May 17, 2011

Mrs. Rebecca Smith in 1888: Methodist Church; names business houses

- compiled by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

"Well, Mr. Editor, I promised to write another letter for the New Era (May 1888) if you wanted me to" continued Mrs. Rebecca Smith, visiting from Missouri, relating her experiences during a visit to Valley Falls.

"Sunday I went to the Methodist Church, but I didn't feel at home for they had the congregation divided into two classes. All those that had the best clothes and fine hats went into a little room behind the parson. I had on my best black cashmere, but my hat is not new and it hasn't long streamers behind, so I hardly knew which room I belonged in, but I stayed with the biggest crowd. Then when the hymn was read, they all sung in both rooms, and all tried to sing the loudest, but the best dressed crowd had an organ and some other thing to play on and they succeeded in making the biggest noise, and when they sat down they looked over into the other room with a victorious smile that I didn't admire, and when the preacher was prayin' one good old man in our crowd said 'Amen' purty loud, then the purty girls in the other room put their fans up to their faces and looked awful tickled.

"By the way, I guess I forgot to tell you I was visiting my nephew and his family, and a right pert family he has, wife as smart as a whip crack. Nephew took the children and me out riding yesterday and I tell you, Mr. Editor, you should feel proud of your city. We rode first to 'Piety Hill' and we had a fine view of the city from the west, then we went up Frazier Avenue to the tower or 'Lord's Hill' and the tower is a good piece of workmanship, an imposing structure.

"We then drove toward Rose Hill Cemetery, a beautiful drive past some fine residences, then turning east one block, we returned by Oak Street, one of Valley Falls' finest streets, then down Broadway, up Maple, down Walnut. We rode on seventeen of the principal streets of the city and enjoyed gazing at the good substantial business houses - dry goods houses such as Kendall's, Deuseth's, Strickland's, Evans and Kemper's; grocery stores such as Lord's, Legler's, Evans, Law's and Dornblazer's; hardware stores as Doolittle's, Beland's, Smith's, Paden and Eberts; reliable banks, excellent hotels, railroad advantages; a large and handsome post office, fine school building, many beautiful churches and responsible newspapers, the New Era and Register.

"I tell you, Mr. Editor, I think if I was a few years younger, I should move to Valley Falls, for it certainly is a beautiful place to live."

The society museum will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 21. Admission is free.

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