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ABBOTT ~ FRINK | GANT ~ McCLELLAN
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Juniata: Biographical Sketches|
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Kenesaw: First Things | Religious | Educational | The Press|
Hansen: Biographical Sketches
List of Illustrations in Adams County Chapter
Odd Fellows.--The Hastings Lodge, No. 50, I. O. O. F., became organized August 13, 1874, Alfred Berg, Benjamin E. Boyer, D. W. Dalton, R. A. Batty, Frederick Forcht, C. B. Sperry, Melville Griffith and C. M. Wright being the charter members. The first corps of officers elected by the society was: Frederick Forcht, Noble Grand; Alfred Berg, Vice Noble Grand; Benjamin E. Boyer, Recording Secretary; C. M. Wright, Treasurer; Melville Griffith, Warden; D. W. Dalton, Conductor; G. E. Grant, Right Support Noble Grand; J. T. Ross, Right Support Vice Grand; C. B. Sperry, Outside Guard. At present, the offices are held by members as follows: J. H. Fleming, Noble Grand; J. B. Heartwell, Vice Grand; James McWade, Recording Secretary; N. L. Jorgensen, Permanent Secretary; D. L. McElheny, Treasurer; J. F. Hiler, Right Support Noble Grand; S. M. Clark, Left Support Noble Grand; C. B. Sperry, Warden, E. C. Webster, Conductor; W. W. Brown, R. S. S.; A. L. Wigton, L. S. S. The lodge first held its meetings in the school building, but afterward, removed to a frame building on Second street, between Hastings and Denver avenues. About two years ago, another removal was made into the present rooms, on the second floor of a fine brick building. The main hall is fifty feet long and twenty feet wide, and is nicely furnished with handsome and comfortable cushioned settees and chairs and elegantly carpeted with Brussels. The society is supplied with a full set of jewels, and the walls are decorated with handsome and appropriate hangings. A cabinet organ is also among the articles of furniture. The officers now holding positions in the lodge by appointment are: J. O. Garman, Outside Guard; C. C. Rittenhouse, Inside Guard; L. A. Royce, Right Support Vice Grand; E. C. O'Donal, Left Support Vice Grand. The society has a total membership of fifty-seven. C. C. Rittenhouse is the District Deputy for the society.
Masonic Lodge.--The Hastings Lodge, No. 50, A., F. & A. M., organized in August, 1873, and obtained powers under a dispensation from the Grand Lodge, February, 1874, and soon afterward, in June, 1874, the society became duly chartered. The officers first elected were: A. D. Buckworth, Worthy Master; L. C. Gould, Senior Warden; R. A. Batty, Junior Warden; E. Steinan, Secretary; C. E. Forgey, Treasurer. The present officers are: George H. Pratt, Worthy Master; G. W. Mowery, Senior Warden; D. M. McElhinney, Junior Warden; C. K. Lawson, Treasurer; A. F. Boston, Secretary; J. J. Wemple, Senior Deacon; F. H. Blake, Junior Deacon; Edward Kennard, Tiler. The lodge at present meets in the rooms occupied by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The society is in a flourishing condition and has a membership of eighty-two.
The Hastings Chapter, No. 21, was established January 14, 1881, with the following elected officers; J. J. Wemple, High Priest; Emanuel Fist, King; J. S. Allison, Scribe; R. W. Oliver, Treasurer; William Cline, Secretary; J. J. Raymaker, Captain of the Host; G. J. Evans, Sojourner; Joseph Meyer, Royal Arch Captain; Jacob Fisher, Grand Master Third Veil; B. F. Rawalt, Grand Master Second Veil; Joseph Vandemark, Grand Master First Veil; M. L. Alexander, Sentinel. At present, the lodge is under control of the following members as officers: Emanuel Fist, High Priest; J. S. Allison, King; Joseph H. Vandemark, Scribe; R. W. Oliver, Treasurer; William M. Cline, Secretary; J. J. Raymaker, Captain of the Host; Frederick J. Benedict, Sojourner; Jacob Fisher, Royal Arch Captain; Jacob Meyer, Grand Master Third Veil; Jacob Wolbach, Grand Master Second Veil; Charles K. Lawson, Grand Master First Veil; Andreas Veith, Sentinel. The society has at present thirty-three members and occupies the same hall with the Odd Fellows.
