Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
 

A majority of the pioneers who came into this region were ambitious to have a part in the building of a town. In this day the big dream of the farmer is of possible oil discoveries on his holdings; but in the early days of settlement the dream of the land owners was of a city, preferably a county seat, being located on his quarter section.

History proves that some of them realized this ambition to the extent of a townsite, but in most cases they were disappointed in seeing a flourishing city develop. Many speculators came into the country and took up land with no other thought than to sell it off in town lots.

Finney county has had its share of mushroom towns, which appeared for a brief time but are now only a memory. A few evidences of some of those towns still remain upon the prairie, but the ruins are slowly decaying. Others experienced a sudden end and were hauled away to build up a more successful rival. Some of them still hold a place on the map, but no longer have a post office, and all that is left is a school house or gasoline station. Many sites of the boom towns have been plowed under and lay buried beneath a field of wheat or other crops.

Buffalo Center

Buffalo Center was the first attempt to establish a town in Garfield township, which was then Buffalo county. A. D. Wettick of Cimarron, having visions of the county being organized, decided to start a town and make it the county seat. He put up a sod store building on the southeast quarter of section 36-21-29, and stocked it with goods in 1878 from his store at Cimarron. He had a man in charge who also handed mail out to the few settlers and cattle men whenever it was brought up from Cimmaron by freighters. The country was practically unsettled, but strangers were beginning to come in, and they were welcomed first and then allowed to prove their worth afterwards. One day a bunch of men were loafing around the store waiting for the mail to be brought in when a couple of young fellows rode up to the store on horseback. But in reply to the customary "Howdy, stranger," they whipped out guns and ordered the store keeper and the patrons to line up against the wall. They took what they wanted from their victims and some merchandise from the store. Seemingly satisfied one held the gun while the other mounted his horse, and then the other held his gun while his partner backed out and got on his horse. They made a successful get-away, and soon vanished from sight among the Pawnee brakes.

Mr. Wettick failed to find well water near his store at Buffalo Center and the location was early abandoned.

Terryton

Terryton the town and Terry the township were named for a real estate speculator from New York, Porter D. Terry. He had some money and great visions for the future of his town, which he founded during the boom of 1885-86. It was the half-way station on the stage line between Garden City and Scott City. There was a stage barn where they kept eight horses for change on the route. Four stages came in every day. The Cannon Ball, with Hank and Bronks as drivers, put them through from Scott to Garden in five hours.

The town was located in the southeast corner of section 25-21-23. Young and Jeffrys were in the grocery business; George W. Morse advertised provisions, glassware, and flour; Mr. Terry operated a real estate and livestock exchange; J. M. Dunn had a general store. There was a comfortable hotel, drug store, livery stable and bus station. A newspaper was published by W. E. Coutant called "The Enterprise" during 1886-87. During 1888-89 it was called "The Eye", with B. L. Stephenson editor. The townsite was on the Hne of several projected railroads and had great expectations on that score. There was also a good lumber yard.

The "Old Kentucky Home" where they all went to Sunday School and where church services were held, was a half-mile north of Terryton. The Old Kentucky Home was named by its first owner, a son of George Wilson, who came there from Kentucky. Mr. Terry bought the Wilsons out and then sold the place to Dr. L. H. Johnson, an eastern speculator. He and his wife bought several sections in that neighborhood about 1895, but Dr. Johnson was blind and they did nothing to develop the land.

J. J. Glascock and family located one mile west of Terryton in 1886. Mrs. Glascock tells an incident of pioneer life which caused her great agony: "Terryton had one of the best ball teams in the country, and every Saturday afternoon there would be a big ball game, and nearly everybody in that trade territory made it a point to be there. One Saturday afternoon in August the men went to the ball game. I took the baby, Clarence, 22 months old, and went to spend the afternoon with Miss Rosa Wilson. A little later he ran out of the house and fell into the well, which was 44 feet deep. I ran all the way to town, waving my white apron, while Rosa stayed by the well and talked to the baby, telling him they were coming to get him out. He was standing in one corner holding to the two-foot curbing. His leg was broken and he was holding his chin up to keep the water out of his mouth. I have always thought it a miracle that he did not give up and drown. They got him out just in time, and it is lucky that we had a doctor in the neighborhood. Dr. Miller, his wife and four daughters lived west of us on section 26."

For three or four years Terryton flourished, but the drouth which drove the homesteaders from the country also bhghted the hopes of Mr. Terry and the town has long passed into oblivion. The following was copied from the Hatfield News, which was published in a rival town: "For Sale. A one-horse railroad boom, broken in the middle and without head or tail. It might be repaired to suit emergencies, as its constitution and plan were constructed with that end in view. A quit-claim deed will be given. Will be sold very low, as I wish to (or rather the people wish me to) give place to a more able man, and hie myself back to Yankee-dom where my real estate interests are. Porter D. Terry."

