Home Dalton Gang Hideout Meade County Museum About Us Links

Index of Stories Index of Photos    Cemeteries Maps

This excerpt was taken from "A History, Meade County Kansas" copyright 1916 by Frank S. Sullivan. The book includes a lot of history not reprinted here such as: political, banks, newspapers, churches, public schools, fraternal organizations, the courthouse, the salt well, farm statistics, and more. Although long out of print the book should be available in county libraries. An E-Book version in PDF format may be purchased at www.prairiebooks.com.

A History of Meade County, Kansas

by Frank S. Sullivan

ACQUISITION

In the early days of discovery, exploration and settlement, three European nations, England, France, and Spain, claimed the territory out of which Meade County was finally carved. Basing its claims upon the explorations of the Cabots and others, in 1606 the English Crown granted to the London Company and to the Plymouth Company that vast area of land lying between the 34th and 45th parallels of latitude and extending from ocean to ocean. The English made no attempt to explore the country so far inland, and their claims upon this territory were early abandoned.

The claims of the French were more substantial. In 1673 Marquette explored a considerable portion of the Mississippi Valley; his explorations were continued and extended by LaSalle in 1682; in 1719 Dutisne explored a part of the interior, including a portion of the territory of the present State of Kansas; these explorations were continued in 1724 by DuBourgmont, who also entered and explored a part of Kansas. As a result of these various expeditions France claimed the territory which now comprises Meade County as a part of Louisiana.

The explorations of Spain were more thorough than those of France. In 1528 Narvaez explored a part of the Mississippi Valley. These explorations were continued by Cabeca de Veca, who had been an officer under Narvaez in 1734-36. De Vaca entered Kansas, passed entirely across the State from east to west, and possibly crossed Meade County. In 1541 Coronado, in his search for the fabled Quivira, crossed Meade County, possibly on his outbound trip, certainly on his return.

In 1762 France ceded Louisiana to Spain, but by the treaty of 1800 it was re-ceded to France, and by France ceded to the United States in 1803. However, the boundaries were not fully determined at that time, and in 1819 the United States ceded to Spain that part of Louisiana lying west of the 23rd meridian and south of the Arkansas river; so that what is now Meade County became an undisputed possession of Spain.

Upon Mexico gaining her independence from Spain in 1821 this territory passed from Spain to Mexico, and when in 1836 Texas acquired her independence it became a part of Texas. With the annexation of Texas in 1845 it became a part of the United States, but ownership remained in Texas until under the Omnibus Bill of 1850 it was ceded by Texas to the General Government, and became a part of Kansas under the Organic Act of 1854.

The Legislature of 1865 fixed the boundaries of Marion County to include the present territory of Meade County. In June of the same year Marion County was organized and its boundaries changed, excluding this territory, which remained unorganized and unattached until, in 1873, the Legislature created Meade County, named in honor of Gen. George G. Meade, and fixed its boundaries as follows:  “Commencing at the intersection of the east line of range twenty-seven west with the north line of township twenty-nine south; thence south along range line to its intersection with the south boundary line of the State of Kansas; thence west along said boundary line of the State of Kansas to a point where it is intersected by the east line of range thirty-one west; thence along north range line to where it intersects the north boundary line of township twenty-nine south; thence east to the place of beginning.”

In 1881 Meade County was attached to Ford County for judicial purposes, until Meade County should be organized.

In 1883 the Legislature dissolved Meade County, attaching that part lying east of the east line of range twenty-nine to Ford County, and that part lying west of the east line of range twenty-nine to Seward County.

The Legislature of 1885 again established Meade County, with slightly different boundaries, which boundaries it has ever since retained, and are as follows: “Commencing at the intersection of the east line of range twenty-six west with the north line of township thirty; thence south along range line to its intersection with the south boundary line of the State of Kansas; thence west along said boundary line of the State of Kansas to a point where it is intersected by the east line of range thirty-one west; thence along range line to where it intersects the north boundary line of township thirty; thence east to place of beginning.”

The same Legislature attached Meade County to Comanche County for judicial purposes, to which county it remained attached until the formal organization of Meade County.

In 1885 a petition for organization was presented to Gov. John A. Martin. I.N. Graves was appointed census-taker. His return showed a population of 3507, of whom 1165 were householders.