Mount Nebo Commandery.--The Mount Nebo Commandery, No. 11, was established at Hastings on June 14, 1881. Those connected with the first organization of the society were Fred J. Benedict, Oswald Oliver, J. J. Wemple, Joseph S. Allison, John J. Raymaker, Robert W. Oliver, Elijah H. Bartlett, Jacob Fisher, William H. Lanning, Thomas J. Pardoe, Benjamin F. Rawalt, James W. Small, M. L. Alexander, John G. Hayzlett, Alfred L. Webb, Allison B. Ideson, J. N. High, Charles F. Allen, Reuben E. Barney, Charles Cameron, Alexander Campbell, William M. Cline, Henry Gibbons, Paul Kalmuk, Charles K. Lawson, Jacob L. Miller, George H. Pratt, James A. Tulleys, James J. Wogan. At present, the society is under the control of the following official members: J. J. Wemple, Commander; J. J. Raymaker, Generalissimo; J. S. Allen, Captain General; B. F. Rawalt, Prelate; J. W. Small, Senior Warden; W. H. Lanning, Junior Warden; R. W. Oliver, Treasurer; Oswald Oliver, Recorder; M. L. Alexander, Standard Bearer; E. H. Bartlett, Sword Bearer; Jacob Fisher, Warden; William M. Cline, Captain of the Guards; J. J. Wogan, Third guard; J. A. Tulleys, Second Guard; H. Gibbons, First Guard. The lodge numbers thirty-three members and meets in the Odd Fellows Hall.
Independent Order of Good Templars, No. 223.--This society was formed in 1880 under the auspices of Sister Ada Van Pelt, of Seward, Neb., who was, at that time, holding a series of temperance meetings and lectures at this place. A society called the Independent Order of Good Templars Lodge, No. 223, was organized with the following elected officers: A. Poole, Worthy Chief Templar; Mrs. Flora Tanne, Worthy Vice Templar; L. B. Palmer, Worthy Secretary; John Bexten, Worthy Financial Secretary; L. P. Hawley, Worthy Treasurer; R. S. Lee, Worthy Master; S. P. Tuttle, Worthy Chaplain. At present, the organization is officered as follows: L. B. Palmer, Worthy Chief Templar; Mrs. Flora E. Hill, Worthy Vice Templar; J. W. Gilman, Worthy Treasurer; F. B. Carleton, Worthy Financial Secretary; Perry Shockey, Worthy Secretary; Rev. S. Henderson, Worthy Chaplain; Emma Stein, Worthy Inside Guard. The society, numbering 107 members, holds its meetings in the second story of the Farrell stone block every Tuesday evening. The rooms are neatly furnished and are said to be the handsomest lodge rooms in the State. The organization has for its object the suppression of intemperance and the creation of a higher standard of morality in the community. The Grand Lodge of the State of Nebraska held its meetings at this place on January 19, 1882. The order is in a flourishing condition and receives the attention and support of most all the leading citizens of the place and undoubtedly effects much toward the suppression of the traffic in intoxicating beverages in the city.
Grand Army of the Republic.--The Silas A. Strickland Post, No. 13, Grand Army of the Republic, was established at Hastings on May 8, 1878. The first members of the post were A. L. Wigton, W. W. Dungan, G. F. Work, T. M. Abbott, A. D. Yocum, George Miller, J. D. Crans, L. B. Palmer, A. F. Benjamin, W. S. Martin, Alex Rogers, A. H. Sowers, David Koch, J. N. Lyman, J. F. Heiler. This first organization of the post, however, fell through, but was revived and newly established, October 5, 1880. Those instrumental in the re-organization were Henry Shedd, A. Poole, James Walling, J. Wooster, H. B. Tonner, Henry Williams, H. A. Forcht, J. E. Hutchinson, W. H. Stock, R. R. Morledge, A. H. Bowen, A. S. Hill, Carl Clark, E. H. Bartlett, William H. H. Cutler, John Stabler, Nathan C. Barlow, A. G. Willis, C. L. Kincaid, J. R. Harsh, S. Reinhart, H. B. McGaw, William Callihan, John M. Boyd, C. H. Paul. The present officers of the organization are: A. H. Bowen, Commander; A. J. Millet, Senior Vice Commander; J. E. Hutchinson, Junior Vice Commander; W. H. Stock, Quartermaster; E. H. Bartlett, Surgeon; A. Poole, Chaplain; H. B. Tonner, Officer of the Day; Thomas Abbot, Officer of the Guard; E. Reinhart, Adjutant; A. F. Benjamin, Sergeant Major; J. Walling, Quartermaster Sergeant. Meetings are held in the same rooms with the Good Templars, in the Farrell stone block. A. D. Yocum was the first commander of the post.
