History of Elsberry [Lincoln Co.], Missouri

From History of Lincoln County, Missouri; 1888; Goodspeed.



Is situated on the St. Louis, Keokuk & Northwestern Railroad,
fifty-eight miles north of the city of St. Louis.  It is located at
the western margin of the Mississippi bottom, and on the north
side of Lost Creek, which cuts through the bluffs and flows to
the Mississippi River.  It was surveyed and platted in August,
1879, by Z. E. Freer, civil engineer, for Robert T. Elsberry,
John C. Roberts, William McIntosh and Henry S. Carroll, the
original proprietors, and named in honor of the former.  The
plat was acknowledged by these parties May 21, 1881. As shown
by this plat the town originally contained twelve blocks of ten
lots each, the lots being 50x115 feet in size.  In June, 1885,
the same proprietors laid out an addition to the town, and in the
same month Robert T. Elsberry laid out a second addition.  The
first house built in Elsberry was a railroad warehouse, which is
still standing.  The first merchants were Smitlier, Carroll & Co.,
who came from Clarksville with a stock of groceries and hard-
ware, and occupied the warehouse first built, one end of it being
cut off for a store room.  Soon after this Messrs. Elsberry &
Wilkinson put up a two-story frame building, in which they
opened a general store. This house was located on the hill some
800 yards flom the depot, the town being now divided into
two parts, "on the hill" and" under the hill." This firm (did not
remain long, but sold out, and after several changes the house
came under the control of the Cannon Bros., who still continue
the business.  After this house was built the "boom" had a
slight cessation, but early in 1880 a number of business houses
were erected, among which was the Etter building, on Main
Street, "under the hill."  Three other buildings, on the north
side of the Etter building, all under the same roof, were con-
structed at the same time, one being occupied by R. T. Wiggins-
ton & Co., another by Smither, Carroll & Co., and the other by J.
M. Gibson, druggist.  Later in the spring of 1880 Sour &
Reuter erected a business building near the depot, and com-
menced merchandising, but soon went into bankruptcy.
    The following is a statement of the business of Elsberry in
1883, when the town was only three years old: Dry-goods, Can-
non & Sons, Etter's O. P. C. H. (one price cash house); grocer-

              	410	STATE OF MISSOURI.

ies, Gibson & Shipp and Brother & Singleton; drugs, J. W.
Bibb, Nicklin & Hawkins and Lee & Howard; hardware, "Yank"
Elliott; farm implements, Watts & Elsberry and Gibson &
Shipp; jewelry, J. W. Steadman; millinery, the Misses Knox;
boots and shoes, H. H. Renter; lumber and undertaker's goods,
Robert E. Black; grain dealers, Watts & Elsberry, also the
Elsberry Milling Company; cooper shop, James Cooper; boot
and shoe shops, Tim. Mulcar and T. J. Potts; livery, Gentry &
Cannon; hotel, "Richards' Hotel," by Samuel Richards; res-
taurants, W. N. Gibson and Mrs. H. Hitt; blacksmith shops,
H. W. Leo, Gordon T. Felty and J. K. Gililland; wagon shops,
John Carter and John Dawkins; butcher shops, Elsberry &
Gatewood and C. L. Gennie; ice dealers, Robert T. Elsberry
and C. L. Gennie; merchant tailor, James Saulsberry; saloons,
Watts & Elsberry and R. T. Booth & Co.; physicians, B. T.
Hawkins, S. H. Kerr, B. J. Lee and W. A. Hemphill.  The Els-
berry Flouring Mills, erected by the Elsberry Joint Stock Mill-
ing Company, was doing an extensive business in 1883, manufac-
turing flour and meal and shipping the same to other points.
The foregoing shows a large number of business houses and busi-
ness enterprises for a town only three years old.  In fact, the
business was overdone, several parties having commenced busi-
ness with a small capital, expecting the place to grow so rapidly
and the demand of "home consumption" to become so great that
their success was assured.  This, however, was not to be; a rail-
road in a country lying close to large towns and cities could not
cause a city to come into existence, as if by magic, at the site of
Elsberry.  But being located as it is in an excellent agricultural
country, there was, and is, a good prospect for a substantial and
prosperous town at Elsberry, notwithstanding the fact that at
first too many individuals embarked in business enterprises.
    The following is a directory of the business of the town in
1885: General stores, Gibson & Eastin, and Cannon Bros.;
groceries, A. D. Shipp and B. S. Cannon & Bro.; drugs, Nick-
lin & Hawkins and C. M. Howard; boots and shoes, H. H. Reu-
ter; millinery, the Misses Knox and Mrs. T. B. Goodman;
lumber, undertaking goods, plaster, lime, etc., B. E. Black;
builder and contractor, A. A. Brother; hardware, G. C. Elliott;


