In reading old records of this era, the last 1800’s, this was by far the best growth period for the town of Waukee.
Here is an interesting account of a tour of Waukee written by a reporter, taken from a newspaper of April 15, 1891.
“First, I dropped into J. R. Morrison’s Grain Office. It was full of farmers. J.R. is ready to pay the highest price for grain and livestock.
Next, a peep in the C.R.I.&P. waiting room, J. H. Lord, the agent, was busy selling tickets. Reck Hoeye was out rustling luggage. Jim says business is good.
Next, pass on to Mrs. B. M. Snow’s grocery. Here we find everything in the grocery line at reasonable prices.
Crossing the street to the Waukee House, we find Spencer Smith, always ready to accommodate the traveling public. Spencer also buys grain.
Next, reach the store of Howe & Thrift and find Charlie and Sol both busy. They also buy grain.
Next, a stop at the Blacksmith and Machine Shop, run by James Brier and Mr. Sheets. Both are very busy boys.
Next, drop into Daddy Moore’s Restaurant. Dad, busy feeding and quenching temperate thirsts.
Now, pass into A. L. Fish’s harness shop, find him too busy to talk.
Crossing the street again to I. G. Wallace’s establishment, we find I.G. and his clerks very busy. He carries a full line of dry goods and groceries.
Next, a visit to Gus Smith’s blacksmith shop in the south part of town. He is doing a thriving business.
Next, drop into L. F. Howe’s store, but find him too busy to talk.
Then to Meat Market, run by Garlock & Mills, where they’re repairing their shop.
Rush into C. F. M. Clark’s Drug Store, where is mixing compounds. He also runs the Post Office with six mails a day.
Next to Morris and Carter’s Grain office. Jack wants to buy and pay top price.
Next, a stop to Dr. Aldrich’s office. Not there, will be in at 2.
Last stop at the Barber Shop. Billy Fish too busy – couldn’t wait my turn.”
SIGNS OF FURTHER EXPANSION IN THE LATE 1800’S
In March 1878, Waukee was interested in a new sensation, telephones, having heard someone 45 miles away. The question everywhere was, “Why not connect Adel and Waukee by telephone?”
In June 1878, Thomas Duncan and John Larson bought the store of E. B. Sines and expected to enlarge it.
In 1878, the Waukee Cheese Factory was making about 2,000 pounds of cheese per week.
Oct. 30 1878, Waukee, since becoming a Railroad junction was beginning to “loom up.”
In 1878, C. Middlekauff opened a store in the Blackman building. Ortis Guernsey was to have a flouring mill ready in 30 days. At this time the Waukee citizens were confident that one day their town would be one of the best towns in the county.
In Feb. 1879, Herbert and Duncan, handlers of groceries and livestock, handled more livestock than anyone else between Des Moines and Ft. Dodge.
In March 1879, the Waukee Grist Mills were in full operation.
In May 1880, the Smith & Hamsher Flouring Mill guaranteed satisfaction, with the slogan, “Your flour home the same day!”
In May 1880, a fire destroyed the residence of John Wragg, Esq. of Walnut Township, and the insurance on the house and contents amounted to $1,100.
In Jan. 1883, the partnership of Houston & Wallace was dissolved. A new firm began known as Houston and Frick.
In Sept. 1883, the grain dealers were busy, taking acre of oats which were being brought in at the rate of 1000 bushels a day.
In Sept. 1883, a new barber shop was started in town.
In Jan. 1884, a number of the business men were filling their ice houses with choice ice from the river at Adel.
In Jan. 1884, Mr. J. Wragg wrote a long and interesting article on ornamental hedge and recommended the barberry first and further suggested planting a purple one every 12 or 15 ft. for a good hedge. He stated that the two best evergreens for hedges were the Red Cedar and the Ann Arborvitae.
