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RUSSELL COUNTY, KANSAS
GORHAM

EARLIEST SETTLERS
When the Kansas Pacific Railroad tracks reached near here on Oct. 10, 1867, the history of Gorham began to unfold.
Gorham was not to be named or even established for more than a decade later. There were only a few dugouts, the Indians, buffalo, wind, and a handful of settlers. Not until April 1878, when Elijah Dodge Gorham arrived from Illinois did Gorham take its place among the early towns in Russell County.
On April 16, 1872, a group of Germans from Philadelphia and Lancaster, Pennsylvania arrived here to form the nucleus of a community which became Gorham in 1878-9. They joined the few pioneers who arrived with the railroad in 1867. E. D. Gorham platted the town in 1879.
The group which arrived in 1872 had planned to settle in the Wilson area, but a Bohemian colony had already been established there, and the Wisconsin colonists had settled in Russell, so the group continued west and selected the current site for establishing their community.
E. D. Gorham was joined by his wife and daughter, Daisy, about a year after he arrived. They subsequently bore a son, Clifford Lytle, who died when he was 6, and a daughter Mrs. W. T. Foster, who died in November, 1957.
E.D. Gorham opened a general store, the first business in Gorham. It also held the first Post Office. The building burned in 1887, was replaced by a frame building, followed in 1888 by a stone structure where the hotel now stands. He also opened a grain elevator and a lumber and coal yard.
A furniture store was in business where the present Gorham State Bank is located, and there were several small buildings (one of which was a storeroom with the Woodman Hall on the second floor). A post office building was erected and later became a pool hall. There was a livery stable and barn erected on the west side of town.
H. J. Reiff bough and rebuild the Woodman Hall, which he converted to a general store and post office. Lee Porter and Wendolin Vonfeldt purchased the business in 1945 and added a locker plant and meat sales department, with apartments on the second floor.
E. D. Gorham sold his general store to George Schaffer and John Weidle, who eventually sold it to Oral Black. Robert Mills and Frank Sperry later bought the business, and they sold it to Gordon Brenner.
Gorham's only drug store was build in 1926 by Fred Anderson and his brother, Dr. Anderson, who later moved his practice to Victoria.
The Gorham State Bank opened for business in a small stone building in January 1906, with W. T. Foster as cashier, Harry Baxter as clerk, and F. C. Ball, Albert Kunz, John Mills, and J. A. Mermis as directors. The present bank building was built in 1926 and is west of a former grocery store which was in the original bank building.
The two oldest houses in Gorham are the McRacken residence and the Everett Fritts residence.
Two of Gorham's streets are named Joliet and Chicago, indicating the Illinois influence. Clifford Street is named for E. D. Gorham's son, who died when he was 6.
The first depot was a boxcar located on a siding. The first depot agent was Capt. Eli Sperry, and the first section foreman was Peter O'Brien.
The first school was in a one-room dugout on Big Creek, and W. A. Stevenson was the first teacher. The school term lasted 3 months, later extended to 5. Later classes were held in the upstairs room of one of Gorham's early stores. F. C. Ball constructed a small white schoolhouse on the site of the now empty grade school.
Rural schoolhouses served the Protestants in the area for many years, and services were conducted by Andrew McCracken and Rev. Nickels. In 1951, a Rush County school building was purchased by the women of the Gorham Community Church and moved to the present church site. Rev. Dr. Hans M. Poppe was the first pastor.
St. Mary's Catholic Church maintained a high school adjacent to the church building for several years, beginning in 1922-3.
E. D. Gorham donated land to the Catholics of Gorham, and in 1894 the cornerstone was laid for St. Mary's Catholic Church, with the first mass on Christmas Day 1898. The church was served by a priest from Herzog for several years, and Father Hoeller was the first resident priest. The second story of the grade school served as a convent for the nuns who taught there.
The first cemetery was located where the present high school building stands, chartered in 1885 as the Prairie Lawn Cemetery. It contained 8 graves when on July 2, 1887, it was agreed to accept an offer by E. D. Gorham to provide 4 acres west of town. The Catholic Cemetery north of town was also donated by E. D. Gorham.
The first telephone service was started in 1878 by W. W. Cook, who ran his wires along the tops of fences. The phone boxes were large and of Swedish origin. Gorham was the first community in the county to provide dial service.
E. D. Gorham was described by the Kansas City Star as "the largest landowner in western Kansas, and perhaps the richest man in that part of the state". He had 1,000 acres under cultivation in 1890. At that time, land in the Gorham area was selling for about $12 an acre.
Gorham, like other county towns, came into the boom years in 1923, when oil was discovered near Fairport, south of Gorham. In 1927 oil was found on the J. A. Mermis farm east of town. The boom lasted for several years, but declined, and Gorham reverted to its earlier small town role.

EARLIEST SETTLERS
John Baumrusker Sr.; Will Ringeisen (Mrs. Ringeisen was the only woman in the Pennsylania colony); Jacob Wahl Sr.; H.H. Pierce; Oron Jones; George Foster; Clem Dodge; James Baxter; _ Rhodes; F. C. Ball; _ Walker; Charles Babcock; William E. Benso; Gottlieb Schwartz; Chris Roth; James Black; Van Martin; John Lohn; J. H. Hoole; Frank Raidon; Sam Stauffer; Thomas Fagan; Mrs. Hannah Smith; Roman Witt; George Waudby; Will Waudby; Joe Waudby; John Ginther; George Ginther; Mary Ginther; Nick Polcyn; Joe Polcyn; Frank Polcyn; John Billinger; Snyder family; Otto Ruhling; William Higley; Mary Crawford; Clarence Crawford; Mrs. Patten; Boney Patten; Jasper Patten; Mrs. McKibben; Silas Clay; John Boler; Will Thomas; Lizzie Thomas; Groff Thomas; Pete Household; Charley Holberg; George Chambers; John Duncan; George Baldwin; "Jinglebones" Thomas; _ Sloan; _ Rouback; _ Mermis; _ Cook; _ Carson; _ Farnsworth; _ Dyer; _ Mills; _ Crowe; _ Weidle; _ Benmore; _ Lacy; _ Wilson; _ Smith; _ Weirback; _ Pond; _ Boyle; _ McRacken; _ Kunz; _ Furthmyer; _ Dortland; _ Donovan; _ Gruan; _ Humphrey


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