A History of The Village
Written by Beverly Neighbor
Taken from the
About the year 1816, Job McNamee, an early settler in
Being in need of a minister in the Methodist church, a Rev. Thurston, a resident of New Salem, came to the village regularly to conduct services. Rev. Thurston found quite a place in the people’s hearts, giving him the honor of name-saking the hamlet.
In June of 1881 there were 14 dwellings when Mr. T.D. Ketner carried a petition from door to door, sending it to
Further activity came to this community in 1888 when natural
gas was discovered. A company was formed
In the early 1890’s Thurston had a shirt-waist factory, east of the former Harley Hiles property. A Mr. Morgan Grush tended the motors to run the machine. The former Mrs. Maude Beery, the former Jewel Turley, the former Della Miller Wagner, and Mrs. Allie Reedy were among the employees. Mrs. Reedy was 14 at the time, and still an active member of our community at 90 years of age. The shirt factory burned down in 1905, which could be seen for miles. During this era Frederick B. “Dad” Turley was the town blacksmith as well as a photographer and the Justice of the Peace.
The first school was a 2 room school east of the railroad tracks, a brick building that was later made into a dwelling
and was destroyed by a tornado in 1953.
1901 was the first graduating class from the
In the early 1900’s Thurston had a large brick yard. They also had 2 livery stables, one run by Ed
Snyder, where Mr. Joe Jenks later had a blacksmith shop, and one in the north
end of town run by Adam and Bill Crawford.
They also had an icehouse in behind what is now Bope
Broyles Barber shop. The ice was brought
In 1905, Mr. S.J. “Dick” Wright started a hay and grain business just east of the railroad and continued this until 1913 when he decided to change to a restaurant. He owned the restaurant until 1915 when he sold it to Charles Hodge. Mr. Wright came back to Thurston in 1918 and bought his former restaurant, changed it to a general store and continued in business until 1928 at the same place. This business was sold to Shadd Andrews, Ralph England and Ray “Sam” Bauman. It was later run by Mr. Bauman as a general store for many years, in to the 1940’s.
In 1904 John Gurile bought the
hotel located on the south side of
During this same period there was a hotel run by Mr. George Cole, where Mrs. Charles Ruckman still has a rooming house with a few boarders. At this era Thurston also had four grocery stores, one run by Elza Leitnaker, just west of the school buildings, the present home of the Keller Lime Service; The George Huhn Clothing and General Store, on the corner of High and Main; and the Charles Struthers store in the K of P building as well as the S.J. Wright store.
Thurston was also the site of two telephone companies. The Citizens Telephone Co., located on the corner of High and Main and also the Buckeye Lake Home Telephone Co. which was in the present home of Mr. And Mrs. Raymond Taylor. This was discontinued in 1931.
In 1905 Mr. Lafe Harter started a
boat repair shop in the building at his home on
In the 1910 era Thurston was the location for young Dr. Fishel. He had his
office in a two-room building in front of the home that is now the Baptist
parsonage. His office building was later
Around the turn of the century, Thurston was the scene of an annual Labor Day Celebration with foot races, ball games, a midway, slow bicycle races, and a large parade, which usually included the B.I.S. band, with the hometown folks trying to slip the boys in the band “goodies” to show their appreciation. After the men took their wives to the school yard for the social they tried to sneak back to the sign which advertised “beer”, only to find it was an imitation, but no one told the other men as they arrived, letting them each find out for themselves.
In 1910, Miss Verah Miller started
giving piano lessons in her home. In
1911 some of her students were Leona England, Eva fisher, Clara Masheter, Elsie Cook, Elizabeth Whisman,
and Sylvia Hartman. Several of these
ladies are still among our community: Miss Masheter,
Mrs. Elsie Cook Fisher, Mrs. Elizabethe Whisman Gurile, and Sylvia
In 1916, Charles Struthers used as his ad “Everything that’s new and late, we handle, if its up to date”, also groceries, dry goods, grain, cement and coal. C.G. Struthers used as an advertisement to see how many times you could write “C.G. Struthers” on a postal card. Aunt Cora Hiles won set of dishes in the competition. Mrs. Hiles wove rugs in her home and sold them to the town people all of her life. Her son, Haver Hiles, still has the loom and uses it regularly. Mrs. Hiles was given the loom on her 17th birthday.