Whitson And Hatfield

Those interested in preserving the history of southwestern Kansas are indebted to John H. Whitson of Rowley, Massachusetts, for the story of Whitson and Hatfield. Mr. Whitson came to Sequoyah county in 1884, and with his father, Aaron F. Whitson, and his sister Barbara, homesteaded three quarter sections in section 20-22-33, northwest of Garden City. He is now a wellknown author, having had a number of books published, and is listed in "Who's Who in America". In his novel, "The Rainbow Chasers", published in 1904, he calls Garden City the Golden City and portrays the boom days of 1886.

Mr. Whitson tells a story on himself that in some way got started as to his singular literary activity while he was living on his Sequoyah county ranch: "Robertus C. Love, then a Garden City editor, later and at the time of his death connected with the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, wrote to me from St. Louis saying he was getting out a book that would deal with characters of the old days on the plains; and that he would like me to furnish him for inclusion in it the story of how I used to write my stories in some kind of a house built on an old windmill. I had to tell him that some one had hoaxed him. I knew my stories might have been rather windy, as they were fiction emanating from a wind-driven country, but I had written them in an ordinary room, in an ordinary house, on an ordinary ranch.

"A man we became well acquainted with was John W. Gregory, who became editor of the Garden City Sentinel, was probate judge, and later laid out the town of Hatfield, adjoining our quarter sections on the northwest. I helped in the surveying of Hatfield, carrying the surveyors' chain. We had at our place a post office named Whitson which served the settlers of that part of the country. It was probably the smallest post office in the United States as it occupied only a portion of my mother's kitchen, with a few pigeonhole boxes for letters, and some drawers for stamps and records. In 1886 the post office was moved to Hatfield which started out with a fireworks of advertising and collapsed. It was 15 miles northwest of Garden City on the proposed line of the Denver, Garden City and Southeast railroad, and on the line of the Cannon Ball Stage and U.S. mail route to Leoti. At its best it had a store, operated by Thompson and Crawford, a claim house occupied by Rev. Godley, a local minister, a town hall, the Antelope hotel of eleven rooms, a few other houses; and a little later having the most magnificent sod house that was perhaps ever built.

"This sod house was erected by C. G. Coutant, who succeeded Gregory of the Garden City Sentinel, coming out from New York where he had held positions on New York City papers. His house of sod, cut from the plains, was a large square structure, two stories high, with four rooms on each floor. It had a shingle roof, board floors and was ceiled; the inner walls smoothed down with coats of plaster and whiting; with carpets on the floors, good furniture, a fine piano, book cases, etc. It made a good, comfortable home of which he had a right to be proud. He drove out to this home each day from Garden City, lashing a span of fiery ponies that took him over the trail at a great rate."

The Hatfield News was published from 1887 to 1889, the issues ceasing with the death of the editor. The fall of Hatfield was due in part, no doubt, to the uprising of Terry on the northeast.

J. N. Reeves and family lived four miles east of Hatfield. Mrs. Reeves taught school in all the adjoining districts, teaching a term in later years among the deserted ruins of Hatfield. Mr. Reeves was a member of the board of education while his wife taught. Several children came from without the district, but within the district the school consisted only of the Reeves children.

Essex

The following description was taken from the 'Sunbeam", a newspaper which was published at Essex in 1887 by W. F. Ellsworth.

"Essex is situated in the Pawnee valley, one of the most beautiful and fertile regions in the state. It is on the proposed line of the Kansas Air Line Railroad, which will connect the main line of the D. M. & A. running southwest into the coal fields of Colorado, giving us direct communications north, south and southwest. Essex is 22 miles from Garden City. 15 miles from Ravanna. 14 miles from Pierceville. 8 1/2 from Eminence. It is surrounded by the most fertile soil of Kansas, which is being rapidly improved. Water is first class, found at a depth of 15 to 50 feet in the valley. The best of soft magnesia limestone building rock is found within 14 mile of town. Essex has a hotel, general store, printing office, real estate office, blacksmith shop, lumber yard, and Byc dwellings. It has a complete canning outfit with a 2000-can capacity, and a large sorghum mill."

James Concannon with his wife and family settled in Garfield township in 1887. He reared his family in Essex and for many years after the boom of Western Kansas had passed, he remained as post master and operated a general store. At the same time he engaged extensively in stock raising and owned many acres of land in the Essex neighborhood. The post office was discontinued in 1914, and there is nothing left to mark the old townsite of Essex except some farm buildings.

