Rooks County, Kansas
HISTORY OF ROOKS COUNTY AND ITS PRINCIPAL TOWNS
Rooks county founded 1872. Named in memory of John C. Rooks,
Private of Co. 1, 11th Kansas Infantry, who died December 11,
1862, at Fayetteville, Arkansas of wounds received in the battle
of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, December 7, 1862
Rooks county is located in north central Kansas; with a total
area of 895 square miles of which 891 square miles is land and
4.6 square miles is water. The general surface of the county is
rolling, with high bluffs along the south fork of the Solomon
River and Paradise Creek. One-fifth of the surface if almost
level, and about three-fifths are undulating prairie.
The bottom lands along the Solomon are about one and one-half
miles in width, and those of other streams from one-half to one
mile in width. The streams are lined with thin beds of native
timber, and some artificial plantings have been made. The south
fork of the Solomon River enters on the west and flows eastward
through the county. Slate and Sand Creeks are tributaries from
the northwest and Spring Lost, Box-Elder, Elm and Medicine from
the south. Other creeks are Paradise, Wolf, West and East Eagle
and Bow. Magnesian limestone of a superior quality underlies the
entire county, with quarries at lago and on Elm and Medicine
Creeks. Sandstone, gypsum and potter's clay are also found.
A post-village of Rooks county, is
located in the township of the same name, a little north of the
Solomon river and some 15 miles west of Stockton, the county
seat. The population of the entire township for 1910 was 320.
Alcona is therefore a small place, but it is a trading center
and rallying point for the people in that part of the country.
Paradise Township settled between
1868 to 1878, and during that time the first town of Motor was
established. It was one mile east of what is now Codell, and
located on all four corners of intersection 25 Road and 18
Highway. The name was changed to Codell.
Codell School District No. 11
organized in 1879 at Motor in a sod building with hand sawn logs
for benches. A 2 story building erected in 1894, but destroyed
by a tornado in 1918. A new brick building erected in 1920 and
served as grade and high school for 20 years. In 1938 to 1940 a
new high school was built and used until 1965. The grade school
Codell had a tornado three times in
successive years 1916, 1917, 1918 on the 20th day of May. The
first year the twister passed at the west edge of town in late
afternoon. The second year it passed close to the east edge of
town in mid afternoon. The third year wiping out a large part of
town after dark. The town has never fully recovered after the
A thriving little town of Paradise
township, Rooks county, is a station of the Union Pacific R.R.
about 20 miles southeast of Stockton, the county seat. It has a
bank, a money order postoffice with one rural route, express and
telegraph office, telephone connections, Baptist and Methodist
churches, good public schools and does considerable shipping.
The population in 1910 was 175.
First church services held in home
of Ezra St. Peter in 1887. He donated 3 acres for a cemetery and
2 acres ofr a church east of his home.
Community first known as St.
Petersville, but later known as Damar.
Damar Knights of Columbus on Main
Street was completed in 1922.
One of the thriving towns of Rooks
county, is a station on the Union Pacific R.R. in Richland
township, about 20 miles southwest of Stockton, the county seat.
Concerning this town the Topeka State journal of Jul 27, 1910
said: "Five years ago there were less than a dozen buildings on
the Damar townsite. Today it has a thrifty population of about
300; it has two general stores, lumber yard, bank, hardware and
implements, two elevators, drug, furniture and several smaller
places. The deposits in the state bank reach close to the
Damar also has a money order
postoffice with one rural route, express and telegraph offices,
telephone connections, a Catholic church and convent, and it is
the principal shipping point for the western part of the county.
A hamlet in Rooks county, is located
on Big Medicine creek, 10 miles southeast of Stockton, the
county seat, and 5 miles south of Woodston, the nearest shipping
point and postoffice whence mail is distributed by rural route.
First village in Northampton
Township, located 1 1/2 miles northwest of Palco was Cresson.
First postoffice established
February 1879 with McLaughlin as postmaster.
First school organized 1879.
First church in Cresson was the 7th
Day Adventist Church in 1883. By 1885, three more followed:
Christian, Presbyterian and Free Methodist.