The Bauman England restaurant advertised, “Everything that’s good to eat, we handle, if it’s good to eat,” the Culp and Houdeshell restaurant ad read “Best eats for least money – open day and night.” The Basores Ice Cream Parlor advertised, “Chairs for the ladies” and “If it isn’t Telling’s, it isn’t ice cream.” Huhn’s Grocery advertised Rival Bread and all other products of “Twin City Bakery”. The “City Barber” had C.V. Looker as proprietor. The Depot Restaurant had hot and cold lunches, by owner J.C. Snyder.
The Depot Restaurant was bought by Mr. Rudisill. In 1920, a young railroad engineer, Don Wolf,
came into Thurston and bought the Depot Restaurant. In a couple of years, he also bought the Bibler Bros. Taxi service and garage. In 1920, Mr. Wolfe married Floe Gurile and throughout his lifetime made Thurston his
home. He was a sound businessman and
later founded the Wolfe Coal Co. which is still in business with John Clum, son-in-law of Mr. And Mrs. Wolfe, as owner and
manager. Mrs. Wolfe is still an active
member of our community. It was
Thurston’s grain and a loss for the railroads when Mr. Wolfe decided to make it
his home. He was a great humanitarian
and benefactor to many in his lifetime.
Mr. Harry Turner had a feed store in a small building at the east end of
In 1920, the Thurston Elevator was built and went into business with four owner, namely E.L. Troup, James Kagey, Harry Turner and Frank Phipps. Mr. Kagey was manager until 1931, when H. R. Kagey was manager until 1943 when Kaleb Ruffner assumed the management of the mill. Mr. Ruffner returned in September of 1975 and the elevator is still in business.
In the early 1920’s, Thurston was the home of a very good amateur baseball team, which played in a field east of town. Some of the managers and players were George Basore, Ray “Sam” Bauman, Leo Weidner and Lester Miller.
Thurston was incorporated in 1913. In 1931, Mr. E.H. Griggs was Mayor with Mr. L.P. Leitnaker as clerk. Thurston was a railroad center since it was the terminal for four divisions of the New York Central. We have had some well-known long-term employees with the railroad. Mr. W.A. Parrish, a native, worked for the railroad 36 years, most of which he was a telegraph operator in the village. Mr. Parrish died in 1937. In 1920 there were 14 passenger trains stopping at the Thurston Depot. By the early 1930’s there were four passenger trains each day which stopped for the mail as well as the passengers. The last passenger train stopped on June 2, 1950. At an early period, at least 150 out of the 450 residents were working for the railroad.
Another important family in the History of Thurston was Carl and Virgia Hoover. Mr. Hoover was born northwest of Thurston in 1895, moved into town in 1901, in 1913, at age 18, became yard clerk for N.Y.C., a job he held until he retired. He was also Mayor of Thurston from 1947 until 1969. He was County Democratic Central Committeeman from 1941 until his retirement in 1969. Mrs. Hoover was postmaster and a practical nurse. She was never too busy to help with the birth of a child or any other emergency, night or day.
The grocery store located in the K of P building had several owners thru the years. Mr. Charles Struthers had it for years until the Murphy Brothers, Albert and Joe bought it in 1919 and continued in business at this location until 1928. Ralph Speaks and his family had the store from 1945 until his death in 1960, when his family continues to operate the General store until July 16, 1969 when the store was closed and a public auction held. As far back as 1950 in a printed article Mr. Speaks noted the “old time village, with folks working in town and making it the center of their lives is a vanishing thing”. Mr. Speaks came to Thurston in 1918 and was in the grocery business for 30 years.
George Gurile ran a restaurant where Bope Broyles barber shop is now located, when he went out of business during the depression Haver Hiles bought the fixtures for $35.00 for the restaurant. Martin Speaks worked for Haver as a young man. They served Morris and Ross Ice Cream.
In the early 1900’s Saturday night was a busy time for the
hamlet of Thurston, due to the many passenger trains coming from many
directions, bringing shoppers from all over to get their staples, it was hard
to find a place to tie your horse and buggy, and though the trains brought
prosperity to the town it also brought sadness for some families. In 1904 an accident happened in which Frank
Stokes was killed instantly, Levi England and Pearl Wagner were injured, the
men, all Thurston residents were taking a big piece of timber on a hand-car to
a bridge being constructed near Bremen, when a freight train came around a
curve and ran them down. In July 1919
Miss Eva Fisher, age 19, a night operator at the telephone office and a well
known young lady, was struck by the engine of the T and O.C. passenger train,
the young woman was in her Grant automobile, a watchman at the crossing tried
to stop her but unfortunately was unable to do so. She died a few hours later. Miss Fisher was the Gazette’s representative
at Thurston. On Dec. 24, 1943, Alva
Groves, age 62, and Mayor-elect of Thurston was killed at the crossing of 256
and the N.Y.C. railroad tracks. Mr.