Bachelor's Club.--This organization was effected in November, 1881, with the following officers: W. H. Lanning, President; R. A. Batty, Vice President; Groff J. Evans, Secretary; E. Steinan, Treasurer. The club has a membership of forty, and has for its object the cultivation of sociability among its members and general amusement. Preparations are being made to furnish large and convertible lodge rooms, which are to be supplied with all appliances for games of various sorts, library, etc.
By no means do the residents of the city of Hastings lack in the spirit of religious beliefs or moral principles. As corroborative of this may be cited the many church organizations which are a present in existence at this place. All denominations that are generally represented in other places, find also existence here, and are liberally supported and attended. The various organizations which have been established here are the Methodist Episcopal, Congregational, Baptist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Catholic, the Evangelical Association and the First German Evangelical Church. A more detailed account of each will be found in the following.
Congregational Church.--The first services at Hastings by the people belonging to this denomination were held in the wagons in which they emigrated hither. The congregation became organized in the fall of 1871, under the directions of the Rev. J. F. Clarkson, who came to the place as Chaplain to a colony of Englishmen that had emigrated to this country and came to settle in Adams County. The services were then held in a sod-house, on what is now known as Moore's Addition to the city of Hastings. Owing to some difficulty between Clarkson and his people, he was dismissed by the congregation from the pastorate of the church. After the dismissal of Clarkson, the people were ministered to by the Rev. Mr. Haviland, who remained only about one month with them. The church had continued to lose ground for some time, and, up to this time, had almost fallen through. Capt. F. S. Wells, at that time Clerk of the organization, also became involved in difficulties with the rest of the people of the congregation, and, for some cause, either to destroy evidences of defects in his official capacity, or else to gratify a vicious propensity, burned the records of the church, which, at that time, were in his possession as the proper official custodian. From the month of September, 1874, however, dates a revival of the denomination. At this time, Rev. M. F. Platt was called to take charge of the congregation, which, through his efforts and instrumentality, became re-organized and once more placed upon a running basis. Services were held in the school building till 1875, when the body removed to Millett's Hall, in which place they continued to worship for about three years. In the fall of 1878, another removal was made and services were held on Sunday afternoons in the Presbyterian church. Efforts were now made to erect a church edifice, which resulted successfully, and, in the spring of 1879, the building was completed, and, in March of that year, was formally dedicated to religious worship. Rev. H. M. Gates, the Superintendent of Home Missions for the State of Nebraska, preached the dedicatory sermon. The building is a frame structure, fifty-six feet long by thirty-four feet wide, with a wing addition twenty-two feet long by eighteen feet wide, and costing about $2,700. The building is surmounted with a neat and showy belfry and is supplied with a bell, the only church bell in the city. The congregation has a membership of 110, and, at present, is under the charge of the Rev. J. D. Stewart. The officers of the church are: G. F. Work, A. H. Bowen and Davis Lowman, Trustees; Q. A. Dungan and E. A. Waldron, Deacons; Alfred Woolman, Clerk; L. B. Hawley, Treasurer.
