By George Nye
This is another in a series of articles on the history of Warsaw city mayors, written by County Surveyor George Nye. Today's article is about B. F. Richardson, who succeeded James H. Cisney after the latter's death in 1901.
In reading through a file of Daily Times for the year 1901 we find that James H. Cisney died while he was serving as mayor and B. F. Richardson, a councilman at the time, succeeded him.
During the last week in January, 1901 Cisney was superintending the packing of ice in his houses on Center Lake and caught a severe cold. He was ill during the first week in February and on Sunday morning February 10th he died. His sickness had run into pneumonia. Cisney used to ride around in a road wagon drawn by a small spotted horse. A road wagon would not be much protection from the cold wind.
His funeral was held at the Presbyterian church with Rev. Edward Yates Hill officiating. Hill had been a former pastor of this church.
The common council at this time consisted of Lew Coleman, Frank Hetrick, Doc Goodwin, Charlie Nye, John Watson and B. F. Richardson. Richardson was chosen to be mayor and Tommy Loveday was made a member of the council to replace Richardson.
The Richardson family had its roots in Old England. Joseph Richardson, the grandfather was a former weaver at Halifax, Yorkshire. The father, James Richardson, was born in England. In 1848 the family came to America and settled in Monroe county, Michigan. This county is at the west end of Lake Erie with Monroe as the county seat. The city of Toledo, Ohio, is only a stone's throw from the southeast corner of the county. James Richardson was an influential citizen here and was a member at one time of the Michigan legislature.
B. F. Richardson was born August 9, 1851. He grew up in the Michigan vicinity, taught school in a log cabin, and went down to Toledo where he drove a dray and worked as a clerk. He acquired enough money to start a grocery store. In 1883 at the age of 32 he came to Warsaw where he lived the balance of his life. Here he started a dry goods store east of the old Wright House under the name of Richardson and Moran. In due time he became a member of the common council, a good place for any man who was interested in civic improvement.
It was quite natural that on the death of Mr. Cisney, B. F. Richardson should be chosen to take his place. He was elected to the office in 1902 and so served until 1904.
In taking over at this time Richardson found our streets and alleys in somewhat of a mess for the big sewer was being put in by E. Woods and Son. It was about this time that the son, Hugh Woods, married Opal Breading, one of the good looking girls of the town.
In February, 1904, the first street paving in town began at the Pennsylvania railroad and went north to Main street. At Market two blocks were paved, at Center two more and at Main two more. The heavy bricks were laid on a well prepared sand foundation and sand was rolled into the cracks with a heavy roller. Sand was allowed to stay on the pavement for several weeks after it was in use. Then one day it was all swept off and the new pavement looked like the parlor floor. Concrete curbs, of course, had been built on the sides. The grade of the streets was raised a foot or more. The new pavement was kept clean. Every once in a while it was washed off with the fire hose.
There were very few, if any, horseless carriages in use in town at this time. The company that had the contract for the paving imported a detail of Negroes into town to lay the blocks. It was all done like clockwork. The man who laid the blocks showed by his speed that he had been there before. Then here was an inspector appointed by the mayor who inspected the job and pulled out all the cull brick He found a lot of them that he would not pass.
The colored gentlemen stayed upstairs in the buildings which are now just south of the Whiteneck laundry. It was a pleasure on the summer evenings to hear them play their banjos and guitars and sing some old time songs. A few years later a second paving program was docketed and by this time the style was to use thin concrete as a filler between the brick. It is doubtful if this was as good as the sand filler.
Protect 4 Crossings
It was in 1902 that the Pennsylvania Railroad company began to double track from Chicago to Fort Wayne. Ed Nye and Nels Evans were running the so-called Dutch grocery and they had the contract to furnish the company with groceries. Their camp was out by Orion. This was a big project. there had been for many years a second track from Union street at Shorb's hotel and saloon out to Eagle lake but it was just considered a sort of a side track. The north track was the main one. It was on this side track that the Dummy would run back and forth to the lake. This service was done away with about 1900. The double tracking program permitted trains to pass without orders and enabled them to go faster.
