The early days of the “Magic City” (as our town was called) were marked by excessive unlawfulness. Fights, murders and thievery being in the headlines as did incendiary fires which did a lot to make our early history black. If a Saturday night passed without two or three fist fights on main street ending up on the county line to stay far from the law in our city, it was an unusual night.
There was a curfew and teenagers were off the streets by 10pm unless accompanied by their parents. In 1901 a vigilante committee formed and took a large part in curbing unlawfulness in our town.
All towns had their characters and ours was no exception. We had the “Woman in Black” who whisked around in a ghost like manner. No one ever seemed to know who she was but was often seen and struck fear in all, especially children. What ever became of her no one knows. We had our “Topsy” and in later years we had “Wampus”, a colored boy that met most of the passenger trains and entertained the passengers with his French harp and crazy dances.
In 1900 the railroad ran a special train from Marceline to Carrollton for sightseers to view the hanging of Frank and Will Tayler, who were to be executed for the murder of the Weeks family. A large crowd went from here but were denied the privilege of witnessing the execution, the law forbidding. It is worthy to note here that one of the boys escaped the night before the date set for the hanging and was never heard of since.
H. S. Miller, one of the pioneers of the city came here and opened a livery stable in 1895 in the location now occupied by the telephone company. After disposing of this stable in 1896, he operated one on the site where the O. K. Tavern now stands. He had as his partner in the venture Mr. Sam Moore.
In 1901 the severe drought caused a shortage in farm products and a bad time for everyone financially. Mr. Miller laid the plans for the first rural mail service out of Marceline and was assigned Route No. 1. Guy Bigger had route 2 and Lon Whiteman, the son of the postmaster, route 3.
In 1888 the Q strike caused several families to leave town on the Burlington railroad and come to the Santa Fe – two families were P. J. Dailey and the Gilmores who still have children among our citizens, Mrs. Ray Miller, Tom Dailey, and John Gilmore.
Christian Braggan, who lived in what has later been called Braggan’s Addition, served in the Civil War as replacement for a man who had more money than patriotism and paid Mr. Braggan to go in his place. After the war he returned to the old home place and when the engineers for the railroad were surveying for the right of way in 1885 or 1886, they were boarders and roomers with the Braggans while in this vicinity.
Luther Braggan, a son of the ex-soldier, was the proud owner of the first Maxwell automobile in our city, a two cylinder affair he purchased from the Campbell Auto Agency, in 1908. Mr. Campbell was the grandfather of Will Campbell, now a resident of our city. Other owners of cars of that vintage were “Dutch” Clawson, Dr. Putman, Dr. Hancock and Ercell Miller. Mr. Pfister had a two cylinder run-about and took joy in showing his car and joy riding all the children in it.
by Mrs. Ray Miller