New village name "Palco", was
decided using the first two letters of the last names of two
railroad officials. Mr. Palmer and Mr. Cole, "pal" and "co",
First National Bank built 1928, was
one of the few banks in Rooks County that did not close its
doors following the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Now the current
Palco Township hall completed in
An incorporated city of the third
class in Rooks county, and located on the Union Pacific R.R., 20
miles southwest of Stockton, the county seat. It has a bank,
weekly newspaper The Enterprise, 3 elevators, a number
of retail stores, telegraph and express offices, and a money
order postoffice with two rural routes. The population in 1910
First called the Paradise Flats. The
name was derived from the fact it is a large and level plain
situated at the head of the Paradise Creek, where buffalo, deer
and antelope were once so plentiful it was given the name
Plainville, 3,089. Founded 1877, so
named from the plain on which it is located, a divide between
the Solomon and Saline rivers. (County and Community Names in
Kansas, Wayne E. Corely, Kansas State Library)
North half of the original townsite
of Plainville was first settled by Mr. Washington Irving
Griffin, July 1, 1876.
Plainville post office established
May 1878 with Mr. Griffin as postmaster.
Name "Plainville" was arrived at
when Mr. Griffin went to the homestead of Lambert P. Darland to
fix up the papers to start the new town. Mr. Darland suggested
the name Plainville, and without questioning Mr. Griffin, on
whose farm the town was to be started, agreed, and so the town
was called Plainville.
The first library built by the "GAR
boys" (Grand Army of the Republic) was a one story frame hall
located next to the current library on 100 block of West Mill
Street and began as such May 24, 1902.
First Plainville school system was
founded May 14, 1880. First school building, a 2 story frame,
erected 1888. The football program began in 1904. The current
high school was completed in 1952 on the same site as the
original school. Principal C.E. Rarick became president of Fort
Hays State College with Rarick Hall being named for him.
Football coach, Jack Hartman became Kansas State University
basketball coach and inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of
A considerable village, containing
several stores and mechanics' shops, was first settled in 1877
by B.L. Sinclair; the second settler was W.I. Griffin. The
surrounding country settled rapidly and it is now one of the
most desirable sections of Rooks County. The town was named by a
Stockton town company, but the old site was "jumped" and a new
town laid off, on the claim of William Bradly. As it is the only
village between Stockton and Hays City, it enjoys a large trade.
The town, as its name indicates is located on level ground.
The first marriage in the village
occurred in 1878 - Ramson Rouse and Miss McCloy.
The first death, James Conger,
occurred in 1878.
F.S. Mickey taught the first school
in King's residence in 1878 and two years later a substantial
school house built, one mile from the center of the village.
Rev. W.L. Mickey, a Methodist,
preached the first sermon in 1878 at G.F. Slosson's residence.
In the summer of 1880 a Methodist church was built.
A postoffice was established in 1878
and W.S. Griffin appointed postmaster.
Joseph opened the first store in
The town is situated in the south
part of the county seven miles from the County line.
The M.E. Sunday school, of which
E.M. Gale is superintendent, was organized in 1878, has 50
scholars and 5 teachers.
A social club called the Rough and
Readies was organized in 1879 and has a membership of 30. F.S.
Mickey is the present presiding officer.
First church: St. Thomas Catholic,
was constructed of native limestone in 1878. A small replica was
built at the Catholic Cemetery northwest of Stockton with the
stones from the original church.
Possible names for the new town:
McNultyville, Stockville, Stocktown; but Stockton was chosen.
County Agricultural Fair Association
was organized in June 1879, and the first Rooks County Fair was
held October 8-10 of that year.
The Congregational Academy, which
later served as the public high school in Stockton, was hoped to
become a college, but the school fell on hard times and
graduated it's last class in 1896.
Two story structure housing the
county offices was built in 1881. The present courthouse built
The city of Stockton, county seat of
Rooks County, now containing a population of 700 was first
settled in June 1872. Several of the earliest settlers were
cattle dealers and they named their new home Stocktown, or as it
soon became Stockton.
The first settler in the town was
George W. Beebe, who also erected the first house and opened the
first stock of goods. He came on the town site in June 1872.
Other early settlers were S.C. Smith, who built the first frame
house, bringing his lumber by team from a distance of 150 miles;
Joseph McNulty, Marvin and Lyman Randall - the Randall's built
in 1872 the large stone business house on Main street. W.
O'Brien, Joseph and Jackson Dickson, Joseph Randall, Thomas
The first town officers, elected in
1873 were Charles Stuart, trustee; D.K. Dibble, clerk; John
Park, treasurer; G.W. Patterson and P.G. Green, justice; G.W.
Norcutt and W. Dickson, constables.