blacksmiths, G. T. Felty and J. M. McDonald; wheelwright, J.
C. Carter; livery, J. S. Cannon; hotel, C. B. Lindsey; restau-
rant, Mrs. Hitt; saloon, W. W. Watts; butcher shop, J. A.
Sour; barber, L. D. Gatewood; apiary, Hemphill & Goodman;
physicians, S. H. Kerr, Lee & Bailey, and W. A. Hemphill.
Up to this time one church, the Methodist Episcopal South, had
been erected, and was then used by several denominations.  The
large high-school building was erected prior to 1883.  It is one
of the largest and best school buildings in the county, and is
constructed of brick.  In 1883 Prof. Seaman, principal, and
Miss Callie Towles and Miss Nonie Elgin taught the schools.
In 1885 the schools were taught by Prof. Nichols and his assist-
ant, Miss Sophia Seaton, of Troy.
    The business of Elsberry at this time, July, 1888, is as fol-
lows: Dry goods, Rose & Eastin, Cannon & Alloway; groceries
and farm implements, A. D. Shipp, B. S. Cannon & Bro.;
drugs, D. F. Foley; furniture and harness, Bailey & Morris;
millinery, Mrs. T. B. Goodman; millinery and dressmaking,
the Misses Knox; farm implements, W. W. Watts; restaurants,
Mrs. Pfordt and Mrs. Hitt; blacksmiths, James McDonald and
W. P. Morton; livery, Cannon & Bro.; boot and shoe shop,
John Stahl; hardware and lumber, Black & Luckett; barber,
L. D. Gatewood; "Hotel Palmer," William Palmer, Jr.; bank,
Blank, Block & Harvey.  The large flouring mill is now idle.
It is claimed that all the mills on the line of the St. Louis, Keokuk &
Northwestern Railroad in Lincoln County cannot compete with
other mills until they are provided with the roller apparatus and
machinery, there being no demand for flour manufactured by the old
buhr method. Attached to the mill of the Elsberry Milling Com-
pany is a large warehouse, and there is another warehouse near the
railroad depot owned by Elsberry & Watt.  The physicians of Els-
berry are Samuel M. Bailey and B. J. Lee.  The town now con-
tains four frame churches, one owned by the Southern Methodists,
one by the Baptists and Presbyterians combined, one by the col-
ored Baptists, and one by the colored Methodists.
    There is a lodge each of the I. O. O. F. and A. O. U. W., and
both use the same building.  There is also a lodge of colored
Odd Fellows.

                	412	STATE OF MISSOURI.

    The Elsberry Advance, a weekly newspaper, was established
by H. F. Childers, who published the first number October 8,
1880, and continued to publish the paper alone until March,
1881, when J. P. Powell, bought a half-interest.  Childers &
Powell then continued its publication until December, 1861[sic],
when Powell bought his partner's interest.  Mr. Powell then
continued the paper alone until February, 1884, when he sold it
to W. T. Reeds, who published it until May, 1885, and then sold
it to J. W. Powell and R. T. Robinson.  These gentlemen pub-
lished it together until July, 1887, when Robinson sold his
interest to R. H. Womack.  Messrs. Powell & Womack, the
present publishers, have since continued its publication.
    Elsberry has two local attorneys, J. W. Powell and W. A.
    In 1883, H. W. Lee, J. C. Carter and fifty-two other citizens
of Elsberry, petitioned the county court, praying for the incorpora-
tion of the town.  In November of that year the court granted
the prayer of the petition, and duly incorporated the town accor-
ding to Article 6, Chapter 89, Revised Statutes of Missouri.
The boundary line of the district incorporated was described
as follows: "Beginning at a stone on the north bank of
Lost Creek, where a continuation of the Bluff Road south
would intersect said creek; thence north with said Bluff road to
the northern line of Lincoln Street, as shown by the recorded
plat of said town; thence east on Lincoln Street to Sixth Street;
thence north of Sixth Street to the north line of Hill Street;
thence east on the north line of Hill Street to the St. Louis,
Keokuk & Northwestern Railroad; thence southwest with said
railway to Lost Creek; thence west along the north bank of
Lost Creek to the place of beginning."  The town was incor-
porated under the name and style of "The inhabitants of the Vil-
lage of Elsberry."  The board of trustees appointed by the court
were James W. Powell, J. M. Gibson, Charles A. Mayes, J. B.
Cannon and George C. Elliott.
    Elsberry is very pleasantly located at the western margin of
the valley, that portion of the town known as "under the hill"
being on an even plateau gently sloping eastward toward the
Mississippi, and that part known as "on the hill" being located


on an elevated plateau, that might with propriety be called a
bench of the bluffs.  From this bench, where a part of the busi-
ness houses and most of the residences are located, a delightful
view of the Mississippi Valley and of the hills beyond the river
on the Illinois side is obtained, and by looking southward and
southwestward, a pleasant view of the hills of the western bluffs
is obtained.  On the whole Elsberry has a picturesque location.


    Robert T. Elsberry is one of ten chi1dren--seven living--
born to William N. and Lydia P. (Owen) Elsberry, who were
born in Maryland and Kentucky, in 1792 and 1800, and died in
Missouri in 1871 and 1882, respectively.  The father was an
early resident of Kentucky, and there married and lived, until
1837, when he became a resident of Lincoln County Mo.  He
was a soldier in the War of 1812, and was an honest and upright
citizen of the county.  His eldest child, Robert T. Elsberry, was
born in Bourbon County, Ky., in 1818, and was educated in the
pioneer schools of that State.  In 1839 he was married to Julia
Ann, daughter of Thomas Buchanan, of Lincoln County, and
after a happy married life of thirty-seven years, the mother
died.  In 1882 Mr. Elsberry married Mrs. Ella (Martin) Fra-
zier.  He is a prosperous farmer, and has accumulated a fair
property by his industry and frugality.  Since 1859 he has lived
in the town of Elsberry, which was built on his land and was


named in his honor.  He owns about 300 acres of land, and is a
strong advocate of prohibition.  Town lots which he has dis-
posed of have all been sold with the understanding that no liquor
of any kind should be sold on them.  Previous to the war he was
a Whig, but since that time has been a supporter of Democratic
principles.  In 1880 he was one of the company who built a
large flouring-mill at Elsberry. and since 1883 he has been a
one-third owner of the same.  Mr Elsberry is very public spir-
ited and may justly be considered one of the prominent and hon-
ored citizens of the county.

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