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Belle Meade

Belle Meade originated in the fertile brain of John Werth and its original location was on his timber claim, in the northwest quarter of Section 8-T31-R27, Meade County, Kansas. A post office was established with Reuben A. Milligan as postmaster, who also conducted a little store in connection.  

Afterwards Chris Schmoker served the post office and moved Belle Meade to his farm and still later the city was moved to it's last location on the farm of John Schmoker in the southwest quarter of Section 20-T31-R27. Here it grew some, acquiring two stores and a hotel.  

The Belle Meade Town Company was incorporated June 6, 1885, with J.M. Brannan, Robert P. Cooper, John Schmoker, James H. Elmore and H. Chaney directors. Records show that the Belle Meade post office was closed on February 20, 1888. By this time the railroad had come through Meade County serving the towns of Fowler, Meade and Plains. Belle Meade soon joined the ranks of many other early settled ghost towns as business moved closer to the railroad. 

Perhaps the most colorful descriptions of Belle Meade can be found in a manuscript written by George Elmore... son of the above mentioned James Elmore. George was just a child when they came to Meade County and settled at Belle Meade, but he must have had an excellent memory for he recalls in exquisite detail what it was like to settle in this new land.

 

This map shows the two sites of Belle Meade on the 1909 Meade County Plat Book. This map shows the location of Belle Meade as it relates to other ghost towns on a modern-day map.
   

A collection of other Belle Meade Experiences:

From an article by Carrie Schmoker Anshutz in the Pioneer Stories of Meade County:

We drove across the valley to the Jones and Plummer Trial, then on to the "Hoo Doo" Brown Road Ranch then just built. two low sod buildings, one for a dwelling and the other for a store in which groceries, whiskey and tobacco were kept. From "Hoo Doo" we went north to our place and on to the Post Office in Meade County established by the Ohio Colony. For a number of years this Post Office at Pearlette, the first post office and a store, were kept by William Jobling's parents. Later Belle Meade Post Office was established several miles nearer to us and we got our mail there. It was first kept by a family named Milligan.  

It was on one of our trips to the post office that we heard a baby boy had been born to the Eliason family. He was the first white child born in Meade County.  

Near Belle Meade Post Office was a cluster of homesteaders-John Worthis, Franklin Sourbiers, Oliver Normans, Petersons and several others. At the Sourbier farm home was organized our first Sunday school and here all who were inclined met every Sunday afternoon for an entire summer. For seats, boards were laid across chairs, wagon seats were brought in and so we managed. Attendance was good for all were drawn together by the common purpose of building homes.


Life was not always peaceful especially during the summer of 1885. Indian scares were quite common and widespread near Belle Meade and throughout the county. The following appeared July 16, 1885, in the Fowler City Graphic

While other towns are watching and waiting for the red man, Belle Meade, in her slow, sure way, sent out scouts to see what there was in the report. Reverend Childs headed the company. They went twenty-five miles south and east and reported the county entirely deserted by the farmer. Much praise is due the Martin Brothers who were roused up at 2:00 in the morning and told that the Indians were within a few miles of them, they walked in the dark and rain until daylight, waking up the neighbors and helping Mr. Crone drive his cattle to Belle Meade. They came in well armed with five Winchesters and your correspondent felt safe under their protection.

Another report appeared the same week, July 16, 1885, in the Meade County Globe:

A preliminary organization was perfected last evening and scouts were sent to all parts of the county. No Indians were discovered, but people were met on every road greatly alarmed, claiming that during the night parties came to their houses and hallooed, The "Indians are coming," and then rode off at a fast gait. While our people regard the whole matter a hoax, still we are thoroughly prepared for any emergency. Being some distance from railroad and telegraph communications, our people are more vigilant than they otherwise would be.

Most settlers, however, didn't take the Indian scares seriously. The following appeared in the Fowler Graphic on July 16, 1885: 

The Indian scare last week was but a ruse of the cattle interest of this section of country to regain its lost supremacy. Finding that the old drought and  grasshopper business has lost its force, they have resorted to more desperate means, for we do insist that even if there was any danger of an outbreak, the trouble was incited by parties jealous of the granger element and its growing greatness and prosperity. It is cattle supremacy dying in the last ditch and it dies hard, too.

C. E. Boyer records his views on the Indian scares in the book, Pioneer Stories of Meade County.

It was reported the Indian scares were put on by cattle thieves who had their ranches in Oklahoma and Texas. They would gather cattle in from all directions until they had thousands of cattle, then in the spring they would start to trail those cattle north to Dodge City where they could ship out. Two of their number would go in advance of the herd and tell settlers along the way; "The Indians are coming and are killing everyone they can find. We are trying to keep ahead of them and warning  the settlers to flee to ranches where they can get protection." The settlers would be so frightened they would get away as fast as possible, and while they were gone, the cattle thieves would come along and drive off all the cattle they could find.


Towards the fall of 1885, much of the excitement in the area was long gone and Belle Meade slowly waned with most of its buildings transferred to neighboring towns. The following was recorded in the Meade Center Press on Oct. 15, 1885: 

Two more buildings are on their way to the Center this week, both from Belle Meade. One is a grocery and hardware store belonging to Mr. Williams, another is a building containing a stock of merchandise belonging to Wm. Randolph.

 

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