As told to John Keller by Thomas Moss
I, Thomas Moss, was born in Chariton County, Missouri, June 8, 1880, the son of Leonard and Manda Moss on their farm near Mike. My age now is 83 years, and I have lived in Linn and Chariton Counties all my life. I attest the following to be as near to fact as’ my memory can serve me: The first building in Marceline was built by an old wares peddler named Fred Loeb in 1887 on what is now known as Kansas Avenue. After he had established some business, he constructed a shack in which he sold his wares and lived part of the time. Not long after old Fred came, the first Marceline grocery store was built by the father of the well-known townsman, Jim Hier. Hier’s grocery was built first of wood frame and then later of brick. This was about the year of 1887.
The first hotel was started by Bon Hottell, and constructed across from the railroad tracks where a small row of houses now stand. His hotel, which was also of wood frame construction, did good business, most of which came from train travelers. The hardware store, which no decent town could be without in those days, was run by a partnership of Brown & Taylor. The two ran the store for many years, and I believe, they both passed away not too many years ago. By this time, the great “Iron Horse” had finally completed its long run through the northern part of Missouri.
The time is 1889, and a man by the name of Bill Scandlin decided it was about time for the young town to have a blacksmith shop. He set up shop on a lot located east of what is now the hospital, and at one time had such a thriving business that he had to employ five “smiths.” Not more than a year after Bill set up shop, a Mr. Herbert brought the livery stable to Marceline. He carried on a successful business for many years on almost the location of the present day Walsworth Building. Only a few steps down the street from the livery stable was the depot. There have been three constructions of the building, the first being in 1888, the second in November, 1911, and the third does not come to my memory.
By this time Marceline was climbing over that long hill toward the road to success and the town was thriving. In a meeting the people decided that the town should have a school, and such a school it was! Bright because it was new wood painted a gleaming white, and it looked like a mail package from St. Louis. I can still remember the many people from far and near who had come to the dedication. That was a proud day for Marceline.
Then more proud days for Marceline began as the new No. 4 mine opened. The mine itself was of abnormal size and can still be clearly seen when entering Marceline from the north. At its highest peak the mine employed over three hundred miners and was run by a man known as Bill Taylor. Even in these days the old No. 4 mine would be considered a large operation; it took a four-team rig to haul the flour along for the men, and as for the food itself, I have no idea of the daily consumption.
One of the finest men Marceline has ever known, and the founder of the hospital was Doctor Ole Putman. The way he came about this building is most interesting in itself. One day the doctor called all of the miners together and told them that if all the men who owed him money (most of them did) would come over to this site of ground which he had selected and work for him a week or so, he would cut their bills in half. Most of them agreed to this proposition and Marceline came to know its first place for the care of the sick and injured, thus relieving the burdens of the other men and the wives. Finally the last building of great importance in the area was the Presbyterian Church, which was completed in 1887. With this established, the town could now call itself a community.
This is the history of Marceline from the start. The rest is still in the memory of you that have lived there and grown to love it since you can remember. I have watched the town grow for 83 years – its ups and its downs, its hard and its good times, through war and through peace. It is a town of close friendship and of wonderful people. I wish it, many more years of happiness. Surely a town with such great spirit and closeness will live for many, many more.”
This story was written by: Thomas and Anne Moss, Roberta and Tom Treemain