Doon Businesses
The Gay Nineties To 1992

by Galen Lawrence

It would be difficult for the writer and dull to the reader to trace the businesses of Doon through all of its 100 years of incorporated existence. However, the Gay Nineties year of 1894, and the present would make an interesting comparison. Each had its own particular set of businesses, which grew out of the needs of the times in which they flourished.

One business of Doon appears in the listings of both these years, and is therefore the town's oldest continuous enterprise. W. D. Schoeneman and Sons became the successors of J. H. Queal and Co. in the summer of 1894. The Doon firm was part of a chain of lumber concerns in Iowa and South Dakota, and was managed locally by W. N. Meier. H. J. Drier managed the business for almost 50 years. Another flourishing business lumber company at this time was the Holmes-Bently Lumber Company. It was responsible for building many of the homes in Doon at this time, and also many of the farms in the area. This was one of the four yards they had in operation in this part of the state. The company was a strong concern and was run by active, enterpising and experienced young men.

Gillen Bros. and Hoff was one of Doon's first drug stores. It was managed by J. A. Hoff, a competent pharmacist and J.A. Masters managed the jewelry department. The firm has changed hands and names many times. A second drug store was managed by Dr. L.C. Gurney. It was the town's first drug store and Dr. Gurney was the first doctor in Doon. He had given up his medical practice, however, and chose to be a pharmacist and pension examiner while in Doon. The oldest practicing physician was C.W. Gillin who came to the city in 1890. Still a third doctor here in 1894 was Dr. H.J. Brink who, besides his medical practice, operated the Dr. Brinks Medicine Company. A cure was available for almost any ailment. There are no doctors in Doon at the present time.

Of great importance to the town were the grain and stock dealers. Doon had five large firms engaged in this enterprise: Kansas City and St. Paul, Hubbard and Palmer, J.Q. Adams and Co., W.W. Gardner, and F.H. Peary Elevator which was moved and is now part of the Doon Elevator Co. Closely associated with the elevators was Doon's Roller Mills owned by Doth and Petersen. The plant had a capacity of 70 barrels a day of very fine flour sold under the tradenames of 'World's Fair' and 'Doon Patent.' The firm was valued at $13,000.

To provide capital for such ventures were Doon's two banks. The oldest bank in the city was the Doon Bank established in 1889. Diagonally across the street was located the Doon Savings Bank which was rightfully proud of the fine two story brick building which housed the business. It had surplus and capital amounting to $20,000 and according to reports, was a well-managed bank. The Valley State Bank is in its place now.

In the dry goods business were three thriving firms: Gillin Bros., Kahl Bros., and C. Ross and Co. Mr. Ross came from Sioux City where he was an employee of T.S. Martin and Co. His first establishment was at the location now occupied by the Corner Cafe. Later he built a new building across the street, and called it the Big Store. The Gillen Bros. had a somewhat smaller place of business, but very well stocked and with prices to meet the times. It was known as one of the best places in town to do trading. The Kahl Brothers ran what was later called 'The Little Store.' The boys were well liked and most favorably spoken of by all that know them. Honest goods at a fair cash price and a low margin of profit was the rule by which they ran their business. Gillen Bros. operated in the building which is now Howard Van Ginkel's apartments.

Early Doon had a firm dealing exclusively in clothing. This firm was operated by Thomas Delhie. His store was not uncommonly large, but of good size for a town like this.

A man dealing excusively in the meat business was Henry Kuhrt. His business was very well spoken of and he paid the highest prices for cattle, hogs, poultry, and hides. Doon has no exclusive meat market today but it does have a prosperous grocery and locker business.

1894 hardware stores were those of Kridler, Fleck and Co., and E.A. Howland. While the early hardwares were quite competent in the tinsmith trade, todays hardware specializes more in plumbing and of course the installation and service that goes along with all our 'new fangled gadgets.' Kridler, Fleck and Co. had one of the neatest little hardware stores in this part of the country.

In the early days Doon had three firms dealing with farm machinery. Two dealt only with farm machinery and supplies. They were: Kleespies and Duncan, engaged in the sale of machinery, buggies, and road carts, etc.. and Jenkins and Weatherly, dealers in 'any good farm machine.' They were located across the street from the Bonnie Doon Hotel. The Doon Furniture and Implement Company extended itself to the supply of furniture and even the undertaking business. The three operators involved in the business were O.R. Brewster, F.L. Jinkens, and J.W. Merrill. Another store operated by D.S. Burdick dealt only with furniture and upholstered goods.

Dealing in horse harnesses and leather goods of all kinds was J.B. Eilers. He did repairing and some manufacturing. Mr. Eilers had in stock all the different articles which enter into the makeup of the harness line and he had as complete a stock of these goods as we ever find in a town the size of Doon. In the early days Doon also had two blacksmiths who worked with horse shoeing and repairs of numerous horse drawn vehicles and implements. They were the C.H. Beebe Wagon Shop, manufactures of Beebe's celebrated rod plow, and C.W. Cornish and Co.

In the line of custom work our citizens of the nineties had four draymen to haul their goods and commodities. A corn sheller and ditcher were operated by L. Spencer and Adolph Schroeder sold and operated Aultman Taylor threshing rigs.

Doon had two livery stables to care for the horses and buggies of the olden days. One was the Bonnie Doon Livery located just south of the hotel and another was operated by John Curtiss just west of the old Omaha depot. Tourists and passengers were offered a fast ride to any part of the county.

Every town had to have its newspaper and Doon was usually blessed with a competent editor, although ownership changed hands quite frequently. In 1894 The Lynn County Press was edited and published by J.H. Bahne. He succeeded the Scott Bros. who had the paper for several years. Today's editorial duties are handled by Harold Aardema in publication of the revived 'Doon Press.' This title was last used by Harold Stearns in the forties.

W.D. Mathews was a competent brick and stone mason in Doon's fast growing early years. He, together with J.L. Randall, carpenter and contractor---J.P. Mueller, contractor and builder---McGarry and Clemmens, building movers and well borers---Lincoln McGarry, building mover, and others tried to keep up with the town's expansion.

In addition to the enterprises listed, the Doon of 1894 had two millinery shops, two barber shops, a part time dentist, a tailor, Bower and Hasche real estate and insurance, J.P. Tinley, the attorney, E. Silver the confectioner and two hotels with restaurants. Finn and Company had just taken over the City Hotel and Restaurant, and H.D. Rice continued in the hotel business with his fine 50 room Bonnie Doon Hotel, the pride of Northwest Iowa.

Our town in those days could justifiably be proud.

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