Dr. Toalson’s roots are deep in Mexico, Mo.
This photo of Dr. George F. Toalson is reproduced from the Mexico Ledger May 30, 1975.
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
Dr. George F. Toalson, born in 1865, was one of the eight children of Dr. Thomas Benton and Lucy Ann Gentry Toalson of Boone County, Mo.
On the afternoon of St. Valentine’s Day, 1892, Dr. George Toalson donned his best black suit and in a private ceremony at his home married Miss Elizabeth (Lizzie) Allensworth. She was the daughter of the late Edward Allensworth, a wealthy farmer of Mackinaw, Ill., and his remarried widow, Julia E. Wigginton Allensworth Maus.
The house where Dr. Toalson and his bride would live – on Clark Street in Mexico, Mo. - was a wedding gift to Dr. Toalson by his mother-in-law, Mrs. Maus.
Miss Allensworth, who had been confined to her room by illness for the previous eight weeks, and the young doctor, had been planning an elaborate wedding the next spring, to be followed by an extensive bridal tour to Europe.
When illness struck his intended, Dr. Toalson let it be known that he would be “better satisfied if they were married, and her opinion was reciprocal,” the Mexico Weekly Ledger reported on page 3 of its Feb. 18, 1892 edition.
“The bride arose from her tiresome bed in the afternoon and was feeling much better. She donned her wedding costume and looked lovely, exquisitely gowned in a China silk, cream white, gloves and slippers to match, with sweet Marechal Niel roses and carnations.”
On Aug. 3, 1893, the newspaper reported that Mrs. Toalson had given birth to a daughter, who they named Julia. The infant died five days later and was buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Mexico, Mo.
Lucy Wigginton Karnes of Centralia, Mo., Mrs. Toalson’s maternal aunt, stayed at the bedside of her niece for nine weeks, trying to nurse her back to health. But the efforts were in vain.
Mrs. Toalson’s death came on June 10, 1894. She was just 25 years old.
Dr. Toalson continued to make a home for himself in that house on Clark Street.
Hunting and traveling
Dr. Toalson would remain single for nine years before he once again trod down the marriage aisle.
During that time, he participated in a favorite hobby: Hunting. The Mexico-area newspapers carried notices of several hunting trips he participated in, including the following, published on Oct. 10, 1895 by the Mexico Ledger:
“At 1 a.m. Monday morning, Butler Guthrie, John B. Graham, Dr. George F. Toalson and Charles W. Criswell, with Lige Cooper Jr., as cook and Joe Harrison, barber, left for south Missouri on a hunting and fishing excursion. Butler Guthrie has one of the most complete camping outfits in the country and the boys will have an enjoyable time.”
In addition, he participated in an international excursion. Dr. Toalson and Robert Johnson accompanied a load of between 700 and 800 fine cattle to an agent for Colonel Hathaway of Liverpool, England. Following delivery of the cattle, Dr. Toalson remained in Europe for an eight-month tour.
Dr. Toalson’s father, Dr. T.B. Toalson, died unexpectedly on April 2, 1898, at the age of 57. And in June 1901, Dr. Toalson’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Julia Maus, died.
In June 1903, Dr. Toalson took Miss Lulu Wheeler, the youngest daughter of Frank Wheeler, for his bride. Frank Wheeler, a native of France, was a long-time railroad engineer who lived at 908 East Liberty Street in Mexico.
The Toalsons raised two children, Norma, born about 1905, and George Toalson, born about 1907.
In 1905, Mason Creasy was merchant doing business in Mexico, Mo.
He told the Mexico Weekly Ledger that during surgery, Dr. Toalson had removed a 30-pound cyst tumor from Mrs. Creasy.
He then invited newspaper readers to stop by his shop to see the tumor for themselves. (Mexico Weekly Ledger, Feb. 9, 1905, page 1.)
He praised Dr. Toalson’s surgical skill.
Unfortunately, Mr. Creasy’s wife Rosa died the following Christmas Day.
Two men gained entry into the home of Dr. and Mrs. Toalson at 2:15 a.m. on Friday, July 30, 1909. Mrs. Toalson told a reporter from the Mexico Weekly Ledger that robbers unsuccessfully attempted to enter two windows by cutting the screens. Finally, they removed a screen from a front window, and used it as a step for entering the house on West Clark Street. The window led into the couple’s bedroom. Dr. and Mrs. Toalson awoke and were able to get a good view of the robbers.
Dr. Toalson’s watch and gold chain were taken, before the robbers fled through the rear entrance of the house. The gold chain had been a present from his father-in-law, Mr. Wheeler, who dug the gold in California in 1849, the Ledger reported.
Dr. Nathaniel Allison and Miss Martha Frances Sullinger moved to Mexico, Mo., as newlyweds on Dec. 1, 1845. For the remainder of his life, until 1895, he was a progressive businessman as well as a respected medical professional.
Dr. Allison purchased land several blocks north of Mexico’s town square, and on that site operated Allison’s Spring. The mineral water gathered there was believed to have healing powers.
Dr. Allison opened up his property to the public as early as 1878. The following year, local residents were invited to purchase yearly passes for $1.
By 1881, Dr. Allison was touting the mineral water’s healing power in the Mexico Weekly Ledger: “It’s use has produced marvelous results in the treatment of Dyspepsia, Chronic Diarrhea, Dysentery, Diseases of the kidneys, rheumatism, neuralgia, scrofulous affections and diseases common to females.”
The land sloped down to the south branch, which still meanders through Mexico. The site was thought by many to be perfect for a hotel.
It unclear if a hotel was ever constructed, but the block of ground between Washington and Jefferson streets did provide amusement for the locals, who took part in lawn tennis matches at Allison’s Springs six evenings a week during July 1883.
A band stand was erected in 1898.
By 1911, Dr. G.F. Toalson had purchased the property on North Jefferson street, and began a process of filling in low areas.
When the Ringo Hotel in Mexico burned in 1918, some of the debris from the ruins was hauled to the Allison’s Springs site to be used as fill.
In June of that year, men who were smoothing out the debris on Dr. Toalson’s lots uncovered a human foot.
It is unclear if the source of this discovery was ever identified.
After much of the land was leveled, Dr. Toalson arranged to have a stream through the property walled with concrete. “If it proves sufficient to carry the water which flows through he will have it topped and then fill in this lot,” the Mexico Weekly Ledger reported on March 9, 1911.
In 1913, the “archway” over the branch was nearly complete, the newspaper reported. Once complete, Dr. Toalson planned to have the ravine filled and leveled, to prepare the block for building sites.
A portion of the tunnel commissioned by Dr. Toalson collapsed in June 1920.
Dr. George F. Toalson died in 1943. At the time of his death, he was the oldest practicing physician in the city.
Dawn and Scott Wilburn of Mexico, Mo., provided this scenic photo of a stream that flows through much of Mexico, Mo. The land pictured is the property that was once known as Allison’s Spring, the site of a resort during the 1880s. Dr. George F. Toalson owned the property for many years, and built a concrete tunnel for the stream to pass through on his property. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO