family remained in Abilene until July of 1904 when they moved to Cherryvale, Kansas, where Francis opened a grocery store.  In Cherryvale, they lived at 223 N. Neosho Street.  During this time, Francis decided to invest in a hotel in Kansas City.  He sold his first hotel in Kansas City in 1905 and then purchased the White House hotel at 744 Oak Street in Kansas City.  In 1906, he sold the grocery store in Cherryvale and went to Kansas City to manage the Royal Hotel.  The Royal Hotel was located at 800 E. 12th Street.  Today, the hotel site is a parking lot.

In October 1908, Francis lost his job as the manager of the Royal Hotel.  This loss was devastating to Francis.  On November 22, 1908, Francis committed suicide in his room at the Royal Hotel by ingesting rat poison.  He was discovered in his room and taken to an emergency hospital where he died.  His funeral was held at the Freeman and Marshall Funeral Home at 3015 Main Street in Kansas City.  He is buried in the Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City.  His widow would continue living in Kansas City and died in December of 1934.  She is buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Kansas City.



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