|It’s Your Museum--Enjoy!
By Carolyn A. Larsen, Curator
One of my neighbors on Thomas Street, Bob
Baker, allowed me recently to make copies of
some old insurance papers that belong to his
family. These policies insured the Weston Auto
Company and do show it at several locations.
The first policy, dated 1911-1912, gave the
address (per Sanborn map) as 537 Main Street.
A second policy dated Dec. 1913-1914, has the
name of Fred Harpst on it and is for loss or
damage to the front and rear door glass. The
address is 305 Thomas Street.
The third policy dated Nov. 10, 1913 to Nov. 10,
1914 has the address of 537 Main.
The fourth and last policy is dated April 4, 1913 to
April 4, 1914. John Harpst is listed as
manager/owner and as with the other three, it is
made out to the Weston Auto Company.
Further research brings up a small
advertisement in The Weston Chronicle dated
December 8, 1911 that says: “The Weston Auto
Company’s Garage is now complete and are
prepared to repair all kinds of automobiles. An
expert repair man at your command. Can furnish
repairs for all makes of cars. Best of Gasoline
and oils for your cars at reasonable prices. Give
us a trial and be convinced. Yours Respectfully,
Weston Auto Company.”
In that same issue we found the following:
Barnsdall Refining Co. Distributing Station,
Weston, Mo. Gasoline, Kerosene, Oils and
Greases. David Harpst, Local Agent.
January 16, 1917 we find this article “George
Marr, who is agent for Mrs. George Shawhan,
sold her lot on Market Street to John Harpst.
Some thirty years ago a furniture factory was on
the site but later was burned down. The past two
years it has been used as a tennis court. Harpst
Bros. will build a two-story brick or concrete
building to be used as a garage for the Weston
Auto Co. and will be connected to their Main
street and Thomas street garages, giving them
an area of floor space surpassing any garage in
An advertisement for the Weston Auto Co. dated
June 4, 1926: For a 10 hour battery charging
service see the Auto Repair Shop. Lewis Harpst.
Thus it would appear that one of the Weston Auto
Shops was located on Main Street approximately
where Mr. and Mrs. Larry Winfrey now live. A
second Weston Auto Shop was located on
Market approximately on the site of the residence
once known as Twin Gables. A third Weston Auto
Co. was located on Thomas street. The location
of that is property now owned by Daryl Shelton.
And, at one time all three were busy and under
the ownership/management of the Harpst men.
Thanks, Bob, for the copies and for sharing with
the citizens of Weston another little bit of their
The museum now has the copies of the
insurance papers. If you would care to see them,
stop by. We’d love to see you!
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Weston Historical Museum
|By Carolyn A. Larsen, Curator
In the accompanying photo you can see Ed
Butler, Sue Graves, Irene Loyles, Hattie Holladay
and Grace Linville. This photo was taken in the
first Telephone Office above Rumpel’s Saloon
on Thomas Street (now R.J.’s) in the early days
of the 1900’s.
Actually, Julius Rumpel started the telephone
system in Weston in 1900. The ladies pictured
were often called the “Hello Girls” and besides
the ones already named there were also Maude
Hunt, Geneva Kirkendahl, Vita Kirk, Minnie
Unmessig, Birdie and Leta Schumacher. Later
Velva Lindsey became one of the operators.
These women had, it seems unlimited patience,
as they had to put up with all sorts of customers.
Sometimes people were angry or drunk.
Sometimes they were verbally abusive and yet
seldom did the ladies “give as good as they got”
along those lines. These women also knew a lot
about what went on in a lot of households, but
they did not make it their business to tell others.
Courteously and with humor the “Hello girls”
handled all kinds of people as well as all sorts of
A handful of years later, the office was moved
across Thomas street where “Pastimes” is now
These were the days when one picked up the
receiver and gave the operator a number to call.