Baptist Church.--The early settlers of the city of Hastings whose religious attachments were with the Baptist denomination, organized themselves into a congregation in the year 1874, and, at that time, the Rev. I. D. Newell was in control of the charge, and services were held in Millett's Hall. The church, instead of advancing onward, took the back track and continued to retrograde until the organization had almost fallen through. The year 1876 witnessed a fitful and temporary revival, under the ministrations of the Rev. Mr. Guild. but this was destined to be evanescent in character, since the reverend gentleman took more delight in the sports of a Nimrod than in the care of his flock, and found greater solace with the "gun and dog" than in handling the tenets of salvation. Again the church began to decline and was soon on the verge of extinction, and no services were held for a period of six months. In 1879, the Rev. J. E. Rockwood came to the rescue, and under his efforts the congregation enjoyed another resuscitation. Mr. Rockwood continued in the charge for nearly one year, and was succeeded by the Rev. J. H. Mize, who came from the State of Illinois on account of failing health. Mize began his pastoral services in February, 1881, and is still in the charge. Up to this time, the congregation possessed no church edifice in which to conduct their services, but used other churches and such places as could be found suitable for this purpose. A successful attempt to erect a church house was made in the summer of 1881, and in the early part of the following year, the building was completed, and, on the 31st of January, 1882, the structure was dedicated amid solemn and formal ceremonies to the divine worship of Almighty God. The cost of the building was about $3,000, and it is a substantial wooden structure of neat and appropriate architecture. The members who were prominently instrumental in keeping up the organization were D. S. Cole, Jacob Wooster, Joseph Simms, Frank Talmage, N. T. Eckles and J. H. Vandemark. The history of this religious body would be grossly incomplete and sinfully uncharitable did it not record the noble and laborious efforts of some of its lady members in endeavoring to support and maintain the organization. These whose efforts were conspicuous in this direction were Mrs. Joseph Allison, Mrs. Frank Talmage and Mrs. J. H. Vandemark, who raised money and subscriptions and spared no personal exertions to contribute both of their labor and means.
Episcopalian.--The St. Mark's Episcopalian Church became established at Hastings on May 3, 1880. The leading members in the movement were Charles Cameron, L. H. Tower, I. M. Norton, Oswald Oliver, J. C. Ideson, F. J. Benedict, A. B. Ideson, H. M. Oliver and Robert Oliver, with the Rev. John W. Greenwood as rector of the congregation. A church house was built in 1881, and was dedicated to religious uses on March 26, Bishop Clarkson, of Omaha, conducting the services. The building is a substantial frame, 28x60 feet in dimensions, and was built at a cost of about $3,000. The building is neatly and comfortably furnished and is heated by a furnace. The congregation numbers some seventy members in good standing. The officers of the church, elected April 18, 1881, are: Oswald Oliver and A. B. Ideson, Wardens; Charles Cameron, I. M. Norton, J. C. Ideson, L. H. Tower, H. M. Oliver and George Wilkins, Vestrymen. Services are regularly held in the church building, the Rev. John M. Greenwood being the employed in the service of the people of this place.
Presbyterian Church.--On the 15th day of August, 1873, a little band of people professing discipleship of Calvin and Knox in the faith and doctrines of Presbyterianism, assembled themselves together in a building that was being erected for a Methodist Church to perfect themselves into an organization. The house was yet far from completion, there being no roof on it, except the sheeting, and the genial rays of an August sun poured through the numerous openings of the temporary roofing like beams of celestial light shining in on this little faithful band, as if to light them in the true and perfect way. A pulpit was extemporized of a barrel stood upon end and a bolt of shingles laid across the top. Thus apart from luxury and in the midst of trials and inconveniences, the church society became established, by which was demonstrated that faith in Christian doctrines, and not personal comfort, was the superinducing cause. The first pastor was the Rev. James A. Griffis, and Samuel L. Alexander and A. L. Wigton were elected Elders, and James Reed, Deacon. Services were held in the school building for about two years, and after that in Millett hall. A regular church edifice was built in the summer of 1878. Services have been rendered to the congregation by the Revs. Robert Rutherford and D. S. Schaff, Rev. E. L. Williams being the present pastor.