Proclamation of organization was issued Nov. 4th, 1885; Meade Center was designated the temporary county seat, A. D. McDaniel temporary County Clerk, and L. S. Sears, H. L. Mullen and E. M. Mears as the temporary Board of County Commissioners. The election to choose a permanent county seat, and permanent officers for the first term, was held on January 5th, 1886.

During the campaign the question of the location of the county seat overshadowed everything else, and much enmity was created, especially between the partisans of Meade Center and of Carthage. The vote, which chose Meade Center as the permanent county seat, was as follows:

Meade Center 486 
Fowler 231
Carthage 188
Pearlette 3
Mertilla 3
Odee 2
Byers 1

The election, which was non-partisan, resulted in choice of the following officers: Representative, R. M. Painter; County Commissioners, Chris Schmoker, Hugh L. Mullen, J. D. Wick; County Clerk, M. B. Peed; Probate Judge, N. K. McCall; Sheriff, T. J. McKibben; Treasurer, W. F. Foster; Clerk of the District Court, W. H. Willis; Register of Deeds, C. W. Adams; County Superintendent, N. B. Clark; County Attorney, Sam Lawrence; Surveyor, Price Moody; Coroner, E. E. Buchecker.

GENERAL HISTORY

 Long prior to permanent settlement the territory now comprising Meade County was frequently visited by hunters, traders and adventurers. Prominent among these was Jedediah Strong Smith, a great-uncle of our esteemed fellow-citizen E. D. Smith, who visited this territory as early as the year 1818. Just who the first permanent settler was, and the date of settlement, are matters of much conjecture, but it is generally conceded that the first permanent settlement was at Meade City, about twelve miles north of the present town of Meade, and was in the year 1878. In 1879 a colony consisting of sixteen families from Zanesville, Ohio, settled at Pearlette. The original Pearlette was near the site of the town afterwards surveyed and platted, but not the identical location. John Jobling was president of the company responsible for this settlement, and his son, William Jobling, still a resident of Meade County, is perhaps the “oldest citizen,” considered from a standpoint of continuous residence. Andor Eliason, who resided in this county up to the time of his death about two years ago, settled in 1879, as did also Frank Sourbeer, who is at present an efficient magistrate of Meade Center Township. Perhaps the oldest unaltered building in the county is one now on the farm of Frank Marrs, built by Mr. Sourbeer.

The first newspaper published in Meade County was the Pearlette Call, the first number being issued in April, 1879, by Addison Bennett.

The early settlers endured all the hardships incident to pioneer life. For years all provisions were freighted from Dodge City, then a notorious “border town.”

The railroad penetrated Meade County in the year 1887, which gave business a new impetus and practically abolished the “freighter.”

The early settlers were buoyant with hope, and were quick to indorse and accept any plan calculated to develop the country’s resources, and for this reason were rendered an easy prey to designing schemers with “blue sky” to sell. A scheme that appealed strongly was a proposition to establish sugar mills for the manufacture of cane sugar. Great encouragement was given these enterprises, township bonds were voted and issued in their aid, and at least two mills—one at Meade, the other at West plains—were built. The one at Plains never attempted to operate, but the one at Meade encouraged and induced the farmers to plant large acreages of cane, and contracted for the cane at fair prices. But, unfortunately, while the cane grew and thrived, sugar could not be produced from it, or at least it could not be produced in sufficient volume, to make the enterprise a success financially, and so the sugar-mill went the usual way of wildcat schemes. Underhand methods and fraud were alleged, graft and corruption were openly charged, but it was never proved that anyone ever made any money, honestly or dishonestly, out of the sugar-mill venture.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s, the country at that time being largely devoted to stock-raising, the county was sorely infested with cattle thieves more or less organized, and the aggregate losses to the legitimate stock-growers from these depredations were enormous. The good citizens organized to fight the evil, many prosecutions were commenced although few convictions were secured, but the activity of the organization and of the prosecuting officers eventually convinced the law-breakers that Meade County was an unprofitable locality in which to pursue their nefarious vocation; the bands were broken up, some of the members reformed and quit stealing cattle, and others “stole away,” so that for many, many years the owner of cattle has been able to sleep in peace, secure in the knowledge that his herds were safe.

