Morenci History III
Businesses to 1900
Early settlements became large settlements for various reasons. Some clustered together for protection, some grew around a crossing of highways or rivers and some, like Topsy, just grew. All however, found it necessary to have money for investing in enterprises, artisans ofall kinds, and faith and vision. Morenci enterprises also grew from avery small beginning to a variety of businesses.
In 1836 Franklin Cawley purchased the pioneer Baker sawmill on Bean Creek about one anda half miles north of the site of Morenci.
In the spring of1836, Jeptha Whitman built a log building near the west end of the present day Baker Street and opened a store. He sold articles in drygoods, hardware, grocery, drug and saloon lines. In about 1841 DavidHaight opened a second store.
At the time, both Canandaigua and Medina seemed destined to become the metropolises of the area. In 1846 Valorous R. Paine wrote to his mother in Connecticut:
“But to begin I am located on the old Territorial Road from the head of Lake Erie to the head of Lake Michigan about 36 miles west of Toledo, 1-1/2miles east of Tiffins River or Bean Creek so called. We have a small village in embryo on the creek; it is one mile from the west line of my farm to the east line of the village lot. We have there a steam sawmillsome mechanics have recently come in and built, 1-1/2 miles we have a good water power sawmill, clothing works and carding machine. In short,all that we want to make our place a prominent one is a good flouringmill.”
Franklin Cawley bought the land on which Morenci principally stood. It is reputed that he, Dennis Wakefield and GeorgeW. Wilson built the sawmill, and later a grist mill, and opened a store. By 1852 there were four stores in Morenci—Mr. Haight’s, AsaKennedy’s, Moses Worth’s and the Company Store. The early store had disappeared due to Mr. Whitman’s death.
In the fall of 1852 Silas Scofield arrived and built a building with steam power and began tomanufacture furniture. Pegg & Swindle built a tannery on the northwest corner of Mill Street and West Main. By 1885 John Crabbs had a tailor shop, David Blair a blacksmith shop and Mrs. Dawson amillinery shop. Slowly the artisans and merchants began to arrive in Morenci.
1857 showed the following businesses:
Zimmer &Patten, groceries and dry goods; John Crabbs, tailor shop; Flavel N.Butler, drugs and groceries; Dr. J. Tripp, physician; White’s, wagonshop; Dr. P.F. Taylor, physician; Silas Scofield, cabinet shop andstore; John Allen, jewelry store; Headquarters Store, general merchandise; Pegg & Swindle, tannery; G.W. Wilson, grist and sawmill; David Andrews, machine shop; Dr. James Sweeney, physician.
More money from the East, principally Rhode Island, continued to be invested in Morenci. A woolen mill was constructed in 1866, opening on New Year’s Day 1867. The workers lived in the boarding house across the street. The mill met with financial difficulties in the Panic of 1873and was re-structured for use as a flouring mill. It was torn down to make space for a Parker parking lot.
