The following is a list of the businesses in Waukee in the late 1800’s (1870’s, 1880’s and 1890’s). As you will observe from the large number of business houses, it was considered a “boom town” exhibiting great promise for further growth and expansion.
General Stores: A.T. Blackman; C. Middlehauff; M.R. Blackman; A.M. Horton; W. M. Cribs; Fry Copeland; L.G. Wallace; Howe & Brumfield.
Groceries: Albert Bullock; Mrs. B.M.Snow; Howe & Duncan; W. J. Johnson.
Drug Stores: C.F.M. Clarke; J.A. Bundy
Lumber Dealers: Tyler & Huston; Grant, Lewis & Co.; Charles D. Cramer
Coal: C.C. Tyler
Real Estate: Miles Sines; L.A.Grant
Grain Dealers: Herbert & Carrell; C.C.Tyler; A.D.Bullock;Morris & Carters
Blacksmiths: Charles W. Robinson; John Olke; James Brier & Sheets; Gus Smith
Hotels: Thomas J. Sloan (Prop. Of the Valley House); James Parker; Spencer Smith
Livery Stables & Hack Lines: Thomas J. Sloan; Thomas Ashton; Milton Scott
Physicians: J.K.L. Duncan; George L. Piper; S.W. Aldrich; William McClure; George McMahon; F.W. McManus; William A. Carter
Lawyers: B.T. Halstead; George A. Smith; M.H. Baugh; James Jennings, (Mr. Jennings was also a Notary Public & R.R. & Ex.Agt. Tel Opr.)
Flouring Mill: Gurnsey & Treefry; Smith & Hamsher
Creamery: Miller Crispin
Harness Maker: George S. Warton; A.L. Fish
Restaurant: R. McDougal; Moores Restaurant; Robert R. Blake; Wooleys
Carpenter: Z.T. Bates; Daniel Bates
Wagon Maker & Builder: William H. Wood
Grain & Stock Buyer: J.R. Morrison; Spencer Smith; Tyler & Huston
Meat Markets: Garlock & Mills; Blake Bros.; William Overmire
Barber Shop: Billy Fish
Furniture & Undertaking Goods: A.J. Bassler (the Bassler store housed the long distance telephone office and also provided a Notary Public)
General Merchant, Grain & Stock Dealer including agricultural implements: J. W. Youngerman.
It is interesting to note that Waukee was really a complete business town with a flourishing trade. Of course, there was a lot of land speculation in those early days, which brought many land buyers to town. There also seemed to be a rather rapid turn-over in business places, many men starting a business and becoming successful for a few years, then selling and buying farm land and moving to the county.
There was rather a large number of lawyers, blacksmiths, general stores, lumber and grain dealers. Of course, all of these professions were needed in those times, due to the many needs of this period such as lumber, not only for the building of residences and businesses in town, but houses, barns and other buildings out on the farmsteads. The blacksmith who is certainly a rarity now, was a mighty important figure in those early days, as he shod the horses. Since this was before the advent of tractors and any kind of mechanized machinery, this meant that there were a great many horses used for work on farms as well as for transportation.
The old general store must have been an exciting place to visit, as it carried everything from frying pans to farm machinery. Super markets really are not a new innovation as compared to the old general store, and every item wasn’t wrapped with that fingernail breaking plastic as it is today. If they didn’t have an article in the store, all one had to do was tell the merchant (whom you knew personally and called him by his given name) and he would go to this wonderful catalogue and order it for you. That same merchant would buy the farmers’ eggs, poultry, cream and home-made butter.