Stockton was organized as a city in
the spring of 1879. The first officiers were: C.E. Maynard,
mayor; C.E. McDaniel, Jewell Elliott, M.M. Steward, James Moore
and John Sarver, councilmen; D. Washburn, marshal; W.A. Ecker,
police judge; T.C. McBreen, clerk. Present officers: M.M.
Stewart, mayor; John Newton, M. Schrulen, M.E. Prickett, Hiram
Lee, J. Guthrie, council; John R. Hicks, marshall; Frank
McNulty, police judge, T.C. McBreen, clerk. The council meets
regularly every month.
The first school was taught in 1872
by W.H. Barnes in the north part of town and soon after the
first school house was built in the same section.
The first sermon was delivered by
Elder Joy Bishop in the public hall at the close of 1872.
James Finnegan was appointed
postmaster. The first mail was brought on horseback from Cawker
City, via Bulls City.
The grist mill was built by Bulls
and French, east of and near town line.
Stockton is located on the second
bottom on level prairie.
A child of Geo. W. Norcutt, born in
the spring of 1874, was the first birth in Stockton.
The first burial in the grave yard,
was a man named Foster; whose death is noted elsewhere.
Stockton has just cause to be proud
of her educational advantages, having a successful grade school
in a substantial and elegant three-roomed two-story building.
The house was built in 1881, at an expense of $4,000. Three
teachers are employed with an enrollment of 150 scholars. Her
earliest teacher, W.H. Barnes still takes a warm interest in the
subject of education.
As you drive along Hwy 24, heading west toward Stockton, and you
look to the north you will see these sculptures on the hillside.
These are several around the area. Here is an example of two of
Settlement established in 1869 with
a population of more than 20,000 in 1880 when favorable
precipitation yielded good crops. But the following years were
interspersed with years of extreme drought. Prolonged drought in
the 1930s emphasized the need for storing water for irrigation.
The Webster Dam began construction November 1952 and completed
First postoffice established 1886
with James S. Wilson as postmaster.
Grade schools built in 1886 and 1907
and continued until 1974. High school built in 1921 and used
First church was Free Methodist. The
Methodist Episcopal Church held the first service September 17,
1911 and is today the only active church. The Ash Rock
Congregation or "Stone Church" held it's first service March 4,
1883, renovated 1976 and an historic site in Rooks County.
An incorporated city of the third
class in Rooks county, and is located in Lowell township on the
south fork of the Solomon river and the Missouri Pacific R.R.,
10 miles east of Stockon, the county seat. It has a bank, a
newspaper, a flour mill, a grain elevator; a cornet band, all
lines of retail establishments, telegraph and express offices,
and a money order postoffice with one rural route. The
population in 1910 was 299. It is the receiving and shipping
point for a large and prosperous grain and stock raising
First postoffice in 1880 with Mrs.
Armenda Webb as postmaster, and was asked to submit a name for
the community. She and her husband, John Webb, were born in
Zurich Switzerland and submitted Zurich.
Union Pacific Railroad came to
Zurich in 1887 with 4 trains daily.
Zurich once had 3 grocery stores, 2
grain elevators, a bank, telephone office, a medical doctor,
drug store, implement dealer, 2 car dealerships, lumber yard,
hardware store, hatchery, 3 gas stations, creamery, barber shop,
real-estate office, blacksmith, auctioneer service and a cafe.
Fire destroyed several of the businesses and they were never
New Catholic Church built in 1882
with Fr. M.B. Pujoz as pastor. A Catholic Convent was built in
the northeast part of Zurich, but dissolved before 1892. St.
Ann's Roman Catholic Church, built on the site of the original
church built in 1886, was completed in 1950. The parish was
dissolved in 2007.
Zurich School built in 1930.
Zurich Township Hall built in 1914.
No longer used.
A little town in Rooks county, and
located in Logan township on the Union Pacific R.R., 20 miles
southwest of Stockton, the county seat. It has a hotel, a grain
elevator; a telephone exchange, owned by a local company; a
number of general stores, a telegraph office and a money order
postoffice with two rural routes. The population in 1910 was
Source: History of Rooks County;
eReference Desk; Wikipedia, History of the State of Kansas,
Chicago, A.T. Andreas, 1883; A Standard History of Kansas &
Kansans, Edited by Frank W. Blackmar, A.M., Ph. D. Vol 1 and 2,
1912; Kansas Cyclopedia of State History, by Frank W. Blackmar,
A.M., Ph. D. Vol 2, 1912, transcribed by J.S.