By the time the Centennial of these United States arrived, the Centennial Memorial booklet of July4, 1876 listed many businesses; among them were the following:
Acker & Sons, general merchandise; J. Allen, jeweler and American Expressagent; A.E. Allen, publisher; G. Henry Baker, furniture dealer andmanufacturer; T.S. Baker, attorney at law; Leander Baker, machineshops; Allen Beach, druggist; D.M. Blair, carriage manufacturer; Mrs.D.A. Baylor, millinery;
Matthew Bennett, agent for the Howe Machine; Canada Southern Railway; J.H. Capp, meat market; W.L.Chappell, foundry; W.L. Church, groceries, books and stationery; EdwardClark, brick manufacturer; W.W. Cone, agent for Singer sewing machine; James F. Clark, brick machines; H.S. Cole, druggist;
John Crabbs, tailor; J.C. Crabbs, variety works; E.G.Day, tailor; Mrs. L.C. Fleming, millinery; M.F. Fuller, dry goods; Arthur Fuller, harness manufacturer; G.H. Gates & Co., gent’sfurnishing goods; H.E. Green & Co., hardware; W.R. Gates, graindealer; Dr. W.C. Hayes, dentist; Houseman & Rowley, dealers in lumber; Henion Bros., blacksmith; C.S. Ingals, attorney; N.R. Jones,blacksmith and wagon maker; Kingman & Co., groceries, crockery,etc.;
Kirkman & Acker, harness and auction room; W.H.Kelley, barber; Mrs. James Killin, millinery; Mrs. Keith, millinery;G.W. Kuney, saloon and billiards; Mrs. Helena Losey, dressmaker; C.L.Luce, general merchandise; J.H. Markman, jeweler; Morenci Mills; G.L.Mace, Morenci Livery; I.D. Packer, livery; F.A. Partridge, barber shop;
Pooler & Thorp, lumber; Richard Richards, boots and shoes; M.D. Richardson & Co., general merchandise and produce; RobertRock, photographer; Mrs. F.A. Rowley, hair goods; C.H. Rowley, schoolbooks and stationery; Saulsbury Bros., hardware merchants; W. Shephard, baker and confections; Robert Simpson, harness maker;
Freeman Smalley, carpenter; A.T. Smith & Bro., groceries, boots, shoes andnotions; P.T. Southworth, saloon and billiards; W.G. Stevenson,dentist; Terpening, saloon and billiard hall; G.P. Van Alstine,watchmaker and jewelry; C.C. Wakefield & Co., bankers; C.M. Weaver,attorney; J.F. Welch, attorney; Daniel Williams, carpenter; Phillip Zimmer, general produce; Doctors (physicians): Samuel Stevenson, C.W.Stocum, H.S. Wyman, C.T. Bennett.
A.T. Smith is well remembered for his advertising plaques around the countryside, one of which read: “Do your trading at A.T. Smith’s, Don’t pick the codfish.”
Morenci continued to grow. An Observer of 1896 brings new names in addition to some of the older ones:
W.W.Crabbs, drygoods; E.B. Butler & Co., men and boys clothing, boots,shoes; P. Coddington, bicycles; Chas. McDuffee, novelty store; G.M.Keyes, shoes; C.C. Wakefield & Co., bank; Bank of Morenci; S.S.Beatty & Sons; J.H. Turner, roofing; Morenci Roller Mill; M.A.Bell, bicycles, jeweler; Wilson & Lee, paper and paint; F.E.Benjamin, West End Grocery; L.S. & M.S. Railway; Smith &Willis, groceries; H.D. Pegg, druggist; S. Humphrey, clothing and drygoods; S.A.Scofield & Son, furniture and undertaking; H.E. Green, hardware; Doctors: Older and Blair; W.G. Stevenson, dentist; Wabash Line; HenryPerry, veterinary; C.S. Ingals, Lawyer; G.W. Gust, notary located at Rorick Hardware.
Indeed there were many businesses, some of which did not advertise in the newspaper.
Atone time there were six shoe cobblers: M.L. Davis, Wm. Parker, Charles,Chase, Richard Richards, Chas. O’Neil, Ovid Pair. Flavel Butler had adrug store, Daniel Mowry had merchandise, Ezra Tunison had drygoods,P.T. Southworth had a bakery. Among the blacksmiths were Henry Hauseand James Blair (later the county surveyor). Others were:
MatthewBerry, carpenter; Cyrus Baldwin, drayman; Mr. Dewey, photographer; J.O.Converse, photographer; B.F. Horton, carpenter; T.F. Drake, carriagemanufacturer; C.H. Rowley and Jacob Wolf, cabinet makers; Wm. Jibb,blacksmith; James Pratt, cooper; John Sharr, mason.
John Sharr taught his sons the mason trade, and when he died his sons built a brick vault at the cemetery to enclose the casket.