Pattenville-Pansy-Loyal

The post office of Pattonville was established in old Buffalo county March 1, 1880, with Adam S. Van Patten as the appointed post master.

The name of the post office was changed to Pansy November 28, 1881, and David Goddard was appointed post master. According to county lines at that time, Pansy was in Gray county. The name Pansy was suggested by John H. Churchill. February 7, 1882, Martha Hoadley was appointed postmistress.

The name of the office was changed to Loyal March 3, 1882, and Mrs. Hoadley was re-appointed postmistress. After July 6 of that year the mail route from Garden City increased its trips to twice a week. Loyal was located on section 5-29-22. The Hoadley family was prominent among the early settlers of Garfield county. Their first home was a dugout, dug back in a creek bank. The rafters over the roof were covered with willows and then a layer of sod, and extended out on a level with the top of the bank. One morning while they were at breakfast a steer walked casually out on the roof after a nibble of green grass. First two front feet went crashing down through the willows, followed almost immediately by two hind ones, but the steer stayed on top, balanced across a rafter. Fortunately he was near the edge and with the help of neighbors they soon rolled him off.

H. D. Collins describes C. F. Hoadley as being a man of large stature, large hands, large feet. Rather ugly in appearance: "I never knew his height. When asked as to his height, he would reply: 'It is either six feet ten or ten feet six, I can't remember which.' He told me he had never met a man who could measure him with outstretched arms. He was a jolly good neighbor, well informed, intelligent, ranchman, cabinet maker by trade and a professional gambler. He was reputed to be one of the slickest gamblers in the west. Later in life he reformed, joined the church and was known as a kind old man."

Loyal was a popular trading point and community center for several years. It was a typical village of pioneer days, with a general store which carried many things; a blacksmith shop, where the settlers took their plows and wagons to be re-conditioned; and a schoolhouse which was also used for church and social gatherings. The Garfield County Journal came into existence at Loyal July 1, 1887, and lived until 1889. Several took a turn at editing. G. L. Sigman, M. L. Hart and Mrs. C. F. Hoadley, who many times got out the weekly issues on the old hand press all by herself. They all boosted the upper Pawnee valley. It abounded in water, good soil, grasses, building material, good society and predicted that mineral material would yet be found in the valley.

The post office was discontinued September 15, 1899. There is nothing left now to mark the site of Loyal. The buildi'ngs have all been removed. When the new Loyal schoolhouse was built a new location was selected.

Felix: had a post office in 1882, receiving mail from Garden City twice weekly. It was located in Garfield township, and was in the center of the cattle range of that region and was patronized largely by cattlemen.

LORENZ was located in section 23-23-28 in the southeast corner of Garfield township. It had a post office and several places of business during the boom years of 1886-87-88. Later the name was changed to Canyon post office.

Burham was placed on the map in 1910 by the projected Nebraska, Kansas & Southern railroad, but neither was ever developed. GAS CITY was also allowed a place on the map for the same reason.

Passedena was advertised as a thriving town, but it never existed except on paper. A site was selected and some lots staked out in section 30-21-29, then in Garfield county. This was during the boom days of 1886. Lots were sold or given to people who thought they were making a good investment, and they willingly paid a fat recording fee, but no records could ever be found. It was only a fake promotion scheme.

Kn: was located in the northwest part of Finney county in 1885 by a man named Knaus from Knobnoster, Missouri. He was postmaster and operated a general store in connection. This point had a few houses and a building which was used for school and church purposes. During the blizzard of 1886 the citizens had to abandon their homes' and live in the church to conserve fuel.

Maustonason-Cowland-Ravanna

C. L. Brown was one of the first to file on land in old Buffalo county, coming there in May, 1878. He says the settlers worked fast in those days. Two men. Mason and Coulson, who had also come there in the spring of '78, and himself, were driving to Larned that fall after supplies, when they met some men with wagons. After a brief conversation they found the men were headed toward Buffalo county.

When the Brown party returned home after a few days, they discovered that the men they had met on the road, under the leadership of John Bull, had settled in their neighborhood. They had already located claims, and more than that, they had staked out a townsite, and intended to make it a county seat. They were also out circulating a petition to get a post office, although it was hard to find any bona fide inhabitants.