During the decade from 1890 to 1900 the selling price of real estate in Meade County was nil; there was absolutely no demand for land; a good quarter-section of land could be bought for one hundred dollars, for fifty dollars, for twenty-five dollars, for any price one cared to offer, but there were practically no offers. The population decreased until but frw more than a thousand souls found refuge within the bounds of the county. Most of the land was owned by the Government or by non-residents; few of these non-residents considered the land of sufficient value to warrant them in paying taxes, and they paid no tax. But finally the cattle industry had grown to such an extent that jealousy over the range sprang up, and in order to control certain range some enterprising stock-man would buy a quarter or two of land. Thus some slight market for real estate was created, but the price paid was usually from $50 to $100 per quarter-section. About the year 1900 a few adventurous persons, investors, “speculators” as they were called, commenced buying land at the ridiculously low prices mentioned. Other investors followed, land gradually advanced in price to a dollar an acre, then came the real-estate agent, who assisted the speculator in disposing of his investments and in boosting the price, the price advanced to a dollar and a quarter, to two dollars an acre, and then came the actual settler. The Government land was homesteaded, the land was cultivated, the results were profitable, land continued to advance, until today the price of wheat land ranges from $15 to $40 per acre, and very little unimproved land can be bought at the lower price.

On August 5th, 1887, B. F. Cox, while drilling a well on the northeast quarter of Section 5, Township 31, Range 27, struck a flow of artesian water at a depth of 142 feet. These flowing wells were not considered of much value as a commercial proposition at that time, but the land underlaid by artesian water has since attained a commercial value of anywhere from $50 to $150 per acre, and the beginning of the end is not yet in sight; the possibilities of this particular portion of the county have not been appreciated. There is probably no more fertile, productive, desirable location in the whole world than the famous Artesian Valley of Meade County. Here Nature puts forth her noblest efforts to please, and the results are all that the most exacting could desire. Given the most fertile soil that Nature has provided, the most delightful climate that mankind enjoys, and Nature’s most precious bestowal, pure water (more than 98 per cent pure by chemical analysis), cool and sparkling, boiling up from the earth’s pure fountains, with a strong continual flow, no windmills to keep in repair, no gasoline engines to maintain; no creaking windlass, no moss-grown, microbe-covered bucket, no drouth to fear, no floods to destroy, --what more could a farmer desire? No one can go through this valley, so wonderfully endowed with Nature’s blessings, without a desire to call a part of it his own. The orange groves of California, the apple orchards of Oregon, the pine woods of Maine, the magnolia blossoms of Dixie Land, may appeal to some, but give to me a spot ‘neath Heaven’s canopy that puts to shame the skies of Italy, where I can see the sunflowers growing by the roadside, with their golden faces turned toward their God, and catch the fragrance of alfalfa blossoms on every zephyr that floats o’er the Artesian Valley, and you may have all the world beside.

SILICA MINES

Deposits of iron ore and of peat have been discovered; salt is found in more or less abundance, and was at one time manufactured by evaporation, but owing to lack of transportation facilities at that time the enterprise proved unprofitable and was abandoned. Immense deposits of silica exist, which is just commencing to be of commercial importance.

Ira McSherry, from his farm about three miles south of Meade, is now filling a contract with James H. Rhodes & Co., Chicago, manufacturers of industrial chemicals, whereby he furnishes them a stated quantity of silica per year for five years. The price realized by Mr. McSherry is $2 per ton, delivered at Meade.

The Cudahy Packing Co. own large deposits of this mineral, and in the year 1915 built a railroad from their mines a few miles north of Meade, connecting with the C. R. I. & P. at Fowler, for the purpose of transporting the product of these mines.

The Puck Soap Company own silica beds just west of Meade, and other deposits are found in various parts of the county.

LONE TREE MASSACRE

A great deal has been written, and more told, concerning the Indian fight which occurred on Sand Creek, in Meade County, but it is of little importance in history. In September and October of 1878 a band of about two hundred Northern Cheyennes left their reservation near Fort Reno and started north, crossing Meade County, and in fact crossed the entire State of Kansas. An all-day’s fight took place in the southeast part of the county between these Indians and 140 soldiers, the latter being assisted by about 60 civilians, mostly cowboys. One or two of the whites were slightly wounded, and while the damage to the Indians is not definitely known, the loss was small.

