KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS
"Wonderful Old Lawrence" by Elfriede Fischer Rowe





First Lawrence Phone Directory


     ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO, the first Lawrence directory was printed. It is dated "1860-1861" and the only copy for public reading in these parts is in the Lawrence City Library. This one has lost its first 11 pages. It is not ordinary book size, but considerably smaller and only 53 pages in thickness.

     You could buy a copy for one dollar then. Not all of the residents known to have been living in Lawrence then are listed. This was the case in some of the subsequent directories in the 1860s. A man's name might not be in the alphabetical listing, but it would appear in the firm's advertisement. From page 18 on, in the 1860 edition, the left-hand pages are devoted to advertising.

     There were some articles listed that are strange to the readers today. In an ad of the firm of H. S. and L. Fillmore, such items as hoop skirts, bonnets, kid gloves, and gaiters, appear. And such materials as "morene", and if you haven't your dictionary handy, "morene" is described as a coarse stout woolen, usually watered or embossed, and "merino", a soft fabric resembling cashmere. So you can take your choice of which description "morene" fits. Then there was "DeLaines", described by Mr. Webster as a light woolen dress fabric; but "Valencia", "Lyonese", and "Debage" he did not have listed in his Collegiate Dictionary. One store advertised "Yankee Notions", but we were left in the dark as to what they were, as they were not listed in the ad.

     In the classified listings for 1860-'61, 19 attorneys were doing business. Lawrence has always had many attorneys. This probably can be accounted for by the fact that there were so many claims in the early years. Any transactions with the Indians, unless proper authority had been obtained from Washington, led to suits and claims and counterclaims. Squatters claims and other claims stemming from the change of Kansas from territory to a state, all added to the legal confusion of a new town.

     In 1860, Lawrence also had two architectural firms; five hotels, seven dry goods stores, five civil engineers and eight brokers. Apparently the housewives didn't bake as much as one would have supposed inasmuch as you find eight bakeries listed. Only one barber was listed and he was identified as "colored".

     In the 1866 directory, also priced at one dollar, there was little concern about the alphabetical order of the names, other than the first letter. One might find such order as: "Farnsworth" followed by "Frazier" and then "Fenn" and after several "FR's" and "FO's" the names "Faxon", "Farley", etc. were listed. After


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each person's name would be such identification as: "widow-keeps eating saloon"; "Steamboat captain-e.side Pennsylvania", "comb maker", "jailor", "hostler", "wood chopper", and many more. Apparently it was thought a bachelor might be hard to locate after hours, for they did not list his residence, but where he boarded. And there were 10 boarding houses in 1866.

     The residences were given numbers under 100, but many were without numbers and had such descriptions as: "Indiana, between Winthrop and Henry"; "e.side -- between Pinckney and Winthrop" When the 1888 directory came out, new numbering starting in the hundreds was used.

     Throughout the early years, KU students, faculty, classes and courses were given several pages in the back of each directory. The 1866 copy lists Baker University and the Deaf and Dumb Institution, with the officers. There is also a page devoted to "Baldwin City Business Guide". "Lane University -- Commercial Department -- Lecompton, Kansas", was given three pages.

     As the years went on, the cost of directories changed; $2 and $3 in 1870's; to $6 and $8 in the early 1920's.


Printed in Lawrence Journal-World, June 20, 1961.



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