262 – Mid-1920s

The mid-20s – 1924 and 1925 – were full of everyday family events; dinners, visits, bridge parties, picnics, and work.

These family subjects were trending in 1924 and 1925:

  • Tom and Catherine Gallagher’s continued success with Cole’s
  • Will Riley’s continued attempts to stabilize the family finances and lifestyle
  • Mary Agnes Riley’s active social scene
  • Michael and Ellen Gallagher’s move from Lamar to Junction City
  • Henry’s career with Cole’s

A house for Catherine and Tom

With a growing family, Tom and Catherine Gallagher moved from Hurley Apartments to a house at 1122 West 7th Street. It was a nice bungalow on a corner lot. And only three blocks from Catherine’s parents, Will and Josie Riley’s house at 1406 West Broadway.

Cole’s doing well

The Cole’s stores were doing well. The economy was good, and people had money to spend. Cole’s had record sales. Tom Gallagher hosted continuous promotions, sales, and special events at the Sedalia store.

The Sedalia Democrat – March 31, 1925

Rileys sold the farm

While Tom and Catherine were doing well financially, Will and Josie Riley continued to economize.

In 1911, Will and Josie Riley had traded their rental house at 616 West Fifth Street in Sedalia for a 126-acre farm on the west side of Georgetown. The farm was only a few miles from John and Ann Riley’s farm where Will grew up. There was a resident tenant farmer, W.A. Haeslip.

The Rileys used the farm for recreation, visiting frequently. Will Riley was a gentleman farmer.

The farm kept about ten horses for riding and driving, a few milk cows, and some pigs. Haeslip grew corn and hay in the fields.

The farm had an orchard with hundreds of fruit trees. In the 1913 growing season, the orchard had produced over 1,000 bushels of peaches.

That was then, this was now. By the mid-1920s, the Rileys could no longer afford to keep a large farm. Will and Josie made the decision to sell the farm.

Another step for Will and Josie Riley to economize was to sell the lots along Barrett Avenue. These lots may have been bought to preserve some open land adjacent to their home at 1406 West Broadway. In 1925, Will and Josie sold these lots.

Will and Josie Riley’s grown children

Here’s a rundown on Will and Josie Riley’s children in 1924.

Irene Riley Hurley

Irene Riley had married Tom Hurley. They lived at 1313 West Broadway in Sedalia, just a few doors down from Will and Josie. Hurleys owned several apartment buildings and a contracting and development company.

Joe Riley

Joe Riley married Emeline Staats in Sedalia in 1917. Emeline’s parents lived in Sedalia at 403 West Broadway. Joe and Emeline made their home in Chicago. By 1924, they had three young children. They visited often, and sometimes Will and Josie Riley visited them in Chicago.

The Sedalia Democrat – August 2, 1925

As we know, Catherine Riley had married Tom Gallagher in 1922. Catherine and Tom had a two-year-old daughter Kathleen. They lived at 1122 West 7th Street.

William, age 26, John, age 23, and Mary Agnes, age 20, lived at home at 1406 West Broadway. William and John were in sales. Mary Agnes worked at Cole’s in the millinery department.

Sedalia City Directory – 1925

The Life of Riley

Mary Agnes Riley loved and lived the social scene of Sedalia. She was a great bridge player, entertained and was entertained, and traveled occasionally to visit out-of-town friends and relatives.

She lived the Life of Riley.

Social life – Mary Agnes Riley – Various news articles – 1924, 1925

Meanwhile, in Junction City

While Tom Gallagher was managing the Cole’s store in Sedalia, Missouri, his brother Henry was the manager of the Junction City, Kansas Cole’s store. Henry had been working at Cole’s for over a decade, having started with Cole’s in Lamar, Missouri in 1912.

Henry was a loyal, true-blue employee of Cole’s. He was willing to move to any Cole’s store and take on any managerial responsibility. The Cole brothers had at various times dispatched Henry to stores in Lamar, Junction City, Manhattan, Fort Scott, Sedalia, and Paola. Now, in 1924, Henry had been manager of the Junction City store for the past several years.

The Morning Chronicle – July 9, 1925

Henry was on the social circuit in Junction as much as Tom was in Sedalia. Dinner parties, picnics at the Country Club, and motoring trips in his new Ford coupe.

Mike and Ellen Gallagher in Junction City

223 West 6th Street, Junction City

In 1923, Henry had moved his parents Mike and Ellen Gallagher from Lamar, Missouri to Junction City, Kansas. They were living at 223 West 6th Street.

Henry handled his parents’ finances and looked after them.

Michael and Ellen sell Block 5 in Lamar

Now that Mike and Ellen Gallagher no longer lived in Lamar, they sold their house in Block 5. They had bought that house in 1894, so had owned it for 31 years.

Deed – Michael and Ellen Gallagher to Marshalls – Block 5 – Lamar, Mo – 1925


The Junction City Republic – September 25, 1924

Now that Mike and Ellen lived in Junction City, their other children Jim, Tom, and Nell made occasional visits. For example, daughter Nell visited in September 1924 with her husband Lee Donahoe and 1-year-old son.

Nell Gallagher had married Lee Donahoe in 1921 in Sedalia. Lee Donahoe’s family lived on a farm near Spring Fork, a small community eight miles south of Sedalia. Their first child Lee Jr. was born in 1923.

Jim and Nell Gallagher in Smithville, Texas

Smithville, Texas – Main Street – c 1930
M.K.T. Railroad – System Map – 1932

The Missouri, Kansas & Texas took over the Taylor, Bastrop, and Houston Railroad in 1891. In 1894, the MK&T established central shops in Smithville, giving rise to growth which resulted in Smithville becoming the largest town in Bastrop County for nearly fifty years.

This population created markets for homes, stores, and other necessities as it grew from a frontier village to a town.

Smithville, Texas – Wikipedia

Smithville was a bustling town of 3,500 population, supported by agriculture and the Katy Railroad. Austin, 42 miles northwest, had a 1925 population of 42,000.

Jim Gallagher had worked for the M.K.T. (Katy) Railroad for about five years. During that time, he had been transferred all around the Katy system, including Boonville, Missouri, Pratt, Kansas, and Denison, Texas. In 1924, he was transferred to Smithville, Texas.

Jim had worked his way up to regional maintenance supervisor.

M.K.T. Railroad engineers – Jim Gallagher – 3rd from left – c 1925
M.K.T. Roundhouse and turntable – Smithville, Texas – c 1930

Jim and Nell Gallagher had a son Jim, Jr., born in 1921 in Hartshorne, Oklahoma. That was Nell Mahoney Gallagher’s hometown. In Smithville, their daughter Helen was born in 1925.

Jim, Jr. – c 1922 – age 1

Good years

1924 and 1925 were good years for the Gallaghers. Will and Josie Riley didn’t enjoy their previous financial status, but these were good years for them too.

As the calendar turned to the new year, none of them could predict the joy and tragedy that would befall the family in 1926.



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