Diagonal History

January 31, 1889:

With the loud shout of "Hak-a-dady, Hak-a-dady", all Goshen is wild over the prospect of a new city at the crossing of the H.&S. and Diagonal railroads and many of the Goshen Boomers are going to move to Hak-a-dady.

February 21, 1889:

Morton will, in all probability, be the name of the city soon to rise at the H.&S. and Diagonal crossing. Just the name we wanted and for Governor O.P. Morton of Indiana, the grandest of the war governors. Hak-a-dady has been rechristened and now they cry "Morton, Morton, Morton." A meeting was held by the business men to make arrangements for a depot at the crossing on the H.&S. We still believe Goshen will remain as a wide-awake little town, despite this Hak-a-dady - Morton bubble.

March, 1889:

All quiet on the Potomac. Goshen and Knowlton are getting ready to charge on Morton. A new town to be called Diagonal has been laid out at the crossing by Mr. Josiah Lateer. The first plat contains fifteen blocks.

April 13, 1889:

Goshen is on the move. Charles Dayton has moved his dwelling to Diagonal and Had Hersom is moving all his buildings to this new town. Goshen will hold her stores, for if they leave, all the trade between the two rivers will go to Clearfield and what will be left for Diagonal?

May 2, 1889:

Goshen is now virtually on wheels and moving toward the crossing. Such unity and harmony in a move of this kind is rarely met. The cry is "Ho to the crossing." Knowlton has a lively and thriving city and has no notion of moving to a large city.

May, 1889:

It is well known that the first house arrived in Diagonal around the first of April. We now have a hardware, millinery, restaurant, hotel, blacksmith, land office, lumberyard, and at least fifteen houses and a half mile of sidewalks. All this in three months. I n the midst of this we have a depot set down here and all business formerly done at Goshen is now being transacted here. We also have petitioned for and been granted a post office.

Many good wells have been sunk and if we can get one in the north part of town, everyone can have water without having a reservoir.

We have just had our first Fourth celebration with no drunkenness, and no brawls; ending in a nice hop at Hersom's Hall. We have had a fresh arrival of population by a birth at Ed Myers'.

May 22, 1890:

James Todd dug a well and the water is impregnated with some kind of mineral. Mr. Todd is going to have it analyzed. Who knows? Diagonal may become the Saratoga of the West.

July, 1895:

With the prospect of a depot on the C.G.W. there was a boom in lot sales. Over $1,000 worth sold in one day. Several from Knowlton were looking for locations.

Mrs. Hart's funeral was conducted in the new cemetery south of town. Thomas Milsap met with a lot of trouble moving his house down from Knowlton. He broke three wagons and the end is not yet.

One week ago we had with us the kind fellow merchant, Frank Nesmith, and now his body lies in the cold, cold grave.

Our new depot will be the largest between Des Moines and Kansas City.

The other day on our way to Knowlton, we ran smack against a house in the middle of the road. "Hello, Tom, where are you going with this house, and whose is it?" Said Tom, "It's Ed Sherman's and we're taking it to Diagonal." "Well, and where did it come from?" "Oh, from Knowlton. They are all going to move down in the spring." "Well, if they are good Republicans and Christians, we will be glad to receive them."

February 20, 1896:

Most important thing now is the fight on incorporation. Those who oppose it have found a mare's nest with two to five eggs in it on taxes. And to hear them talk, they would rather our town would be burned down, run over by thieves and tuffs, and walk on broken sidewalks, than pay a dime extra to have law and order.

April 9, 1896:

We now call ourselves a full-fledged city. The incorporation passed 13-71. The election of officers passed off quietly with S.J. Gard for mayor. The people in town are setting fences, shrubbery, and trees.

May, 1897:

The town council bought the block know as the Park Grove, and on Arbor Day, they asked the people of this town to turn out and assist in fencing and planting trees.

Seven new houses have been erected this spring and there is still a demand for houses.

February, 1899:

The worst calamity that ever has taken Diagonal, befell it last week. It came in the way of a fire. Three business places and houses were burned out. (At best, we believe this was in the area of the old telephone office.) The town is pushing for an ordinance that no wooden frame buildings can be built. This created a division of voters.

May 17, 1906:

Another disastrous fire hit the town of Diagonal. This one took the Blue Front Livery, James Bell's house, and the Diagonal Hotel. (This was the vicinity of the Reporter Office, and two buildings south of there.)

March, 1911:

Diagonal road committee is working to get the Waubonsie Trail through Diagonal. The committee made the trip to Clearfield in twenty minutes which proves the good condition of the roads.

March, 1915:

Ed Nichols' livery barn burned, along with all the contents. He also lost four head of horses. The building was very old and burned fast. Due to his health, he will not rebuild.

May, 1916:

The Smith Realty of Kansas City have purchased ten acres from Ed Pine and laid it off in town lots and will sell them at auction. The tract of land was divided in fifty-six lots and all were sold.

December, 1917:

As a result of the fire last week in the Opera House, the bank has moved across the street north. Mr. Polen, whose stock was also burned, will not go into the clothing business. Mr. Rees decided to quit the paper. We do not know what the lodge will do. Diagonal needs a good hall.


A new bank building replaces the burned out Opera House and bank. The newspaper was started under the name of The Diagonal Reporter and files were kept from that time forward. Businesses added to the town will be described in separate sections of this history.

Diagonal held her own for several years, enjoying growth to a peak of six hundred residents. The addition of farm related businesses, the railroad, and the school kept the blood flowing for many years. The declining farm prices and fewer farms have hurt the town and school, causing a drop in population to only three hundred fifty. Several small businesses have been dropped and some of the oldest buildings have been torn down due to their poor condition.


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