P.A. Olson, the editor of the 1940 Story City Herald Anniversary Book, asked several people to write articles about their memories of Story City in the old days. In these articles, the contributors wrote about Story City between 1870-1900. One of my favorite articles was written by Fred Barkhurst and tells of his first impression of Story City.
Barkhurst first arrived in Story City on May 23, 1892, on the Des Moines-Sioux City passenger train on the Chicago & Northwestern railway. He was traveling with his brother-in-law W.A. Kelley and their purpose for visiting Story City was to inquire about purchasing the newspaper. Barkhurst’s hometown was Altoona, whose population at the time was 326. Des Moines, the only other town with which he was familiar, had a population of 35,000. By comparison, Story City’s population in 1890 was 536 and by the 1900 census had more than doubled to 1,197.
During their journey north, the train had stopped in Polk City and Ames, neither of which Barkhurst was enthusiastic about. Being only familiar with Altoona and Des Moines, when Barkhurst arrived in Story City, he was excited to see what this town had to offer. He was surprised to learn that Story City had a drayline and two hotels. “A drayline and two hotels – Story City must be some town! You see, Altoona hadn’t any drayline–the hotel boy lugged the luggage to and fro–and only one stopping place for man and beast. I realized that I had come to a metropolis.”
Barkhurst and Kelley had lunch at the Allen House, one of the two hotels. Later that day Kelley bought the Herald newspaper and according to Barkhurst, “I am sure my brother-in-law never regretted having been the fortunate purchaser of the property. It was the means of our becoming residents of what truly was, has been, and always remains a good town.”
Barkhurst goes on in his article to describe the various businesses in Story City at the time. “There were two banks, with T.T. Henryson heading one a John Swan the president of the other. E.L. Ericson operated a lumberyard. Boyd and Henderson had the hardware store–a big one, too. S.R. Corneliussen & Company owned the large general merchandise store, Halleland & Hill had a stock of dry goods, Henryson & Jensen owned an exclusive shoe store, and the Donhowe Bros. handled clothing. A.N. Torp was the photographer, and because housing was hard to get, we found temporary residence in an apartment in the second story of his studio –our newspaper office being next door. T.J. Moses had a meat market. D.A. Darrow had a general store too, and W.D. Gandrup was the druggist –assisted in his pharmacy by his three sons, William, Amiel, and Arthur. Dr. C.W. Allen was a physician, and there was a Dr. Haetlesaetter too. E.W. Harrington was Northwestern agent, and John Egenes directed affairs at the Iowa Central depot. J.A. Wellington was principal of the schools, his wife being also on the teaching staff. If I am not mistaken, there were three other teachers. I look now at the list of names making up the faculty of the Story City public school system and wonder if I am dreaming! No, I was right in the old days –Story City is a good town!”