One of Osborne County’s most popular early-day businessmen was Chauncey W. Baldwin. Chauncey, or “Chan,” as he was commonly called, came to Osborne as a young man. Sixty-six years later he was still in business, setting the all-time Kansas record for a pharmacist in continuous service.
Chan was born November 4, 1853, at Riga, New York. He received his education in the Conandaigna, New York, schools and at the age of sixteen was offered a job by telegram in Onarga, Illinois. He worked at the drugstore there for five years as he mastered the pharmacist trade.
In 1874 Chan came to Osborne and with Al Wilson opened the town’s first drugstore. Baldwin and Wilson Drug was over a day’s ride farther west than any other competitor in northwest Kansas, and they soon became acquainted with every phase of human life to be found in a frontier town. Their first customers were homesteaders, trappers, Indians, and buffalo hunters. After two years Wilson sold out and Chan took over sole management of the Baldwin Drug Company.
At first Chan’s motley class of customers either lounged on the counters or squatted on the floor with feet underneath them in true western style. As the town matured chairs and good manners became more evident. For entertainment the settlers organized literary societies, singing bees, debating tournaments, and music concerts. The young Baldwin contributed much to these amusements and the popular young man was considered the soul of town society. He caught the eye of Miss Lola Brodrick and they were married June 7, 1880, in Osborne. They had one daughter, Bernice.
Chan was an active Mason and served on the city council. He was a charter member of the Kansas Pharmaceutical Association and bought one of the original franchises of the Rexall chain. At the company’s 50th anniversary celebration, Chan was the only original franchisee still with the company. And it was Chan Baldwin who, in July 1882, introduced to the citizens of Osborne County the “delicious new drink” called ginger ale.
In 1915 his wife died. Chan then married Mrs. Nell Morgan on March 7, 1916. The store continued to prosper and had changed little over the years, except that the customers now sat comfortably at tables with checkerboard tablecloths while the kindly druggist reposed in his rocking chair and regaled them with tales of the early days. Chan Baldwin passed away July 30, 1940, and was laid to rest with honors in the Osborne Cemetery. His widow retained the store until 1949, when after 75 years in the Baldwin family it was sold. The business, now called Main Street Drug, still operates in Osborne at the same location it has occupied for over 135 years.