Groves was to have taken office as Thurston’s mayor on December 31, 1943. he was driving a
1936 Chevrolet truck. The #9 passenger
was northbound on its way to
We have had several long time barbers in Thurston,
also. Mr. C.V. Looker was a barber here
around the time of 1910 to 1915. We also
had Charles Foulk for many, many years. He was proud of the fact that he had cut hair
for Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, while Mr. Foulk had a
Mr. Ora “Nick” Shetrone was our favorite iceman from 1924 until his death in 1944, when his son Waldo “Gus” Shetrone took over the business. Nick and Gus were never too busy to chip us off a piece of ice. The ice route ceased in 1946. Gus is still an active businessman in our community.
Mr. Ellis Lawyer started a paint store in 1912. He had this until his death and his son Homer Lawyer had it until his retirement in 1965. The Lawyer family is noted all over the county for their paint abilities.
There were four churches in Thurston, the old School or
Primitive Baptist, the Methodist Protestant and Methodist Episcopal. The Primitive Baptist was constituted in
January 1816 and is still holding services with Elder Paul Jones as
pastor. The cemetery of this church is
the burial ground for two young men who lost their lives in World War I. They are Virgil Oscar Hite, who was a brother
to Lulu May Weidner; and Arthur Stanley Miller.
The Knights of Pythias Lodge was instituted in Thurston on the 28th day of May 1890, with 30 charter members. The Chicasaw Tribe, #100, IORM (International order of Red Men) *** see footnote below *** was instituted in Thurston on January 5, 1895, with 65 charter members. The Harry Huston Post #272 of American Legion, of Thurston got its charter on November 28, 1919, organized by Fred Murphy with 16 charter members on its roll. I was never an active lodge and most of our veterans joined the American Legion at Pleasantville.
The Thurston Post Office as previously stated was
established on September 27, 1881. John
C. Mechling was the first Postmaster, 1881 to 1883;
followed by Wm. H. Trinble 1883 to 1884, Jacob Ruffner 1884 to 1885; Linneaus P.
Leitnaker 1885 to 1889; William F. Hood, 1889 to
1893; William Rudisill, 1893 to 1896; Elmer Hite 1896
to 1897; William F. Hood 1897 to 1902; Matthew Corbitt,
1902-1904; George Haver 1904 –1914;William Shaeffer, 1914-1916; Roy V. Snyder, 1916-1922, Mrs. Edith Basore, 1922-1925; Mrs. Sylia Knepper, 1925-1941; Mrs. Evelyn Fryman,
1941; Mrs. Virgia Hoover who was an able servant of
the people from April 1941 to May 31, 1962; Mrs. Dorothy McDonald from June
1962 – March 1965; Mrs. Beverly J. Neighbor who received her appointment on
March 12, 1965 and is Postmaster at the present time. The Post Office has had several homes in its
almost 100 years of being. The first
place was in a small grocery store of J.C. Mechling
Co. It was a small building south of the
K of P Building. In 1893 when Mr. Rudisill was postmaster it was in a small building on
The officials of Thurston at this time are Clinton Ballmer, Mayor and Joanne Harter is clerk. In the very near future these officials hope the first shovel of dirt will be turned for a water system for Thurston.
*** Footnote : (Information from David Lintz - firstname.lastname@example.org) “There was no organization named International Order of Red Men. It should be Improved Order of Red Men. The Knights of Pythias Lodge was instituted in Thurston on the 28th day of May 1890, with 30 charter members. The Chicasaw Tribe, #100, IORM (International order of Red Men) was instituted in Thurston on January 5, 1895, with 65 charter members. The Harry Huston Post #272 of American Legion, of Thurston got its charter on November 28, 1919, organized by Fred Murphy with 16 charter members on its roll. It was never an active lodge and most of our veterans joined the American Legion at Pleasantville.” Footnote added 11/15/2005 by Clerk Aaron Reedy.