CITIES

Soon after the settlement of the county commenced, and prior to its organization, cities and towns sprang up as if by magic, although many of them existed only on paper and in the promoter’s vision. Various townsite companies were organized and incorporated. The first of these was The Meade Center Townsite Company, incorporated May 25th, 1885, with E. M. Mears, C. G. Allen, Henry H. Rogers, Alex.Bailey, I. N. Graves, James A. Morris, and A. D. McDaniel, directors.

The Belle Meade Town Company followed, incorporated June 6th, 1885, with J. M. Brannon, Robt. P. Cooper, John Schmoker, James H. Elmore, and H. Chaney, directors.

The next to incorporate was the Spring Lake Town Company, receiving its charter July 6th, 1885. The directors of this company were D. G. Stratton, L. K. McIntyre, J. C. Marts, J. F. Shore, O.Norman, J. W. Hotz, Frank Sourbeer, Geo. W. Winder, Al Wirt, Geo. B. Allen, and N. B. Clark.

Then followed the Meade Center Town Association, incorporating July 10th, 1885, with W. P. Hackney, W. S. Mendenhall, R. L. Walker, F. E. Gillett and Ledru Guthrie as directors, none of whom were residents of Meade County.

The Meade County Town Company incorporated next, and on Aug. 22nd, 1885, with John Werth, L. B. Ostrander, Thomas H. Campbell, John Schmoker, and John B. Innis, directors.

After this came the Atwater Townsite Company, incorporated Oct. 18th, 1887, with James E. McCall, John J. Mohler, John I. Jones, Wm. B. Long, H. L. Markley, John E. Maxwell, and Lewis Maston, directors.

The Denver, New Orleans and Rock Island Town Company, incorporated Dec. 7th, 1887, with John Werth, John W. Taylor, N. B. Potter, A. McNulty, and T. McNulty, directors.

The Massachusetts Town Site Company, incorporated Jan. 6th, 1888, with Frank R. Gammon, B. B. Brown, Willis G. Emerson, Geo. L. Stevens, and Hugo Lundborg, directors.

The Title Land and Town Lot Company, incorporated Jan. 30th, 1888, with A. H. Heber, Willis G. Emerson, Geo. L. Stevens, Edward Doll, B. B. Brown, D. W. Higbee, and Selah A. Hull, directors.

First Oklahoma Town Company was incorporated April 13th, 1889, with A. H. Heber, W. F. Schell, M. W. Sutton, Willis G. Emerson, G. W. McMillen, L. E. Steele, Geo. Theis, Jr., H. B. Stone, and E. M. Mears, directors.

The West Plains Townsite Company was incorporated Dec. 2nd, 1884, with Charles W. Mosher, Edward M. Mears, William Leighton, William Randall, and Morris T. Roberts, directors.

Besides these incorporated companies there were several copartnerships and numerous individuals interested in promoting towns and townsites.

On July 9th, 1885, the Meade Center Townsite Company purchased from the United States Government the south half of the southwest quarter of Section 2, the south half of the northeast quarter of Section 10, the west half and the northwest quarter of Section 11, all in Township 32, Range 28, containing 520 acres, for $650, and surveyed and platted a portion of the same. On Oct. 21st, 1885, an order for the incorporation of the city of Meade Center was issued by Hon. James A. Ray, Judge of the District Court of Comanche County, to which Meade County was at that time attached for judicial purposes. The organization was completed on Nov. 3rd, 1885, and at the same time the following officers were elected; Mayor, Peter E. Hart; Police Judge, William C. Osgood; Councilmen, Nelson Button, E. A. Twist, George M. Roberts, David Truax, and Wm. H. Stewart. The organization of Meade Center, and the election of the first officers, were legalized by act of the Legislature of 1886, and the name was changed to Meade by act of Legislature of 1889.

On March 24th, 1886, the Townsite Company quit-claimed the land theretofore purchased to the United States, and it was conveyed by the Government to Peter E. Hart, Mayor, in trust for occupants, on April 2nd, 1886. On March 31st, 1886, the official plat of the original survey, Block “A,” First and Second Additions, and out-lots Nos. 1 and 2, was filed. Several additions were afterwards surveyed and platted.