In1900, at the turn of the century, when the Observer published its Morenci in Rhyme, an advertising booklet, there were these businesses:
W.W.Crabbs, drygoods; P. Coddington, bicycles and farm implements; D.S.Williams, lumber and coal; G.W. Gust, hardware; Harry Allen, jewelryand musical goods; Aretus Homes, livery; Geo. M. Keyes, boots andshoes; Roscoe Wilson, druggist and grocer; Rorick and Son, meat market;Saulsbury Hotel, Elmer Acker, prop.; M.A. Bell, jeweler and optician;Beatty & Scott, drygoods; Hause and Blair, blacksmiths; HughMiller, flour and feed; O.D. Osgood, cider, flour and feed mill; Geo.Oldfield, candy kitchen; Scofield & Son, furniture; Rorick and Son,harness goods; S. Humphrey, clothing, boots and shoes; Butler andGates, clothing, boots and shoes; Porter and Son, draying, wood andice; Wakefield State Bank; Metcalf & Butler, groceries; F.E.Benjamin, groceries and provisions; Mrs. N.R. Brown, millinery; M.E.Saulsbury, harness goods; F.W. Granger, blacksmith shop; Dan Goodyear,variety works (machinist and repairs); Cottrell & Seeley, The Fair (merchandise); C.S. Saulsbury, farm implements.
These are only a few of the many businesses that came and went in Morenci during a long period of time.
Business from 1900
Atthe turn of the century, Morenci was a busy and prosperous town with avariety of professions, businesses and trades. One prominent characteristic of any early store was the fact that the merchandise orwares offered consisted principally of a single line of products.
Meatmarkets or butcher shops (Murfitt & Rorick) as they were sometimes called were noted for their fresh meats. A fruit store (Hodge) furnishing a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables was a welcomeretailer on Main Street.
During the first 30 years of the 1900smillinery shops (Killin, Price) were as important as the clothingstores. No woman was considered properly dressed without a hat. Thesecreations were made by hand with some styles being plain andserviceable and others fancy and elaborate.
For many yearsMorenci had its book store (Crittenden, Collins) which was exceedingly busy on the opening days of each school year. Such a store sold all ofthe text books used in the schools while today the books are furnishedby the school district.
One cannot dwell long on businesses in Morenci without mention of the shoe cobbler trade. Our former historianand Morenci Observer columnist, the late Maude Chase often wrote about the career of her father Chas. Chase as a shoe cobbler. He not onlyprovided shoe repair service but in the early days of his career, madethe entire leather footwear for purchase. We are still fortunate to have a shoe repair shop operated by Leslie Brink.
One ratherunique store, for a town of our size, was a shoe shine shop operated by Tom Davis for many years. One could also have hats cleaned and blockedin a masterful fashion, Later Mr. Davis added newspapers and magazines.
Wehave always been able to take pride in our quality grocers that primarily offered the necessary household staples in the early yearsand later became a combination of meats and groceries. The names of Reppert, Scott, Smith & Smith, Spencer, McCurdy, Emerson and Slagleare among such retailers. Two chain grocery stores once occupied buildings on our Main Street under the names of Kroger and Atlantic& Pacific Tea Co. (A&P). The latter went out of business in1975.
For the most part of our community existence, we have had prospering jewelry stores (Bell, Stephenson, Allen). Allen Jewelry wasestablished in 1853 by John Allen. His son, Harry E., continued thebusiness for many years. Harry’s daughter, Mary Jane Allen Weber, is the current owner. This family has operated the business for 123 yearsand has claim to being the oldest jewelry and watch repair store inMichigan.
Morenci has had well-stocked clothing stores (Butler,Gates, VanDam); drug stores (Wilson, Lee, Ranger, Burns, Dersham, Meech, and others); hardware stores (LaRowe, Gust, Cassidy, DeMeritt, Decker); dry goods stores (Crabb, Littleton, LaNew) and there was also the Fair Store (Cottrell) where Christmas toys could be purchased.
