WILSON COUNTY, KANSAS

HISTORY

History of Vilas, Colfax Township


BRIEF HISTORIES OF TOWNS & CITIES

Altoona, (formerly Geddesburg), one of the larger incorporated cities of Wilson county, is located on the Missouri Pacific R. R., and on the Verdigris river, 11 miles east of Fredonia, the county seat. It has two banks, a weekly newspaper, telegraph and express offices, and an international money order postoffice with three rural routes. The population in 1910 was 1,462. The town was founded in 1869 by a towncompany of which Dr. T. F. C. Todd was president. No town elections were held until the town company ceased to do business. The first business enterprise was a grocery store opened in 1869 by george Shultz and John Hooper. The postoffice was established in April, 1870, and J. N. D. Brown appointed postmaster. The Altoona Union, the second paper published in the county, was founded in March, 1870, by Bowser & Brown. A school house was built the next year at a cost of $3,000. A steam saw mill and a flour mill were set up in 1871 on the Verdigris.

The growth of Altoona dates from the entrance of the railroad in 1885-6. At that time it was a town of some 300 inhabitants, and a dozen business houses. The development of the oil and gas fields in the vicinity in the '90s added greatly to the importance of the city.

Benedict, an incorporated town of Wilson county, is located ont he Verdigris river in Guilford township, 8 miles northeast of Fredonia, the county seat, and at the junction of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe and the Missouri Pacific railroads. It has a bank, telegraph and express offices, and a money order postoffice with one rural route. The population in 1910 was 215. The town was surveyed about the time the Missouri Paific and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroads were built through this county. Substantial iron bridges were built over the Verdigris at this point in 1887, and a $4,000 school house was erected. The Wilson county old settlers society was organized at Benedict in 1897. The town was piped for gas in 1898.

Buffalo, one of the incorporated towns of Wilson county, is located in Clifton township on the Missouri Pacific R. R. and on Buffalo creek 15 miles northeast of Fredonia, the county seat. It has a bank, a weekly newspaper, brick and tile works, a feed mill, express and telegraph offices, and an international money order postoffice with two rural routes. The town is located in the oil and gas fields. The population for 1910 was 807.

Buffalo was founded in 1867, when a postoffice was established there with Chester Gould as postmaster. The first store was opened in 1869 by the Young Bros., and the first hotel by John Van Meter, in 1870. The Buffalo Agricultural Society was organized in 1872. In 1886 the railroad was built, which was an impulse to the growth of the plae. The next year the first bank was started. The town was incorporated as a city of the third class in 1898, and the first election held in October of that year, when the following officers were chosen: Mayor, E. B. Johnson; police judge, A. Jamieson; clerk, C. M. Callarman; treasurer, J. L. Dryden, street commissioner, O. P. Neff; councilmen, W. L. Ward, J. S. Blankenbecker, B. E. Jones, A. A. McCann, G. K. Bideau.

Coyville, an incorporated city of Wilson County, is located on the Atchison, topeka & Santa Fe R. R. and on the Verdigris river, in Verdigris township, 12 miles north of Fredonia, the county seat. It has all the main lines of business, including banking facilities. There are telegraph and express offices and a money order postoffice with one rural route. The population in 1910 was 227.

The first store was opened at this point in 1859 by Albert Hagen, a Polish Jew, whose principal customers were Osage Indians. The first church was organized at the home of Rachel Conner by T. B. Woodward. The place was named for Oscar Coy, who, with P. P. Steele, bought out Hagen's storein 1864. In May, 1866, the postoffice was established with Coy as postmaster. In August of the next year, R. S. Futhey located a sawmill a mile below the town, which was the first one in the county. The next year he was grinding corn and making flour in the same mill. The mill was later moved to Coyville. A bridge was erected over the Verdigris in 1873 and in 1886 the railroad was built.

Fredonia, the judicial seat and largest city of Wilson County, is located southwest of the ceneter of the county, 90 miles east of Wichita, and 150 from Kansas City. It has city waterworks, police and fire departments, natural gas and electric lights, 3 banks, 2 newspapers, 2 large brick plants, 2 independent gas plants, linseed oil mill, ice and cold storageplant, cement works, foundary and machine shops, and the largest window glass plant in the entire West. There are 5 churches and 3 public schools. Fredonia is well eqiupped with railroad facilities to take care of her manufactured and farm products, the Missouri Pacific running north and south, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe running northeast and southwest and the St. Louis &San Francisco running east and west cross at this point. It is the railroad center of the county. There are telegraph and express offices and an international money order postoffice with five rural routes. The population in 1910 was 3,040.

The foundation for the town was laidin 1868, when Dr. J. J. Barrett put up the first building, in which Albert Troxel opened a store. The next spring the Fredonia town ompany was formed with Justus Fellows, president; J. J. Barrett, secretary; the other members being W. H. Williamson, J. H. Broadwell, Elisha Hadden, G. F. Jackson, John T. Heath, W. T. Barrett, John E. King, Albert Troxel and D. P. Nichols. Steps were at once taken to build a court house. There was a little rival town half a mile north called Twin Mounds, which about this time tried to secure a postoffice but failed because there was already a postoffice by that name in Kansas. Fredonia then succeededin securing a postoffie and was thus officially established as a town. By 1870 there were about thirty buildings on the town site. That year immigration was heavy, new buildings sprang up on the prairies, and the population went to about 600. In May, 1871, the town was incorporated as a ity of the third class. An election was heldin which 144 votes were polled and the following officers were elected: T. J. Hudson, mayor; John Hammert, W. W. Sholes, C. Christ and Robert Morgan, councilmen. In September of that year the first bank was opened. In 1872 a disastrous fire occurred in May, 1886, destroying eleven frame store buildings worth $13,500. That year several new buildings went up, the total capital used in construction exceeding $150,000. In addition to private enterprises, erected by the railroads. In July the whole north side of the square was burned to the ground, but was immediately rebuitl with two-story stone buildings. Many new buisness houses were erected in the next two years, and new enterprises started. In 1889 there was anoter fire in which Cliff King, a nine year old boy lost his life and buildings worth $30,000 were destroyed. A flood that year carried away the Center township bridge over Fall river and a new one, several feet higher, was built. In 1890 a canning factory began operations andin 1891 a linseed oil mill. Otto's flour mill on Fall river burned in 188 and his new electric mill was built in 1900. The telephone system was installed in 1900.

Source: Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, 1912, edited by Frank Wilson Blackmar


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