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The Historic 1897 Mercantile on the Katy Trail: A Chronicle of Business Names and Loving Nicknames

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Nestled in the charming town of McKittrick, Missouri, the historic Mercantile on the Katy Trail has stood as a silent witness to the passage of time since its establishment in 1897. Over the years, this architectural gem has undergone numerous transformations, both in terms of business names and the endearing nicknames bestowed upon it by the local community.

A Walk Through The Mercantile Golden Era:

The McKittrick Mercantile's journey began c. 1895 when the railroad town was officially born. The town is named after St. Louis' railroad financier, Thomas H. McKittrick. Thomas H. McKittrick and his father, Hugh McKittrick, were but the beginning narrative of McKittrick.

1890-1894 - Earliest Local McKittrick Merchant Known:

The earliest public mention of a local McKittrick merchant that we were able to find was of Mr. Charles "Charley" Fahrner, described as "a cultured young man of Loutre Island". (Warrenton Banner, August 1890, page 2) Chas. Fahrner was known for running two threshing machines. Mr. Fahrner was also gainfully employed as a Loutre Island postmaster from 1891 until 1894, when the town was forming and he took the role of McKittrick Postmaster. (St. Louis Post Dispatch, 14 Mar 1891).

1895-97 - The McKittrick Post Office and McKittrick Milling Company

The Hermann Ledger and Warrenton Banner mentioned him again as "the wide-awake merchant of McKittrick" in 1895. The newspapers also stated that "Charley at present is more on the hustle than ever."

It is unclear who financed and built the Mercantile (c. 1897) and if Charles Fahrner was the first to occupy the McKittrick Mercantile Building as it also housed the Post Office on the second floor. In 1896, the Hermann Advertiser-Courier News mentioned that Mr. John Dufner, was a clerk in Mr. "Fahrner's store".

Mr. Fahrner also went on to form the McKittrick Milling Company, with Messers. Jacob Karl Sr., Jacob Karl Jr., Charles Martin, A. W. Schnell, and others. (Kansas City Journal, 1896)

1902-1907: A new merchant firm in McKittrick Town

Messrs. H. R. Ahmann and Otto Buchholtz form the firm Ahmann & Buchholtz. Mr. Buchholtz, also a local judge, eventually moved from New Haven to McKittrick. Both gentlemen go on to become prominent McKittrick merchants until 1907 when their partnership is dissolved. (Marthasville Record, 1907).

1907-1908: A Change in Partnerships

Mr. Otto Buchholtz sold his equity to Mr. John Struttmann, who purchased the interest for his son, George. The firm name was changed to Ahmann & Struttmann, until Mr. Ahmann sold his shares to Mr. Henry Scholten. Mr. Scholten passed ownership to his son, Charles. The new merchant firm was named Strutton & Scholten (Rhineland Record, 1908).

1909 - 1919 - McKittrick Mercantile Co.

In 1909, The McKittrick Mercantile Co. lots, saw the formation of the partnerdhip between enterprising McKittrick Messrs. Jacob Karl Jr., and Herman and George and Charles Bezold, and others. This establishment played a pivotal role in serving the needs of the local community under the management of Mr. Chas. Bezold. December 1919, a new chapter unfolded as ownership shifted. Mckittrick Mercantile Co. transferred to Wessendorf and Ehler, a prominent real estate company of the time.

1920 - 1943 - McKittrick Farmers Mercantile Company

McKittrick Farmers Mercantile Company was organized and formed by farmers that purchased the mercantile from Wessendorf and Ehler, April 1920. The farmers were Jacob Karl, Gus Bezold, T. B. Hodges, Henry Stutenkemper, and William Koch. Jacob Karl was named president, and Gus Bezold named secretary.

This transition marked the dawn of a cooperative venture, with local farmers and investors coming together in 1920 to ensure the Mercantile continued to thrive. Mr. Chas. Bezold returned to the mercantile from Wellington, to continue managing the day-to-day business. This move not only solidified its place in the heart of the community but also highlighted the resilience and adaptability that has defined the Mercantile's rich history until it's closing in 1943.

1943 - The Farmers Mercantile Company is sold

Arthur E. Dufner, of Hermann, was the successful bidder on the Mercantile, and became it's new owner. Reasons stated for the dissolution were "food rationing, inability to procure merchandise, and diminishing business". (Advertiser-Courier, November 1943)

Affectionate Nicknames:

As time passed, the Mercantile became more than just a place of commerce; it became a symbol of community and shared history. Locals, in their affectionate manner, began referring to it as "the Merc" or "the Merck." These endearing nicknames reflect the warmth and familiarity that the Mercantile has cultivated among the townsfolk over the years.

A Monument of Heritage:

In recognition of its historical significance, the Mercantile on the Katy Trail was proudly listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. This designation serves as a testament to its enduring legacy and the role it has played in shaping the cultural fabric of McKittrick.

The Mercantile Today:

Today, the Mercantile on the Katy Trail stands as a living testament to McKittrick's resilience and community spirit. To truly immerse yourself in the town's rich history, we invite you to experience the charm of the Mercantile firsthand. Delve into the stories etched into the walls of a National Register of Historic Places lodging.

As a lodging guest, you'll not only enjoy the comfort of a historic setting but also become a part of the ongoing narrative that makes McKittrick so special. The Mercantile, with its vintage charm and cozy accommodations, stands as a wonderful historic place to stay.

Come, be a part of McKittrick's history, and make your stay at the Mercantile on the Katy Trail an unforgettable experience!

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