Amasa Jeffcoat (1843-1934), Liveryman

Amasa Jeffcoat Portrait

Amasa Jeffcoat

Henry and Sarah E. (Wilcox) Jeffcoat welcomed their second son, Amasa Jeffcoat, to the world on February 4, 1843 in York, Illinois.  Henry was a farmer originally from Aylesbury, England.   When just a year old the family moved to Will County, Illinois and by 1848 they moved to Rockville Township in Kankakee County, Illinois.  When Amasa was 17 years old he was living and working on the farm of Calvin Walton in Rockville Township.

On August 5, 1862, Amasa and his older brother, Daniel, enlisted in Company I, 76th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.  The 76th IVI mustered in on August 22, 1862 and the brothers would be mustered out at Galveston, Texas on July 22, 1865.  Amasa was enlisted as a Private and finished as a Corporal.  The 76th IVI operated along the east bank of the Mississippi River and was involved in capturing of Vicksburg and Jackson, Mississippi in the summer of 1863.  Amasa was at Camp Hebron, Missouri, during the fall and winter of 1863 until February of 1864 when they moved on Yazoo City, Mississippi.  They would later travel to New Orleans and to Fort Barrancas, near Pensacola, Florida before heading to Texas.  Amasa was involved in a number of battles, skirmishes, and weather damaged watercraft during the 10,000 miles covered by the 76th IVI, which ended in Galveston, Texas.

76th Illinois Volunteer Infantry in Galveston, TX

Mustering Out of the 76th Illinois Volunteer Infantry in Galveston, Texas on July 22, 1865


After returning to Kankakee County he returned to farming and after three years married Emily Marie Harrington on December 8, 1868.  Amasa and Emily lived on a farm in Limestone, Illinois.  Their first child, Lawson Eugene Jeffcoat, was born in October of 1869 and would be their only child born in Illinois.  In the late summer of 1871, Amasa drove a covered wagon west and led a migration of several relatives to Kansas.  On October 10, 1871, they arrived in Cheever Township, Dickinson County about 10 miles north of Abilene.  Ten days later Emily and Lawson arrived in Abilene by train.  Over the next 8 years, Amasa and Emily would add 4 children to their family: Jessie Ann (Shadinger), Joseph Wesley, Jacob John, and Frank Leslie.  Amasa took to farming and stockraising.

Tragedy struck the family when Emily died on January 3, 1880, leaving Amasa with five children under the age of 11.  Emily is buried in the Henry Cemetery in Buckeye Township.  Just over a year later on January 25, 1881, Amasa was married to Lillie May Fink.  The father of his deceased with, Reverend Wesley Harrington, performed the ceremony.  Amasa and Lillie would have six children between 1881 and 1897: Clarence Melvin, Nora Annette (Wilvert), Pearl Maude, Wilbur Amasa, Elmer Leroy, and Charles Carl.

Amasa Jeffcoat Family 1894

Amasa Jeffcoat Family in 1894 – back l to r: Wilbur, Nettie, Frank, Jake, Jessie, and Lawson “Gene”.  front l to r: Roy, Lilly, Carl, and Amasa


While living in the country, Amasa acquired land in Garfield and Lincoln Townships west and southwest of Abilene.  His entire life, Amasa had been taking care of horses and decided to get into the livery stable business.  Due to health problems, Amasa moved to Abilene in 1886 and started operating the former Shadinger’s (1884) and Ramsey’s (1887) Livery Stable on NW. 2nd Street, which is now occupied by the coffee bar portion of the LifeHouse Church.  This would be his first stable location of seven during his 22 year career as a liveryman.  They lived at 201 NE. 8th Street at this time.


The former Shadinger, Ramsey, and Jeffcoat stable on NW. 2nd Street, which Amasa Jeffcoat sold to William F. Lebold in 1888.

