Located 15 miles southwest of
Marysville on a gentle slope reaching back
from the Little Blue River, the town was established in 1868.
The first settler who located near the present townsite of Waterville,
was Stearnes Ostrander, early in the spring of 1857. He was followed
during the same year by some half-dozen settlers, who located on Coon
Creek, a short distance from where Waterville would be established.
The first mill erected in Waterville and vicinity was built in 1858 by
William Pearsoll. The mill was built on the "combination plan" and used as
both a saw and grist mill. In 1859, more settlers took up claims in the
When the Central Branch of the
Missouri Pacific Railroad was on its way
through, it decided to extend west exactly 100 miles from Atchison,
Kansas. The land was purchased from William Osborn. The townsite was
surveyed by O. B. Gunn, then Chief Engineer of the railroad in February,
1868. It was named by William Osborne, a railroad superintendent, for his
hometown of Waterville, New York. Henry Agle bought the first Waterville lot and
erected the first house in town. A post office was established on February
During the spring of 1868, Messrs. Hutt, Niggley, Peters, McCubbin,
Fratour, Newell and others built business houses.
W. P. McCubbin occupied a building as store moved from Marysville in the
spring of 1868. The first hotel in Waterville was the Eagle House, erected
in the spring of 1868 by Henry Agle. During the same year the "Bay State
House" was erected by August Fromm, who leased it to W. W. Smith. It
soon changed hands and was renamed the Lick House.
In 1869, the town grew
rapidly. In the summer of 1869 a school was taught by Miss F. Hartwell, the Lutheran Church. In the winter of 1869-70, a frame
schoolhouse was erected at cost of $1,500 with G. B. Vroom being the first
The Waterville Telegraph newspaper was established by Frank A. Root
with the issue published January 1,
1870. In the summer of 1870, the city grain elevator was built by
Messrs. Johnson & Haskell. On July 30, 1870 Waterville was
incorporated. In 1870, Waterville doubled in size, business and population.
In 1872, a
new schoolhouse was built, measuring 40x50 feet. It was two stories with
abasement; four rooms. The building, the finest in that part of the
county, was built of limestone, at a cost of $12,000.
The Riverside Mills, located on the Little Blue River, one-half mile from the
business portion of the town, was erected in 1873-74, by R. M. Howard. The
building was constructed of stone and was four stories.
The town boasted a couple of church organization including the Methodist
Episcopal that was organized as early as 1868 with services held in the
railroad depot. In the summer of 1871 a church was built measuring 36x70
feet. The Baptist church was organized in 1873 and a brick church built in
Bank of Waterville was established
on December 1, 1880 by S. T. Powell.
Cigar Factory was established in August, 1882,
by G. C. Martin, who made as a favorite brand the "Little Blue."
The Opera House was built in 1903 at a cost of $8,000. It's used now as a
theater for community and school productions.
In 1910, Waterville had telegraph and express offices, weekly newspapers,
grain elevators, banking facilities, a public library, an opera house and
good schools and churches. Three rural delivery mail routes went out from
the post office. It had a population of 704.
In 1917, the village boasted
blacksmith shops, a telephone system, the Weaver Hotel, a drug store,
lumber dealers, three banks, barber shops, general merchandise and grocery
stores, a moving picture show, and 611 people.