On the morning of Feb. 27, 1884, one of the highly esteemed merchants, H. M. Whinery began his stock inventory, having sold to A. M. Horton, of Boone township. The Horton family moved into the Fagan property east of the railroad, and by March, Mr. Horton was slinging calico and sugar across the counter at a lively rate.
In April 1891, Fagan Bros. were building a dwelling house on Water St. between the C.R.L.&P. and D.M.&N. Railroads. Johnny Manders was to the first occupant.
In the spring of 1891, J. R. Morrison, grain and stock buyer was doing quite a business.
In March 1894, the Waukee Creamery Association held their first meeting and organized temporarily by appointing J. Lane, Lori Hall and A. J. Bassler as building committee. The creamery was the first building erected that spring. In that same year, Spencer Smith erected a town hall.
In Oct. 1885, Clark Smith moved to town and was busy building his feed mill.
In Oct. 1895, Howe & Brumfield hung a new storm door on their store building. (As you can see even storm doors made the news in those days.)
In Jan. 1895, Mr. Robinson bought the butcher shop from the Blake Bros.
In March 1895, A.J. Bassler was doing a rolling business in furniture. J. R. Elliot handling the goods in the back room, A. J. giving them a good dusting, and then sliding them out of the front door into the farmers wagon. (The Bassler store was located where the Co-op now stands.)
In April 1895, M. J. Wragg reported that the nursery business was flourishing more than ever with about 50 carloads of shipments, and that the Central Nurseries were becoming very widely known.
In June 1895, the Co-op Creamery was a success receiving as much milk as they could properly care for. They contracted their butter to a Des Moines firm.
In the summer of 1895, the new City Restaurant was having a good trade.
In Sept. 1895, Waukee and vicinity was visited by several land buyers. (The newspaper noted that buyers congregate where crops were good.)
In 1895, J. R. Morrison sold his fine new elevator, bins and corn crib to R. R. Blake.
In 1896, Mr. M. J. Wragg of the Central Nurseries, and a member of the State Board of Agriculture visited the office of the Winterset Madisonian. (Mr. Wragg was formerly a teacher in the Madison County Schools.)
Aug. 1886, Waukee was in the struggle for the Dallas County Mint. It was expected that there would be a vast amount of silver (from Dallas County Mines) coined by farmers of Dallas Count. Waukee wanted the mint because of its railroad facilities. The mint was to have been ready upon the election of William Jennings Bryan in Nov. There was a sound Money club in Waukee at this time. (Mr. Bryan was defeated.)
On Dec 15, 1897, a new restaurant was dedicated, the “The Klondike.”
On Dec. 29, 1897, a new meat market opened under the names of Blake, Blake & Blake proprietors.
In Nov. 1898, the barber shop moved to the south side of the triangle, and a restaurant opened in the vacant building.
The J. A. Bundy store carried a complete line of wall paper, paints, oils, varnishes, brushes, turpentine, lamps, chinaware, books, school books, school supplies, perfumes, toilet articles, combs, and brushes. Their ads boasted a line of mixed paint of 50 colors, and everything usually found in a first class pharmacy.
Along with success from some, many had serious set-backs such as the fires that plagues the business houses from time to time. Also, it was recorded in 1891, that there was more mud on the streets than in 4 years.
Regarding entertainment and culture, these were very evident in those days.
In June 1877, Mr. and Mrs. John Wagg celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary at their residence near Waukee. No preparations had been made for a formal party, but 60 persons dropped in to offer congratulations and left a handsome china tea set.
For entertainment, there was an Opera House located south of the old hotel, and in March of 1895, Spencer Smith had opened a skating rink being open 2 nights a week.
There was an active gun club in 1896, called the Waukee Gun Club.
In Nov. 1897, the graphophone in Fry Copeland’s store caused quite a stir, as it was to be given away to the person having the most coupons when the thousand cigars were sold.
That ends a brief resume of the late 1800’s when Waukee was in it infancy, now on to the 1900’s.