Henry House and Star Liveries on Spruce Street

Henry House Livery, which Jeffcoat operated until the fire on October 2, 1890

Amasa sold the NW. 2nd Street location to William F. Lebold and moved to the livery stable formerly known as the Henry House Livery stable, which was in the 300 block of N. Spruce Street.  This stable occupied the property which is now addressed 307 and 311 N. Spruce Street, which are now the United Capital Management office and recently closed 311 restaurant.  The Star Livery located at 319 N. Spruce had just been completed and there was a vacant lot between the two stables.

Disaster struck the business on the evening of October 2, 1890, when the stable caught fire and everything was destroyed.  Fifteen horses died in the flames and all of the buggies, harnesses, and structure were reduced to ashes.  The total value lost was $5,000 and Amasa did not have insurance on the business.  As reported the following week in the October 9, 1890 edition of the Abilene Weekly Reflector,


Jeffcoats Livery Barn And Contents Destroyed.  Fifteen horses perish in the flames – buggies, harness etc., Are Lost – Nothing Saved – Loss Over $5,000 With No Insurance.

The most disastrous fire in the recent history of Abilene occurred Thursday night at 11:30 o’clock when the frame livery barn of A. Jeffcoat on Spruce Street between Third and Fourth was burned to the ground, nothing being saved. 

The fire was seen by three or four different parties at about the same time.  John Maloney, of Maloney Bros., with a hostler in a neighboring barn was the first on the ground.  He saw the fire as he was closing his billiard hall, the flames showing in the northeast corner of the building.  He rushed to the place and found everything closed.  Going through the office he went into the main part of the barn where the smoke was so dense that he could scarcely see.  He untied two horses and attempted to get them out but could not and was obliged to run for his life.  He awakened the two boys sleeping in the barn and they too escaped.  The fire companies were soon on hand, the alarm having been given by the hostler, but nothing could be done except save the neighboring buildings.  Only for the fact that it was comparatively still night even this would have been impossible.

THE LOSE $5,000

The rapidity with which the flames got under way in the tinder-like structure precluded the saving of anything.  The complete list of loss of Mr. Jeffcoat outside of the building takes in nearly everything he possessed.  He lost 11 horses, 6 buggies, 2 carriages, 1 saddle and bridle, 3 sets double harness, 2 sets single harness.  2 tons hay, 150 bushel oats, one-half ton bran, whips, robes, etc., common to a livery barn.  Beside this there were four boarding horses with buggies and harnesses.  G. C. Sterl lost his fine horse and phaeton, Dr. Austin his horse and phaeton, James Slough his horse and sulky and Fred Wilcox his horse and buggy recently purchased, Carl Potter and R. M. White each had a buggy stored there and Eicholtz’s best hearse was in the barn.  All were burned and so far as can be learned not a dollar’s worth of insurance was held on them.  The total loss cannot be less than $5,000. 


The most pathetic part of the fire was the burning of the 15 fine horses the remains of all of which were found in the stalls when the smoke cleared away.  No cries of pain were heard from them but it was probably because of suffocation from the dense smoke. 

William Conrad, the stable boy and a farm lad who was staying with him had gone to bed but a short time before had not time to put on their clothing after they were awakened. 

The loss is a particularly hard one on Mr. Jeffcoat.  He has been for years one of Abilene’s most respected and hard working citizens and has the sympathy of all in his misfortune.  The firemen worked their hardest and fought the flames to the best of their ability.  Abilene’s citizens outside the department also took a hold and aided materially in subduing the flames. 

Mr. Jeffcoat wishes us to extend his thanks to the firemen and all others who assisted him last night and have expressed their sympathy today.  We hope that in some way arrangements can be made by which he can again get into business. 

The debris is being cleared away today, the charred remains of the dead horses making immediate action necessary. 

After the fire Warren Thayer treated the firemen handsomely by inviting them to partake of coffee and refreshments at his restaurant on Third street.  The boys appreciate his thoughtfulness.”

