The Odessa Record -

Local history for your reading pleasure

Series: Harrington News | Story 15

February 7, 2019

Local Levy

The Panther Newsletter contained an insert to remind everyone of the local needs at the school for funds which could be provided with the local levy. Their message in part: “Washington State is required to fund basic education in our public schools; however, things like clubs, athletics, field trips, preschool programs and even some additional course offerings and curriculum are not included. To pay for enrichment programs, individual school districts must pass levies. Maintenance and operation expenses for the swimming pool is also part of the levy. Athletic programs like basketball, volleyball, track and cross country are included. Activities such as Knowledge Bowl, FFA, FBLA, music enrichment, elementary field trips, trap shooting and cultural assemblies are some other areas included in the levy. Levy dollars help pay for custodial and maintenance workers that keep our building and grounds safe, clean and well maintained. A portion of nursing costs are included as well. Costs for extracurricular bus drivers and portions of preschool staff salaries are covered by the levy. Levy dollars help fund curriculum and teacher training for language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, health, physical education, CTE and technology.” Use your opportunity to vote and help the school provide for the children of our community. Mail ballots by February 12.


This writer was contacted by an alert reader of The Record who noted that Gottlieb Mielke actually had played the harmonica and concertina rather than the concerto, which is a composition in symphonic form. With appreciation for the opportunity to set “The Record” straight, we stand corrected.

J.E. Williams Harness Shop

The first advertised harness maker in Harrington was M.T. Chism in July 1894, “M.T. Chism, harnessmaker, saddles, harness, collars. Repairing neatly done.” By 1898, he had added hardware, robes, horse blankets and had relocated to the “south room of Brick Block” which best guesses would put in the location that later housed the Royal Cafe and the Challenger Cafe on Third. J.E. Williams came to the Harrington Wheat Belt in 1900 and purchased a half interest in Chism’s Harness Shop. The business moved from the cafe location across the street into a portion of the Lighthizer Building (present day Memorial Hall) where it remained until after the completion in 1904 of the Bank Block. Photos exist showing “Chism & Williams Saddlery” on the east side of Third Street.

It was said that Mr. Chism, age 40, committed suicide in April 1901, although there was some speculation that he may have been murdered since he was in the habit of carrying large quantities of cash on his person. “He was found lying on his bed with a revolver in his hand.” Michael T. Chism had one brother, one sister and an aged father living in the county, and three brothers who were not local. He had no wife and no children and his estate was handled through the Lincoln County Superior court. His body was taken to Wilbur for burial. No evidence was found to indicate that a coroner’s jury had been selected to pursue the potential of the death being a murder, and no articles were found describing Mr. Chism as a despondent or sickly person.

As one follows J.E. Williams and his moving of his business from one building to the next, the scent of leather permeates the path. Williams announced the move of “J.E. Williams & Co., dealers in Harness and Saddlery,” to the Bank Block in Nov. 1905. (This would be the present-day Rummage Room). Week after week, Jesse E. Williams advertised with the most entertaining of western pictures, each week a different photo with a newly worded paragraph. Each ad had its own title, some of which were: Your Horse’s Easter Suit, Handsome As Our Harness Is, Lightness With Strength, A Little Thing in Horse Collars, Uncle Sam is Proud, An All Around Harness, The Horse and His Stable, Stable Supplies, The Harness Helps, The Horse in a Harness, You’ll Get It In the Neck, Hitch Up Your Horse, As Your Horse Jumps, Pratts Food and We Don’t Saddle You.

A May 6, 1904 ad covered a wide array of products: “Whips! Whips! A fine assortment just received from 15 cents up to $3. Whalebone with gold mount. Call and examine our fine display of Harness, Saddles, Chaps, Whips and every thing in the Harness line. We invite comparison, (quality considered) with all our competitors. We also carry in stock the famous Stockmen’s Stock Food. Also Hanford’s Balsam of Myrrh. Cure for Wire Cuts, Sore Shoulders and any wound or sore on man or beast; (every bottle guaranteed). J.E. Williams & Co.” Many ads in the old Citizens do not convey the location of the place of business of that being advertised, but Williams did not want anyone reading the Citizen to wonder where his place of business was: “We Have Moved. Our New Quarters are in the west room of the Bank Block. We moved last week and are now straightened up and in better shape than ever to supply all kinds of Harness and Saddles, Horse Blankets, Leather Findings and everything pertaining to a Harness Shop. Prices right and stock complete. Our aim is to please our customers. If we haven’t what you want in our big stock we’ll get it for you. We also have a complete stock of Trunks & Suit Cases. Yours for Fair Dealing and Reasonable Profits. J.E. Williams Co. The Horse Furnishers.” (Citizen: 12-01-1905)

In May 1907 the ad featured the Romadka Trunks.

In 1906, Mr. Williams took an order for 27 sets of harness for a harvester team for Horace Haynes with a time limit of 10 days. In those days Williams kept a hired man year-round, and they were able to complete the order with a little extra help by hiring a boy to assemble the parts. Leather for all of his work came from Portland and San Francisco, ranging from 5 to 10 two-hundred-pound rolls at a time.

In the early years of Williams’ laboring in the harness business, his ads carried his name alone, as J.E. Williams & Co., but by 1907 he had added “Pioneer Harness Dealers” to his ads, as a standard feature. In 1924, J.E. Williams joined forces with E.E. Newland, Harrington’s genial shoe repair man and shared space and overhead expenses but otherwise operated their businesses independently from a space formerly occupied by T.H. Woods’ Drug Store. Williams sold his harness sewing machine to Newland and had turned the repair work over to Newland, while Williams continued to carry his stock of harness and other leather supplies. “Mr. and Mrs. J.E. Williams of Harrington have returned from an auto trip to Missouri and West Virginia. They were gone 10 weeks and covered 7874 miles in 14 states.” (Odessa Record: 7-16-1926). Williams planned to sell out to Newland in 1928 when he sold at auction his $4,000 stock of leather, however, “time did not permit the consummation of the deal as Mr. Newland died” and Williams continued to conduct the Harrington Shoe Shop. His business at this time was in the most northern portion of the Lighthizer building.

Jesse Ellsworth Williams was born Sept. 8, 1861 in Jay County, Indiana. In 1863 his parents (Charles Williams, Amanda Samuels Williams) and family (John Edgar, Charles B. and Jesse; William Thadeus Williams, deceased previously) moved to Missouri. Jesse was 31 when he married Miss Frances Ireland at Polo, Mo. on March 24, 1892. They had one son who died in infancy and then they came to Washington in November of 1900. By 1930, his business was being identified as Pioneer Harness Shop, but his vacations were getting longer as he was nearly 70 years old. He had been a member of the city council when the original city hall was built, and he was reportedly the first fire chief. A news item stated he was one of the first three car owners in town, the other owners being H.C. Turner and Ed Turner. Williams purchased a 1911 model Ford in the 1912 calendar year. There was a strong relationship between the increase of autos and the slowing of trade through his business. He was creative and added other items to his shop, as in 1917 when he secured the agency for the Rex typewriter, claiming he would sell you a typewriter cheaper than you could rent one. J.E. Williams continued his labors until retirement when he sold The Williams Shoe Shop to Lester Gilliland in May of 1942, saying he was “glad to retire from business and putter about his home and yard.” His retirement was short-lived since he died within three months. His wife moved to Spokane the following year where she died in 1951.


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