History of Rozel

Compiled by Karl W. Smith, Carrol Smith Rice, Berniece Fromong and Hazel Fromong
Published in the Great Bend Tribune, Bicentennial Edition of July 4, 1976, Section F, pages 4 and 5.

Rozel is located 17 miles west of Larned on the Jet-more branch of the Santa Fe Railroad, formerly the Chicago, Kansas & Western Railroad. Long before the town was founded Indian tribes used this immediate vicinity for their camping ground.

undreds of arrowheads have been found in the field just north of the school buildings.

Rozel’s history dates from July 19, 1886, when the Arkansas Valley Town and Land Company acquired the SW 1/4 27-21-19 from the railroad for $832; and selected a town site consisting of two city blocks just north of the railroad right of way. The name Rozel was chosen in honor of a daughter of one of the founders of the Land Company whose name was Rozella.

Rozel gained a great deal of publicity in the spring of 1897 when the story was published in most of the eastern Kansas newspapers that Rozel ‘had dropped out of sight into a bottomless pit. This hoax was prompted when three Pawnee County citizens from Lamed discovered the Rozel depot had been moved away during the night. This story created a great deal of excitement and interest. Actually, the Santa Fe had loaded the depot on a flatcar during the night and moved it to Macksville to replace a depot which had recently burned. A rain during the night had left water stand­ing where the depot had been, giving the appearance of a lake.

On Nov. 3, 1903, the Land Company sold the SW¼ 27-21-19, excepting that portion platted into lots, blocks and alleys in the town of Rozel, to Franc M. Ed­wards for $900. Nov. 13 of that same year A.H. Elmore bought the quarter, less the original town site and right of way, from Franc M. Edwards and her husband, W.C. Edwards, for $1,900. Several additions have been add­ed consisting of Elmore’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th additions, and the Riederer addition.

The town made little growth during the first 10 years, serving mainly as a shipping point for livestock and grain. Beginning in the late 1890s and continuing for more than a decade the business section expanded until the west side of Main Street was filled with frame buildings with the usual board walks of that time. The Norris Lumber Yard, later sold to Lindas, covered more than a fourth of the east block. Very few houses were here before 1905. In the Dec. 2, 1898 edition of the Lamed Optic, it was reported that Mr. Sidebottom was making an ice house in Rozel.

The first house in Rozel was the farm home of John W. Sufficool which was moved there in 1898, and used by the Sufficools as a residence and post office. The A.D. Smith home was built in 1905 and in 1906, Tom Sidebottom built a hotel. In either 1906 or 1907 the W.S. Smith home was built and used by Dr. Howe as a residence and office.

The Rozel State Bank was organized in 1905 with Bert Reed as cashier. This frame bank building was located on the northeast corner of the west block, original townsite. In 1911 this building was replaced with a brick building, and the second floor used as an office by Dr. J.H. Tapscott. The Farmers Telephone Company was organized in 1909 with Tom Sidebottom as manager.

Among those who were in business before 1910 were: Tom Sidebottom, George Norris, J.H. Riederer, Bert Real, A.D. Smith, P.T. Newbill, William Tracy, A.H. Elmore, W.W. Christian (druggist), D.R. Roddy (Realtor), Albert Smith (barber), Kennedy and Enfield (bowling alley), Foster Whitney (billiard hail), Roy Smith and Jim LaBounty (livery stable), Vince Wiley (grocer), Harry Tuttle (blacksmith shop 1901; later sold to Claude Clore), Charles and Lou Blattner (blacksmiths 1906), W.S. Smith (clothing store), A.C. Mifier and Ed LaBounty (carpenters), Fanny Christian and Mary Wiley (millinery and dry goods store), Charles St. Clair and C.W. Thurman (painters—Mr. Thurman later became co-owners of the Reed-Thurman Hardware Store), Webb Shafer (Rozel Bank), Frank Darst, Sol Mihoover and John Mulvany ( thresher) Other long time business men include: H.B. Heilig (1913, Bank), O.C. Glenn (manager of the Union Grain Elevator), J.U. Smith (grocer), Bud French (sundries), Golden Smith (garage), H.W. Reid (garage), Floyd Martin (manager Union Grain), Guy Ellis (grocer), Sam Currey, Oakley Mifier and Sam Dumler (barbers).

Four Lodges were instituted at Rozel during the late 1890s and early 1900s: Odd Fellows, Rebekahs, Modern Woodmen and Royal Neighbors. All later transferred to Larned with the exception of the Royal Neighbors Lodge which is still active here.

Four doctors have served Rozel: Dr. A.E. Reed, a graduate of Lamed High School, who came about 1905 following his graduation from the Rush Medical College of Chicago. A couple of years later he moved to Dayton, Ohio, for his internship and special work. He was replaced by Dr. Howe who stayed only a short time. Dr. Howe was followed by Dr. Cahifi who stayed about a year. In July 1909, Dr. J.H. Tapscott moved to Rozel after graduating from the Kansas City Medical College and continued in practice for nearly 50 years.