Shortly after the fire several people proposed that a benefit fund be created to help Amasa.  A fund was established and George C. Sterl and David Matteson volunteered to pass a subscription paper among the business men.  The effort raised $633.10, which was provided to the Jeffcoats that November.  The generosity of fellow Abileneians helped Amasa start anew when he leased The Glenwood Stables shortly after receiving the benefit fund.  He purchased the horses, rigs, and harnesses from the Broughton Brothers (see William Henry Broughton).  The Glenwood Stables is the same property as Amasa’s original stable on NW. 2nd Street.  William F. Lebold rented the NW. 2nd Street stable to the Glenwood stock farm in January 1890 and then to Jeffcoat in November 1890.

ADR 6-23-1891

Bon Ton Livery Stable Advertisement – Abilene Daily Reflector, June 23, 1891

In the spring of 1891, construction of a new stone livery on Broadway Street began and the structure was finished in June.  The substantial and handsome two-story building, which replaced the old Bon Ton Livery stable.  The original Bon Ton stable sat on what is now 315 N. Broadway (First American Title) and the south half of 317 N. Broadway (Countrypolitan).  The first story of the new Bon Ton stable is now the Countrypolitan store.  You could enter the new livery stable from either the Broadway or Spruces Street sides.  The new Bon Ton Livery Stable was operated by Amasa and his partner, Charles E. Swick.  Prior to the opening of this stable, many of the leading horse owners in the area had made arrangements to board their horses there.

ADR 7-29-1895

Central Livery Stable Advertisement at Buckeye and 4th – Abilene Daily Reflector, July 29, 1895

The partnership of Jeffcoat & Swick was a short one with the retirement of Charles Swick in March 1893.  The partnership was dissolved on April 1, 1893 and the new firm of Jeffcoat & Son was born with Lawson Eugene Jeffcoat being the son.  They continued operation at 317 N. Broadway until July 1895.  In June 1895, Amasa and Lawson’s wives, Lilly Mae (Fink) Jeffcoat and Lucy Bell (Fritz) Jeffcoat, respectively, purchased five lots at the northwest corner of 4th Street and Buckeye Avenue (now occupied by M&M Tire) and the stable was moved in July.  This arrangement only lasted two months when the property on Buckeye was sold to George Etherington and Etherington’s horse and buggy teams were sold to Jeffcoat & Son.  With a large combined stock, Jeffcoat & Son moved to the fine two-story Star Livery building at 317 N. Spruce Street.

ADR 9-28-1895

Central Livery Stable Advertisement at 317 N. Spruce – Abilene Daily Reflector, September 28, 1895

The livery business was a dangerous one with runaways and disagreeable horses being a regular occurrence.  Rarely did a week go by that a team of horses didn’t run lose through the streets often damaging property, themselves, and people.  It was shortly after moving into the Star Livery that Amasa’s foot was severely crushed by a horse stomping on it.  There were other types of hazards.  For instance, in May 1896 the basement of the livery, which was where the horses were quartered filled with six feet of water.  It took over two days to pump the basement out.  One of the most significant accidents Amasa was involved in occurred in September 1903.  As reported by the Abilene Daily Reflector,

“W. L. Stowitts’ team attached to the rural carrier wagon of Route 1 ran away down Buckeye last evening at a terrific pace.  Near the Rock Island it struck a livery team from Jeffcoat’s with Mr. Jeffcoat and a traveling man in the buggy.  They tried to escape but the runaways struck them and there was a mixup.  Jeffcoat’s buggy was demoralized and his horses ran south to George Rush’s.  The other team was tangled up and stopped.  Mr. Jeffcoat and his passenger were bruised but not seriously injured.”

