Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Haigler in the 1920's by Don Harford

Haigler in the 1920's ---- Written 8 - 24 - 2006

Hey! Let's talk a little about the business district of Haigler during the 1920's as I remember it. It will no doubt be subject to corrections by history buffs and people with better memories than mine.

First, starting at the railroad tracks and heading west, was the Equity's wooden, tin-covered elevator. Next was the Equity coal sheds. All coal was shipped in by rail and unloaded by hand into the coal shed where it was sold out to customers. Next were the stockyards where livestock was driven into town by horseback and loaded out on rail stock cars. Somewhere in that area was a flour mill run by Sam Hofer. Also, Joe Warner had a blacksmith shop on the east side of the street (west of Main Street) a ways south of the stockyards.

Coming back to the Main Street (Porter Avenue) and heading south was the office and hardware store of the Equity. The lumber yard and other storage building was west of the office. South of the Equity was a Creamery. Across the east/west street was the Drug Store operated by Bud Logan, the Ventis Millinery and Clothing store, Premer Hardware Store, Barber Shop with two barber chairs and a room with a bathtub in the back where a man could take a bath after getting a shave and haircut, change clothes and be ready to go to a dance on Saturday night. Next was probably the Drovers and Traders State Bank operated by the Crone family. Next was L.B. (Billy) Armstrong's Grocery and Dry Goods Store. Next was Schmutte's Café and a Butcher Shop south of it. Schilts Grocery and General Store was the last business on that block. Across the street (highway 34) south, was the Haigler State Bank operated by the Larned Family. A block west was the Cozy Inn - a sort of rooming house and hotel. Across the street north of it was a garage with a gas pump run by Garnet Hoover. The building had originally been a livery barn.

Back to Main Street and south of the bank, was Mrs. Ainslie's Variety Store and the Post Office. Next a rooming house and dwelling operated by Mrs. Carroll. The Telephone Central Office was on the southeast corner of the block and was where all of the country party lines came into and could be connected to a long distance line. The building also served as a dwelling for the switch-board operator and their family.

Crossing the street to the east and south was the Opera House where probably some silent movies were shown. School plays, operettas, other entertainment, along with dances, were held in this building. It was sort of a community building.

Crossing the street and heading north on the east side of Main Street was Charlie Roach's Blacksmith Shop and Well and Plumbing business. I can't remember what building or business it was that stood on the northwest corner of that block.

In the middle of the intersection of Main Street and the highway was a large concrete water trough and flag pole.

Crossing the highway north was the Wagel Hotel with rooms on the second floor and a dining room and kitchen on the ground floor where meals were served.

Moving on north, I can't remember the sequence of business, but there was a bakery, Odd Fellows Hall (which was used quite a bit as a community building,) Munson's Hotel and a shoe repair shop run by Ed Egley -- a fellow with crippled legs who used special blocks of wood held in his hands to move around. It always amazed me how well he could maneuver himself and use the machines of his trade. A Creamery operated by a black couple, Dick and Molly Green was also on that block.

The Haigler News newspaper was published in the lower part of a two-story building in which the lower floor was a semi-basement having a few steps leading down to it. There were a few steps up to the Doctor's Office on the top floor. The office and Lumber Yard of the Wood-Found Lumber Company was in the northwest corner of that block.

Crossing the street to the north was the large concrete elevator of the Equity which, along with the west elevator, sat next to the rail siding. The Depot sat to the northeast of this elevator, next to the main line track of the CB&Q railroad. The railroad had a water tank to supply water for the steam engines that might be running short of water. It was supplied by a well a short distance north of the track. The depot agent, Fred Kelley, kept the tank filled.

The Section House where the section foreman and his family lived sat north of the depot. West and a little north of the section house was a large concrete Sale Pavilion where purebred cattle sales were held. It had an elevated stage in the sale ring where the auctioneer and sale secretaries sat and where plays and entertainment were presented. A Christmas program was usually held there. Many Haigler celebrations were held there. One picture we have shows a ferris wheel in front of the building. Several summers a Chautauqua was held there for a week. This building was torn down when the railroad changed the main track to lengthen the curve and it ran about where the building stood. North of this building was Bill Wall's dwelling and Dairy Barn. They had a milk route and delivered milk to Haigler customers. A little north of this and closer to the river was the town water well and pump house. Loc Stafford was in charge of keeping the pump in operation and the Stand Pipe full of the mineral-rich water.

The W.F. Wood Garage and Filling Station and 220 DC (current) Light plant stood a block east of the Wood-Found Lumber Yard. This generating plant furnished electricity for the town. All mail came into Haigler by rail and left by rail with the Postmaster carrying it back and forth in a two wheeled cart pushed by hand.