Inthe early 1900s Main Street could boast of a Candy Kitchen (Oldfield,King) and a Confectionery Store (Kast, Schoonover, Onweller). Harnessshops (Hanna, Rorick, Whitney, Nuoffer) were most essential in thepre-automotive days. Carriage makers (Blair & Drake) were among thetrade merchants as well as the much needed blacksmiths (Stetten,Granger, Sonnanstine, Donnelly, Porter). There have always been well-known restaurants (Reppert, Taubitz, Siegfried, Red Apple, Stub’s,Home Style).
Many of the retail stores were often multiple in number and adjacent in locations during their operations; yet were prosperous and their tireless proprietors were loyal supporters of our community life.
In the early 1920s Morenci could boast of two furniture stores— Ackland and Stockwell. In addition to being retailers, their owners normally provided the service of undertakers with funeral services held in the home or church. The modern funeral home of today has a licensed mortician known as a funeral director.
Atone time there were two prosperous lumber yards in Morenci. Porter Lumber Co. has been in the same location for many decades and is nowour only remaining dealer in lumber and building materials.
Clineand Awkerman operated a lumber business for many years that was located on the west side of North Street just south of the “Old Dolly” railroad tracks. It was last owned by Clyde Dailey. In the early years when coalwas used almost entirely for heating and cooking, the lumber yards werethe principal suppliers.
The poultry and egg business has thrived in our past (Rice & Bowles, Neilinger, Woodward). Such productsobtained from our area were trucked as far away as Allentown, Pa.George Anderson operated the State Line Creamery in the building still standing near the bridge on W. Main St. Butter and cottage cheese were produced here from the milk acquired from our area farms.
Mr. LeRoy Sutton ran a green house for many years north of town.
Thiswas the only one for a number of years. Later, on Baker Street a flowershop was operated by Riffners and Carl Tittle. During the 1930s, Charles Bradley ran a flower shop at his residence on W. Main St., purchasing flowers from a commercial supplier. In the 1940s Doyle andMary Bell ran a flower chop on Orchard St.
Morenci had several people engaged in the hatchery business for many years. Some of themwere Glen Sowle, George Spangler and S.E. Rupp. Mr. Rupp’s Main Street hatchery was later known as the Morenci Hatchery and operated and ownedby Merlin Henry. With the changing of the times there is no demand for small hatcheries today. Mr. Rupp also operated a fox farm east of townwhere he had his chick hatchery earlier.
Implement dealers(Coddington, Spencer, B. Fauver, Saulsbury and Fay) were a necessity and sold the tools for farming as it was done in the early part of this century.
The ice man (VanArsdalen, Mitchell) made his deliveries to the store and homeowners with the neighborhood children always waiting for his arrival on a hot summer day.
What about those good old days when our area people visited the Osgood Mill on North St.(now Rendel Oil), to buy a jug of cider in the fall. This mill was in operation for many years in the hands of the Osgood family where the area farmers had their annual feed prepared with service and joviality.
Morencialways had the various service businesses that were greatly needed.There were livery stables (Reppert, Fauver, Green) where one could hirea rig, have a horse and buggy taken care of if necessary or even acquire passenger service to the train depots in the area.
Barbershops were multiple in number with the barbers performing a variety of tonsorial services and it was common for most men to go to the barbershop to be shaved. In the late 1920s, women became intrigued with the new hair fashion of marcels and permanent waves and soon departed fromtheir personal care of long hair with many pins. Today we have severalfine and capable hairdressers operating as licensed businesses known asBeauty Salons.
We have had our local photograph studios (Tremear, Rock, Leonard), Billiard-Pool Parlors (Winslow, Dangler, Pike) and draying or cartage services by Baldwin.
