The Old National Hotel in Meade

 

This great old photo is of Harry Smith, Meade's first marshal (on the wagon) and two unknown men, you can see the old National Hotel in the background.

 

Reprinted from an article in the Meade County News, August 23, 1995

Note: The following article was written by Katherine Adams Sullivan shortly before her death in 1992. She was the youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. S.D. Adams, who ran the National Hotel between the turn of the century and the depression. Mr. Adams was also a state representative from Meade and his wife registered deeds. Katherine Sullivan was married to John Sullivan, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank S. Sullivan. Frank was county attorney in Meade and wrote several books, one titled A History of Meade County was the first history book written abut Meade County.

Writer recalls childhood life in Meade hotel

Growing up in a hotel... what a treat; and an experience full of surprises and many advantages!

I grew up in Meade, Kansas, the prettiest little town on the Rick Island between Chicago and Albuquerque.

My parents owned a hotel with livery stable in addition. We were very fortunate because Meade was the watering station for the trains. Otherwise, it would probably have been a flag stop. The original hotel was what we called the "old part" and when more rooms were added, we called that addition the "new part," which had more up-to-date plumbing and larger rooms.

Meals were served three times daily, always prime rib roast and roast pork were the entrées. The dessert was home-made pie (delicious) and of course, the usual vegetables. The evening meal was called supper; T-bone steaks, pork tenderloin, home-fried potatoes, salad, home-made biscuits which melted in your mouth were known all along the rock Island. For dessert, always home-made cake and a dish of fruit.

O, I forgot the breakfast menu; home-cured bacon, stuffed sausage made in the Mennonite community south of Meade, and home-cured ham, fresh eggs from the farmers, pancakes usually instead of toast. If someone chose oatmeal or cream of wheat, they had real country cream--cholesterol, triglycerides, and too much fat were never considered. Let me remind you that all this food was cooked with real, home-churned butter... my mouth waters.

Our meals were not family style. We had real linen table cloths and napkins. Silver was silver plated, some of which I still have.

We had a chamber maid, a colored man who cooked, and several helpers. When I was too young to wait on tables, I longed to do so and really enjoyed it later. I do not remember ever being tipped. I find I can still balance an extra plate when serving.

Because of living in the hotel, we were privileged to know everyone; wealthy ranchers who came from the east, the traveling men who came every weekend, and of course, the ones we called the "boarders" that ate and slept there. The train men ate there on occasion and one of our favorites was a conductor called "Highball Johnson."

Besides the boarders and the transients, many townspeople ate their noon meals in our dining room. When I was older I had to wait on tables during the lunch hour of school. Also we walked to and from school, which children are not privileged to do today. What a shame!

Sunday dinner was always a big meal and a treat. We would be sure to have fried chicken (using chickens from the farm), mashed potatoes, gravy, home-made rolls, vegetables, salad, home-made pie, and sometimes home-made ice cream... so creamy!

The fall was a big time as that was when they butchered and brought us all the treats; fresh cured ham, bacon, pork tenderloin, home-stuffed sausage, head cheese and sweetbreads on occasion.

We had our own cows, so we had a cream separator and could churn our butter or buy it from the Mennonites. Our cottage cheese had no resemblance to the cottage cheese purchased today. It was really fine cured and lathered in cream.

We always celebrated the 4th of July and, if at home, we had hot fried chicken (spring pullets just old enough to fry), mashed potatoes, gravy, corn on the cob (new crop), first home-grown tomatoes, fresh peach ice cream and chocolate cake. Of course, the ice cream was hand cranked and done to perfection. If we had a picnic, the menu was cold fried chicken, potato salad, fresh tomatoes, baked beans, bread and butter sandwiches, a freezer of ice cream (cranked at home) and more real chocolate cake with chocolate icing, probably loaded with English walnuts.

Christmas was a special time. We always opened our gifts on Christmas Eve, except what Santa Claus left in our stockings. There was always one really special gift from Santa waiting under the tree. We were allowed to rise on Christmas morning when we chose and everyone tried to be the first to say "Merry Christmas."

The boarders and anyone who might be stranded in Meade shared our Christmas dinner, a bountiful affair; roast turkey and all the trimmings, two kinds of dressing (we never used onions, just lots of sage and then oyster dressing and scalloped oysters), but the highlight was cranberry sherbet a family tradition and one that we continue to enjoy to this day. Home-made mince meat pie and pumpkin pie, made with cream along with everything else made for a real feast.

Grocery salesmen came every day from the store to get a list of what was needed. We charged and on the night when we paid we were allowed to choose one favorite candy by the grocery man and it was delicious!

Politicians also stayed with us when campaigning. Our whole family loved arguing politics. We were stanch democrats in a republican state. I miss the political discussions to this day.

As I mentioned earlier, we knew people of every walk of life and some of them were hobos. Every winter, there was a hobo we called "Uncle Billy." He'd drift in during the winter and he would be given board and room for washing the plates and cookware. The glassware and silver required special care. He was full of stories and a good narrator.

My mother put many girls trough high school. Country schools had only eight grades and when some graduated they had no way to live in Meade and go to high school unless they lived in Meade and worked for their room and board.

The Mennonite community, southeast of Meade, brought all their farm products to town every Saturday. They were so clean, we just knew they swept their yards.

Several traveling men were stranded in an eight foot snow storm for several days. They all donned the cooks' aprons for a snapshot in the center of a huge drift.

We had a parlor off of the office with a piano and overnight guests could join us in singing, playing cards, or whatever. Often the salesmen would bring their wives so we could enjoy their families, too.

One of Papa's horses was sired by "The Great Dan Patch" a famous horse. He was named "Patch," also. Once, when I was little, I was at the livery stable and when I went back to the hotel, someone asked what was on my shoe. I replied, "POA."  From then on, the horse manure was referred to as "POA."

Papa also had several bird dogs which were beautiful. He was an avid hunter and had well-trained dogs.

The National Hotel, the original hotel, was razed and replaced by a modern structure called the Lakeway Hotel, named for the memorable Meade Lake, a man-made structure and favorite small fishing lake and game reserve. The new Lakeway fared extremely well until the stock market crash; it survived, but it has never been the same.

Many memories flood my mind and I could go on forever. I suppose there were many hardships, but somehow, they have slipped my memory.

Katherine Adams Sullivan

 

S. Douglas Adams - 1858-1934

The National Hotel was first built as a part of the original Meade State Bank building on the corner of Carthage and Fowler streets in Meade. The year it started is unknown, but it was originally under the proprietorship of T. C. Baxter.

S.D. Adams and his wife, Belle, acquired the hotel around 1900. This building under the ownership of Mr. Adams was extended and remodeled furnishing a house of 32 rooms and thoroughly modern with steam heat. They operated it until it was torn down in 1928 to make way for the new Lakeway Hotel.

Mr. Adams was also a stockholder and director in the Meade State Bank since 1904, and was Vice President of this bank from 1920, until his death in 1934.

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