Shanks Park restored in 100 year celebration
SIMPSON – Through the help of the Frank, Lila Maxine and James (Buddy) Louthan Fund through the Solomon Valley Community Foundation and in their third year running, the Simpson (Shanks Park) has been renovated with clean lines and new equipment.
The Foundation received funds from the Buddy Louthan Estate to be endowed, and with the direction of Buddy Louthan's Will, were divided between Glasco and Simpson. Committees were formed in each community to decide where income from the funds would be best used. Being this past year, the Simpson (Shanks Park) celebrated 100 years, a Pride Committee was formed and the money was used towards making the park, cleaner, safer and more entertaining for the children, but with leaving its original nostalgia.
Simpson,which was previously known as Brittsville, also Brittain and Simpsonville, originated in 1871 when G. Beaver, who at that time owned a mill at Delphos, came up the Solomon River to sight a spot for a mill.
With financial aid from Thomas Shanks and Alfred Simpson, a mill was erected at the site where Brittsville started.
By 1879 Brittsville was a thriving little village with a store, drug store, blacksmith shop, post office, and a stage stand.
With the coming of railroads, between 1879 and 1880, Brittsville was moved a mile to the present townsite of Simpson. In 1882, after Alfred Simpson deeded a portion of land upon which the town was built to the city, the name was changed to Simpson, in his honor.
Simpson included Doc Schaffer's drug store with a hospital ran from out of his house. Just north of the drugstore was the Johnson Bros. grocery store where a roller rink was located on the second floor. Joe Jindra's filling station (now Bill Bergman's high performance engine repair shop) was located across the street and included a ballroom. When Lawrence Welk was a young traveling musician, he and his orchestra performed in that ballroom.
Simpson once supported three grocery stores, a restaurant, a locker plant, Uncle Elroy's blacksmith shop, and a barbershop with 300 people living in or around the town.
The Simpson Post Office was located where Trapper's Bar and Grill (Trapper Joe's) is now present. Former owner, Tony Prochaska, has expanded the building three times since it opened almost nine years ago. The most recent addition was constructed with limestone rock from his grandparents’ homestead. There’s pride. There’s heritage and the restaurant is regionally famous, making a bed and breakfast a needed item, located south of town called 'The Cottage on the River'.
A thriving school system was also present sporting the Simpson Coyotes.
The land on which the city was situated was first owned by T. E. Thackery, who on December 29, 1875, registered a receivers receipt for the property.
Tom Shanks and Simpson started the first store in the new locality: and the first house belonged to George Leinen, Sr.
This past summer, numerous volunteers helped clear trees and old broken stone fence of the park with Shanks name present as those pass through the entryway. They added safe slow 'Children at Play" signs and Amy Bell helped power wash and restore the 100 year old limestone rock wall entryway to its original brightness. She also added planters and plants for spring and summer plantings. The old nostalgic merry-go-round and swings have been restored and painted by Dave Kohler and Johnny Reed painted the original picnic tables.
The playground equipment was obtained through a matching $5,000 Dane Hansen grant program and the funds were used towards what were needed.
"Nick Jensen, project director and owner of Trapper Joe's for five years now, said "We need to honor the gift left by the Louthan Estate to continue to improve things that we may not have been able to do before. It allows us to show pride in where we live and creates stepping stones for future generations."
Previous year projects included street improvements and for some Simpson Fire Department upgrades. Next year, plans are to make improvements for the Simpson water tower.