With vast changes in farming as we know it today, the once known wool buyers, livestock and horse dealers (Camburn & Walker, Colegrove & Rorick, Meister)have all disappeared. There have been many excellent tradesmen in masonry, carpentry, paperhanging, painting, plumbing and electricians (Marcellus, Smith, Handy, Ritter, Williams, Sharr, Baker, Allen, Rockand Reynolds and Morningstar).
The family doctors that made their calls in the homes of the sick (Bailey, Blair, Vaughan, Older, Peters,Raabe, Blanchard) all were valued citizens of our community. We hold in high esteem our local physicians that serve us today.
In the field of veterinary medicine there is recorded the names of Gerlach and Rozine with Dr. Sutton who is now retired. The legal profession recalls the past services of Cornelius, Hart, Kuney and Williamson (could besome others). The dentists who served our community were Pilkinton, Munro, Agnew and Adgate.
Tailoring services, hat cleaning and clothes pressing were once available, but are no longer practiced in Morenci.
With the advent of electricity, Morenci eventually had its electric power proprietorship. The first electric lighting observed in Morenci camethrough the efforts of S.A. Scofield when he constructed his ownpersonal generating unit, but it was not for general use. The first electric power service locally owned was under the name of “Luetke” who constructed a power distributing plant located in back of the N.Y.C.Depot. Electricity was contracted for from Toledo & Western R.R. then operating in Morenci. Later the Citizens Light & Power Co.purchased the interest and now operates the utility as we know it today.
Our telephone utility service has operated from the very first phone underthe name of Morenci Home Telephone Co. We too have gone from the day ofthe wall crank phone to the modern equipment and facilities.
Many changes began to transpire with the horseless carriage era. Automobile dealerships began to spring into existence and along with them came the gasoline stations, garage mechanics, tire repair shops and of course the unavoidable auto body repair shops.
This new transportation mode brought about the disappearance of our blacksmiths, harness shops, carriage makers and livery stables. Many of our readers will remember the early automobiles such as Whippets, Hupmobile, Essex, Maxwell, Studebaker and others along with the continued makes by Ford, GeneralMotors, Chrysler and American Motors.
Among the early entrants in the auto dealerships in Morenci were Hill, Green, Freed, Swaney andHunt, followed by O’Donnell, Tidwell, Yoder, Gibson and File. The automobile brought a new concept of marketing.
Hundreds of new products came into being, the goods were marketed through alreadyestablished retail stores, thus the beginning of our local stores offering a multiple line of goods. As further improvements were realized, the development of new goods along with the capacity to produce, larger sales outlets became prominent. The larger cities began to attract the trade from the smaller communities thus closing out a number of our smaller retailers.
We continue to be fortunate inhaving a variety of excellent retail stores, business services and professional people attending to our needs.
The history of banking in Morenci begins with the loaning of money by individuals, most of whom were pioneer business entrepreneurs. Among them were members of the Wakefield family.
Mr. Charles C.Wakefield, son of Dennis Wakefield, first engage in the mercantile business in Pioneer, Ohio. In 1868 he returned to Morenci and purchased a plot of ground on the south side of West Main Street. Here he erected a brick building (now owned by Michael Van Dam) and opened a private banking concern to the general public. In 1869 the bank was re-organized formally as C.C. Wakefield and Company.
This bank operated as a private banking institution until 1898 when it was reorganized under State law of that time as the Wakefield State Bank of Morenci. In 1916 the bank purchased the land and building occupied by Rorick Hardware, tore down the hardware building, and erected a new bank building. The building was opened to the public Feb. 17, 1917.
The beginnings of the Bank of Morenci are indefinite. Colonel E.L. Barber of Wauseon, Ohio was the promoter. In 1892 land was purchased for the erection of a building to house the bank and the market already located there. The market continued to operate while construction was in progress by moving the building forward onto the sidewalk.
After completion of the building, the market was moved back into the new building and today is operated under the name Knoblauch’s Market. The bank, with H.E. Green as president, occupied the rooms used by Smith’s Newsstand.