The fastest train on the road at this time made it from Chicago to New York in 18 hours. The engine had two large drive wheels on each side and an idle wheel under the cab. By this time, beginning in 1895, four of our crossings were protected from 6:30 a.m. to about 6:45 p.m. In the late 1880's and early 1890's Dwight Nichols had charge of the crossing at Buffalo street. His shanty stood on the ground at the northwest corner of the grounds. It was on the 17th of May, 1895 that C. O. Davis took charge of this crossing and remained on the job for 35 years. A tower was built at the northwest corner of the plat and later changed to the northeast corner. Joe Miller was stationed at Indiana street, and High street and Detroit were provided with gates. The gates were pumped up and down by compressed air.
C. O. Davis had been a section hand near Etna Green and one day had his hand crushed at 99-mile post while handling rails. His arm had to be amputated just below the shoulder. Davis kept his crossing looking very neat and had several flower beds at the corners and some World's Fair trees growing here and there. His salary in 1895 was $36 a month. A paycar came through once a month and paid the men in cash.
It was while Mr. Richardson was mayor that the interurban cars came to Warsaw from Goshen. There had been much talk in the papers about various interurban lines that were to come through this county. Places can now be seen north of Packerton and in the north part of Syracuse where grading was done for lines that never were finished. It was in 1904 that the line reached Warsaw and it was about the same time that the line was built out to the lake.
This Winona line started to haul passengers when it got to the Big Four railroad on Center street. In due time it was finished so that it went south on Detroit to Market, then west to Lake street, then north to center and east to the place of beginning. A passing track was placed just east of Maple avenue. both summer and winter cars were purchased for this line. It was much used and the cars ran until July 4, 1938. At this time busses replaced the cars. The new interurban line gave employment to many people as office help, motormen, conductors, dispatchers, etc., many of whom remained with the company for a long time. A power house was built near Winona which building is now used by the Litchfield company.
About 1907-8, the line was continued down to Peru and the Winona Interurban became the connecting link. Cars left Warsaw every two hours beginning at 5:30 a.m. and continuing until about 10 p.m. The cars were very pretty being a gold and blue color inside and finished with polished wood resembling walnut.
The first interurban station was just east of the Chapman cigar store. Then it was moved to the old White House where Phipps is now and then east to the corner where the theatre is now.
Frank Robinson was the train caller and we can still hear him say "Trains for Mentone, Akron, Chili, Peru and all points south." When the motormen on the old interurban cars first looked out of their cab windows and saw an automobile on a hard surfaced road overtake and pass them they could well have said that "I will have to begin to look for another job." About the same can be said today of the engineer on a passenger train when he looks up and sees an airplane going over at 300 m.p.h.
New City Engineer
In 1901 E. Y. Chamberlain, who had been city engineer, died. An engineer was employed from another city for a time and then James Vinton Godman and his family moved here from Wabash. Be became the city engineer to finish the sewer program and take care of the street paving. Godman was a good-natured middle-aged man who was too generous for his own good. He first lived in the Hoyt property on North Lake street but in 1904 was living above the Dutch grocery. He had a wife and two sons, Clark and Sol. He liked outdoor life and was an experienced fisherman. He built what was called the roof garden on the south shore of Center lake about 150 feet west of Buffalo street. The top part was screened in and it was here that dances were held and ice cream was served. A pier led over to Buffalo street across low ground.
Godman's maple ice cream was a favorite dish. Below the roof garden was a big compartment in which ice could be stored and south of this was a room where Cal Stout made the ice cream. Godman would bring his friends down and give them a big dish of maple crowned with a big red California cherry. He was a football enthusiast and was not here long until he and a young man named Tracy had organized a good team.
Godman was a neat, accurate engineer. At the time of his death he was becoming interested in some way of getting automobiles over the road faster. They were just coming into use but the roads were poor and they could not make good time. Godman died in the lift well at Buffalo and Fort Wayne Streets July 24, 1904 when he attempted to rescue Marshall Funk who had been overcome by sewer gas.
Sells Goods, Shoes
When Richardson was mayor he was one of the firm of Hafer & Richardson. They occupied the two rooms just north of Phillipsons. The south room was for dry goods, the north one for shoes. Noble Tucker and Tommy Dye were two of the shoe salesmen. Blanch Loveday was the cashier. One could, in those days, see Hafer and Richardson signs on most of the board fences for six miles around Warsaw.
