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Recollections of E. P. Deal
Charleston in the 1870's
EDITORS' NOTE: The following description of Charleston in the 1870's was written by the late E. P. Deal in 1942, some 70 years after the period he is writing about. It describes what the town was like just 50 years after Missouri became a state, and only 30 years or so after the founding of the community.
Being the oldest native resident of Charleston except one, I have been requested to give my recollection of Charleston 70 years ago. This is a long time for a person to turn their memory back and in giving these reminiscences I may be wandering, but I have them as they reoccur to me now.
The first railroad the old Cairo and Fulton was brought into Charleston in April 1859 and was later torn up and abandoned during the Civil War. In 1869 the Belmont Branch was completed from Belmont to St. Louis and in 1871 and 1972 the road commonly known as the CAT was completed from Birds' Point to Poplar Bluff.
Main Street in Charleston as you know is located on a ridge and back in the late sixties and early seventies after heavy rains both east and west side of the street was practically a sheet of water. Thanks to modern drainage that has all been obliterated and we have now what I think is one of the best towns in Southeast Missouri. But going back to those earlier days, I will try to take in the east side of Main Street as I remember it.
There were no residences in 1870 east of what is now known as the Mrs. Sue M. Reid property and Simon Loebe property. The block in which Shelby's Store is now located was all frame. These were burned down on April 18, 1879 and afterwards brick buildings were constructed.
South of these where Ragsdale's Store is now on the corner there was a frame building on one half the block. South of that on the next block where the Post Office and Methodist Church are now, there was a frame residence owned by one of the old citizens. A Mr. Swank.
South of that block which afterward was my father's home there was a log building sitting on the block where Ernest Byrant's residence is now.
South of that was a four acre tract of land that was donated in the Charleston Academic Academy Association by J.D. Crenshaw, on which there was erected a three story brick building which flourished a few years. South of that and to the railroad the property at the time was owned by Mr. J. C. Crenshaw who had a residence where Miss Grace Danforth's residence now is. Everything south and east of that was open fields.
On the corner where the building owned by Mrs. Clara C. Russell, there was a frame building erected - Photo - about 1871 by the later (?V? J) Jecko. Immediately north of that was also a frame building and north to Court Street were a number of frame office building owned by George Whitcomb.
Just north of that was the old frame courthouse which was later destroyed by fire. That brings us to the railroad. Just north of the railroad was a grist mill owned by J. D. Crenshaw and operated by John Jones. There was nothing else on the east side of the street until you got up to the residence of James L. Byrd Now deceased.
On the west side of there was the old bank building located where the residence of Mrs. Paul B. Moore is now. South of the railroad where Mrs. J.J. Russell's residence now stands was an old building which was the residence of George Whitcomb, an early pioneer. Later this property was acquired by Mr. Bethune and A. H. Danforth who built residences there.
Just south of the Bethune and Danforth property was a frame building in which a saloon that was called XIOUS and was operated by H. H. Blackston.
Just south of that was a one story brick building erected by Conran Loebe, in which he had a drug store. This was afterward changed and raised to a two story building and was operated as a grocery store by Mrs. Loebe for many years.
About 1871 the late A. H. And L.W. Danforth built a frame store building which was afterward destroyed by fire, and Mr. Danforth then erected on part of the block a brick building that is now owned and occupied by Brewer and Trickey's Drug Store. Where the bank building now stands in the early (18)70's Geo. W. Kenrick had a frame store building which he moved to an adjoining and along about 1871 or 72 he built a two story brick building there. The balance of the block was all frame buildings.
South of that, where Friedman's Store now stands was a small frame building occupied as a tailor shop In the middle of that block was a two story brick building, as a residence and which was said to be the first brick building ever erected in Charleston. On the extreme south corner the late F. J. Jecko had in previous years erected a building in which he had a tin shop and store. South of that where the Baptist Church now stands was a vacant lot with the exception of the extreme north corner of that lot where a residence was erected. South of that was the property now occupied by H. T. Bryant and owned at that time by the late Dr. I. H. Bridwell.
That takes us down to what is known now as Marshall Street. South of that there were no buildings but only vacant lots down to the railroad on which we boys used to play. South of the railroad the late Thomas Beckwith erected a residence which is now occupied by Tom Russell and west of there was a residence occupied by the late Dr. A. E. Simpson for many years. That was as far as the city extended at that time.
Coming west from Commercial Street where Stader's Market is located was a one an done half story brick building which was erected prior to the Civil War. Between there and the present bank building where two frame store buildings. Across from Stader's, Mr. Bethune in the early (18) "70's when the present brick buildings were erected.
West of there and on the north side of Commercial Street was practically vacant lots going down to the deport. On the north side of Commercial Street adjoining what is now Brewer and Trickey's was the old Whitcomb Hotel, a brick building which was built prior to the Civil War. That building was afterward acquired by Mr. Kenrich and its name changed to the Kenrich Hotel; and was afterward destroyed by fire. West of there were several frame buildings until about 1880 when the brick buildings were erected thereon.
West of there, there were only one or two residences until you reached the railroad. In 1870 on the corner where Wigdor's now stands a residence was there and was occupied by Mr. Geo W. Kenrich. On the opposite side where the residence of the late Dr. Orr now stands was a frame building at that time owned by the late Samuel Ogilvie. South of that block we now come tot he building where we are meeting tonight. It was then owned by the Methodist Church. This brick building was also erected prior to the Civil War and was destroyed by fire in 1870 or 1871. It was rebuilt and occupied as church property until the erection of the present Methodist Church. This property was then acquired by the Masons. On the property south of there was a residence, a brick building built prior to the Civil War by a Mr. Sayers. Which stood until a few years ago when it was torn down. South of that my recollections tell me there was a frame school that stood on the north part of that lot. South of that and to the railroad was a residence occupied by the late J. L Shelby for may years. South of the railroad was a home occupied by the late J.M. Brown and occupied by him until the erection o this residence now occupied by (?H) M. Brown on Main Street.
In the early days of Charleston the Residential part of Charleston was practically all in the southwestern part of the town in now what is occupied by eh colored population. The old frame Baptist Church erected prior to the Civil War was located in that district. In that day such old residents were Dr. Poor, Dr. Golden, J.L. Shelby, Col. Jack Smith, Dr. J.L. (?H)aw, Dr. A.E. Simpson, B. M. Dukes and C. C. Kalfus. South of the residence of B.M. Dukes and the railroad was the home of old Grandma Burke. South of it and on the county road was a residence erected prior to the Civil War by my father in which I was born. This property was afterward known as the Bryant Property. In that early day there was one newspaper founded before the Civil War by John Whitcomb, called the Courier. It was later acquired by J. E. Martin who was the father of the founder or the present Enterprise-Courier.
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206 SOUTH MAIN STREET
POST OFFICE BOX 69
CHARLESTON, MISSOURI 63834
(573) 683-3351 firstname.lastname@example.org
January 27, 2000
The ENTERPRISE-COURIER, has given me permission to transcribe from reprints of their old newspaper articles. These articles ran in the Enterprise-Courier in abt 1945
The articles here have been transcribed by Mary Hudson email@example.com
The articles have been furnished to me by David Hilary Lee firstname.lastname@example.org