Charles Joslin Call's Business Ventures in Wichita, Sedgewick County, Kansas, 1889-1895

My great grandfather, Charles Joslin Call (1859-1939), lived in Stafford, Genesee County, New York for most of his life, except for a few years when he and his family lived in Wichita, Sedgewick County, Kansas. I’ve always been curious about the family’s Kansas years, since my grandmother, Evelyn Clara Call (1895-1962) was one of four children born to Charles and his wife Elizabeth Ann Coe (1862-1956) in Wichita.

Like many other families, the Call family went west in search of greater economic opportunities. According to Elizabeth, “In the Spring of ’89 Papa [Charles] went West to find a business to engage in. He went to Denver where Uncle Frank and Aunt Sarah were, but decided to go to Wichita and locate. We were very happy there, but business did not pay. We went Apr. 17, 1889, arriving the 19”.1

Charles’s first business venture in Wichita was with the Wichita Steam Pipe Covering company. On 6 April 1889, C.J. Call of Stafford, New York was listed in a newspaper article as one of the five directors for the newly chartered company, which was launched with capital stock of $ 50,000.2

The Steam Pipe Covering Company did not seem to be a success for Charles. By March 1891, he was the Proprietor of a farm implements company, working with Major Blasdel who managed the business.. Their store, located at 120 West Douglas Street, was selling plows, cultivators and other farm implements in the spring of 1891.3

By mid-May, their store had a name, The Wichita Implement House.4

By February 1892, Charles seemed to be in business by himself, operating out of 118 West Douglas Avenue.5   

 By early 1894, Charles was advertising a close out sale, with his business then located at 125 South Main Street.6

The various implement houses advertised in a variety of newspapers between 1891 and 1894, each of which had an editorial stance that appealed to specific communities and groups. They advertised regularly in the Kansas Commoner, which billed itself as the “Official Organ of the Farmer’s Alliance and Industrial Union of Sedgewick County.”7 Beginning in February 1892, ads were placed in the Western Methodist which featured many reports of Methodists and Methodist Church activities.8 In addition to paid advertising, Charles’ business was mentioned in articles in the Western Methodist that showed he was a member of their faith. 9

He also advertised in The Wichita Daily Eagle, which favored the Republican party.10 And trust me, if there had been a temperance or prohibition newspaper in the area, Charles would have advertised in it. The editorial positions of these newspapers give a sense of Charles’ political and religious views.

Charles' farm implement and carriage stores were located in the heart of Wichita. This wonderful 1892 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the location of his stores. 118 and 120 West Douglas Ave are outlined in green with a green number 1 on the map. 125 South Main Street is around the corner, outlined in pink with a pink number 2. At the time the map was created, Agricultural Implements were being sold at 120 West Douglas Ave, and Carriages were sold at 118 West Douglas. Carriages were also sold at 125 South Main Street. In 1892, there was a jeweler working on the second floor at 125 South Main Street, who may have still been there in 1894 when Charles had his business there. 
The Sanborn Fire Insurance maps were designed to inform insurance companies about the risks of insuring individual buildings. They show not only the size and shape of a building, but also what material were used to construct it. The buildings Charles had his businesses in were all two story brick buildings.

In June of 1895, Charles pursued a new business opportunity. He purchased the grocery stock of Pat Herron, who had gone bankrupt. The new business was located at 528 E. Douglas Avenue.12

Unfortunately, the grocery business didn’t seem to provide Charles the success he had hoped for. By July 19th, Charles had sold the business to the Baker Grocery Company.13 By late August, Charles, Elizabeth and their four children had returned to New York.14

Moving your family half-way across the country to start a new business is hard at any time. Charles and Elizabeth headed to Kansas in particularly challenging times. They arrived in Kansas about a year prior to the Panic of 1890, which resulted in major stock market declines and general economic hardships.15 The Panic of 1890 was followed by the Panic of 1893, with an economic depression that lasted until 1897. During those years, hundreds of banks failed, thousands of businesses failed, grain prices fell, and farms failed - not the ideal time to be selling farm equipment.16


Patty Hankins
26 March 2024 

1. Elizabeth Ann Coe Call, “Moving to Wichita,” The Calls 1896-1915-1934, unpublished manuscript, photocopy in the files of Patty Hankins; online, Wandering Around the Family Tree ( : accessed 25 March 2024). The manuscript is stories and recollections Elizabeth wrote for her children beginning in 1896. Papa is Charles Joslin Call. Uncle Frank and Aunt Sarah are Elizabeth’s brother Ezra Frank Coe and his wife Sarah Frances (Ward) Coe.

2. “New Charters,” The Wichita Eagle (Kansas), 6 April 1889, page 5, column 1, The Wichita Steam Pipe Company; image ( : accessed 25 March 2024).

3. Farm Implements,” The Kansas Commoner (Wichita), 19 March 1891, page 5, columns 5-6; image, ( : Accessed 25 March 2024).

4. “Largest Assortment,” The Kansas Commoner (Wichita), 14 May 1891, page 8, columns 5-6; image, ( : accessed 25 March 2024).

5.  “Spring Announcement,” Western Methodist (Wichita, Kansas), 18 February 1892, page 5, columns 3-4; image, ( : accessed 25 March 2024).

6. “Closing Out Regardless of Cost,” The Kansas Commoner (Wichita), 15 March 1894, page 8, column 4; image, ( : accessed 25 March 2024).

7. The Kansas Commoner (Wichita), 19 March 1891, page 4, column 1; image, ( : Accessed 25 March 2024).

8. “Spring Announcement,” Western Methodist (Wichita, Kansas), 18 February 1892, page 5, columns 3-4; image, ( : accessed 25 March 2024).

9. Bro. C.J. Call,” Western Methodist (Wichita, Kansas), 22 September 1892, page 5, column 4; image, ( : accessed 25 March 2024).

10. “For Sale - Closing Out Regardless of Cost, The Wichita Daily Eagle (Kansas), 29 March 1894, page 6, column 5; image,  ( : accessed 25 March 2024).

11. For information about Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, see "Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps," Fire Insurance Maps at the Library of Congress: A Research Guide ( : accessed 26 March 2024). For interpretation of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, see "Interpreting Sanborn Maps," Fire Insurance Maps at the Library of Congress: A Research Guide  ( : accessed 26 March 2024). 

12. “Now I Have It,” The Kansas Commoner (Wichita), 6 June 1895, page 8, columns 1-2; image, ( : accessed 25 March 2024).

13. “City in Brief”, The Wichita Daily Eagle (Kansas), 19 July 1895, page 5, column 4, C.J. Call (two mentions); image, ( : accessed 25 March 2024).

14.  “Concerning Those We Know,” The Le Roy Gazette (Le Roy, New York), 28 August 1895, page 5, column 5, Charles Call; image,  ( : accessed 25 March 2024).

15. “Baring Crisis,” Wikipedia ( : accessed 25 March 2024).

16 “Panic of 1893,” Wikipedia ( : accessed 25 March 2024.)


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