In 1900 The First National Bank of Morenci was organized as the successor to The Bank of Morenci. It continued too ccupy the Bank of Morenci site with Elias B. Rorick as president.
In1927 negotiations began for the consolidation of the First National Bank and the Wakefield State Bank. In August 1927 organization of The First State Savings Bank of Morenci as the successor to the former First National Bank and the Wakefield State Bank was completed.
The new bank began its operations in the bank building of the Wakefield State Bank since this was the larger and newer of the two buildings.
Thebank continued to prosper and do well in the community under the name First State Savings Bank. As the years went by mergers of banks to make much larger institutions became popular and the First State Savings Bank was no exception.
On Dec. 31, 1956 a merger of the First State Savings Bank and the Lenawee County Savings Bank of Adrian was accomplished. The Morenci bank became known as the Morenci office ofthe Bank of Lenawee County. Today it remains as the only banking institution in Morenci.
Winterin earlier times meant ice skating on Bean Creek if it was frozen. If not, you could skate at Cammy Young’s bayou. A later generation skated on Dead Man’s bayou. Today skating is provided by flooding a rink atWakefield Park.
Sleighing and coasting parties were prominent in a day when snow removal from the highway was unheard of.
Rollerskating was also popular. The first roller skating rink in Morenci wasbuilt by Horace Snow in 1883 on the site of the present North Tavern.The rink was later moved to the north side of the alley north of theI.O.O.F. Temple. The building still stands today.
Elvin Metcalfbuilt a cement block building on West Main Street (part of PorterLumber Company today), which housed a skating rink on its main floor. Spectators sat on benches built against the wall while the skaters circled the center to the strains of music from an electric organ.
The first circus to come to Morenci was Van Amburgh’s in 1863. The tents were erected on a portion of the Cawley farm on the southeast corner ofCoomer Street and North Street. It is said that approximately 4,000 people attended the circus.
Other circuses put their tents onStephenson Park and later on the Roty Blanchard pasture (the site ofthe present day elementary school). The early circuses traveled the highways to reach their destination, but after the advent of the railroad the circus reached Morenci by train.
When the circus train came in the towns people got up at four o’clock in the morning to sit on the hillside and watch them unload. Morenci’s own circus people were the VanZandt Brothers (Babcock) and Mrs. Anse VanZandt (MillieMarette) who traveled all summer and wintered here.
Dancing was popular at all times. The ballroom of the old Exchange Hotel was afavorite place and the dancing continued until early morning. It issaid so many tickets were sold for the dance in the Exchange on July 4,1865 that some people never got on the dance floor.
The BuckhornTavern west of town held dances as did the hotel at Canandaigua. TheCanandaigua Hotel was reputed to have a spring floor in its ballroom.
Inthe 1890s masquerade balls with a supper were popular. The dances wereheld in Crabb & Rorick’s Hall (the present Masonic Temple) and the supper at Hotel Saulsbury. They were sponsored by different organizations such as the Royal Hamlin Camp of the Sons of Veterans.The ticket price was $1.50, and a costumer was on hand if you had no costume of your own.
Music for these events was provided byHunt’s Full Orchestra of Adrian, Fayette Quadrille Orchestra and the Morenci Quadrille Orchestra.
Later the I.O.O.F. Temple was the scene of many dances. The late Oscar Anderson often told of escorting a young woman to a dance at the Temple, meeting another young woman thereand taking the latter woman home after the dance while leaving the first one to get home by herself. The second young woman later becamehis wife.
In 1872 and 1873 the Morenci Fairs were held on the Jonathan Salsbury farm north of town. The display booths and Clarkson Warne’s Merry-go-round were held in the oak grove which is now occupied by Oak Grove Cemetery.
The race track was directly across the road to the east. From there the Fair Association moved toland on Gorham Street (the George Shaffer home) where buildings and a race track were built. The Association disbanded in 1893.