Meade has always been the county seat, and has always grown apace with the country in general. At the present time it has two banks, two newspapers, three elevators, good telephone and electric-light service, one of the best systems of waterworks in the State, and all lines of general business, as well as the professions, are ably represented.

The 1916 census gave Meade a population of 886.

The town of Touzalin was promoted by the Meade Center Town Association. It was located on the northwest quarter of Section 36, Township 32, Range 28, and was surveyed in August and September of 1884. The first building was erected in March, 1885. It enjoyed a slight boom for a time, supported, or “sported,” three stores, a hotel, livery barn, blacksmith shop, etc.; but within three years after the first building was erected there remained nothing to mark the spot where the hoped-for city once stood. One handicap under which the promoters worked was the difficulty in securing water on the townsite. The buildings were moved away, and one of them was the building occupied by The First National Bank of Meade until it was torn down to make room for the present bank building.

The Mertilla Town Company, Joseph E. Sherrill, President, Henry C. Shuey, Secretary, was a copartnership. They filed the original plat of Mertilla Nov. 6, 1886, which included about fifty acres, described as follows: “Beginning at a point 730 feet east of the southwest corner of the northeast quarter of Section 30, Township 30, Range 29; thence north 730 feet; thence west 1460 feet; thence south 1460 feet; thence east 1460 feet; thence north 730 feet, to place of beginning. Two additions were platted later.

Mertilla early became a town of considerable promise. “Red” Jim High was proprietor of the first store. In addition to this there were two other stores, a hotel, livery barn, blacksmith shop, drug store, etc. Dr. Ostrander originally owned a drug store in Carthage. After Meade Center had been selected as the county seat the evacuation of Carthage commenced, and Dr. Ostrander moved his drug store, building and all, to Mertilla.

In the latter part of 1887 Mertilla commenced to go the way of Carthage and other defunct towns; most of the buildings were moved away, and in another year or two there was practically nothing remaining to mark the townsite, save the schoolhouse, which afterwards burned down. The drug-store building was moved to the farm of J.N. Stamper, and at the present time the schoolhouse in the Boyer district is the old drug store of Carthage and Mertilla, somewhat remodeled. The barn now on the Rexford farm, in Mertilla township, was built of lumber from the old Mertilla hotel. The townsite of Mertilla was vacated by act of the Legislature of 1893.

On May 17th, 1888, the Kansas Town and Land Company, owner of 51 per cent, and George W. Ragon, owner of 49 per cent, filed the plat of Jasper, which included all that part of the east half of the southwest quarter of Section 26, Township 31, Range 29, that lies north of the right-of-way of the C. K. & N.  Railway (now the right-of-way of the C.  R. I. & P.). This town, being on the railroad, was never absolutely deserted, but has never attained any great proportions. In 1909 Fullington & Marrs, a real-estate firm of Meade, made some slight attempt to promote this town. A new site was surveyed, near the old site, but was a part of the southwest quarter of Section 25, and the town was called Jasper, the name being afterwards changed to Collingwood, and still later to Missler.

Greensward was surveyed, and the plat filed Aug. 21st, 1886, by Basil O’Donald and W. H. Rubottom. This townsite consisted of sixteen blocks, covering an area 1460 feet by 1470 feet, partly on the southeast quarter and partly on the southwest quarter of Section 12, Township 34, Range 27. A few lots were sold, but that is as far along as the promoters ever got with this town. In 1899 the Legislature vacated the townsite.

Nirwana City was dedicated by N. K. McCall, Probate Judge, under an act of Congress, it being located on Government land, occupying a part of Sections 2 and 3, Township 35, Range 29. Plat was filed Nov. 22nd, 1886, and showed twelve blocks, each 300 feet square, Block No. 12 being set aside for a public park. This site was afterwards re-surveyed and some slight changes made. Nirwana never made any substantial growth, but had at one time two stores, a blacksmith shop, and a feed barn.

Just prior to the beginning of Nirwana City, J. M. Byers started a store and blacksmith shop on his farm near Nirwana, calling the embryo town in honor of himself, Byers. Another little store followed, but after Nirwana was laid out Byers moved his store, shop and town over to the “City,” and the town of Byers was no more. The first Democratic primary held in Odee Township met in the blacksmith shop at Byers, and elected delegates to the county convention.

