Hotels of the 1800’s were called ‘Town Houses’. They would often house settlers who had traveled to town with horse and wagon for supplies. Because it was usually a long trip to town, an overnight stay would become necessary.
Other odd jobs could have been done for the guests, who were usually men. These included laundry, ironing and patching of clothes. Their team of animals, usually horses, would spend the night at the local livery stable.
The rooms were nicely furnished with a kerosene lamp, coal stove and a Bible. The stove was small (18 inches in diameter and 8 feet tall) but heated the rooms nicely.
The residents often played card games together to pass the time.
The town of Wentworth was named after an early settler, George Wentworth. Nell Wentworth’s quarter of land (George’s son) is where the town was built. The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad was built in 1880-1881 and the town sprung up around it. In December of 1881 Charles Kennedy of Madison surveyed Wentworth, which then officially became a town.
The winter of 1880-1881 was difficult, with few supplies getting through. Flooding came in the spring and after the railroad was repaired, trains with supplies began returning. The first building in town was a dugout ‘lean-to’ that Mr. Adams made into a grocery store. The first lumber load arrived in May 27th of 1881 and was used to build the Birdsell Hotel (known here as the Wentworth Hotel). The Birdsell Hotel was 2 stories high and 18 x 26 feet. An addition of 8 x 14 feet was added later. A photo indicated that the third floor was just a cupola. Another early development in the town was the Filsinger Saloon. A photo showed it was positioned next to the hotel.
In addition to school buildings, the hotel was a large social gathering for a town. Wentworth was lucky to have such a place. It attracted visitors from all over, including salesmen, farmers, travelers, pioneers, and anyone else looking for a bed at night.
One of the last managers to run the Wentworth Hotel was Mrs. Hawkins. Mrs. Susie Thompson Vickers, a former resident of Madison, used to give piano lessons at the hotel twice a week. She would ride the 8 am freight train and catch the 3 pm passenger home.
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