Craig, in point of commercial importance the second place in the county, is also the business center of Union Township. It occupies the southeast corner of section 11, and the northeast corner of section 14, in township 62, range 40, on the main line of the Kansas City, St. Joseph and Council Bluffs Railroad, which was completed to this point in the summer of 1868. The town limits extend to the waters of the Big Tarkio, which, at this point, is spanned by an iron King bridge, 105 feet long, erected in 1881, at a cost of four thousand dollars, just after the great flood of April of that year, in which the original structure was swept away. The railroad bridge, a few hundred yards above, is also a substantial iron structure, on massive stone piers. This was erected in the same year by the Central Bridge Company, of Wall Street, New York.
The site of the town is a dead level in the Missouri River bottom, which, at this point is eight hundred and eighty feet above the level of the sea. It is about half a mile southwest of the bluff range, in full view of the forest of Sharpe's Grove.
The town of Craig was laid out early in the fall of 1868, by the original proprietors, Robert W. Frame, Christ Shults and Samuel Ensworth. Its present (1882) population is between 600 and 700.
The first to sell goods in the place was A. W. Hawley. He began in the fall of 1868. Immediately after, Shults & Frame, who were selling goods and keeping a post office, called Tarkio, in a house one and threequarter miles northeast of the site of the town, moved their stock to the new town and commenced business. This Tarkio was nearly a mile below the noted watering place, one half a mile east of Craig, and is still known as the Big Spring. It is at the foot of the bluff, and was a regular halting place on the great route from St. Joseph over the hills via Savannah, Fillmore and Hollister's Mill, to North Point, afterwards Mound City, whence the road followed the foot of the bluffs to the crossing of the Little Tarkio, where the state road branched off to Rock Port. The trading post of Tarkio remained at this point, on the Little Tarkio, till the growing importance of the new town of Craig absorbed its business.
The first blacksmith to open a shop in Craig, was J. A. Orange, who, in September, 1868, erected the first building in the town and opened it as the Grant and Sherman House. This he continued to keep till 1873, when he sold out. The building, which has since changed hands, several times, has been considerably enlarged and improved, since that day, especially by the present (1882) proprietor, P. B. Cook. It is now the Craig Hotel.
Shults & Frame opened, in the same year, the first stock of goods in the town. They afterwards moved their building from Tarkio to the town site.
A. P. Davenport built, in 1874, a flouring mill in the town. It is a two run mill. The present (1882) proprietors are Reece & Gibson, who purchased it from Davenport.
The first physician to settle in Craig was Dr. John T. Shepherd. Dr. B. Meek and Dr. Hanlin came afterward. April, 1870, Dr. J. L. Johnstun located in the town, and the other physicians moved away. C. Hoblitzell started in February, 1875, the first lumber yard in Craig. This is now owned by Hoblitzell Bros. Dr. J. L. Johnstun and Fred. Myers, the late popular collector of Holt County, built, in 1874, the first and only elevator in the town. Its capacity is ten thousand bushels. The firm is now Myers & Ward.
The first school in the town of Craig was taught by C. A. Doughty, in the original frame school building on Frame Street, now owned by the "Christians", and occupied by them as a church. The elegant structure of the graded school stands on the opposite side of the same street. It is a spacious two-story brick building with four class rooms, halls, etc., affording accommodation for 240 scholars. The house was completed in January, 1882, at a cost of over six thousand dollars. The present corps of instructors include Professor Ballinger, Principal; Miss Hubra and Mrs. E. Welch, Assistants.
Dr. J. T. Shepherd opened the first drug store in the town. In 1869 James Campbell started the first livery stable in the place. The first railroad agent of Craig was Frank Blood. He had many successors. The present (1882) agent, Mr. Hunter, has had charge of the station for the past ten years. The first postmaster of Craig was Christian Shults, who was appointed in 1868. He was succeeded in 1872 by E. D. Richmond. H. S. Hogue succeeded the latter in 1875. The present postmaster, Robert Lyons, has been in office since 1879, and is an efficient and highly popular official.
The banking house of Bilby & Heaton, the first and only enterprise of the kind established in Craig, is one of the substantial institutions of this county. The bank was opened here in 1877, and has since continued to enjoy a season of uninterrupted prosperity, doing as large a business as that of any similar institution in the county, and commands the unqualified confidence of the community. The structure of the bank is a new two-story brick building, the entire first floor of which is occupied by the bank and its appurtenances, all of which are fitted up in a style of metropolitan elegance. William H. Heaton, Esq., the manager, is a gentleman of great personal popularity.
Source: The History of Holt and Atchison Counties, Missouri; 1882