He was succeeded by Freedman, Boyd, T. F. C. Dodd, Wm. McLaughlin, R. N. and M. E. Richardson, the latter of whom is still in office. The Altoona Union, the second paper published in the county, was started on March 30th, 1870, by Bowser & Brown. It was printed on new material purchased for it by the Altoona Town Company. Four weeks later, Bowser wearied of his work and delegated the entire business to Brown, who kept the berth until July 9th, of that year. The paper then passed into the hands of James A. Smith and his wife, Carrie A., who hoisted the Republican banner. Under this management the paper continued until December 5, 1872, when it chronicled the death of Horace Greeley and its own, appearing with inverted column rules. The schoolhouse built in 1872 is still used, and, having been built with a view to a rapid increase in the town has ample accommodations.
It is presided over by Misses Clara and Celia Kashner, who have about one hundred scholars distributed in two rooms. The cost of the building was $3,000. Altoona has two churches, the Congregational, built in 1880, and the Methodist Episcopal, built in 1882. The latter is in charge of Rev. C. W. Swartz. Each has a membership of about thirty. The Union Sabbath school, supported by the two churches, has a large attendance. The Christian Church formerly conducted meetings at this point, but has removed to Five Mounds. Wm. Cowgill (now Altoona) Lodge No. 113, A. F. & A. M., was organized in October 17, 1872. A fire destroyed all records, jewels and paraphernalia in 1879, and the lodge has since been unable to replace them.
It has now a membership of twelve, and the following officers: T. F. C. Dodd, W. M.; George East, S. W.; W. B. Ladd, J. W.; J. Orr, secretary; C. Streets, Treasurer. Meetings are on Saturday before full moon. The Odd Fellows had a lodge at this place, until the loss of their hall in the fire of 1879, when they surrendered their charter. An attempt was recently been made to organize a lodge of Knights of Honor, but was not successful. The flouring mill on the Verdigris, now operated by Brown & Orr, was built in 1870-71, by Spencer Bros. Its has four run of buhr-stones, moved by a turbine water wheel. Its capacity is one hundred barrels of flour per day, of twenty-four hours.
The buildings and machinery are valued at $8,000. The steam saw-mill, located in the timber near the Verdigris, is a portable one, and has been in use near Altoona for twelve years. In 1880 it was purchased by Z. A. Benell, for $1,000, and completely refitted. It is now valued at $3,200. Power is furnished by an engine of twenty-five horse-power. The town now has a population of 300, and the following industries: general stores, 2; groceries, 3; drug stores, 1 ; hardware, 1; hotels, 2; doctors, 3; dentists, 2; wagon shops, 1; blacksmiths, 2. With the completion of the new railway, Altoona bids fair to become a live town of considerable size.
Settled in 1866 by Thomas Geddes, Altoona was first called "Geddesburg" in tribute to its founder. In 1869 two brothers, John and Isaac Spencer, came here and built a saw mill which did a flourishing business. At the same time the Altoona Town Company was organized with Dr. T. F. C. Todd as president. The Spencer brothers and William Vernum gave the Town Company the present site and in 1870 named it "Altoona" in memory of the Spencer's first home, Altoona, Pa. At an attractive location for fishing and boating on the Verdigris River,
Altoona is centered in a rich agricultural region. The Neodesha Bank serves the farmers of the countryside who raise corn, wheat, oats and flax. Oil wells have been drilled in the vicinity too.
Altoona (formerly Geddesburg), one of the larger incorporated cities of Wilson county, is located on the Missouri Pacific R. R., and on the Verdigris river, 11 miles east of Fredonia, the county seat. It has two banks, a weekly newspaper, telegraph and express offices, and an international money order postoffice with three rural routes. The population in 1910 was 1,462. The town was founded in 1869 by a town company, of which Dr. T. F. C. Todd was president. No town elections were held until the town company ceased to do business. The first business enterprise was a grocery store opened in 1869 by George Shultz and John Hooper. The postoffice was established in April, 1870, and J. N. D. Brown appointed postmaster. The Altoona Union, tlie second paper published in the county, was founded in March, 1870, by
Bowser & Brown. A school house was built the next year at a cost of $3,000. A steam saw mill and a flour mill were set up in 1871 on the Verdigris. The growth of Altoona dates from the entrance of the railroad in 1885-6. At that time it was a town of some 300 inhabitants, and a dozen business houses. The development of the oil and gas fields in the vicinity in the '90s added greatly to the importance of the city.