ILADAMS-L ArchivesArchiver > ILADAMS > 1997-06 > 0866696452
Subject: Newspaper Article-Quincy 1890's
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 1997 01:00:52 -0400 (EDT)
Just thought I would share a little bit about Quincy from my ancestor's
recollection. I've highlighted others involved, hopefully one of them is
your ancestor- Enjoy!!!
Sunday May 10, 1970
"From Quincy's Past- Back when the horse was king"
by Carl Landrum
On January 7, 1891 the Quincy Horse Railway and Carrying Company changed
over to the little electric cars, and one hundred and fifty little Missouri
mules (No, we don't know why they didn't call them "mule cars") had to find a
new home. They were bought by Edward K. Sweet and Henry Wiskirchen and
resold all over the country.
Henry Wiskirchen grew up on a farm south of Quincy in Melrose Township,
and in 1890 married Miss Elizabeth Heckenkamp, daughter of Judge F. William
Heckenkamp; Miss Heckenkamp had been teaching school at St Mary's Parochial
School, and since she didn't like farming, Wiskirchen entered into a
partnership with E.K. Sweet in the livery stable business. Based on his farm
experience Wiskirchen suggested that the mules might be sold to the framers
in the area, and the risk proved to their advantage.
The partners started in business on August 9, 1890 at 314-316 Hampshire,
in the old Theatre Compique building; Sweet had earlier operated a livery
stable with Gilbert Follanshbee at 321 Maine until the disasterous fire of
1879 put them out of business.
When the old burlesque building was condemned by the city, the partners
purchased a barn on Sixth between Hampshire and Vermont from Follanshbee. In
the spring of 1895 they sold a half interest to J.J. Lusk, who continued the
business at 223 North Sixth. The same year Wiskirchen bought out Sweet. The
following year Wiskirchen bought the Newcomb livery on South Fourth, between
Maine and Jersey, from John Brenner, keeping it a year and then selling out
to Dale Evans.
In 1897 architect George Behrensmeyer was engaged to draw up plans for a
really elaborate "Palace" stable, and ground was purchased from Ezra Best at
812-814 Maine Street. The 40 x 180 foot building had high ceilings, plenty
of large windows, a brick paved carriage floor, horse stall separators topped
with ornamental ironwork and a brick firewall separating the horse section
from the vehicles. The ramp to the second floor was equipped with sliding
weights and tackle for the descent of the lighter carriages. The hay loft
on the second floor was also separated by a brick fire wall.
For night illumination it was the brightest spot on Maine Street, having
Welsbach lamps suspended from the ceiling. These were gas with air pressure,
giving a very powerful light. While filling the copper bowls of the lamps on
the evening of April 15, 1901 one burst, causing a flash fire.
Chief George Schlag, aided by veteran fire fighter William "Buck" Hade,
led the firemen in saving the building, but the vehicles were consumed by the
blaze. The fire walls saved the horses, that were cut loose and allowed to
run into the streets; detectives Bob Bumster and George Koch spent several
hours rounding them up again.
At the turn of the century, when the automobile was in its infancy, the
horse was king of all he surveyed. Many families maintained stables. George
Stahl had an electric lighted, satin-lined brougham, drawn by a team of
horses, driven by a mounted driver. Playwright Charles T. Dazey had his own
stables on South 24th Street. August Dorkenwald, president of the Dick Bros.
Brewery, maintained two very speedy horses.
The Dick Bros. matched Percherons rivalled the Anheuser-Busch Brewery
teams in St Louis. Joseph Scholttman took great pride in driving his
beautiful black Hamiltonian stallion he called "Black Wilkes". According to
Rome Wiskirchen, son of Henry Wiskirchen, Quincy was the "Equine hub" for
miles around in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois.
The Wiskirchen stable had a prized white Arabian horse, Dexter, with
music in his veins. Dexter would cake-walk or prance at the sound of music.
