Historical Tidbits about Gila


©Transcribed by Kim Torp, except where noted


The History of Jasper county has this to say about the very small town of Gila: 

"Gila boasts that it has more businesses than any town of its size in Jasper County.  It has two blacksmiths, two general stores, two flour exchanges, a grist mill, a cooper shop, a barber shop and a post office."

"The history of Gila since its modest beginning around 1874 was one of resourceful, determined individuals striving to operate their businesses with many handicaps." 


First store built in Gila by George Keller  in 1874
Gila's first postmaster:  John Myers (native of North Carolina)  Also owned and operated the first general store after George Keller.
Gila's second postmaster:  Peter Myers (son of John).
Last person to operate the first general store:  Charles Ware

The second general store was built in 1883 by Charles and Absolom Newlin.  Sold out to Marion Lamb in 1891.  In 1898,  Mr. and Mrs. David Kibler bought and operated the store.  The last operators of the store were Mr. and Mrs. Roscoe Hicks.

The third store (hardware) in Gila built in 1887 by Theodore Britton.  Dick Harrow bought it in 1902.  Charles Raper and his parents Mr. and  Mrs. Frank Raper bought it next.  Last operators of this store were Charles and Ada (Badger) Linthicum under the name Link and Link, General Merchandise.  They retired in 1972 leaving Gila without a store for the first time in 100 years.

Pottery factory operated by Mr. Brackney from Indiana.
First blacksmith:  Bill Lotte            Last blacksmith:  Calvin Marrs - retired in the 1960's.
First doctor:  Dr. D.W. Warren who married Ellen Kibler (dau of M/M George Kibler, Sr.)
Some other doctors include:  S.B. Metheny, Noah D. Myers, Drs. Henry & Margaret Downs , Richard Trimble. 
Last doctor in Gila:  Dr. Marney Gunn retired in 1943.
One & only veterinarian:  Dr. King - retired in early 1900's
Barbers:  Dell Riley, Jim Gunn, Walter Poe, Fred Trimble, Jim McMahon
Sawmill  operators:  John Myers & Ticey Sowers, A.F. Cunefare, Lafe Foltz, Charles Weaver, Frank Cox, William Graham.

Telephone service started in 1906. 
Operators included:  Ella (Berry) Hutton, Roberta (Trimble) Daniels, Mrs. Chester (Viola) Beard, Clara (Sappenfield) Moschenross and Ione Wilson.  The last operators were Lenora Badger and Mrs. Harold (Ann) Gosnell.




Churches in Gila:
Used to be at least 6.  Some of the remaining active churches in 1972 included the Kerns U.B. Church (which is the church next to my Hicks family's former homestead), the Harmon Chapel Methodist Church, the St. Joseph Catholic Church of Island Grove and the Gila Union Lutheran Church.  The old Fairfield Methodist church 1 mile south of Gila was still standing in 1972.



Kern's Church:

To the left and back of the church is the cemetery.


Schools:  The oldest school near Gila was the Prairie School located two miles west of Gila.  Rufus Harrah and Mrs. Sherman were early teachers.  Also, Charles Shumard.  Later schools in Grove were Kerns, Kibler, Excelsior, Frazier, Independence, Island Grove, Myers and Shiloh.  Grove school was the only remaining school in 1972.




"Gila Had a Band to be Proud Of"
Gila band organized in 1902 by Oscar Whittington. 

L>R:  1st row: Olin Weaver, snare drum; Charles A. Raper, bass drum.  2nd row: First two unidentified; 3rd & 4th Charley Groves and Joe Ault (visiting members from Yale band) 3rd row: James Gunn, tuba (bass) 2nd unidentified; 3rd Arthur Cunefare, trombone; 4th James Raper, alto horn; 5th and 6th unidentified.




Not a happy bunch - are they???  Other members included:  Jim Gunn, Charles Ware, Charles & James Raper, Harry Linthicum, Harry Diel, Olan Weaver, Dick Epperson, John & Leonard Cooley, Tom Eagleton, Frank Lee, Will Decker, Lawrence and Elmer Britton, Arthur Cunefare, Henry Gust and Dr. Gunn (played piccolo).  They played at the Jasper County fair in 1908.  The band's fav tune: The "Mexican Waltz"


Here's a picture of the store in Gila during its construction

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