All freight came in by rail and Haigler had a Dray Line that made deliveries to the various business places. I think Emmons Adams had an open cab, hard rubber tired truck that he used to make deliveries.

During the 1920's, Saturday afternoon was the time that almost everyone came to town to do their trading which was basically what was done -- Trading cream, eggs, chickens and other farm products for groceries and supplies. Shopping was mostly an unknown word. You gave the grocery clerk your grocery list and she or he gathered what was ordered and put them in or by your egg crate to be picked up when you left town. Much visiting was done on the sidewalk in front of the buildings. Sometimes one would hear about as much German as English in the conversations.

During the 1930's, the main time for coming to town changed from Saturday afternoon to evening with stores staying open until possibly midnight or until all of the groceries had been picked up.

My wife, Virginia Clegg Harford, has been a great help in putting together this reminiscing by helping remember some of the things I had forgotten.

Don Harford


  1. Thank you so much for sending the Haigler News. I am excited about your “Memories of Yesteryear” section! In reading what Don Harford wrote, I see he mentioned a water trough and flag pole in the center of the intersection of the hiway and Main Street. In my “childhood” memory I connected it with the drinking fountain when Daddy told about, but now that Don mentioned a trough and flag pole, that sounds familiar, too.

    I LOVE getting your news! I remember many of the people and places mentioned. I’m pretty sure the man Don mentioned having a shoe shop must have still been there in the late 40’s, early 50’s because I remember someone like that. I remember being fascinated by the way he was able to move around… He would hop up on a stool to work at the workbench where he fixed shoes. Can it be true that I really remember that? Leah always accuses me and Brenda of remembering things before we were born, but these pictures and sounds and smells really are in my head.

    Somewhere in Haigler during the 20s/30s was a hotel operated by my great-grandparents, William Martin (Bill) and Mary Samson. In about 1920, when my dad, Richard Gregory, was about 9 years old, he lived with his parents in Oxford, Nebraska for awhile when his step-dad, Horace Roach, worked on the railroad there. Daddy’s older sister, Frances (Gregory) Larimer stayed with her grandparents (Bill & Mary Samson) and worked in their hotel and restaurant. She was about 13 or 14 at the time. I wonder if anyone that lives around Haigler remembers their hotel. I think it was located on the east side of main street about half way between the hiway and the next street north. I wonder if it is the same as the one Don called Munson’s Hotel. I believe that building was still standing in the 50’s when I was a child growing up in that community.

    The garage that Don mentions as being run by Garnet Hoover, must be the same as McKay’s Garage & Phillips 66 station in the 50’s. It was painted a salmon pink color and had stucco siding.

    I remember also, the Railroad Depot. We had several milk cows and separated the cream which we took to town to drop off at the depot where the train would pick it up. I remember the depot being painted dark green with red trim around the windows, along the eaves and down the corners. Daddy would take the cream cans from the back of our faded red 1940 Chevy 2 ton truck and set them up on a flat cart with a big long tong. It had iron rims on the wooden spoked wheels. It was always a treat if the train came to town and stopped while we were in town.

    In later years after the depot was closed, we took the cream to Ed Odenbach’s cream station which was located just north of Wheaton’s Café on the west side of main street. The money my mom got for selling the cream paid for all of us to take piano lessons every week from Mrs. Proctor in Wray. It also helped pay for groceries that we bought at Trembley’s Grocery store on the corner of main and the hiway.

    I wonder if anyone remembers Samuel David (Dave) Gregory, my grandfather, who had a dray wagon, but only lived in Haigler for a few years before he died in 1914. He probably lived there about 7 years. He married Mary Frances Samson (named after her mother) in 1907 and had 5 children, two of whom died in 1914 and are buried next to Dave in the Haigler cemetery. I know so little about my grandfather because he died when my dad was only 3 years old. Daddy didn’t remember him and only knew what his sisters remembered and his mother and uncles told him through the years.

  2. I, too, grew up in Haigler and the only thing I find that I might contest is the shoe repair man. I really believe his name was Ed or Eddie Heye (pronounced High). He later operated a shoe repair shop in Wray if my memory is intact. Perhaps someone else will correct me.

    I think this is a great idea. Let's keep it going.

  3. I grew up in Wray and also remember and Ed Heye who did shoe repair in Wray, north on main street or one block west near the river. I was impressed with the strength he had in his arms as he launched from the floor to the work bench almost ape like. His work ethic proved that one is only as handicapped as one will allow ones' self to be.


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