Museum Mystery Man: “ol Hoss Collins”

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Several months ago, we published Museum Mystery Man and noted that the identity of the man in the drawing was unknown.

At that time the only clue to the identity of the man was that it was drawn by Will R. Murphy in 1898.

Recently another clue came to light. A descendant of Will R. Murphy called HCHM.  His family has another copy of the pen and ink drawing exactly like the museum’s. Included with their drawing is the name “ol Hoss Collins.

There are two  men with the last name of Collins in the Newton City Directories in the late 1880s through 1910: Edgar Collins and Robert Collins.  Both came to Harvey County in the 1870s and were respected businessmen.

Ad Newton Daily Republican, 3 August 1886.

Who were these two men?

Edgar Collins: “An Enviable Trade

Edgar Collins was born in Cook County Illinois in 1852. By the age of 9 both his parents had died.  He was  sent to Kansas to live with the O’Brien family in Wathena, Ks.  He apprenticed as a harness maker.

At the age of 19, he came to  Newton and entered into the harness business.  He lived and worked in the Newton, Wichita area for the rest of his life. In addition to the harness business, he engaged in real estate and other business ventures. In 1877, he married Mary M. ‘Mollie’ Stiles and they had one son who died in infancy, and two daughters.  The family lived at 818 Oak,  and Collins maintained a harness shop at 612 N. Main, Newton.

Mollie died in 1893.  In January 1904, Collins married Viola Spore and the couple had two children.

The obituary in the  Evening Kansan Republican described E. Collins as  

“one of the highly respected citizens of the town. He was admired both in Wichita and Newton for his business acumen and his honest and fairness in dealing with others, at the same time making conservative and level headed decisions.”

Given his occupation as  harness maker, the description of ‘ol Hoss Collins’ makes sense.  With a Newton business, he no doubt would have known W.R. Murphy.

Another possibility . . .

Robert Collins: “Faithful & Efficient Employee” 

Robert Collins was born in Belfast, Ireland in September 1842. He was the sixth of ten children and his father was a Presbyterian minister.  At the age of 16, Collins left Ireland for the United States. He lived various places including Crockett, TX, and later Philadelphia.  While in Philadelphia, he learned the trade of carpentry and building. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined Co. H, 6th Regiment Pennsylvania Cavalry.  He participated “in all the battles and campaigns in the army of the Potomac, from the first Bull Run to Gettysburg” and was wounded at Gettysburg.

After the war, Collins spent time in Oklahoma and Kansas. When he first arrived in Newton he established a carpentry business at 120 N. Main.  He married Jane Powers in 1878 and their residence was at 325 E. 2nd, Newton.  The couple had five children.

In 1886, Collins built a two story brick building on E 4th to meet the need for a planing mill or “sash and door factory.”  He employed fifteen men in 1887.  His building projects in Newton were “monuments to his energy and ability.” One  example was the Swensen’s Building, a three story brick structure at 6th and Main, Newton, completed in 1887.

Swensen Building, 6th & Main Newton Daily Republican 24 July 1887.

By 1902, Collins was working for the Santa Fe Railroad on  bridges and buildings. In his work Collins oversaw building projects for the Santa Fe Railroad including the Santa Fe hospital in LaJunta, Co, the Arcade Building in Newton, and the crossing gates and watch tower at Florence, Ks.

Santa Fe Depot and Arcade Hotel, Newton, Ks, ca. 1899.

In 1906, Collins was promoted to “building inspector on the eastern grand division. . . well deserved . . . for no more faithful or efficient employee can be found among the big army of Santa Fe employees.”

Robert Collins was active in the community and he served as councilman for the Third Ward, Newton, for several years. He was involved in several community organizations including the  Masons. Collins retired in 1908 from his work with the Santa Fe.  He died 5 May 1909.