Religion and education have always been important to the residents of this vicinity. A Methodist Church was built in 1905; replaced by a new building in January of 1965, and dedicated April 23, 1972. The Baptist Church was organized Dec. 10, 1916, with the present church building completed in the summer of 1917. The Pentacostal Holiness Church was organized in 1928, and the Wilson Chapel south of Rozel was purchased and moved here in 1929 for their church home.

The Ben Wade School District No. 29, located two miles north of Rozel, was organized in 1883 and school continued there until 1901, when the school building was moved to Rozel. This one room school served the community until 1905 when it was replaced by a two story building, which was used by all eight grades until 1913, when a high school was organized and occupied the second floor. That same year District 15 con­solidated with the Rozel District to form Union 1 District. The District 15 school building was moved to Rozel and used for the first four grades.

In the spring of 1914 construction started on a $20,000 brick school building and by Jan. 1, 1915, was completed and ready for classes. At this time four horse drawn school wagons brought the pupils to school; replaced in 1924 by motorized units. Other Districts consolidating with Union 1 over the next 35 years were Districts 25, 27, 42, 46, 53, 59, 61 and 67.

A combination gymnasium and auditorium was add­ed to the west side of the Main building in 1925. In 1947 a vocational building and bus garage were constructed east of the main building.

On Oct. 17, 1948, fire destroyed the main building. Construction started as soon as possible on a new brick building costing approximately $250,000. During this time school was held in the community building and the Baptist Church until the new building was com­pleted in April 1950. Four additional classrooms were added in 1955 and 1956.

On May 27, 1965, the Burdett R.H.S. No. 1, Joint Union 5 of Burdett, and the Rozel Consolidated Joint Union 1 filed a petition, amended later on Sept. 27, 1965, with the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the establishment of a Unified School District. Authorization was granted and an election for school board members was held Nov. 30, 1965. This Unified District took the name Pawnee Heights Unified School No. 496.

Rozel has survived two disastrous fires, a tornado and numerous floods. Nearly all the business district in the original town site was destroyed by fire Sept. 23, 1929. Rebuilding was started immediately with modern brick structures, and was nearly complete by Jan. 1, 1930. Rozel was incorporated Nov. 29, 1929 with a mayor-council form of city government, with water and gas systems municipally owned. William Reinhardt was elected mayor with C.W. Thurman, H.B. Heileg, H.W. Reid, Glee S. Smith and Guy Ellis as councilmen. Mrs. Laura Uhiand was city clerk; L.E. Arnold, police judge; Rolla Renfro, city treasurer and William Rosner, city marshal.

On the evening of May 20, 1949, a tornado and hail storm severely damaged or destroyed nearly every building in town, causing an estimated damage of $500,000.

Considerable acreage of alfalfa, forage and grain crops are under irrigation in the surrounding area. Rozel is served by three elevators: Union Co-op Grain Co., Bunge Corporation and Coffingwood Grain Company, with a combined storage capacity of 1,432,000 bushels. The first elevator was built in 1905 by M.K. Krider and managed by Ed Fromong.

In the late 1870s and early 1880s mail was delivered once a week from Lamed to the various post offices. The first post office in this area was Keysville which was established Dec. 7, 1877, with Charles H. Babcock as postmaster. The office was discontinued Nov. 13, 1878; and reestablished Dec. 11, 1878, with Henry T. Payne as postmaster. This location was two miles south and one and a half miles west of present day Rozel. Mr. Payne served until Aug. 30, 1880 and was succeeded by Isaac H. Ulsh. At this time the post office was transferred to the home of Mr. Ulsh which was located about three and a half miles northwest of the present location of Rozel. The name was changed to Ben Wade on Feb. 21, 1881. Mr. Ulsh and family returned to Pennsylvania for a few months late in 1882 and Henry Mehl was appointed postmaster Jan. 31, 1883, and served only one month. He was succeeded on March 1, 1883, by Dexter M. Camp who lived less than a mile north of the present Rozel town site. Mr. Camp served until June 15, 1893, at which time the post of­fice was renamed Rozel and moved there.

Many young men from this area served their country with honor and dignity in time of the first World War, second World War, Korean War and Vietnam. Several made the supreme sacrifice. Others have served and are still serving in peace time.

This community has also been represented by veterans of the Civil War and the Spanish American War.

The early 1930s were difficult years for both the farmer and merchant as the country was in one of the worst depressions ever known, with wheat as low as 25 cents per bushel and other prices low in proportion. In addition to the depression we were in a cycle of low rainfall causing severe wind erosion over several states including Kansas.

By the late 1930s the country was emerging from the depression and with normal rainfall again the future looked much brighter.

In this Bicentennial Year of 1976, Rozel is in its 90th year. With its many farm related industries and ideal location in the fertile Pawnee Valley, Rozel will con­tinue to be a thriving agricultural community.

Source: Rozel Kansas 1886-1986 written by residents - transcribed & submitted by Barbara Ziegenmeyer

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