100 years ago: Lawrence man has built successful tannery business in old brewery building

From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for July 11, 1915:

  • “McCarter Byrd and the business he conducts under the name of the Lawrence Rug and Fur company, at 145 Maine street in Lawrence, together afford an interesting study. Byrd because he is an ex-slave who came to Lawrence in 1892 from North Carolina without a dollar, and the tannery itself because it is the only one in Kansas. Byrd has a fair education, lots of real ‘horse sense,’ and he had learned tanning in his native state. His horse sense, his education and his trade formed his sole assets when he reached this place twenty-three years ago. Naturally he sought employment at what he knew best. For a while he jobbed around doing odd jobs of tanning, but without regular employment. Then he made a great big break – defied fate and the desperately hard times, and leased the buildings for several years occupied by the shoe manufacturing company that had just gone defunct. These buildings were erected in 1870 by the Walruff Brewing Company that went out of business when the first prohibitory law went into effect in 1881. The buildings then stood idle for eight or nine years and were finally taken over by the shoe manufacturing company, that in turn was succeeded by Mr. Byrd…. Asked if he is satisfied with the results of his twenty-three years work Byrd smiles good-naturedly and says he ‘has done well enough,’ and lets it go at that. As a matter of fact he owns the old brewery and shoe factory buildings and his home adjoining – a continuous brick structure substantially built and good for a hundred years yet barring earthquakes…. This property is just within the town site, in the one hundred block at the north end of Maine street.”
  • “R. M. Morrison motored to Williamstown yesterday and today he is one of the many motorists who say that the Golden Belt road is the worst in the world. ‘About a mile north of Lawrence, on the Golden Belt,’ said Mr. Morrison this morning, ‘we came to a pond of mud and water that looked absolutely impassable. I stopped the car and a farmer driving a big team hitched to an empty wagon came along and drove into the morass. He managed to make it through but he had a lot of trouble. We went around in the automobile through the Maple Grove cemetery and a corn field and came out on the road north of the bog and got on to Williamstown alright. The mud was up to the car’s hubs…. Farmers in this section say that the road is in the worst condition they have ever known it to be, and many of them have to go miles around to get the Lawrence…. At present the county commissioners, or whoever is in charge of the road, should put up a sign at both ends of the big mud hole warning motorists that it cannot be crossed by cars. Yesterday a touring car was stuck and required the services of several horses to pull it out.’ At the southwest corner of town not far from the city limits, there is another bad stretch of road, Mr. Morrison says, that is making many farmers go three miles around in order to get to town. This section is near the Reynolds farm and is impassable for cars and almost for horses.”