Hotel Commercial II
The Times-Tribune-- Sept. 29, 1982
By Bill Gladstone


I hope that you history and nostalgia buffs find this segment of HWM as interesting to read as it has been to prepare. It is a combination of a picture and an article in a newspaper, and it all takes us back just a little over 100 years in Worth County.
The picture is of the Hotel Commercial which had been built in Denver sometime prior to 1881. A notation with the picture says it was taken in 1910 and that the proprietors shown were Dave and Hat Williams. The notation on a picture of the same hotel, taken at a much earlier date, says that the hotel stood on the corner where the old post office building now stands.
On the back of the postcard from which the larger picture was made is a notation signed by a Betty Williams which says, "Stood on corner where Eaton's now live."
If the hotel was standing in 1910, there should be someone around who can remember exactly where the Hotel Commercial stood. If someone could supply us with some additional information about the hotel, we would love to have it to file with the pictures.
And now for the newspaper article which is related to the article. When I went through the Worth County Historical Society trunk last winter I found a reproduction of the Oct. 7, 1881, Mineral Springs Chronicle. It was a newspaper published in Allendale, and the editor was W.H. Conn. The paper is Volume I, Number 9, so it was probably first published in 1881.
Railroad fever was sweeping the eastern part of the county at that time, and the article I chose to quote is about the railroad and has reference to the Hotel Commercial. To me, the manner in which the editor uses words is fascinating.
"RAILROAD PICNIC"
"In company with the Rev. Wm. Knox, our boss wagon maker and a knight of the anvil, we wended our way to Denver last Saturday to attend the railroad picnic.
"Notwithstanding the strong indications of rain in the morning, when we arrived in Denver we found quite, a large number of people, thinking, dreaming and talking of nothing but the long looked for and long longed for railroad. No use of its attempting to rain that day for the railroad fever was too high to admit any moisture in that section.
It was amusing to see with what enthusiasm they greeted the first "Carr" that entered the town from Allendale. (Since this article was written before the time of cars as we think of them, the writer must have been referring to the railroad cars. WGG)
"We brought up at the 'Commercial Hotel' where we were greeted by that portly and genial landlord, Samp Bardmass; after taking a general view of the Commercial, its large, commodious room, the fine furniture, etc., we were invited into the dining room where we partook of as fine a repast as it has ever been out lot to sit down to, in this country.
"Samp never does things by halves, and is running his hotel on the plan that just suits the traveling public and when the iron horse of the D.M. & K.C. R.R. comes down through the valley of the east fork of Grandriver, he will find he has made a good investment, and reap a rich reward for all of his labor.
We then repaired to the picnic ground where we listened to several stirring railroad speeches from John Schooler, Rev. Ismond, Jesse Benson, E. Miller, A.D. Austin, Wm. Knox and others, all showing clearly that the D.M. & K.C. road was just what was needed to make this country second to none west of the Mississippi.
"The exercises were enlivened by some beautiful soul stirring music by the Grant City Brass Band. Those boys deserve a word of commendation from every lover of music in the county. When we consider the time they have been practicing and the difficulties they have been laboring under, it is evident that they possess a talent which if continued to be cultivated, will soon place them among the first bands of the country. While listening to them we thought there was only one thing that could make us happier, and that was that we might see the railroad as a reality and hear the voice of the conductor shouting all aboard for Allendale.
"After the exercises closed a meeting was appointed for Lott's Grove, Thursday, Oct. 13 at early candle lighting. The crowd then dispersed, all feeling happy and confident of soon seeing the railroad."
I have already found on doing this HWM that I sometimes turn up with more questions than I do answers. For example, in the Worth County Centennial Book, on page 45, it states that the railroad came to Grant City in 1882. Yet in the Mineral Springs Chronicle I quoted from above, there is a small C.B. & Q. timetable giving the arrival and departure times for both passenger and freight trains running from Grant City to Chariton, Iowa. That would lead one to the conclusion that the railroad came into Grant City before 1882. Oh well, just something more that is interesting to research.
Just below the railroad schedule is a schedule for two "Hack Lines" which operated out of Allendale. One operated out of Allendale. One operated between Allendale and Albany and was operated by a Chas. Owens. The other operated between Allendale and Grant City and was operated by a Chas. Swartwood.
The trip to Albany was scheduled to leave Allendale at 6 A.M. and to arrive in Albany at noon. The trip back to Allendale left Albany at 2 P.M. and arrived in Allendale at 6 P.M. That must have been where they get the saying: "Take your time going but hurry back."
The Allendale to Grant City run took an hour and one-half each way.
The three segments for October are all related, but there won't be much written material. I hope you are finding these as interesting to read as I find them interesting to put together.