Summerfield: Promises of Prosperity
The March 21st edition of the Summerfield Sun newspaper mentioned 30-year-old Philander Fremont Radcliffe was in charge of a branch store opened in Summerfield of 1889. Fremont had grown up around Frankfort in the south-central part of the county. He had learned the craft of harness-making there and was employed by C. J. Weis of that city.
William F. Wooley sold 32 1/2 acres down in section 32 of his home township for one dollar to Newman Erb of the railroad company. Several miles to the south of Summerfield, Wooley was in hopes of duplicating the same commercial phenomena. The plot was currently being referred to as "Wooleyville," the site where Mina, pronounced "my-nuh," was built sometime later on the KC W & NW line.
In early April, Daniel Swartout moved his merchandise stock to his new Summerfield store. John Scott of Pawnee City, Neb., a "first-rate fellow and a first-class workman," was employed at Martin's barbershop in Summerfield. J. A. Riddle and L. J. Davis of Pawnee City were planning to deal in livestock at Summerfield where James Hemphill recently succeeded John Smiley as postmaster. Smiley's son-in-law, G. C. Ruff, sold his business in Lamar, Neb., and planned to join Ed Smiley and J. J. McLennan in their business.
In early May, Mr. and Mrs. Frank M. Hord became parents of the first baby born in the fledgling settlement. Historical write-ups have traditionally perpetuated an old story that the "Heards" named their little tyke Summerfield to honor the new town.
The State Bank of Summerfield opened for business on Monday, May 6, bringing the count of businesses in Summerfield up to 46 at this time. The following enterprises were in operation on May 9, 1889:
Cunningham & Mohrbacker, general merchandise, hardware & implements
J. H. Moore & Son, general merchandise
Hord & McGinty, general merchandise
H. H. Lourey, general merchandise
Smiley & McLennan, general merchandise
H. E. Adams, general merchandise
Moore & Shankland, restaurant
G. C. Moore, restaurant
Eisenbach & Hoffman, restaurant & bakery
T. Hutton, restaurant, blacksmith
C. A. Gardner, restaurant
William Houston, restaurant
J. H. Reed, restaurant
E. M. Miller, lumberyard
Russell & Shutt, lumberyard
I. Jay Nichols, hardware & implement, livery stable
Mohrbacher Brothers, photography studio
August Dous, meat market
Beach & Son, meat market
Anderson & Johnson, billiard hall
Wuester & Thomann, druggists
C. J. Weis, harness shop
Wilson House, hotel
State Bank of Summerfield
Weston & Shadle, hardware & implement, furniture
Charles Washington, barber
J. F. Martin, barber
Scott & Laro, barbers
O'Neil Brothers, grain dealers
Davis & Gilchrist, grain dealers
Miss Kate Ryan, millinery
Mrs. Sidwell, millinery
Reynolds & Howell, blacksmiths
Dr. D. M. Morrison, physician
Dr. J. H. Murphy, physician
The Kansas City, Wyandotte & Northwestern railroad was pushing onward into Nebraska in 1889. On Thursday, August 15, the railroad started groundbreaking for the extension to Beatrice, Neb. In September 1889, William Hollingsworth was buying the right-of-way from Summerfield to Beatrice. He had earlier purchased the right-of-way from Kansas City to Seneca. A platform was to be put in at Bookwalter.
At Davis & Kelley's work camp just north of Summerfield on Sunday, October 27, a member of the track-laying crew used an axe to punctuate his opposing point of view in a conflict with a fellow worker. The survivor of the skirmish, Henry Ingram, forfeiting his position of employment with the firm of Davis & Kelly without giving notice, decided to devote his immediate future to travel.
Nebraska's governor heard of the incident, and he offered an endowment of $200, along with Pawnee county's $100, to any individual who could locate and persuade Ingram to be present at a local constabulary where his misdeed could be pointed out to him. Also, if deemed eligible, Ingram would be provided living accommodations in the penitentiary at Lincoln, the Cornhusker state graciously agreeing to pay his board.
Many real estate transactions occurred during 1889, with John P. Taylor of Seneca, William Joseph and John S. Smiley of Summerfield being the principal dealers. Some lots only a few blocks apart sold during autumn at a difference in price of one million percent. In October, John and Mary Smiley charitably transferred nine lots in Smiley's Addition to School District 137 for less than a scanty 12 cents apiece. During the following month, in November, Taylor offered a single real estate lot to the First National Bank of Seneca for the handsome sum of $1200.
On the Wyandotte Line at the Kansas-Nebraska border on Tuesday, October 15, 1889, a bustling young settlement was incorporated: the city of Summerfield with all its new residents whose lives had begun in so many faraway places, with all its new houses, hotels, churches, stores, various businesses, its new school, newspaper, water supply, telegraph line, and railroad depot. Richard Cunningham was elected mayor and John J. McLennan was the first justice of the peace for a village whose location was for centuries a buffalo range. On that same plot of ground one year earlier, in a quiet little cornfield a team of horses had dutifully towed a wagon in alternating directions as John Smiley harvested a crop in his maize field for the very last time.
The town of Summerfield continues to thrive late in the 20th century. Elias Summerfield, the industrialist whose name is perpetuated with the little Kansas town, spent the final quarter of his eight decades in New York City, living in The Big Apple until the autumn of 1924.
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