On Saturday night when the old Fifth Regiment Band would play in Washington
Park, Marion Blakeslee, of the Upham and Gordon Shoe Store, an ardent horse
lover, would drive Dexter, hitched to a yellow and black open road buggy,
around the park. Everyone in Quincy learned to know and cheer Dexter as he
kept in step with the music.
Dexter was also popular with the prospective brides who wanted to ride
in a carriage behind a team of white horses to the wedding ceremony. The
demand grew so great that it soon reuqired six teams of white horses to
handle Dexter's business! When the bride accompanied the groom to engage the
wedding outfit, they could usually wind up by going to Dexter's stall to pet
him. He occupied the first stall of the stable.
When the Barnum and Bailey and Ringling Brothers' Circus paraded down
Maine Street, passing the Palace Stable at Eighth and Maine, Dexter would
literally dance in his stall. On two occasions P.T. Barnum tried to buy
Dexter, according to Rome Wiskirchen. The last offer was $1,000 - a very big
price in those days. But Dexter was not for sale!
When President William B. McKinley came to Quincy during his campaign
for president, in 1899, he rode in an open landau behind Dexter as the bands
played and the torchlights danced. Later Willliam Hennings Bryan rode in the
same landau. Theodore Roosevelt was also an admirer of the white Arabian.
Wiskirchen, a lover of children, provided a two-seated surrey with white
and beige fringe, driven by two ponies, for trips to the parks. The first
pony, "Trixie" was purchased in 1898, and when Charles T. Dazey decided to
sell his pony, "Skeeter", Wiskirchen purchased the pony to make a team. Phil
Koch made a double harness and the surrey was by Charles P. Wenzel, the wagon
builder at Ninth and Maine. They were often seen on the way to South Park,
Madison Park, Riverview, Watson's Springs, or the Gorge, for picnics.
Frequently a second carriage was needed for the bridesmaids at a large
wedding party, and Wiskirchen secured two matched Palominos with white manes
and tails that proved quite popular. Leo Wiskirchen, an older brother of
Rome, devised white collars and white lines for a team of black horses that
were hitched to a brougham with a liveried driver. The drivers wore curved
plug hats with royal blue top coats and lap robes to match. The carriages
were used for christenings, weddings, parties and funerals.
The Christmas holiday season was a busy one for the Palace. The
carriage trade was so great that C.H. Fosgate, manger of the Hotel Newcomb,
hired a doorman who gave each young man arriving at a party held in the Gold
Room a number,and these numbers were called to the drivers when leaving,
Steamboat excursion days were big events in the summer. When the
calliope was heard on the approaching "Quincy", "Keokuk", or "Dubuque" the
people would rush to the levee to meet the guests. The horsedrawn carrages
would go out Maine Street under the arch of Elm trees and when the calliope
would signal for the return trip, there would always be time to stop in at Cla
t Adams' place on Front Street to enjoy ice cream sodas and sundaes.
Few tried crossing the river on the wagon bridge because the horses
would shy using the same approach as the railroad. Instead most used the
ferryboat "BB", going over to Sherman Park or for a drive to Palmyra. On the
Illinois side many drove through the covered bridge to Ursa, or to the south
to Payson, all good sand and gravel roads.
One more story from Rome Wiskirchen concerns the purchase by his father
of a team of beautiful black horses that had run away one time. He found he
could not correct their bad habit and they remained in the Palace until he
was approached by a man that needed a pair of fast horses to enter a "land
stake race" in Kansas. The team, harness and cart were turned over to him
for shipment, without cost, but with the agreement that if he won the price
would be $200. When the gun was fired the runaways started off at a furious
pace and the other contestants were left far behind. The driver had the pick
of the new land sites, and sent the $200 check to Mr Wiskirchen.
After some twenty-five years in the livery business, Henry Wiskirchen
decided to retire and sold out on September 15, 1915 to Carroll Wisdom of the
firm, Wisdom andTaylor of Bowing Green, Missouri.
The writer is grateful to Rome Wiskirchen, president of the Princeton
Language Center, in Princeton, New Jersey, and his sister, Mrs. Hugo Broeker,
1303 State, Quincy, for the pictures and stories.