Link to “Outstanding Women of Missouri” on Reva Stubblefield
Rich Hill History
Memoirs of Dr. Claude Allen and Stories he heard from his Father
For more first hand information and stories of those early days of Rich Hill we paid a visit to the home of Dr. Claude Allen,whose father, Dr. William H. Allen,was one of the founders of-the city. He came down from the old town of Rich Hill, which was about two miles north of the present site, and was one of the men who formed the town's corporation May 17, 1880. B. B.Singleton, of the Lexington and Southern railroad (branch of the Missouri Pacific) was brought in to help.
The corporation consisted of the following citizens E. H. Brown,President: S. B. Lashbrooke, Secretary; J. N. Hardin Assistant Secretary: F. G. Tygard, Treasurer. The- trustees were: Dr. William H. Allen, President; George Reif, W.I. Heylmun, N. R. Powell. Dr. William H. Allen was appointed mayor and served until Feb. 25,1881, when the village became a city,fourth class and T. L. Hewett was elected Mayor; Samuel Hackett, William Leslie, J. L. Miner J.C. Skagg were elected aldermen; R. J. Starke, marshal; Thomas M. Orr,treasurer George Templeton, city attorney; C A. Clarke, collector Isaac Bullock, clerk.
Dr. William Allen was the first doctor in town and officiated at the first birth, Julia Connaly (Schmidt). Julia Schmidt and her sister and nieces still live in Rich Hill in 1974. Their home is on Maple street.
Dr. William H. Allen built one of the finest homes in town the corner of Fifth and Olive streets and there his last two sons were born. They were twins -Claude and Clyde. The order children, Laura who married Ben Brook and made her home in San Augustine, Tex.- and William H. Jr were born in Kentucky. William H. became a doctor in Hume, Mo., another coal mining town not far from Rich Hill.
The next two children were born in while the family lived in Missouri although the mother traveled back to Kentucky for their birth. They were Ebenezer, called Eben who became a civil engineer, and Samuel, who went to Oklahoma during the land rush and became Superintendent of an Oklahoma mine.
Dr. William H. Allen, Sr. migrated from Kentucky in 1871 and settled in Hale, Mo., a small village near Excelsior Springs in Carroll County. The James family lived in the neighborhood and the doctor was aware of the trouble with the railroad and was one of the attending physicians who amputated the arm of Mrs. James when it was mangled by a bomb thrown into their home.
She was present when the bomb came through the window and grabbed it up to toss outside, again when it exploded.One arm was so mangled it had to be removed. The intent of the bomb was to frighten, or scare the James into selling their land to the railroad for a mere pittance of its worth. Dr, William H.Allen remembered that at was soon after this experience, the boys, Frank and Jesse, robbed the gate at the fairgrounds in Kansas City and were started on their life of crime.
Dr. Virgil Allen, a cousin, was the first of the Allen's to settle on a farm near Old Rich Hill. It was before the Civil War and when he went to California, his cousin, Dr. William H. Allen took over the farm. A neighbor, W. H. Thomas, had erected blacksmith shop and E. W. Ratekin had put up a dwelling house in the neighborhood.Culbertson opened a grocery store and sold the first goods in 1865.
The site on which they built was a little knoll that gave a fine view of the countryside, so when a post office was established there in 1869, it was given the name Rich Hill. The village endured until coal was discovered in 1880, and the new town of Rich Hill was established two miles south. The Rich Hill Mining Company bought the land where the village stood and practically the whole town moved-down to the new site.
Dr. Claude and his brother, Clyde were born in 1886, and grew up with the city. They attend the Public School there and Clyde was called to World War one.He was sent to Fort Sill where he was injured in a explosion, never fully recovering from the injury, he died at an early age. Claude received his Medical training at the University of Kansas City and during World War I, served as medical officer at Fort Riley, the original military reservation west of Kansas City , called Camp Funston. He married Fay Joplin in 1912, and always made his home in Rich Hill. They had one son, Dr.William Allen, the third, who lives in Nevada, Mo. He married Mary Adaline Caton of Rich Hill , superintendent of nurses in Nevada-hospital
Dr. Claude Allen, though 87 years old and blind,has a vivid memory of people and events of those early years that is remarkable! While reminiscing ones mind leaps from event to event with no regard to time or subject, so it was the day we visited him. He and Eleanor Lynch compared stories and recalled old-times until it became very confusing but we give you the stories as we heard them.
One of the first things of which he spoke was Frank James visit to Rich Hill. Frank had by this time been granted amnesty and was often used as a drawing card at large affairs. He came to the new boom town of Rich Hill to act as a starter for the races at the fairground race track. O. Spencer, the Christian Church preacher from Kentucky, loved and bred race horses, on his farm near Rich Hill, which he showed all over the country, winning many awards for his efforts. Both his horses and the race track, which he was instrumental in starting in Rich Hill, had gained recognition among lover's of the sport.
O. Spencer always wore a long white beard, and one day at the races he kept jumping the bell. After several starts because of his restless spirit, Frank James called down from the starters box, "Hey, you old man with the white whiskers, if you come out of there again ahead of the bell, I'll come down there and beat H—out of you."
Frank was more of an itinerant character, but he did buy and run a shoe store in Nevada for a few years.