John Bull was born in Quebec, Canada, in 1847. He came to Buffalo county, Kansas, November 16, 1878, and filed on the northwest quarter of Sec. 3, T. 22, R. 28. His first shelter was a half dugout of one room built of rock which he quarried from the Pawnee creek, and in this he put a stock of merchandise. The place was first called Mason in honor of Seamon Mason, and was the second attempt to locate a county seat in Buffalo county. A post office was established January 9, 1879, and Samuel Wood was appointed postmaster. Mr. Bull's efforts to get a water supply at this point proved unavailing, and he took another claim near a spring three miles west. This he also released a little later. In 1880 he pre-empted the southwest quarter of the same section which was the scene of his activities for several years. At this time, February 15, 1880, the name of the post office was changed to Cowland, to moderate the term "Bull town".

Cowland was advertised as a beautiful village on the Pawnee, and the Hotel Golding sheltered many weary travellers, early speculators and cattle men. That region was divided up into cattle ranges, and the name "Cowland" seemed a very appropriate one and corresponded with the character of the country and its industry. It was the address given by a number of noted cattlemen. As the seasons became more favorable, the county began to be settled up numerously by men who wanted to farm and objections were made to the name Cowland. A town meeting was called with the idea of changing the name. James Cross suggested the name of his native town in Ohio, Ravenna, and by vote, it was selected, but in making out the official papers, the government spelled it Ravanna. This occurred September 25, 1885.

Mr. Bull became the "Merchant Prince" of Garfield county, and continued to sell goods at Ravanna for eleven years under the name of John Bull and Co. His wife was the "Company". At one time Mr. Bull was the proprietor of the leading store, the blacksmith shop, the harness shop and the butcher shop. Later other stores were added to the town. A building for church purposes was erected, the first preacher being Elder Booth of the M.E. denomination. Mr. Bull was the first pastor of the Christian church, while the first school-teacher in the town was Miss Agnes Sinclair, whom Mr. Bull hired to teach the neighborhood private school.

Schoolhouse built at Ravanna, Kansas, 1889

The story of the county seat fight between Ravanna and Eminence is told in the chapter on Garfield county history. During the time that Ravanna was the county seat the town soon reached a population of 700. The Ravanna Chieftain was established April 22, 1896, with M. L. Hart editor. He was a town booster and extolled its beauty. He talked railroads, advocated a Hook and Ladder Fire Company and a telephone line to Cimarron.

Alexander and Rody became editors of the Chieftain in the fall of '87, and were active in the county seat fight. They devoted considerable space to berating the poor Eminence fools who seemed to think there were some slight irregularities in the election recently held. Ferris and Enos were editors and publishers of the "Kansas Sod House", which was published in Ravanna in 1887; it was later edited by Thomas & Co. The Essex Sunbeam was moved to Ravanna and was called "The Enquirer" and was published there for a year. The Ravanna Record appeared July 15, 1887, with Enos and Davis editors. They at once proceeded to show the futility of trying to disorganize the county on such a small technicality as being a few acres short of requirement. They printed some pictures showing Friedman and McCoy, Eminence butcher and hotel men, grinding cats and dogs to make hash.

In 1886 the advertisers were as follows: Bennett & Weaver, contractors; Gorden, blacksmith; Chalfont, undertaker; Murphy, physician and druggist; O. W. Crow, dentist; W. B, Jones, dentist; Johnson & Alleman, contractors; John Maehl, carpenter; John Bull, merchandise and windmills; G. L. Ensign, merchandise; W. D. Herman, real estate and law; Harper's Livery Barn; G. W. Parker, auctioneer; Golden, groceries; Goldford & Swartzman, merchandise; W. E. Collins, stage driver to Garden City; A. R. Wise, pianos and organs; Bank of Ravanna, J. F. Crocker, cashier; and Wm. Speck's Hotel was completed the summer of '86.

July the Fourth of 1886 was a big day. People came in on horseback and in farm wagons for miles to celebrate. The biggest attraction was Lee Price who did some fancy tight-rope walking. The rope was stretched from the tops of two story buildings, across Main Street. A $10,000 court house was built at Ravanna in 1889 after bonds had been voted by the county. It was built of rock from the Pawnee quarries, two stories high and a large basement. Bonds were also voted to build a twostory school building of native white rock.

In a few years it became evident that the region was, after all, better adapted for raising cattle than grain. In order to build up the industry Mr. Bull conceived the idea of establishing a cheese factory. This inspired the settlers to engage in the dairy business. His cheese products won prizes at state fairs and were shipped to many cities. This industry was a big thing for the early settlers of Garfield county. Mr. Bull left Ravanna about 1890 and became widely known as a minister of the gospel. He died at his home in Cimarron, Kansas, in 1930.

Ravanna lost the county seat in 1889. Following that was a series of bad seasons, and most of the settlers left the county which was disorganized in 1893, and the town was abandoned. All that remains of Ravanna is the school house, some farm buildings, and the crumbling ruins of the court house. There is not even a post office to make it an official point on the map.