1879 History of Menard & Mason Counties
Published by: O.L. Baskin & Co., Historical Publishers
186 Dearborn Street

Mason County

Business And Professions
Page 562

At first, as is usually and necessarily the case, the merchandising business was not classified, but each store kept a stock of general merchandise, not so extensive in quantity as in variety. Dry goods, clothing, boots and shoes, harness, saddles, plows, groceries, hardware, and all departments of the merchandise business, was conducted in the one house.

Mr. A. A. Cargill is the veteran merchant in town, and the only one of the pioneer merchants who has continued in business ever since and is now so engaged, as the senior member of the firm of Cargill & Swing, in an extensive dry goods, groceries, boots and shoes, occupying three separate rooms on the corner of Main and Chestnut streets. C. Hume, another pioneer of the town commenced business in 1858, but for several years of the intervening time since, was out on a farm, but is now engaged in the agricultural implement trade, east of the C. & A. Railroad, on the corner of Mason and Chestnut streets. S. D. Swing, now retired, still lives in town, but for a number of years has been out of active business. Dr. A. R. Cooper was the first resident physician in town, and built and occupied the house now owned and occupied by R. Proctor, near the La Forge Elevator. Travis & Brown built the first steam grain elevator, of which mention has before been made. Propst & Cottrell opened the first drug store in the brick building on the corner north of the St. Nicholas Hotel, who was succeeded by Drs. Patterson & Conover, they by Dr. J. S. Walker, and he by Kincaid & Bradley, who moved it from that place to the brick building now occupied in the business by Allen Bradley. Hume & Warnock built the drug-store room now occupied by Dr. W. A. Dunn, on Chestnut street, who bought it of Smith & Strome a few years ago. The drug store owned by John H. Hopkins, on the corner of Main and Chestnut streets, was built for that purpose in 1871, and has been so used ever since. N. Cottrell opened the first picture gallery in town, up-stairs over the Propst & Cottrell drug store, in 1860. Before that, he traveled about in a car from place to place, and made pictures of the old-style daguerreotype pattern. The next was by Eld. J. M. Haughey, in the upper story of the old Keefer store building. Mr. Haughey was then the Pastor of the Baptist congregations in this vicinity, and often supplemented the matrimonial knot by taking a picture of the happy pair. Next in the picture business was S. M. Miller, who now occupies rooms over the First National Bank.

The first newspaper was the Mason City News, the nucleus of which was a small job printing office, owned by Haughey & Eulass. The first issue of the paper was July 4, 1867, the day the laying of the track on the Jacksonville branch of the C. & A. Railroad reached the corporation line from the south. The paper was published by Eld. J. M. Haughey and W. S. Walker, the latter having bought an interest in the office about a month before. In 1871, W. S. Walker sold his interest to J. C. Warnock, and the name of the paper was changed to Mason City Independent. Mr. Haughey has retained his interest and position as senior proprietor ever since the paper was started, except awhile the year 1869, and from September 1, 1877, to September 1, 1878, when he was sole proprietor by buying out his partner. J. C. Warnock has edited the paper since February 9, 1871, with the exception of one year he was away as editor and proprietor of the Mason County Democrat, at Havana. The Independent is now in its thirteenth volume.

The Mason City Journal was established late in the fall of 1871 by I. E. Knapp, by whom the material of the Havana Reveille office was bought and here moved for that purpose, and was edited by Capt. A. P. Stover until January, 1872, when Mr. Knapp sold out to W. S. Walker, who assumed editorial charge. In 1874, Mr. Walker sold out to Dr. J. A. Walker and Wells Corey, and soon after, the former sold his interest to the latter, by whom it has since been continued.

The first flouring-mill was built in 1868 by Hulshizer & Smith, which was destroyed by fire a few years afterward, and never rebuilt. The next was erected on the site of the present one by Warnock & Montgomery in 1870. This one was also destroyed by fire a few years afterward, and the present commodious building erected in its stead, and is now owned and operated by Ironmonger & Tibbetts.

The first bank was that of Warnock & Co., which went into operation in 1866, and failed in 1870.

The next was that of Campbell & Porter, in their store called the "Double Mammoth," now used as a restaurant and billiard hall. This bank went into operation in 1868, and was the nucleus from which the First National Bank was organized, in 1871, with a paid-up capital stock of $50,000, and has been in successful operation ever since. Otho S. King, formerly of Lewistown, Fulton County, was elected Cashier, and has retained the position ever since. G. H. Campbell was elected President, and held the position till 1877, when he was succeeded by R. W. Porter, and he by A. A. Blunt, the present incumbent, in 1879. This bank is located on Main Street, in a building erected for the purpose a few years ago. In 1871, J. B. Massey, of Mount Sterling, Brown County, commenced the banking business here, under the name of Mason City Exchange Bank, but closed business after a few years. In 1875, the bank of F. N. Smith & Co. commenced business, and is still in successful operation, in a suitable brick building on Chestnut street. F. N. Smith, a former druggist, and David Powell, a former merchant of this place, are associated together in this bank.

The public improvements in this city are not extensive as yet, but are permanent and substantial so far as they go. The schoolhouses have been treated of under the head of public schools. The Mason County Soldiers' Monument stands in the center of our park square, and was erected by voluntary contributions soon after the close of the war of the rebellion, at a cost of $5,000, and is a handsome and fitting tribute to the memory of those who gave their lives for their country's cause. It has been the unvarying custom of our people since the erection of this monument, to assemble there the 30th of May each year, and decorate it with flowers with appropriate ceremonies.

The public well and water-tank is a public improvement of great value and advantage. A large tank is built high above, into which the water is pumped by a wind-mill, from which an abundance of water is supplied for all the public wants of the town. The fire engine was purchased several years ago, and a fire company formed to operate it when needed. It is a Champion chemical engine. The streets are well graded and are beautiful and pleasant drives. The sidewalk improvements now in process of construction are being made of brick, and are good, substantial and permanent.

The first calaboose in town was made of sawed 2x6 oak timber, spiked together so as to make almost a solid wooden wall of six inches in thickness. At best, it was a decidedly dismal-looking place. It first stood on Pine street, but was moved to Tonica street, where, a few years ago, it caught fire one rainy night and was totally destroyed. A new brick calaboose was then erected and provided with cells, which is now the city prison.

The city cemetery is located about three-quarters of a mile east of town, and is inclosed by a neat fence, and considerable interest is manifested by the people who have purchased lots in beautifying them. It contains forty acres, about one-half of which is laid off in lots one rod in width and two rods in length, and two lots in each block.

A little more than two years ago, a company of militia was formed in this city and vicinity as Illinois National Guards, under the general militia law of the State, of which see roster in the general history of the county.

A vein of coal five feet and eleven inches in thickness was recently found by boring, a short distance north of town, at the depth of 217 feet, and it is probable that a shaft will be sunk there within a few years.

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