Frank Hafer was the first man in town to purchase a horseless carriage. It was called a locomobile. This was in June, 1901. Other things going on about town at that time were about as follows. Cascarets kept working on while you slept. For frog in your throat go to Ed Wahl's drug store. Mount Memorial Addition was named after Governor Mount. Alexander McDonald, the president of the Standard Oil Co., gave $5,000 to Winona and they named the island after him. Some of the money went to improve this new addition to the park. Black cat hosiery was sold at the store of Hugh Kingery and company. Johnny Bond of Warsaw made himself an automobile out of cast off farm machinery and it really did run. A Mr. Shortridge had one of the finest celery farms in the county just east of the Big Four depot where Mike Hodges is now making the big fill. One could get an ice cream soda at Ridgon's onyx spa fountain and listen to the gramophone while they devoured it. All of this for five cents. Buckskin Bill's show came to town. He could shoot at a tossed up half dollar and hit it twice before it fell. Clark Mumaw was working at the laundry for $6 a week. they added Winona to his route and raised his pay to $7.
Talks At Schools
Isaac W. Brown, a rather large man, walked from town to town and lectured on birds and bees. His talks were mostly before the schools. He could give many bird calls. We were in Asa Leckrone's classes at West Ward in 1901 and remember Brown quite well. A man in Columbia City wrote to his girl in Warsaw informing her that it was all off. She felt bad until she found out that he was referring to his moustache! Lee Messersmith got tired of working for Hatfield under the Lake City bank and started a barber shop of his own under Heavy Smith's shoe store. Jardeniers and cuspidors were on sale at Mrs. Poulson's millinery store called Poulson's Bazaar. It was one door west of the Opera House.
Cracker Jack was a new confection for sale at Rigdons. Uneeda biscuit was new on the market. Five rolls of toilet paper sold for a dime at Foster's drug store just east of Phillipson's. Sunday excursions to Benton Harbor for a dollar a throw were very popular. Sixteen men were in the Clunette band with Charles Ross as their leader. N. N. Boydston was trying to sell two lots with a house on them for $375. Stiff catey hats were all the go. I. D. Web was selling Pink pills for pale people.
Frank McConnell and his brother Bert who worked for Hafer and Richardsons took the accommodations train for Chicago. It was a four hour run. Some ghosts had been seen walking the logs at night just east of the Catholic church. Mose Snellenberger, Johnny Dineen, Jake Thralls, and John Ebersole were named by Reub Williams as a special committee to investigate. Harry Nye and Isy Pyle were married. Letta Kleckner threw a birthday party in July. July 13 Buffalo Bill's circus showed at Riverview. Bill didn't know in the opening parade whether he was in Indiana or showing somewhere in Oregon. George Snyder built a livery barn on north High street. Tillie Felbaum was the principal of the high school.
Walter Brubaker was graduated from the Indianapolis Law school and gave the valedictory address. Reid Murdock was building a pickle plant at Pierceton. Syracuse was getting a new cement plant. John Widaman visited his old home at Greensburg, Penn. Winebrenner and Douglas were night policemen. At Con Walters' restaurant one could enjoy ice cream and cake for only five cents. Rocky Mountain Tea was for sale at I. D. Webbs unless the customer wanted something stronger! J. Wilbur Chapman bought 10 acres in East Warsaw on which to build. It is now the hospital site.
Elmer Funk played a flute solo at the commencement. Joe Maroni played the harp. The biggest wedding of 1901 was the Oldfather-Caldwell nuptials. The saloons of Johnny Rousseau and Sanky Randels were robbed. The marshal did not worry much about the case. Toney Osborn and Sausage McKrill were fined by Constable Wade Harris for illegal fishing. Even the bull frogs knew these two fishermen when they were on the lake.
Bob Nelson was city clerk. Henry Graham was prosecuting attorney. Charlie Sharp and Ed Ripple had just returned from military duty in the Phillippines. Ola Sharp and John Sloane were married. She had worked at H & R.
At Cruixshank's pickle factory in the west end of town they canned tons of strawberries and processed other tons of pickles of all sizes. All this besides making 25 tons of horseradish. We never knew of so much horseradish being in Warsaw at one time!
Reub Williams said that something went by the window that looked like a load of hay. come to find out it was J. D. Kutz going by wearing a new straw hat!
Richard was twice mayor of Warsaw, his second term beginning in 1912.
Warsaw Times Union Friday August 29, 1955
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