  • Edgar Collins (1852-1930)

    • Newton Daily Republican: 3 August 1886,  16 February 1887, 16 June 1887, 22 June 1887, 23 June 1887, 15 July 1887, 4 March 1891, 18 February 1893, 20 February 1893.
    • Evening Kansan Republican: 20 October 1930.
    • Newton City Directories: 1885, 1887, 1902, 1905.
    • Old Settler’s Card File, HCHM Archives.
  • Robert Collins (1842-1909)

    • Newton Daily Republican: 26 May 1887, 24 July 1887, 7 August 1887.
    • Evening Kansan Republican: 12 September 1899, 4 April 1902, 24 August 1906, 5 May 1909, 6 May 1909.
    • Newton City Directories: 1885, 1887, 1902, 1905.
    • Old Settler’s Card File, HCHM Archives.
    • Wittenberg, Eric J. Rush’s Lancers:  The Sixth Pennsylvania Calvary in the Civil War,  Appendix, Westholme Publishing, 2007.

Both men were buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Newton, Kansas.

“Thoroughly Popular:” Clark Hotel

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Part 1 of the history of the Clark Hotel can be found here, and part 3

In 1892, George Clark retired from the hotel business for health reasons. Thomas J. Simpson from Fredonia, Kansas “assumed charge of Clark’s hotel.” For the next 20 years, the impressive building at the corner of 4th and Main would undergo changes in management and ownership and eventually be condemned and torn down.


Clark Hotel, 1890. HCHM Photo Archives.

“The New Clark”

The Newton Daily Republican announced improvements and changes to the Clark Hotel in January 1894, noting that with these improvements “it has become thoroughly popular with both residents of Newton and the traveling fraternity alike.” Under the direction of hotel manager, F.D. Van Duyn, the steam heating apparatus was refitted and in “perfect working order.” Other improvements included retouching the walls, new furnishings. “A handsome upright piano, a new parlor set and appropriate pictures” improved the parlor on the first floor. Forty rooms were repaired and re-papered. Meals were “served in the highest style of the culinary art, the best the market affords being drawn upon to supply the tables.” There were also four separate cottages near the main hotel that served as extra rooms when the hotel was crowded.

newclark 001

Newton Daily Republican, 14 February 1895, p. 4.

A year and a half later, the Clark Hotel had a proprietor, E. Horan.

Clark’s Hotel Rate $2.00 Per Day.  E. Horan, Proprietor.

“E. Horan who lives a mile south of Newton and is< well known in business circles will take charge of the Clark Hotel . . . Horan was one of the most successful hotel men of Canada.” (Newton Daily Republican, 29 July 1896)

E. Horan was involved in other business ventures in the area.  He came to Harvey County in the mid-1880s and established a farm and was involved in breeding and racing horses.

Newton Daily Republican, 16 March 1895.

Newton Daily Republican, 16 March 1895.

By 1890, he had moved to  a two story, eight room house with barn on east 6th in Newton, valued at $2,200. He was married and had at least one daughter, Susan, who married G.W. Puett 2 February 1890.

Interior of Clark’s Hotel, 1896, E. Horan proprietor. HCHM Photo Archives

In spring 1897, the Newton Daily Republican reported that the last meal was served at the Arcade Hotel.  This prompted Horan to make “extensive improvements “ at the Clark Hotel.  The improvements cost $400 and included fifty rooms.

“Realizing that the Clark must handle all the old Arcade business, the enterprising proprietor of the house, Mr. E. Horan, is making numerous changes and additions to the house . . . to meet the increased demand of public.” ( Evening Kansan, 1 June 1887.)

In December 1898, it was announced that the Santa Fe Railroad had purchased the Clark Hotel.  A written notice signed by representatives of the Investment Trust Co. and the Santa Fe, was sent to E. Horan, proprietor, indicating that he had sixty days to vacate the building.   Horan noted that he held a lease agreement good until April 1, 1899 from the trust company.  He refused to vacate, noting that he had furniture and contents valued at $1,500 that could not be moved quickly.

Newton Daily Republican, 2 December 1898.

Newton Daily Republican, 2 December 1898.

