September 17, 1999
Part II of the recollections of the late John Knox, a Perry pioneer who came here at the age of 19 with his father, Bethuel Knox, on September 16, 1893. Following is part of a letter he wrote from California to other Cherokee Strip pioneers in 1948.
POLITICS, 1893 STYLE
Working in the Hotel Moran was not entirely to my liking and fortunately I had met P.F. Flower, who had brought the tail end of a clothing store to Perry from Nebraska. He gave me a job at seventy-five cents per day (I furnished board myself). As time went on we soon added second hand merchandise, as it became available. This addition developed into a thriving business.
During this time the first city election was brought about and John M. Brogan, among others, was a candidate for mayor. While passing the voting place, Mr. Brogan approached me in an effort to solicit my vote. He said, "John, have you voted?" I replied, "No, I am not old enough to vote." To which he replied, "You sure are big enough," and with that gave me a push into the voting booth. As I was being pushed, Mr. Brogan explained that this election might be very close and he was sure that my vote would assist him greatly. (Editor's Note: Mr. Brogan won the election and became Perry's first mayor.)
Later, I found a better position with Spears and Barnes Grocery store on the south side of the square, for which I was to receive $1 per day. My duties were driving an old gray mare hitched to an old spring wagon for delivery purposes, together with clerking the rest of our usual 16-hour day, including Sunday forenoon, which was without extra pay.
During this time my father and I opened a small notions store on the corner of Sixth and C streets, utilizing a pushcart as storeroom. This meant taking the cart back and forth to our shack each night. The merchants were generally belligerent as to the location we selected to do business. They promptly got out a petition to have us removed from the street. However, we held our position on the corner under the protection of Police Chief Shockey, who maintained that as long as my father auctioned off for no pay the loads of blackjack wood brought in by the settlers from southeast of Perry we could hold this space. Under this police protection we managed to hold our location for a few months.
Immediately thereafter our store (pushcart) was not sufficient to properly maintain the increased business which we had. Therefore, we rented a small room, with living quarters in the rear, near where the original Famous Store was operated. During this time we had been forced to dispose of the shack residence on the land owned by the railroad company, for which we received the sum of $10. That amount was added to our store capital.
In the next installment we'll learn more about the origin of the Famous Department Store, which for years was one of Noble county's leading businesses.