Methodist Episcopal Church.--The first services held by the Methodists of Hastings was on the 22d day of September, 1872, at which time the congregation became organized. The services were held in the St. Joe & Denver City Railroad Section House by the Rev. R. H. Crane. This was then called the Juniata Circuit and fell within the bounds of the Beatrice District. Rev. J. B. Maxfield was the Presiding Elder of the district. The class at that time consisted of William Hudson, Leader, Maria Hudson, Benjamin H. Brown, Rebecca Brown, Richard Rainforth, Lizzie Rainforth and Mary E. Ross. A church house was erected on grounds donated to the church by the Railroad Town Company, the donation consisting of three lots on the northwest corner of Second street and Kansas avenue. This building, a small frame, 24x36 feet, was afterward sold to the Evangelical Association of North America, for the sum of $600, and is still in use by that association as a house of worship. This was the first church built in the city and was the only one in the place for about four years after its erection. It was generously extended to the use of all denominations, and was applied to purposes both religious and sometimes irreligious in character. The building of another house began in the summer of 1880, and, on August 12 of that season, the corner-stone was ceremoniously laid, witnessed by a vast concourse of people. A temporary floor was laid, seated with chairs, and divine service and praise were offered. The Rev. Dr. W. G. Miller officiated at the placing of the corner-stone, and also conducted the subsequent services of the day. The church was, at that time, under the charge of the Rev. A. C. Crosthwaite. The foundation of the edifice was laid by Millett and Mulford, and the building, when completed, cost about $6,000, and is a large frame building of showy architecture. The congregation numbers about 125 members, and the services are, at present, conducted by the Rev. S. H. Henderson. The ministers who have officiated at this place are the Revs. R. H. Crain, who was the first pastor; Hiram Hersey, a supply; E. J. Willis, 1874 to 1875; Richard Pierson, 1875 to1877; Edward Thomson, 1877 to 1878; A. C. Crosthwaite, 1878 to 1881, and the present minister, S. H. Henderson, whose services began in September, 1881. A Sabbath school of about 125 members is also kept up in flourishing condition in connection with the church organization.
Catholic Church.--At first, the Catholic families of Hastings were under the visitation of Father Lecleitner, priest, located at Crete. In 1879, Rev. George Glauber came to the place, and the organization of the congregation was effected. The first services were held at the residence of Thomas E. Farrall. The building of a church began in 1879, and the house put in shape so that services could be held in it, but the building still remains incomplete. The cost of the house was about $1,800. A parish house was erected the following year, costing about $600. The congregation numbers sixty families, under charge of the Rev. James Simeon, assisted by Father E. Rhullier. Belonging to the Hastings Mission are points along the Republican Valley to Indianola, taking in also Harvard, Fairfield and other points, all of which are attended by the priest stationed at the city of Hastings.
Evangelical Association.--The German Evangelical Association was established as a mission at the city of Hastings in 1879. Two years following and about the 1st of April, a church organization was made, the Revs. G. G. Zellhoefer and Jacob Weingart taking charge of the work at the opening of the mission. M. Inhelder came to the charge April 6, 1880, and, continuing at the post, is still ministering to the people of his following. Services were conducted in the first church, built by the Methodists, which the association afterward procured by purchase, and for which they paid $600. The purchase was made in April, 1880; two parsonages were built at a cost of about $800. The mission, at present, includes thirty-two of a membership, all of whom are Germans. The doctrines of this religious denomination are almost identical with that of Methodism, with the exception of slight modifications and differences.
First German Evangelical Church.--This denomination, in name somewhat similar to the preceding, holds doctrines and beliefs, comprised by a union of those of the Lutheran and German Reformed denominations. The church was started in September, 1878, by the Rev. Henry Seikman, who removed here from Wisconsin. Directly upon his arrival in Hastings, he set about to establish a congregation among the devotees of this religious creed. Money was raised by subscription, and, in the fall of 1878, work began upon the building of a church. The edifice was speedily erected, and, in January, 1879, was duly dedicated, the structure costing $750, and is, in size, 24x36 feet. Rev. Seikman still officiates at this place.
Young Men's Christian Association.--An association composed of the more moral and religiously disposed residents of the city was formed in the spring of 1881. The society elected as its officers: James B. Heartwell, President; O. C. Hubbel, Vice President; E. B. Stevenson, Corresponding Secretary; L. H. Felt, Recording Secretary; Walter Snook, Treasurer. The same officers have continued in their respective positions up to this time with but two exceptions, L. M. Campbell being elected Recording Secretary in place of L. H. Felt, and D. Lowman, Treasurer, in place of Walter Snook. The business of the society is in the charge of the following committees: Devotional Committee, of which C. J. Davis is Chairman; Missionary Committee, E. B. Stevenson, Chairman; Reading-room and Library Committee, O. B. Hewitt, Chairman; Lecture Committee, George F. Work, Chairman; Finance Committee, D. Lowman, Chairman; Membership Committee, O. C. Hubbel, Chairman; Employment Committee, J. J. Wemple, Chairman. The society has a membership of sixty, and have provided two large and comfortable reading-rooms, supplied with local papers, periodicals and the Omaha, Chicago and Lincoln dailies. Efforts are now on foot to procure a large library of standard works.
