Doon in the Very Gay Nineties
Written by Galen Lawrence
There was probably no other time in Doon's history so full of optimism, fantastic growth, social gatherings and infamous behavior as the decade following the coming of the railroads to town. The Omaha (Bonnie Doon) was established earlier in 1879 but the Sioux City and Northern gave the town a true connection with the outside world.
Places of business mushroomed all up and down a lively main street and soon the town had most everything a citizen could ask for. There were five elevators, a roller mill, two machinery dealers, two blacksmiths, and a harness shop for the farmers; two pharmacists, three doctors, and a part time dentist for the ailing; two millinery shops for the ladies, two barber shops for the men, and a newspaper; two banks, two lumber yards, two drug stores, three clothing stores, several grocery stores, and two hardware stores for everybody. Of course the town also had a saloon and there was talk of building a brewery, all of which led some out of towners to note that Doon needed a revival because it was a very wicked place.
There seemed to be no end to social gatherings and to help whet this appetite there were numerous clubs and societies, some of which were as follows: The Sons of Herman, I.O.O.F. (The Odd Fellows), W.C.T.U., A.O.U.W., I.O.G.T., Farmers Alliance, Knights of Pythias, The Modern Woodmen, Star of Doon Lodge.
There was a Doon dramatic company, which traveled to other towns and presented plays, numerous choir and quartettes, a concert band and it seemed the city was ready to have a social ball for almost any occasion, be it Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, or Valentines Day.
Earlier events were held in Montgomery Hall and they later took place in the Opera House, which, the writer believes, was called the Town Hall, or Woodman Hall. Many, many traveling dramatic companies, magicians and musicians would present their shows in the Opera House.
To ease the aches and pains from all the socializing and to keep everyone in tip-top shape, there were numerous pills, salves and liniments available. Some of them were as follows: Lydia E. Pinkham's Compound for back and kidney trouble, and womb displacement. Dr. Brink's barb wire liniment-the great healer. Dr. William's pink pills for pale people-guaranteed to cure rheumatism. Castoria-promotes digestion, cheerfulness and rest-contains neither morphine, opium or mineral-not a narcotic.
Loss of flesh? Eat Scott's Emulsion. To get fat, you must eat fat! Scott's Emulsion is a great fattener. Sarsparilla,-for impure blood, pimples and boils. Peruna tonic-hope for the sick! Syrup of figs-one enjoys both the method and the results.
Doon's early citizens could hardly stay ill for long with such remedies at their disposal.
Doon also had for entertainment a fine ball team, which served to play for every occasion. They would travel as far as Pipestone and Adrian, Minnesota for their games. There were intense rivalries. One such feud, between Doon and Rock Rapids, caused Lyon County Press editor D. H. Perkins to note, "It is time to put up or shut up. When you bring your fans to Doon to see a ball game, behave as gentlemen and not as hoodlums."
To complete the summer entertainment there were circuses and carnivals coming to town, the questionable "Butcher" picnics in Hubbard Park, the annual old settlers' picnic, and the ongoing rivalry between the Doon Scrubs and the Garfield Scrubbers ball teams.
All the while Doon was becoming quite a city. It was incorporated in 1892; the town water works and gaslights came in 1897; a school was built in 1896; and there were two well organized fire companies-Hose No. 1 and Hose No. 2.
Towards the end of the decade came the inauguration of President McKinley, and Mary Hubbard, sister of H. D. Rice, attended the event. The country and the town took on a more somber tone in 1898 with the start of the Spanish American war. Doon was ready to ease it's growing pains and look forward to a new decade.
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