John Hoon was born in Berlin, Pennsylvania on January 4, 1869, the fourth child of Valentine Hoon and Elizabeth Suder. John grew up on the family farm in Brothers Valley Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The Hoon family arrived in Abilene, Kansas on March 25, 1885 and John would live in Abilene the remainder of his life.
John Hoon (1869-1924)
The Hoon family were active members of the Grace Reformed Church. John Hoon officially became a member of the Grace Reformed Church in Berlin, Pennsylvania in 1884. The Grace Reformed Church in Abilene was formed on November 4, 1883, when its Constitution was adopted and elders and deacons elected. Shortly after the Hoon’s arrived in Abilene, John’s membership was moved from Berlin to Abilene. In April 1886, the church voted to build a new church at the northwest corner of Buckeye Avenue and 5th Street (current location of Copeland Insurance), and Valentine Hoon along with other members were commissioned to manage the construction. John first served as the Sunday School Superintendent Secretary in 1889 and would later be a deacon.
John married Addie Raney on April 9, 1893 at her parent’s home in Abilene. Addie, the fourth daughter of Harden P. and Harriet L. (Johnson) Raney, was a native of Tennessee. John and Addie lived at 304 E. 1st Street and did not have children.
Professionally, John was employed by William Ward Davis at the Davis Shoe Store, which was also known as the Blue Front Shoe Store, which for a time was located in the Brady Block (now the United Trust Building) at the northwest corner of 3rd and Cedar Streets (currently Cedar Street Market). For 16 years, John worked as a shoe salesman primarily for Mr. Davis, but also for C. A. Wyandt (1891) and for Arthur B. Rose (1898-1900). John’s brother William, worked 15 years for the clothier, Franklin Bearce, who’s store was at 211 N. Broadway. When Bearce’s closed in 1902, William Hoon was the agent for the merchandise clearance.
W. H. Hoon & Company Opening Advertisement, Abilene Weekly Chronicle, April 2, 1903
With the closing of the Bearce Clothing Store, the Hoon brothers saw an opportunity. They had collective experience of over 30 years in the retail clothing business along with great reputations. In April 1903, they formed W. H. Hoon & Company, which carried a wide range of men and boys clothing and accessories. The company opened at 209 N. Broadway Street (currently part of the Abilene School District offices). Two month after opening, the 1903 flood ravished downtown. The Hoon brothers had only 1 foot of water in their basement and sustained minimal loss. However, they did have $100 of merchandise on a boxcar in Kansas City that was damaged by the flood. This was a minor loss compared to many of the other businesses.
Also in 1903, Everett E. Swanzey left his salesman position at the A. B. Rose Company to work for W. H. Hoon & Company. The following year William Hoon sold his portion of the business to Mr. Swanzey and took a traveling salesman job for a clothing manufacturer and relocated to West Virginia. With his new career, William would live in several cities including Sioux City, Iowa; Lincoln, Nebraska, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Wheeling, West Virginia. John tool the reigns and the W. H. Hoon & Company was renamed to Hoon & Company. In April 1908, Hoon & Company moved one door south to 207 N. Broadway Street, which had been occupied by the J. K. Markley & Company grocery store. The 1,750 sq. ft. space displayed a largest and most exclusive line of high grade clothing, hats, shirts, and neckwear. Apart from the owners, the clothier hired two sales clerks. Among those who worked as sales clerks was Harry Lewis Sorber.
Interior of Hoon & Company at 209 N. Broadway Street in 1905
Hoon & Company Advertisement, Abilene Weekly Reflector, September 26, 1907
In 1912, Hoon & Company installed a new awning and a thief tried to break in through the door on the alley, but was unable to pry the door open. This thief was successful at Case’s dry goods store that night. In 1913, John traveled to Kansas City to pick up his new car, a Velie 32. Two years later he sold the car to William A. Matteson and purchased a larger Velie from Charles Ellwood Dyer.
John took great interest in civic affairs. In 1898, John was elected to the City Council representing Ward 1 by a 29 vote majority over George Washington Shook. During his first term, John served on the committee that ascertained the condition of the Central Hotel, which was later condemned and razed. At the end of his first term in 1900, John ran for re-election and tied Theodore Hasshagen with 71 votes each. At the City Council meeting following the election, the names of Hoon and Hasshagen were placed in a hat and Hoon’s slip was drawn. At the same meeting Richard A. Brown resigned his seat on the City Council since he moved outside the city limits. Mr. Hasshagen was nominated to fill the position vacated by Mr. Brown and was unopposed.
During his second term, John was elected as the City Council President in 1901. At that time the Mayor was elected at large rather than appointed from among the councilmen. In 1904, John was elected to the Abilene School Board and served one full term until 1908. After his public service, he was a Ward 1 election judge for a number of election cycles.
John was an active member of the Abilene Commercial Club (forerunner of the Abilene Area Chamber of Commerce). Following the condemning and demolition of the Central Hotel (southwest corner of Spruce and 3rd Streets), the Commercial Club formed a committee to solicit financing for a new hotel. John Hoon was one of the team members offering subscriptions to build a new hotel. This effort was successful and resulted in the construction of the Forster Hotel at the northwest corner of 2nd and Spruce Streets (currently occupied by NextHome Unlimited, Farmers Insurance, Verizon, and The Teck Shop).
John and Addie lived at 304 E. 1st Street for twenty years and were caretakers for Addie’s aging father who stayed with them until his death in 1920. John’s aging mother lived across the street at 309 E. 1st Street. John died on August 6, 1924 in Abilene. Three days later his funeral was held at the Grace Reformed Church and was laid to rest in the Abilene Cemetery. Addie died in 1935 and is buried with her husband.