Traveling shows and local talent shows were usually held in the ballroom of theExchange Hotel. Some of the shows were Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Ten Nights ina Bar Room and Cricket on the Hearth.
Famous locally and in northern Ohio and Indiana were the Ginnivan Tent Shows. Norma Ginnivan stored tents and equipment in Fayette, Ohio and some of the players lived there. The melodramas were heart-rending.
A band concert on the street was given preceding the show. since the show troupe was small, local musicians assisted in the band concert.
After the new City Hall was erected in 1885 shows were given in its upstairs auditorium. This auditorium served as the gymnasium for boys and girls high school basketball games in the 1920s.
Stair Auditorium opened in 1908. A variety of dramas, musicals, lectures and high school operettas were performed there. Some of the dramas were presented by traveling show troupes. Others were presented by local talent such as Isle of Spice and Pinafore.
Negro minstrel shows were popular. The early musical plays such as Queen Esther were given in the Methodist Church auditorium (in the early church).
There was considerable musical talent in the area so there were bands and orchestras from early times. One of these was the Imperial Band. There were also Tommy O’Neil, a banjo player; a number of brass players andlater Ward’s Concert Orchestra.
Harry E. Allen directed an orchestra and the Allen Brothers of Seneca had a dance orchestra which played as far away as Wyandotte.
When the moving picture became popular Morenci had its local electric theater. This wasfollowed by the Gem in 1916 (the present day Rex) and later the Temple (Princess) in the building now occupied by the North Tavern.
Baseballwas a popular sport for many years. Morenci had a number of teams, one of them being known as the “Halcyon.” Others carried no name except Morenci Baseball Club. Two of the later coaches were Milan Powers andDeCorsey Humbert.
Today baseball is still played by Little League organizations and softball teams.
Football was strictly a high school team performance starting in the 1920s.
Inthe 1890s bicycling was a favorite sport. Many bicycle clubs were formed for both men and women. They traveled in groups to other townsand just around the countryside.
A swimming pool in Wakefield Park was another short-lived project.
In its earliest day Morenci had no village square as did most other towns of the locality. In the 1870s Andrew Stephenson gave the land to the village for a park at the south end of town. This park resembled the village square of towns in the eastern United States. It was known by both South Park and Stephenson Park.
The Stephenson Park gift carried a restriction that it must always be used as a park and couldnot be sold or used for any other purpose by the village.
The next park procured by the village was Riverside. This land was purchased from Stephen Tuggle in order to add to the Oak GroveCemetery. The portion not suitable for burial sites was used as a park.
In the 1920s the businessmen of Morenci donated time, labor and money to make it a useful park. Electric lights were installed, drives were made, wells dug, benches and tables provided, a baseball diamondlaid out, the creek was dammed to provide a swimming hole, a bath housewas built and one concession stand was erected. The park became a most popular place for the surrounding area.
In 1929 the Boy Scouts built a cabin there and dedicated it. This was used by both the Boy Scouts and the Camp Fire Girls.
After the village was given the land for Wakefield Park, Riverside Park was allowed to deteriorate, vandals took over and the Boy Scout cabin was burned. However, in 1974 the Morenci Garden Club arranged with the City to make it into a nature study area so once more Riverside is in use.
In1936 after the death of Mrs. C.C. Wakefield the pasture owned by the Wakefield family on the west side of town was given to the village for use as a park. Incidentally, the pasture contained three Kentucky coffee trees, which are rare in this locality. This park also carried a restricting clause as to its use on Sabbath Day.
The City has since added to this park by purchase of land to the north and today itcontains baseball fields, a skating rink and picnic shelters. At onetime the high school football games were played there. For a town thesize of Morenci we are fortunate to have these “bits of green” within our city limits.
One could add countless incidents of recreation to the list, among them being the excursions on the railroad to GrosseIsle, the Sunday school picnics sponsored by the churches and the Chatauqua in later years.
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