This building was erected in 1878 by what was called the Free Religious Church Society. The society was composed of many of the citizens of Hastings, whose opinions upon religious subjects were unconfined by denominational creeds or doctrines, but who held liberal opinions upon the subject; hence, the name of the building. Services were held for a time in the house, but at the present time there are none. John N. Lyman was President of the association; R. A. Batty, Treasurer, and George W. Mowry, Secretary; E. Steinan, M. K. Lewis and A. D. Yocum, Trustees. The building, a large substantial frame structure, forty feet wide by seventy five long, and one story in height, was erected at a cost of about $2,500. The hall is fitted up with stage and comfortably seated with chairs and has a large seating capacity. The stage is furnished with scenery sufficient for the convenient production of any ordinary drama, and the hall is now used for town hall, opera house and such other general purposes, the convenience of which it may subserve.
The intelligence of a community is the true measure of its value and worth. To the stranger or casual observer, therefore, there can be no surer or readier index of this than to look in upon the public schools. As these will be found efficient and flourishing and the objects of the general public interest, in equal degree, will the people of that neighborhood be found intelligent and educated, active and energetic and thrifty and prosperous in all their business dealings and commercial transactions. The schoolhouse is "the light upon a hill," whose beams radiate into every department of human life, suffusing it with life, brilliancy, energy and prosperity.
The same test, when applied to the city of Hastings, is found to hold good in every particular. But the principle operates conversely and may be applied in the regular order of existence. Hence, the intelligence, enterprise and prosperity of the residents of the city may be regarded as the superinducing cause of the excellency and superiority of the public schools. Most of the population of the city are those who came forth from the thresholds of the school-house, college and halls of learning in the older Eastern States of the Union. Neither in coming to the "Great West," where, generally speaking, the chief inspiration is to acquire wealth, did they forget their own learning or the demands of future generations upon them. From the beginning and simultaneously went out the universal sentiment: "We must educate, we must educate, or we must perish by our own prosperity." Imbued with this noble idea, the people of the city early gave attention to the interests of education, and the schoolhouse went up side by side with the dwelling, the store and the factory. A moment's glance retrospectively is sufficient to perceive the interest and zeal manifested in the educational interest of the city, as is clearly demonstrated by the growth in excellence and efficiency of her schools, from time to time and the undoubted superiority they at present maintain.
The first school in Hastings was taught by Miss Phoebe Denstoe, in the spring of 1873. The place in which the school was held was a small room, 14x16 feet, and had been built and used for a storeroom. This place, however, did not long subserve the convenience of the school. The rapid filling up of the city with people, raided, also, the demand for a more commodious and suitable school building. The need, however, was not without immediate satisfaction. In the summer of 1873, a very handsome two-story frame structure was built in the east part of the then village, which contained four large school-rooms. This house is still in use as a school building for the Third Ward of the city.
It was not long, either, until even these accommodations were outgrown, which necessitated the erection of additional buildings. Accordingly, the building now used for the Second Ward schools was built, and is a one-story wooden structure, containing two rooms.
The progress made by the schools of the city may also be observed from the fact that as early as April, 1877, only four years after their establishment, they became organized under a graded system. There were seven grades formed, with an enrollment of 176 pupils, in charge of four teachers. Subsequent to this, five grades were added, the last three of which formed a high school division. An additional building was erected in the First Ward in 1879. It is a two-story brick, containing five large rooms, besides all the other needful apartments, and was built at a cost of $3,500.
The schools at present, with an enrollment of 500, and an average daily attendance of 400 pupils, are under the general supervision of Prof. O. C. Hubbel, Principal, and the different grades are under the charge of ten teachers, viz., Misses Millie Butterfield, Lizzie Edmondson, Pauline Shallenberger, Belle Clark, Etta Parker, Minnie E. Shedd, Lou Vance, C. M. Aldrich, Mrs. Emma L. Holtz and Mrs. Dell Davis. The general management of the schools is in the hands of a school board, whose duties are to look after the finances and other matters of interest pertaining to the schools, elect and employ Principal and teachers, and have general oversight of the buildings, furniture, etc.
