Memories of Early
Aberdeen - BY E. L. Davis
Aberdeen in 1909 was in a splendid position and condition from the standpoint of business houses. There were more places of business than there were residences. The town boasted of three General stores, viz., The Canal Office, Bank of Aberdeen, Barber Shop, Hotel, Lumber Yard, Hardware Store, Meat Shop, Real Estate office, Harness Shop, Blacksmith Shop and Dr. MacKinnon's office at the hotel.
The first general store was established in 1906, called the Hamilton Merchantile Co. and owned by Mr. M.L. Haines and Mr. E.W. Harold, both from Carmel, Indiana (and probably Prof. J.E. Retherford as a silent partner). Mr. Retherford taught in the college both at Pocatello and Moscow and Mrs. Retherford still owns the property here, farmed by Don Parrish.
The first post office was established in this store building November 1, 1907, with Mr. M.L. Haines as post master. Mr. Henry Hege was the first stage driver, carrying the mail and passengers from American Falls to Aberdeen. The store and post office was a real gathering place at stage time.
The whole waterworks system was located on Central Avenue at Main Street where was located the town pump and water trough. Near the pump, Messrs. Haines and Harold built their building, in the street, and later moved it to a location on Main Street on the lot just north of Joe George's present residence where it remained until burned down.
The first time I saw Henry Hege, I asked how the roads were and he said he couldn't find them. Incidentally, about the water situation; each one had to sink his own well, or have it sunk, but it wasn't hard to do, as water level was only 15 to 20 feet down. The writer remembers that he dug two wells with a post hole digger, one at the present Lowe home and one at our house. The proof is still evident in Herb Lowe's back yard and under our back porch.
The second general store was owned and operated by Mr. Henry Toevs, Sr., father of John E. and Henry. This store was located on 1st West and Lincoln where Freeman Dunn and family now live. The People's Store was moved to Main Street and is now operated under the name of Economy Cash Store. Mr. Henry Toevs, Sr., was one of the very first men on the tract, having taken up both an irrigated and a homestead farm.
The third general store was the Valley Supply Co. built by Mr. J.P. Wedel. It was a frame building standing where the big store now stands. The old building was purchased by the local LDS Church people and moved to the lot on 1st East, now owned by Warren Kramer. The fine up to date Valley Supply Store was a credit.
The Aberdeen Townsite Co. office (generally known as the Canal Co. office), was built in 1909. Miss Nora M. Jones (Lowe) came here from Blackfoot to take charge as secretary, she having held this position for several years prior to the moving of the office records to Aberdeen.
The bank was housed in a frame building which was moved back to the alley to make room for the present fine building, and was managed by Mr. Dallas Fugate, with John E. Toevs as assistant, until March 10, 1910. The bank was established in 1909. Mr. H.C. Wiebe began at the bank as assistant on March 10, 1910, and is now Manager of the bank (First Security Bank of Idaho). Mr. Wiebe has been on the job for over forty years.
Mr. Cornie Funk (brother of P.F. Funk) ran the barber shop which was located just about where the present barber shop owned by John Chamberlain, now stands.
The lumber yard was owned and operated by Mr. T.J. Wedel, and was located on the corner lots just west of the present telephone office. In this office was located both the Aberdeen Times office and Peltz and Davis grain buyers in 1911, later the P.F. Funk Grain Co. The only wagon scales in town was there.
The Morgan Hotel was built a short time before we landed, andis the building now owned by the local IOOF Lodge.
The Fugate Real Estate office was located where the post office now stands and was managed by Mr. A.P. Fugate until called upon to manage the bank when his brother Dallas died, October 12, 1910.
The meat shop was run by a Mr. Harder in a building which stood for many years where the Aberdeen Equipment building and machinery now stand. Mr. Harder lived upstairs. He did not stay very long. Mr. Leo Cunningham also ran a meat shop about this time, and also Mr. Louie Dvorak, brother of Joe and Frank, and now a prominent dentist way down south.
The harness shop was housed in a building just back of the old Valley Supply Co., where the Aberdeen Telephone Co. is now located and owned by a Mr. Enns.
The blacksmith shop and carpentry shop, owned by Mr. Nate Newcomb, were housed in the building now owned by Mr. Emil Neu. Mr. Newcomb was not only a fine blacksmith and carpenter, but he was Justice of the Peace for 28 years, and had his office in the shop building.
Dr. MacKinnon had been here only about a month when we came and had his office where he boarded. He was not yet married at that time. I would not hesitate to say that if anyone was picked as an Aberdeen great I think it would be Dr. MacKinnon. He had a razor sharp mind, was very quick witted, could grasp a subject quickly, and was a wonderful man on any board or commission, whether city council, school board, Chamber of Commerce, or what not. He had few equals. Also he gave of himself so freely for others that he literally gave his life and his all. He travelled in all kinds of weather, from Pingree on the north to Rockland on the south, much of the time without sleep. You might meet him on the street and he would not notice you because he was thinking of some sick person, likely, and what could be done to relieve the pain or save a life. My vote would go to the good doctor.