She connected you to that person or place and
you then held a conversation. If you lived in the
country you had a certain number of rings or a
combination of short and long rings that were
yours and once you heard them you picked up
the receiver to have a conversation. But, many
others on the same line could hear the rings and
also pick up to “eavesdrop”. The more people
who “listened in” the less you could hear and it
was nothing to hear someone say “Hazel, get off
the phone so I can hear. I’ll call you later with
what news I know.” Sometimes the “Hello Girl”
would come in with “Hello. Please get off the
line, there are too many listening.”
Other times if the doctor or the police had an
emergency they might ring the phone and ask
the operator, “Hattie, I’m looking for Joe Blow.
Can you find him for me?” And, Hattie would call
all the places she knew Joe Blow might be till
she ran him to ground and had him call back.
Once, as a child of about ten I remember I called
my folks, late at night, who were both working at
The Chronicle office and the operator (Miss Blum
was her name) said “Carolyn, its late. You are
supposed to be in bed. Stop bothering your
parents and go to sleep like a good girl. They’ll
probably be home soon anyway.”
Those ladies even took time to check on the
elderly and the shut-ins, if they thought there was
something wrong. If something in their usual
routine seemed out of place.
Ahh, yes, the days when even the telephone
operators were looking out for you!
It seemed like great progress getting those “new-
fangled phones” that did not need an operator,
simply all you need do was dial the number you
wanted by yourself. Yet, sometimes we older
folks still miss the lovely and helpful “Hello girls”.
It was not until 1956 that the town of Weston got
dial phones. The very first one was installed in
The Weston Chronicle building at Main and
Market. Carl Gebhardt, the “telephone man” did
the installation. That very same phone is on
display in your museum. We also have many of
the old telephone directories that are fun to look
through as well as other photos and items about
the telephone system in Weston through the
years. C’mon in and see them! We’d love to see
Did I ever, before now, mention Itasca Park
mentioned it, you will now learn more about it.
In the museum we have a hand-drawn, penciled,
map of the I.P.H. as it was often called back in
the 1920’s and 1930’s. The map shows the
Itasca Park Highway running along the south
end of Washington Street and on out what we
call the north or west Bluff Road.
The following article makes me think it might
have also run down the south Bluff Road. Read
and see what you think.
“Recently a checker at the Weston Auto
Company made a count of the cars passing the
garage on their way west and south on the Itasca
Park Highway. In eleven hours 757 cars were
counted averaging more than one per minute the
whole of the day. Mr. Harpst states that more
than half of these were tourists from distances,
many from out of Missouri.” This article and the
following one were taken from the Weston
Chronicle issue of May 30, 1924.
“County Highway Engineer V.H. Elliston is
supervising the building of two concrete culverts,
high and wide enough to carry off the drainage in
two places that have always been a bugabear in
the road between Weston and Iatan. One is near
the entrance to the Durkes farm. Last year, what
is known as a “shelf” was built there, but it is
unsatisfactory, so it is being replaced by a good
concrete culvert. The other is being built near the
Platte Valley school and has long been needed.
A new concrete bridge is to be built at Rialto.
The splendid thing about these improvements is
that they are permanent. The condition of this
road is being constantly watched and while no
unnecessary expense is incurred, yet it is to be
brought more and more to the standard of high
grade dirt roads.
Many of us probably know about the concrete
bridge near the Rialto area. It is still there, the
last I knew.
Here is what we, at the museum, would like to
know--Where was the Weston Auto Company
located? When did the road stop being called the
Itasca Park Highway? Why was it called that in
the first place? Was it Mr. Fred Harpst who
owned the Weston Auto Company at that time?
The number to call is 816-668-9986. Or the
address is 808 Thomas Street, Weston 64098.
Please don’t be shy about calling me with what
you know. I will be happy to give you credit for the
information and I will be happy to add it to the
information found in your museum. See you
|Weston Historical Museum
601 Main Street - Weston, MO 64098
|Weekly columns written by a former curator
Carolyn Bless Larsen,
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