by Marilyn Foley
The small town of Marceline, Missouri, was gradually growing in population and expanding in area. By the turn of the century she was a prosperous mining center. The Santa Fe Railroad had been going through since 1887.
J. C. Taylor owned approximately fifty acres of ground in the northeast part of Marceline. He had the land surveyed and plotted into lots. Each lot was 25 by 140 feet and they numbered about six hundred. These lots had the streets and alleys laid out even though no one was living on any of them.
There was one house already built on one of the lots, and to encourage sale of the lots they were sold like a lottery with the lucky person receiving the house on the lot he paid $25 for. No one knew exactly which lot did hold the house until the drawing.
Persons purchasing lots without the house soon neglected their land. It was used mainly for fencing and gardening by adjoining property owners, and was generally known as “No Man’s Land.”
In the year 1917, my great-grandmother bought this house and since then it has never left the hands of our family. In 1931, it came into my grandmother’s possession.
Among the sad events related to this property was the death of my grandmother’s brother. While leaving for work, he was shot and killed in the front yard by his rival for a sweetheart. His killer was caught and sentenced to a ten-year prison term.
In 1933, a highway was constructed along the plots of ground. My father was not old enough to work, so was hired as a water boy.
This part of town has now grown into an important recreation center, with a bowling alley which draws the attention of hundreds of people.