Among the influential and substantial men of a past generation who were prominently concerned in ushering in new areas of industrial activity in Nodaway county and who figured conspicuously in the affairs of the county in general, ranking among its best citizens, and who will long be remembered for the many good deeds and acts of kindness he did, was the late William Henry Totterdale, he having been a potent factor in the business, political, civil and moral advancement of this locality through a long course of years. His extensive interests placed him among the leaders in industrial circles in the county, and he achieved that success which is the logical result of enterprise, systematic effort, resolute purpose and straightforward methods. There are no other qualities absolutely essential to development, and upon the ladder of his own building Mr. Totterdale climbed to prominence and prosperity, while in the community with whose interests he was so closely and conspicuously identified he was held in the highest esteem and confidence by all who knew him, since his integrity and honesty of purpose were questioned by none.
Mr. Totterdale was a native of England, born in Somersetshire, May 21, 1848. When ten years old he came with his parents to America and settled in Columbia County, Wisconsin, where they lived six years, then moved to Waukesha, the same state. Here young Totterdale learned the carpenter trade and became a skilled workman. In 1867 he came to Maryville, where he spent the rest of his life. His active business career began about thirty-five years ago, when he and George Conrad entered into a partnership as contractors and builders. Many of the best residences and business blocks in Maryville were erected by them, among which might be mentioned the Ream hotel, four buildings on Fourth street facing the square, for A. P. Morehouse, John B. Cox, George Conrad and Brown & Montgomery, respectively, the building now occupied by H. T. Crane, for F. D. Snyder; part of the Robinson & Prather building; the four store rooms occupied by the Alderman Dry Goods Company, and the grocery department of the Maryville Mercantile Company, for M. G. Roseberry; the Roseberry building, for Smith Brothers; the Forsyth Building, occupied by Byers & Bidder, for R. Iv. Townsend; the building next to it, occupied by F. P. Reuillard, for George Worst; the building occupied by Airy & Simpson, for Jake Schrader; the next one south, for Elias Pittman; the Union bus barn for James B. Prather. Among the more pretentious residences erected by them in this city, were those of Jack Welch, W. C. Pierce and the Drennan home, all in the north part of town, and the Vinsonhaler and Weaver houses in the south part of the city.
In later years they retired as contractors and builders and established a lumber yard on North Main street, which they conducted with signal success for many years, enjoying a large trade. Finally disposing of this business to Curfman Brothers, they retired from active business life a few years prior to the death of Mr. Totterdale.
Mr. Totterdale was twice married, the first time to Susan Blend, May 18, 1870; she was also of English birth, and came with her parents to America. Her death occurred in 1880. On June 17, 1885. Mr. Totterdale was married, at Moberly, Missouri, to Frances Rebecca Hess, who, with two daughters, Carrie and Anna Belle, survives.
Mr. Totterdale always took more or less interest in political affairs and in the general welfare of Nodaway County, and he served in the city council from the second ward one or two terms, and was a member of the fire company from 1879 to 1883. Although he never sought political preferment, always preferring the quiet life of an humble citizen, his abilities were recognized by political leaders and he was often importuned to run for office; finally in 1905 he accepted the nomination for mayor of the city of Maryville on the Republican ticket and was triumphantly elected, making for the city one of the best mayors it ever had, carefully looking after every public interest with a fidelity to duty that always characterized his daily life, and giving the people a straightforward, clean business administration the like of which will not soon be repeated.
The death of this excellent citizen occurred on October 23, 1908, in Kansas City, whither he had gone a few days previously and was operated on for intestinal trouble, from which he rallied, but peritonitis set in and he succumbed to it.
Mr. Totterdale was a member of the Episcopal church from early youth, and he was a charter member of Nodaway Lodge, No. 470, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, also belonged to Maryville Commandery, Knights Templar, and was a Shriner at St. Joseph. Missouri; he was also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
No person who passed from earthly scenes in recent years in Nodaway county was more universally respected than Mr. Totterdale; so far as known, he died without an enemy. This is remarkable when the fact is taken into consideration that he was actively engaged in business in Maryville for a period covering more than thirty years. He was the soul of honor and in his dealings with his fellow men he was always ready to concede any point of contention. His home life was ideal, and although much of his time of evenings was demanded by the brethren of the different civic societies of the city, of which he was an honored and popular member, yet by his own fireside is where his happiest hours were spent and where his simple, commendable and worthiest virtues shone with the greatest luster.
Source: B. F. Bowen & Company. Past and present of Nodaway County, Missouri, p. 392-94. Indianapolis, Indiana: B. F. Bowen & Company. 1910.