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

Mason County

Topeka Village
Page 643

The village of Topeka is situated about seven miles northeast of the city of Havana, on the P., P. & J. R. R., and is the only village embraced within the limits of Quiver Township. It was surveyed by J. W. Boggs, for Moses Eckard and Richard Thomas, in 1858. In order to secure the town site, Eckard and Thomas purchased 180 acres of David Beal, and 80 acres were made into a town plat. Forty acres were donated to the railroad company in order to secure the station. The first residence in the village was erected by J. L. Yates, in 1860. He was a blacksmith by trade, and had been plying his trade at McHarry's Mill, prior to locating in the village. He was followed, a short time afterward, by E. Y. Nichols, M. D., who built the second residence, and, as a matter of course, was the first resident physician of the place. Harrison Venard was the third residence of the place. Venard was from Ohio, and, in company with a Mr. Rosebrough, who was also from the Buckeye State, opened the first store in the village, near the close of 1860. The firm of Venard & Rosebrough, after a few months, became that of Venard & Musselman. A second store was opened in 1863 or 1864, by Musselman and Aaron Littell. The latter came from New Jersey, but had settled in the county and in the township in 1843. Others came in from time to time, and other stores and shops were opened, till, at one time, Topeka seemed to be on the highway to prosperity. But, like many of our Western towns, it attained its growth almost in the dawn of its existence, and, for some years past, it has remained stationary. A grain warehouse was built by Moses Eckard, in 1860. R. W. Stires, of St. Louis, was the first to operate in grain at this point. R. R. Simmonds, of Havana, and Porter & Walker have operated in grain at different times. The grain was handled in sacks and shipped on flats. In 1875, Flowers, Allen & Sherman built a very small and cheaply constructed elevator; this has been but little used since its completion. Low & Foster, through W. H. Eckard, handle the grain at present. About seventy thousand bushels is the average amount handled annually. A neat and substantial passenger depot was erected by the railroad company in 1872, which adds to the appearance of the village. Harrison Venard was the first agent at this point. W. H. Eckard is the present gentlemanly agent, and has held the position since 1867. The Methodist Episcopal Church, the only house of public worship in the village, was erected in 1865, at a cost of nearly $4,300. Among the early communicants, we find the names of Lewis H. Ringhouse and wife, Mrs. Susan Colwell, David Kepford and wife, Caleb Slade and wife, Phillip Brown, John M. McReynolds and family. Rev. T. J. M. Simmons was the first Pastor of the Church. It has since enjoyed the labors of Revs. J. G. Mitchell, A. M. Pilcher, G. M. Crays, and others. Rev. L. A. Powell is the present officiating minister. The congregation is in a prosperous condition, and working harmoniously for the upbuilding of the cause. A Sunday school of fine interest is connected with the Church. The post office at Topeka was established in the latter part of 1860, or early in 1861. Harrison Venard was the first Postmaster. The salary at no time has been princely, and those who have kept it have endured it as a necessary evil rather than from choice. J. F. Ruhl is the present incumbent. A neat frame school building was erected in 1867. It is not grand and imposing in its appearance, but is amply sufficient to accommodate the village urchins.

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