Holt County, Missouri

Lewis Township History

In the fall of 1841, Daniel Zook, Sr., emigrated from Ohio, and settled in Holt County, in the neighborhood of what was afterwards the town of Oregon. He brought with him a portion of a stock of merchandise, and, though not regularly engaged in the business, is said to have sold a few goods during that fall. In the following winter he went back to Ohio, and in the spring of 1842, returned with his family, which included his son, William Zook, who afterwards became a well-known banker of St. Joseph, Missouri, where he died in the spring of 1876; John Zook, who died in the spring of 1843, in Oregon; Sarah A. Zook, afterwards the wife of W. Hill, of Holt County; Daniel Zook, Jr., now (1882) a leading member of the Holt County bar, and Thomas, his twin brother, who died young; Levi Zook, a capitalist of Oregon.

Daniel Zook, Sr., and his son William, built in Oregon, the first house in the place. This was on a lot on Missouri Street, on the south side of the court house, and was purchased at the sale above mentioned. In this house they opened in June, 1842, the first stock of goods ever offered for sale in the town of Oregon. In the fall of the same year, Daniel Zook, Sr., died. On the occasion of his death, the county court located the present cemetery at the southeast corner of the town site, and the body of Daniel Zook, Sr., the pioneer merchant of the infant town of Oregon, was the first to rest beneath the sod of its virgin soil.

William Zook, on the death of his father, continued to sell goods in Oregon, till 1856. He was, however, engaged in business in Forest City, and elsewhere in the county, up to the period of his death. He was also prominently identified with the pork packing interests of Forest City and St. Joseph, and assisted in organizing the First National Bank, of St. Joseph, and afterwards the Colhoun Bank in that city. Of both these institutions he was the first president. An eminently successful business man, he was also recognized as a liberal and public spirited citizen.

The second store started in the town of Oregon was opened by McLaughlin & Robidoux, in October, 1842. P. L. McLaughlin, the senior member of the firm and manager of the business, afterwards became a wealthy merchant and representative citizen of St. Joseph, Missouri, where he died, late in life. Jule Robidoux, the other member of the firm, was a son of the founder of St. Joseph.

Edward Poor, in partnership with a man by the name of Ross, started, in the fall of the same year, the first blacksmith shop in the place.

The first hotel in the town was built by Richard Linville, in the summer of 1842. This, though the second raised in the town, was not the second house completed. It was a log house, with four rooms below, and a hall running through the center. Above this were two rooms. This, in that day and locality, important structure stood on the northwest by north outside corner of the public square, the site of the present spa cious three story brick block, in which are the business houses of Ira Peter and of D. Martin, the Masonic Hall, etc.

It appears that the Honorable County Court, of Holt County, assembled for the first time in the county seat, at their August term, 1842, on the eighth day of said month. The court house, however, not being completed, the unfinished bar room of Linville's Hotel was made to subserve the purpose of a court room. The building indeed was covered with a roof, but otherwise it presented the appearance of a vast pen. The interstices between the logs were neither chinked nor pointed. As yet, no floor had been laid; the aperture for a window contained no sash, and the doorway was unprovided with a door. This extemporized hall of justice, however, presented the redeeming feature of coolness, for its ventilation was unstinted. The assembled court assumed no airs of undue importance, and the luxuries and superfluities of chairs and tables were dispensed with, while the judicial wisdom of Holt County seated itself astride the sleepers of the building on which a floor was, some day, intended to be laid ; and those who waited on its august decrees either stood or seated themselves on chunks of timber lying conveniently around. This picture of Spartan simplicity and lofty indifference to surrounding circumstances, was described to the writer by a representative citizen of the town of Oregon, who, then a small boy, and wonderfully impressed with a sense of respect for the dignity of a court which, in his infant mind, was associated with the idea of authority to hang or otherwise punish people, could not restrain an expression of amazement and disgust at the astounding difference between the imaginary and actual court.

The first saloon in Oregon was started by Ross, the pioneer blacksmith, in the fall of 1842. His stand was on the north side of Nodaway Street, one block west of the court house square, where it remained for several succeeding years.

The third store established in the town was moved, in the fall of 1842, by Mcintosh & Banks, from a trading post at Iowa Point Landing, Missouri, about four or five miles southwest of Oregon. This completed the mercantile business of the first year of the existence of the county seat.

Source: The History of Holt and Atchison Counties, Missouri; 1882

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