We now have another doctor who might well have been a son of Dr. MacKinnon, in action and manners and in work. I am just wondering if, in his desire to serve, he too is not going too fast a pace for his, and ultimately for the community's good. This is just thinking out loud, and probably doesn't belong to the subject assigned.
The Aberdeen Hardware was located on 1st West, next to the old People's Store and was managed by A.H. Heitman. Stockholders included Cal Moser, his father, and Rev. Baer. When they moved to their present location on Main Street and Center, their stock was sold to Mr. G.A. Bartel and others, including Supt. of Schools, W.E. Davidson. Mr. Heitman now lives in California. Mr. Calvin Moser engaged in various other enterprises including automobiles and gas and oil. Cal, together with Isaac Harder, built the Majestic Auto Co. building in 1916, on Main Street, location now used by the Landvatter Auto Company. Messrs. Moser and Harder also built the buildings now being used by the Bingham Implement Co., Mr. Rudolph Hoff, Mgr., and, of course, Cal has been selling gas and oil for many years.
The weekly paper has not always had the name Aberdeen Times. The Townsite Company published a paper called the Aberdeen Gazette, and a Mr. Dewitt Foster gathered the news, came here twice a week, and had it printed in Salt Lake, In 1910 the Townsite Company changed to a Mr. Wilson who was the reporter, and the Gazette was printed in American Falls, for a while. '
Mr. Jasper Toner had taken up a homestead east of town in 1908, to be near his mother, who also had a homestead. They were near the place where William Reece, Jr. now owns, indeed, part of his land is the same as they once homesteaded. Jap, as we called him, had had quite a bit of experience as a reporter for a big newspaper and as a printer, and was a very good one. The paper was supposed to have been published as "The Aberdeen Gazette", but a hitch in their plans came when the American Falls crowd refused to give up the name, so it then became the Aberdeen Times. On February 11, 1911, Mr. Toner took over as owner and publisher. He rented space at the T.J. Wedel Lumber Co. building where he began a several year editorship of a fine little weekly newspaper. He had as a helper, my sister, Miss Ema L. Davis, but he refused to use the name usually applied to the helper in a printing shop. Instead he called her the "Angel of Aberdeen Times." Together, Mr. Toner and sis set the type by hand between them, and word spread around that a woman helped set the first type for the new paper.
About this time the women thought the town needed a feminine hand, perhaps, to make some improvements in its looks so the Village Improvement Society was formed, and, as I recall, Ema was its first president. They got busy and did a good job getting trees planted etc., but, frankly the thing I remember most is the splendid banquet they put on. A large crowd with, as I remember it, outside speakers. Sis wasn't an angel too long, but went back to Chicago and the big stores.
Mr. Toner remained as editor until 1920. The paper was moved a couple of times, till it finally reached its present location and more up to date equipment with which to work. Management changed hands several times since. After Mr. Toner came Mr. and Mrs. Lee Jenkins, Milo Enderson, our friend John Heer, then Harry Nims who still lives in Aberdeen; and last Mr. Robert Hammes, who is doing a splendid job.
As stated previously there were not many residents here in 1909. The first house built in town for purely residential purposes was built by Mr. Nate Newcomb, who, with his good wife and daughters, Lillie (Mrs. J.T. Dvorak), May (Mrs. O.B. Jacks of Anchorage, Alaska), and Clara (Mrs. Frank Dvorak), lived just east of the present IOOF building, and the house proved to be on the railroad right-of-way. Infact, the rails would have split the house in two. It was moved by the Townsite Company, intact, the family and Miss Jones had a ride in the house as it was being moved. Miss Jones was boarding with the Newcombs at the time. They were, and are, a fine family, one that has been a pleasure to know.
I have already mentioned Mr. and Mrs. Haines, and will again. The McCauley house, owned by Nelson McCauley, a big sheep man, is now owned and used by Mr. John Chamberlain.
The residence built by the Townsite Company for Miss Jones. The J.P. Wedel residence was not quite finished yet, but the family was living there, and they were surely after the contractor, Jake Matthies, brother of Ben Matthies to finish it, which in due time he did; the Wiebe house where now lives Mr. H.G. Nims; the Jake Funk house where Alvin Funk lives; the R.A. Stearns house, bought by and incorporated into the MacKinnon residence; the Lottis house where Sam Nealey and family now live; the Hickman residence was built up into the house now owned by Henry Gilbert; the Albert Peltz house on the five acre tract now owned by Rex Nichols.
Many first and important things happened in 1910, 1911, and 1912 which the writer will try to describe in the next, but will give all three guesses as to the most important one for yours truly.