McLain-Branine House

326 W. Broadway

Newton, KS 67114

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This Queen Anne-style house was built in 1885 as the home of Albert H. McLain and his family. McLain was born in Illinois in 1833. In 1855, he married Sarah Libbey, and the couple had eight children. He came to Harvey County in 1872, settling in the Pleasant township, where he farmed 652 acres. In 1885, he retired from farming and moved to Newton where he became the vice president of Newton National Bank. The October 22, 1885, edition of the Newton Kansan describes the home as it was being built. It states "the house is frame, two story, and 40x50 feet, with basement under the entire building. There are three large rooms below, besides kitchen, pantry, etc., while the second story is divided into eight bedrooms with closet to each, and one large bathroom. The house is provided with gas pipes throughout, and the bedrooms and bathrooms with pipes furnishing cold and hot water. In the bedrooms, this water service is attached to elegant marble wash basins. The rooms will be heated with stoves and elegant marble grates, and lighted with gasoline gas. When completed the house will not cost less than $4,000 (more than $450,000 by today's standards), and will be one of the most completed and convenient in this city." Crisis hit the community in the late 1880s when real estate and banking industries crashed. Many banks failed and Newton National Bank was among the first to close its doors. The crisis was termed "The Newton Panic." A Newton Kansan headline dated Nov. 27, 1890 stated "The Newton Panic. Eight Banks Close Doors. The Newton National Bank Heads the Procession, wrecks the Kansas Savings Bank, and pulls down five banks in other towns." After losing the bank, McLain hoped to save his home by transferring the title to his wife's name. McLain died on March 12, 1891. He was considered such an esteemed member of the community that the county offices and banks closed so employees could attend his funeral. The home was purchased by Cyrus M. Beachy in 1893. Beachy came to Newton from Wiley, Kansas, in 1893 and established the First State Bank. Beachy is also listed as serving among the first elected directors and as secretary for the Railroad Loan and Savings Company, which was established in 1896. He also was a partner in the Hanlin Mercantile Company for a short time. However, it was during his time with the Steffen-Bretch Ice Cream Company in Wichita that he was drawn away from Newton. In November 1905, he was elected as president, manager and treasurer of the Steffen-Bretch Ice Cream Company. By May 1906, Beachy moved to Wichita, selling his home to Mary Branine, wife of Charles Branine, for $6,500. Charles Branine and his wife owned the home for only a few years. Born in Illinois, Charles Branine came to Harvey County with his family in June 1874 at the age of 10. Branine's father was a farmer and Charles worked the farm with him until he left to attend Baker University and the University of Kansas, where he studied law. He was accepted to the bar in 1889. His brother, Ezra, (eight years younger than Charles) joined him as a partner in his practice in 1895. They practiced together for 16 years until Charles was elected as judge of the Ninth Judicial District Court in 1908 and moved to Hutchinson to better perform his duties. Charles then sold the home to his brother, Ezra, in 1909. Following the departure of Charles, Ezra became the head partner in the law practice. He brought in Harry Hart to serve as partner. Later, Ezra's son Alden would join him along with his son-in-law, Fred Ice. Ezra Branine and family lived at this home until his death in 1946.

 

The Branine brothers were active in law and political activities serving the county and the region. Charles served as the county attorney from 1894-1898 and was elected to the state senate in 1900, where he served four years. Ezra also served two terms as county attorney from 1905 to 1909. In his obituary dated July 23, 1946, in the Newton Kansan, it states he "served as counsel in many states and Canada, and built one of the largest and most complete law libraries in the state."

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