Over the next few months, E. Horan remained stubborn and refused to vacate the building. In February 1899,  the Santa Fe brought an “ejectment suit” against Horan.  Branine & Branine, representatives for Horan, “attempted to show that the Santa Fe had no legal right to purchase the hotel and were therefore in no position to bring a suit of ejectment.” The case went to jury and the verdict was in the Santa Fe’s favor.  E. Horan responded that “he has not been used in the right manner by the Santa Fe and now that he is in possession of the hotel he intends to hold it until the sheriff puts him out.” He also appealed his case to the district court and if “necessary . . . take the case to a higher court.”   Next Horan claimed that the Santa Fe “was not the legal owner of the Clark Hotel at the time the first notice was served . . . to vacate the hotel.”  Roughly two weeks later, the Santa Fe and Horan were able to come to a compromise.  Horan would be able to purchase the furniture for an agreed upon sum and he would vacate the hotel by April 1.

On Tuesday, March 28, the editor of the Newton Daily Republican noted:

“Sunday was the dullest day at the Clark Hotel since E. Horan has taken possession. .  . . . Mr. Horan has commenced tearing up the furniture and carpets . . . and will have everything moved out by April 1.”

The last breakfast was served at the Clark Hotel on March 29, 1899.

With the closing of the Arcade and the Clark, available rooms were limited.

wherewilltheystay 001

Newton Daily Republican, 30 March 1899.


The Clark and Santa Fe

Initial plans under the ownership of the Santa Fe  included the renovation of both the Clark Hotel and the Arcade. In one plan the Arcade would house the dining room with rooms for “roomers and the hotel help and the Clark hotel would be retained strictly for transient trade.”  One proposal even included a walkway between the two  buildings which would be a “light steel covered affair to accommodate people wishing to go from one hotel to the other without going into the open air.” None of these plans became reality. Instead, the Santa Fe used the upper stories of the Clark Hotel building for offices and the  Fred Harvey General Store was located on the lower floor.


Santa Fe Dispatch Offices in the Clark Hotel, 1901.

For the next 14 years the building served as headquarters for the Santa Fe railroad.  The “spacious dining room was partitioned off into suitable rooms, stairways were blocked and rebuilt, the sleeping rooms were changed and hallways rearranged.” Over the years, the structure deteriorated and by 1913 it was “well known . . .  that the office building was badly in need of repairs.” In a letter published in  Evening Kansan Republican  Judge Bowman noted that “the building [Clark Hotel] became wind shaken and the officers fearing a wreck vacated the building.” On April 19, 1913, the Santa Fe moved the offices to the Dotson Building on East 5th.  Initially, the move was temporary, “pending the completion of repairs on the old quarters.” However, the needed repairs proved more extensive and expensive than the Santa Fe expected and the once grand landmark was slated to be demolished.

democlark 001

Work taking down the building began on April 23, 1913 and 56 year old Chris Haman, who not only helped with the construction of the building, but also worked as a baggage master in the hotel, was there to watch, noting he “never expected to live to see the building torn down.”


Postcard, Newton 4th & Main Intersection, Newton, Ks, ca. 1910. Clark Hotel/Santa Fe Offices on left, Swartz Lumber Co., and Arcade Hotel on right.

“First Class in Every Respect: Clark Hotel Part 1


  • Newton Daily Republican: 12 June 1887, 3 February 1890, 16 April 18921 June 1892, 14 Feb 1895, 16 March 1895,  29 July 1896, 31 May 1897, 1 June 1897, 15 June 1898, 2 Dec 1898, 3 Dec 1898, 20 Feb. 1899, 15 Mar. 1899, 30 Mar. 1899, 1 Mar. 1902.
  • Evening Kansan Republican, 1 June 1897, 19 April 1913, 23 April 1913, 3 July 1913.
  • Atchison Daily Champion, 27 July 1895, p. 4.
  • Puett, G.W. and Susan Horan, 2 February 1890, Marriage License Collection, HCHM Archives.
  • Newton City Directories: 1885, 1887, 1902.