Odee, while never surveyed or platted, was the name given a store down in Odee township by the sole proprietor, “Little “ Pratt. Pratt sold out and his successor died, which destroyed any chance Odee may have had of becoming a metropolis. A post office by that name was conducted in that neighborhood until a few years ago. Odee was named in honor of O. D. Lemert, who was credited with securing the establishment of the post office.

Fowler City was surveyed, platted and dedicated by George Fowler, owner of the land, which was a part of the northwest quarter of Section 6, Township 31, Range 26; plat filed May 1st, 1886. Various additions have since been made to this town. Fowler City was duly organized and incorporated, and flourished for a time, but finally, as the country gradually depopulated, it became dormant, and so remained for many years without city government, but it was never abandoned, and was always a good trading point. In April, 1908, it was reorganized and municipal government again established under act of the Legislature of 1907.At that time Fowler had a population of 345. The reorganization proved a good thing for the town and community, and Fowler has grown and prospered ever since. At present it has two banks, three elevators, a newspaper, a modern hotel, municipally owned light and water plant, and all general lines of business are well represented. The 1916 census gave Fowler a population of 503.

The West Plains Townsite Company purchased Section 16, Township 32, Range 30, from the State, and proceeded to lay out the city of West Plains. The original plat was filed Jan. 17th, 1885, but an amended plat was filed May 18th, 1886. This was the original survey, and included an area of 2250 feet square, taken out of the center of the section. Later a plat of the first addition was filed, which included all the remainder of Section 16.

West Plains was originally incorporated on April 26th, 1888, and, like Fowler City, prospered and languished, then became dormant for many years, resuming municipal government.

Again, like Fowler, West Plains was never entirely depopulated, and while for years the number of families residing within its limits could be counted upon one’s fingers, it always remained a good trading point, its one store, Parsons, supplying the wants of farmers and ranchmen for as great a distance as forty miles.

In 1902 Plains, as it is commonly called, commenced to grow, and has enjoyed a steady development ever since. Quite recently an election was called for the purpose of voting bonds for a municipal light and water plant, which proposition carried without one dissenting vote.

Besides a large number of smaller business enterprises, Plains has three large general stores, a bank, two hotels, an efficient telephone system, good schools, Methodist, Baptist and Roman Catholic church, three elevators, one of which is the largest in the county, and claims the distinction of shipping more wheat than any other town in Kansas. The 1916 census gave Plains a population of 477.

Atwater comprised the southeast forty acres of Section 34, Township 33, Range 29. The plat was filed Nov. 9th, 1887. It had a general store, blacksmith shop, public hall, etc. It was quite a social center, the principal social activity of those days being confined to dances at the hall, at which dances Bill Long usually furnished the music and Fred Judd did the calling; the proceeds, after paying the rent, being divided between Long and Judd in the ratio of 2 to 1. A post office bearing the original name was maintained in the neighborhood of the old town until a few years ago. The townsite was vacated by the Legislature of 1899.

Rainbelt, unplatted, was located about two miles northwest of the present site of Missler, and was quite a little trading point for a time.

Artesian comprised about forty acres in the southeast corner of the southwest quarter of Section 6, Township 31, Range 27. The plat was filed by F. M. Davis Dec. 27th, 1887. Artesian acquired two stores, a hotel, real-estate office of the promoter, and a post office, although the post office was acquired by the absorption of another town. In 1885 the town of Springlake was commenced in the vicinity of where Artesian was laid out two years later. A post office was established at Springlake which was afterwards moved to Artesian, but the name of the post office was unchanged. The Missouri Pacific Railway Company had proposed to build a railroad across the northern part of Meade County, and the town of Artesian was on the proposed route. However, the railroad failed to come, and the town went. This townsite was vacated by the Legislature in 1893.

Pearlette occupied an area 1460 feet square in the northeast quarter of Section 27, Township 30, Range 27. Plat was filed June 1st, 1886, by John Jobling, Jr., and Robert Wright. The original Pearlette came into existence and a post office was established in 1879, but it was not surveyed or platted until 1886, and the site as platted was nearly a mile from the original location. Originally the Joblings conducted a store, and the post office; Addison Bennett published a newspaper, The Pearlette Call, for a time, commencing in 1879, but as the newspaper business was not then a profitable one in Meade County the Call was short-lived. The town showed some evidence of prosperity, but finally disappeared, some of the buildings being moved to other towns.