Formerly, the board consisted of six members, two from each of the three wards of the city, but recently, has been reduced to four. Those comprising the present board are: William R. McCully, P. Nowlan, Dr. A. H. Sowers and W. H. Lanning.
It is the design of the schools to give thorough and practical instruction, and to this end the board have endeavored to employ none but first grade Principals and instructors.
Besides the various grades of studies, there are the usual division of the primary, intermediate, grammar and high school departments. In the high school department, many of the more advanced branches are included in the curriculum, with the German language as an elective study. All the improved and most approved methods of instruction are made use of and, on the whole, the schools of Hastings are decidedly in a flourishing condition, and equal to, if not superior, to any of the public schools of the State.
Hastings, in advance of most other cities of equal age and size, has a well organized and efficient fire department. It was not, however, without cause that the department become formed. The existence of conflagrations in their midst, and the cry of fire ringing out at times from myriad voices on the midnight air, warned the people to beware, last at an unfortunate movement, they be aroused by the same mournful cry when the dwelling is in flames over their heads.
The first fire that occurred in the city took place in 1876, in the burning of a hotel, the Thompson House. This occurrence stirred up the inhabitants of the young city to a greater realization that they were not safe from the devastations of the consuming flames. The idea of organizing a fire department was talked of, and accordingly, a volunteer company, composed of nearly all the young and able-bodied men of the city, formed themselves into a company, with the avowed determination to fight fire. In 1878, the department became established, with John Crans, Chief of the department; Ed Kennard, Foreman of the hose, and Casper Fisher, Foreman of the hook-and-ladder trucks.
A very serviceable hand-engine and also hook and ladder outfit, with fourteen patent Babcock fire extinguishers, were procured. The cost of the engine, hook and ladders and all the appliances, was about $3,300. A two-story frame engine-house was also provided for the use of the department, costing about $1,000.
The organization, however, began to decline, and, practically, had almost become extinct. During the latter part of 1881, it was again re-established, and the following officers elected: Joseph Williams, Chief; J. Cherry, Foreman of engine; Casper Fisher, Foreman of hook-and-ladder trucks.
Hitherto, the department was entirely voluntary service, until about two months ago, when it was made partly a pay concern: $350 are given to the department annually, to be applied to such uses as they may find necessary.
The first fire the department was called upon to extinguish was that occurring September 14, 1879. The fire broke out in the very heart of the city, and would have been put out before it had caused very great damages, had it not been for the breaking of the engine, and which was due to the unskillful operation of it by some of the members of the company.
Owing to this fact, the flames got started anew, and spread with fearful rapidity. Nearly two blocks of business houses were destroyed before the fire was extinguished, resulting in a financial loss of $85,805.
The members of the department with this, their first efforts, found their mettle fully tested and signalized themselves for harmonious action and courage in fighting the scathing fiend.
The next fire occurred July 2, 1881, in which a block of business houses were consumed, with the exception of four small houses.
Undaunted by this accident, the owners set to work to repair their losses, and now on the spot which the flames made bare stand solid business blocks of brick and stone. With the burning of the Burlington & Missouri Railroad depot, in 1879, and the instances above, are the only burnings occurring in the city.
It is a very noticeable feature characterizing the city of Hastings that her business men and people are full of enterprise and push, always keeping pace with the times in the progress of public improvements. Corroborative of this statement is the establishment of the Telephone Exchange. This improvement was made recently by a company consisting of five members, of which L. H. Tower is President; A. B. Ideson, Vice President; A. Yeazel, Treasurer; J. J. Wemple, Secretary, and John Ragan, Attorney. The company was incorporated January 14, 1881, and began business on May 1 of that year. It is a stock company, the stock being divided into shares of $50 each, and the business started with eighty shares, amounting to a capital of $4,000.
The enterprise, started with thirty-five subscribers, which has increased to the present number of sixty-six. The rate to subscribers is $3.50 per month for business houses and $2.50 for residences. The Western Electric System was first made use of, but this is being displaced by the new Wiley and Scribner improvement, giving general satisfaction.