ADC 5-25-1899

Jeffcoat & Son Grocery Advertisement – Abilene Daily Chronicle, May 25, 1899

By 1898, Amasa seemed ready for a change.  In March of that year, he sold his interest in Jeffcoat & Son to his sons Lawson Eugene Jeffcoat and John Jacob “Jake” Jeffcoat who created the Jeffcoat Brothers firm.  However, the following month Joseph E. and William S. Badger purchased the Star Livery building for their transfer and bussing business.  In May 1899, Amasa and Jake formed another Jeffcoat and Son company and purchased the A. T. Munroe grocery store at 318 N. Broadway Street, which is now the north half of Hairtiques.  Jake had always been interested in the grocery business and would work for a number of Abilene’s grocers during his early adulthood.  The Jeffcoat & Son grocery store only lasted 7 months, when the store was sold to Clint C. Colden.  Mr. Colden had been the head grocery clerk for J. B. Case for many years prior to buying the Jeffcoat store in February 1900.  Jake started working for Colden and would later work for Kump’s Grocery, the Prendergast Store, and Markley’s Grocery.

Amasa promptly got back into the livery stable business as Jeffcoat & Son by operating the City Livery, previously known as the Young Stable.  Shortly after moving to the property, Amasa built an addition to the existing stable.  The City Livery was located at the southwest corner of Spruce and NW. 5th Streets.  This property is now occupied by the City Auditorium attached to City Hall.  Roy Weyant purchased the property from Jeffcoat and allowed Jeffcoat to rent it.

Jeffcoat City Livery 1900

City Livery Barn on the right east of City Hall at the corner of Spruce and 5th Streets.  Photo taken from 4th and Spruce Streets about 1900

In December 1900, the City Livery Barn was sold by Roy Weyant to David F. Keller and extended a lease to Amasa so he continued business next to city hall.  The following summer Jeffcoat & Son moved back to the Star Livery (317 N. Spruce) and William S. Badger moved his transfer business to stable on NW. 5th Street and Lawson Jeffcoat continued to live in the house next to the stable.  Jeffcoat & Son sold the Star Livery building to George C. Dahnke in March 1906 and had no plans to continue in business.  Amasa would spend the next year in retirement.

317NSpruce 1

The Star Livery Stable (317 N. Spruce Street) operated by Jeffcoat and Son.  Amasa Jeffcoat is next to his dog, Kan-Kee

317NSpruce 1-19-2019

The Star Livery building on January 19, 2019

Amasa must have grown restless in retirement.  In March 1907, Jeffcoat & Son petitioned the City Council for permission to build a boarding barn at 314 N. Buckeye Avenue, which is now occupied by SK Designs.  Permission was granted.  However, neighboring livery stable owner, H. A. Anderson, brought an injunction suit to the Council to halt the building project contending that the block walls were one inch less in thickness than required by ordinance.  The ordinance in questions did not cover cement block buildings.  On May 17th, the City Council adopted an ordinance addressing cement structures and allowed construction of the building to continue.  The new stable was touted as the most modern in the city with electric lighting throughout, insulated wire, and box stalls for twenty horses.

SK Designs 12-15-18

314 N. Buckeye Avenue on December 15, 2018, built by Amasa Jeffcoat in 1907

Amasa’s devoted wife, Lillie May Jeffcoat, died on November 5, 1908 at the family home after a battle with dropsy.  Her funeral was held at the Evangelical Church on November 8th and she was laid to rest in the Abilene Cemetery.

The boarding stable and livery business at 314 N. Buckeye Avenue was sold to veterinarian Dr. Ralph E. Townsend in October 1910.  Dr. Townsend continued the business at the same stand and added his veterinary office at the space.  With this arrangement, the boarding stable turned into an animal hospital with recovering animals being under consistent observation of the veterinarian.  Amasa retired from business.

Amasa for several years was involved in local Republican party having served as a ward committeeman and party delegate in the 4th Ward of Abilene.  He was also a member of the Abilene Post 63 of the Grand Army of the Republic.  The family moved their residence as often as the livery relocated.  The list of Abilene homes they lived in include: 202 NE. 5th Street (1900-1906), 123 NE. 4th Street (1910), 411 NE. 6th Street (1912-1914), 415 NE. 6th Street (1916), 514 NW. 5th Street (1920), 205 E. 1st Street (1923), and 910 NW. 2nd Street (1926-1934).