Carthage was established by the Carthage Town Company on the east half of Section 31, Township 31, Range 28, about the time that Meade Center came into existence. It exhibited great signs of prosperity for a while, attaining a population of something like three hundred or four hundred, and was a very aggressive candidate for the location of the county seat. As soon as this question was settled adversely to the interest of this town, it disintegrated with great rapidity; many of the buildings were moved to Meade, some to other towns, some to farms, and soon there was nothing left of Carthage but a regretful memory.

Helvetia was the name given an embryo town located on Section 2, Township 30, Range 30. This town was the creation of Abe Sorter, who conducted a little store in conjunction with the post office. A blacksmith shop was also established there, but the town failed to “boom,” and ceased to exist in 1888.

Belle Meade originated in the fertile brain of John Werth, and its original location was on his timber claim, the northwest quarter of Section 8, Township 31, Range 27. A post office was secured, with one, Milligan, as postmaster, who also conducted a little store in connection. Afterwards Chris Schmoker secured the post office and moved Belle Meade to his farm, and still later the city was moved to the farm of John Schmoker, on the southwest quarter of Section 20, Township 31, Range 27. Here it grew some, acquiring two stores and a hotel. The building used as a hotel is now the dwelling on the farm of J. M. Wood, near Meade. Belle Meade was originated late in 1879, or possibly early in 1880.

Skidmore was the name given to a little store established on the homestead of Miss Skidmore, in Section 8, Township 31, Range 28. However, the town found “poor skidding,” and failed to prosper.

Roanoke was the name of another brain-storm, located on land now owned by John Wehrle, in the Valley. It made no further progress than to secure a name.

Another vision in the vicinity of the Eliason farm was called Artois, but, like Roanoke, it existed only in the imagination of its promoter.

The first town with which Meade County was threatened was located on Section 16, Township 31, Range 28. “Cap.” French was a surveyor and locator; in the summer of 1878 he located two parties on this section, and in conjunction with them he formed the plan of establishing a city at that place, to be called Meade City. A little store was put up, a few other buildings were erected from time to time, a post office was secured, but the town failed to grow to any appreciable extent, and was abandoned about 1884.

A well-authenticated story is told concerning an adventure of Cap. French during the Indian raid in the fall of 1878. A band of Indians came to Meade City, and, noticing a grindstone, they compelled French to turn it while they sharpened their knives. It was an unpleasant task for him, as he fully expected that when the knives were all sharpened some Indian would test the edge of his instrument on his scalp. However, he was agreeably surprised when they departed without molesting him further. A short distance away, however, they killed a freighter and took possession of his outfit.

Another story in connection with this Indian raid is, that at a ranch house, either in Meade or Clark County, a large quantity of dried apples was secured, of which the Indians ate greedily without subjecting the fruit to the process of cooking. They proceeded on their way toward Meade City, but before reaching that point one of the squaws, having drunk profusely, discovered that dried apples and artesian water do not constitute a proper combination, and died in great agony. She was buried in a small ravine, the body being placed in a ditch washed out by drainage-water and covered loosely with earth. The body was soon exposed, and about a year afterwards it was found by Oliver Norman. The bones were not intact, and Mr. Norman secured the skull, desiring it as a specimen of Indian anatomy. As portions of the skin still adhered to the bones he hung the skull in a tree for further “curing.” While it remained in this tree some eastern tourists observed it, and reported to the eastern press the discovery of a strange tribe of savages who disposed of their dead by depositing the bodies in the branches of trees.

Meade City was succeeded by Jo-Ash, located about a half-mile to the west. Jo-Ash acquired two stores, a post office, and was a regular mail route on a regular stage line. After two or three years it passed into memory.

Red Bluff and Carmen were once post offices. Miles was a little store and post office conducted for many years by Captain and Mrs. Busing, on the south side of the Cimarron. The post office of Lakeland was in the Painter family through several administrations, and is now on the Hulburt ranch, Zada-Black Hulburt, P.M., while S. E. Matthews, the founder, still conducts the store and handles the mail at Uneda.

 

The book, "A History of Meade County Kansas" by Frank Sullivan may be ordered as an E-Book on CD from

Prairie Books website.

 

 

Copyright 2012-2016 © Prairie Books, all rights reserved