Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Early Haigler as I remember it. - By Edbert B. Woods

I first saw the town of Haigler in the summer of 1914 when my father, Dr. Royal Woods and my family, were moving from eastern Nebraska to a farm a couple of miles south into Kansas and bordered on the west side by the Colorado line, with the Arikaree River running through it. I was only seven years old but I clearly remember the town then and a few years afterward.

I remember Haigler-when-

Nearly all of the sidewalks along Main Street were made of wood. Most of that was replaced within the next couple of years with concrete – much of which still remains.

There were neither paved streets in Haigler nor any neighbor town. The streets were simply gravel worked in with dirt.

There were six grocery stores in town, all located on the west side of Main Street. There was Star’s (or some similar name) located down next to the Co-op office and lumber yard: across the street and a couple of doors south of the drug store was Ventis’ Grocery; then Armstrong’s; then Tom McKee’s; then another (the name may have been Schultz’s); then to the south across the highway street, and a couple of doors beyond the bank, was Higgin’s Grocery.

There were two hardware stores, one just south of McKee’s Grocery.

There was one bank, the Haigler State Bank, located on the south side of the highway street. A couple of years later the Drovers and Traders State Bank opened down between Armstrong’s and McKee’s Groceries. Both lasted until the big depression.

There was one drug store, Jack Pemberton’s. They also had a soda fountain where they served wonderful Coca Colas for 5 cents. This store was on the corner a block north of the highway.

I.D. Long had a real estate office between the Haigler bank and Higgin’s Grocery. Also in that same place was a lawyer’s office, but I don’t recall the name.

The post office, located just back of the Haigler bank, and faced onto the highway. That was where we seemed to meet everybody.

There were two restaurants; Smutty’s down in the middle of the block near McKee’s Grocery and Baldwin’s which was on the corner facing Main Street and the highway. I used to stop in the latter place and buy licorice strips about 12 or 15 inches long for a penny apiece, and they sure were good!

There were two grain elevators and lumberyards. The Co-op was in essentially the location it occupies today. Across on the east side of Main Street was W.F. Wood’s train elevator and lumberyard.

Going south from there on the east side of Main Street about the first building was Dr. Premer’s office. When Dr. Premer left, about 1916, my father, Dr. Royal Woods, moved into town and took over that office.

In the basement just south of the doctor’s office, were the office and printing presses of the Haigler News, the weekly newspaper on happenings in and around Haigler.

Just south of the newspaper office was one of the two hotels in town. This was a large, 2-story frame building. I am fairly sure that the name was the Commercial Hotel. (I remember that they also served some very good meals.) The other hotel, which was also a 2-story wooden building, was located at the south end of that block next to the highway. I believe it was named Balderson’s.

In the middle of the block was a cream station where farmers dropped off their 5 or 10 gallon cans of cream, and eggs, for shipment to a dairy.

Just south of that was Kearn’s Butcher Shop where we bought all of our meat. Round steak, I remember, was 15 cents a pound, and was it good!

When you crossed the highway on the east side of Main Street, right across from Haigler bank, was Bill and Charley Roach’s place. They did plumbing and well drilling and had an assortment of pipes and steel for sale.

About two years later as movie theater was built next door south of Roach’s. This is where we went every weekend to see the latest movies, newsreels and comics.

The town was just developing its first two garages. W.F. Wood put up a good-sized building on the street next east of Main Street, down close to the lumberyard. There they sold Buick and Saxon Six automobiles.

Also a few years later Wood put in an electric generator and put up electric wiring throughout the town providing 220 volt, direct current, electricity for home use. That prevailed until REA came in with 110 volt, alternating current, several years later. The other garage developed in what was originally a livery stable, which was located on the north side of the highway about ½ block west of Main Street. They put in a gasoline pump by the curb where you could get gas for your car. I think they sold Ford automobiles, but they had horses for hire for years.

The brick school building now used for public school was only in the planning stage, but was built the following year. The former school was a large 2-story wooden building located about two blocks west of the standpipe.

Jimmy Gray, we called him” Uncle Jimmy,” used to hobble along the sidewalk with his shoes turned up at the toes because his toes had been frozen off when he was caught in a blizzard. He was very friendly, but not talkative and never asked for help.

I remember lots more about Haigler in the time frame 1914 to 1920, but trust that the foregoing is enough to jog the memories of the old timers and to present a picture for the younger folks of how Haigler looked and got along in those days.

Our family moved to the farm in Kansas, and lived there for two years. I attended the Kansas one-room country school out near Devil’s Gap through the second and third grades. Then when my father took over Dr. Premer’s office we moved to town where I attended school in the 4th through 7th grades except for almost a year while my father was a medical officer in the Army during World War I. In 1920 we moved to Benkelman where I completed the 8th grade and high school, from which I went on to college at Lincoln. We frequently came back to Haigler to visit Royal Woods, Jr., and Leola Woods and their families. Now we are down another generation to Laura Pearl Wall and Husband, Dick and Royal Woods, III, and Helen and their families. I enjoy these visits and the memories, which always recur.

I hereby offer my very best wishes to all of the present residents of the Haigler area, and to the Women’s Club for their active work, as on this Centennial.

Edbert B. Woods

1481 Haloa Drive

Honolulu, Hawaii 96818

A Clipping from The St. Francis Herald - Thursday, January 30, 1986
--Submitted by Alice (Tucker) Straub of St. Francis

1 comment:

  1. Nodding my head as I read this story... Edbert says that he was about 7 years old when he first saw Haigler. He would have been born about 1907 or so. Then he would have been about 4 years older than Rich (Gregory). Rich was born out on a farm north of Haigler. And Granddad Bill Samson would have been in one of those hotels. And he was also a blacksmith. In that building where Lloyd (Crabtree) and Bennie (Wiley) had that shop. (in later years))

    I remember when the Woods Garage burned down in the early 1920s. (The place where Vic Stasser had a garage) We went up on the hill to the corner (of our farm southeast of Haigler about 8 miles) and could see the big smoke. Roy Freemyers were there too. They lived on the McKinney place. They were going to go to town to see it. We kids wanted to go to but our daddy thought we had seen enough.

    And one of the Woods boys was a preacher. I kinda think his name was James. Or maybe his son was James. He was the preacher that Uncle Frank Wiley liked. And the family had him preach Frank's funeral.

    And then Dr. Premer--He was our doctor when I was born. 1914. Before he moved to Benkelman.

    --italics added by editor


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