Amasa died on December 29, 1934 at the Carroll House hospital (107 W. 1st Street) of a brain hemorrhage.  His funeral was held at the Tufts Funeral Home on the last day of 1934 with a large crowd, including the membership of the Grand Army of the Republic and Women’s Relief Corps.  He was laid to rest in the Abilene Cemetery to the American Legion firing a salute and the playing of taps by his grandson, Gerald Shadinger.



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Oscar Allen Dentzer (1875-1940), Grocer

John Dick Dentzer and Sarah Jane Dentzer gave birth to Oscar Allen Dentzer on February 4, 1875 in Forest City, Illinois.  The family migrated to Dickinson County, Kansas by 1880, when the family was living on 161 acres in the Newbern Township (SW, 5-14-2) about 4 miles south of Abilene.  Oscar grew up on the farm and attended Abilene schools.  He enjoyed baseball and at one time was captain of the Newbern Nestlings baseball team.

When Oscar was 16 years of age, he began working for J. B. Case & Company and was the supervisor of their grocery department.  The J. B. Case Company occupied four store fronts (206-208-210-212) on the west side of the 200 block of N. Broadway Street.  The grocery department occupied 208 N. Broadway (currently occupied by Abilene Chiropractic and Sports Rehab).  As the grocery supervisor of one of the leading retailers in Abilene for nearly 20 years, Oscar became proficient in all aspects of the grocery business and often traveled great distances to buy product.

Dentzer Grocery Store Location

208 N. Broadway Grocery Store prior to Oscar Dentzer Purchasing the Business

On November 27, 1901, Oscar married Miss Dollie H. Hudson, daughter of John and Mary Hudson.  The wedding was held at the home of her mother at 422 N. Broadway Street with the Rev. Fuller Bergstresser performing the ceremony.  Dollie worked for the Independent Telephone Company and was the first local exchange operator for this company in Abilene.  The new couple first lived on SE. 2nd Street, but a couple years later moved to 217 E. 1st Street.  Their daughter, Phyllis A. Dentzer (Lanning) was born in 1914.

DCN 1-23-1913

Dickinson County News – January 23, 1913

J. B. Case & Company made some significant changes in 1911 when they closed out their clothing and shoe departments and sold the grocery department to Oscar. The grocery remained at 208 N. Broadway and was named O. A. Dentzer Grocery Store. Among his employees were his brother, Walter H. Dentzer, Judson Stowits, Leta Zollett, and Calvin Chestnut.

Oscar was an active member of the community and took on leadership roles in a number of organizations.  He served as President of the Abilene Business Men’s Association (1917); President of the Commercial Club (1922); and President of the Abilene Rotary Club (1923).  Oscar was a contributor to the subscription for the construction of the Memorial Hospital in Abilene.  He was also appointed by the Dickinson County Commissioners as acting Food Administrator for Dickinson County during the brief absence of C. A. Case in 1918.  The Dentzer’s were members of the Trinity Lutheran Church.

During the spring of 1916, the family built the bungalow addressed 101 NW. 10th Street, which they moved into in August.  They would stay in the home until the middle 1920’s, when they purchased a rural property just west of Abilene in Grant Township.  Oscar also sold the grocery business and devoted himself to operating a small dairy.

Oscar died on December 10, 1940.  His funeral was at the Eicholtz Funeral Chapel.  Following Oscar’s death, Dollie moved back to town (509 NW. 5th) and worked as a personal nurse.  Dollie died on June 14, 1959 at the Abilene Memorial Hospital.  Her funeral was at the Rasher-Martin Funeral Home in Abilene.  They are buried in the Abilene Cemetery.




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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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