A Good Town in a Good Locality, With Fine Homes and Good Farms.
Cheney is perhaps the largest town in the county outside of Wichita. Its population is approximately 750 and everyone
of them is a booster. The thriving little city is located on the Santa Fe, Wichita & Western branch, twenty
seven miles west of Wichita, and is the last town on that road in that part of the county. The progressiveness
of the county is demonstrated in the fact that a short time ago the Milling Company organized and formulated plans
for an electric light plant that has become a success in every way. The plant has been in existence for about seven
weeks and since its beginning nine arc lights have been placed on the streets in different parts of the city, besides
the company has over 600 smaller lights scattered throughout the city in residences and stores. The plant is equipped
with a 100 horse power Monarch Corliss engine and a 50 kilowat dynamo. The lighting of Cheney is operated on the
same scale as it is in other small towns throughout the United States, that of a moonlight schedule. The city council
will probably have several more arc lights of 500 candlepower placed around on other streets in the near future.
The location of Cheney is ideal and the land lying around it for several miles is all owned by prosperous farmers
who raise everything that can be raised in the temperate zone. Wheat is the principal product however, and this
year's crop was far better than for the past three seasons. A great quantity of fruit is also raised in the vicinity
of Cheney and although the late frosts of last spring hurt the fruit crop, yet it did not so affect it that it
was utterly ruined. Many fine apple orchards are seen throughout that section of the county. A great deal of corn
is also raised and will yield a far better per cent in bushels per acre this year than last despite that fact that
rains were scarce during the hot months. Cheney has stores of every description, all of them substantial buildings.
Cheney has two banks, four general stores, two large hardware stores, two livery barns, one drug store, two hotels,
two blacksmith shops, one weekly paper, one grocery store, two elevators, four churches and one large school with
an enrollment of nearly 275, two restaurants, one grain and feed store, several doctors and one dentist, one large
mill and electric power plant, three real estate agents who do a large business, one exclusive furniture store,
two photographers, two lumber yards, one gents' furnishing store, one shoe store, two barber shops, one harness
shop, one coal yard, one undertaker and several miles of cement sidewalks. The combined deposits of both banks
are placed at a little over $250,000 and the wealth of the officers, directors and stockholders will greatly exceed
$1,500,000. Both banks show a decided increase in deposits on their last statements over the ones previous. The
most influential business men and farmers in that vicinity are the stockholders. They are men who have spent the
greater part of their lives in Sedgwick county and have been instrumental in making this county what it is today
- the greatest county in the state. And it is without one exception.
Cheney's greatest need is more people. Although there are not over three vacant houses in the city today, yet the
business men of the city would be glad to see new houses going up. Another thing that the city needs and which
would be of great advantage to it, is more store rooms. While some, and in fact most of the business concerns are
located in substantial buildings, there are a few that are not. It would be necessary for them to move into some
hastily erected building during the erection of a new business block, were they to have one built. Several new
residences have been built in the city during the past year - and all of them were rented or sold before the foundation
was laid, so therefore it is absolutely essential that new buildings be built soon. The freight receipts have more
than doubled during the past six months, which is a good indication of a city's growth. There has been at least
a 20 per cent increase in the postal receipts too during the last quarter. Another illustration that Cheney is
growing and forging to the front. It is expected by the older residents and some of the newer ones that the population
will be 1,500 within the next year.
One thing that the business men and residents of the city would like to see is an interurban road from Wichita
to their city. The Santa Fe only operates one passenger train a day over their road, leaving Wichita in the evening
and returning the following morning. It is necessary for the people of that section of the county to remain in
Wichita thirty one hours if they go there with the intention of visiting any of the theaters. The train reaches
Wichita at 10:30 in the morning and leaves for Cheney and other points along the line at 5:20 in the evening, which
is rather an inconvenience. An interurban road would operate cars at least once every three hours over the road
and while the fare would not be any less than it is at present, it would be a great help to shoppers and theater
goers of the towns along its line. It has been hinted by people who know that if an interurban is projected the
business men and farmers of Cheney and vicinity would help further it to the entire satisfaction of the promoters.
Their one cry continually is better train service and more of it. If the Santa Fe would operate two trains each
way every day it would satisfy them to some extent, for there is plenty of travel along the lines, in fact, too
much for the present service, for about three days out of every week the train from Pratt for Wichita is packed
by the time it reaches Cheney and people coming to Wichita would be compelled to stand up all the way during their
trip. Something should and must be done shortly to satisfy them, for not only the residents of Cheney but of all
the towns along the line have the same complaint. Cheney is one of the best towns in central west Kansas and is
the best town in Sedgwick, outside of Wichita, of course, which is saying a great deal for Cheney. Tom Grace, Nate
Hem, D. M. Main, Joe Goode, Ode Northcutt and Wm. O'Brien are familiar names in Morton township, where Cheney is
located upon section No. & of that township.
"Round about it orchards sweep, Apple and peach tree fruited deep."
AN EARLY INCIDENT OF CHENEY.
The old timers of Sedgwick county and especially those in the western portion of the county will recall John
Coffey, one of the early justices of the peace in Morton township. M. L. Garver never tires of relating the early
incidents connected with the courts of Judge Coffey. Judge Coffey then lived in the western part of Sedgwick county
at the confluence of the two Ninnescahs rivers; in the early days of Cheney he was the justice who presided in
that town and before him was settled many of the disputes and contentions of that region. He was a man of wonderful
common sense, and sterling integrity. He used to say after the lawyers had argued the case and presented the law,
"Boys let us apply a little common sense and some prairie law to this case." The first lawsuit ever tried
in the town of Cheney was tried before Judge Coffey. Harry Strahm, of Kingman, and O. H. Bentley, of Wichita, were
the opposing counsel; upon Bentley complaining of the ruling of the justice; he was very gravely informed by the
court that the last ruling was for him and added the court, "I will rule for Harry this time," and this
was final He divided his rulings and the lawyers could not get him to swerve from this rule. At one period of the
trial Judge Coffey became impatient and said, "Hurry up boys, you know that every time I take up my pen it
means costs." This case was tried in a lumber office and the jury retired to deliberate upon their verdict
to a convenient lumber pile, but since that time there has been many changes in Cheney. Lafe Jones was there then,
so was Ed. Gobin Many of the old timers still remain. Those who stayed have reaped their reward in this world's
goods, and it has been measured to them again in the fulness of the seasons and the ample return of the husbandman,
but Judge Coffey has gone to his reward. The old time Coffey farm at the confluence of the two rivers, where the
bright waters meet and mingle, those waters as pure as the distillations of the dew, has passed to strangers, but
it will be many years before the eccentricity and sturdy honesty of Judge Coffey will be forgotten.
Clearwater, seventeen miles southeast of Wichita, with a population of 600 inhabitants is one of the principal
towns in the county. It has all the advantages of the larger towns, inasmuch as it has natural gas and electric
lights, two banks, four general stores and a host of smaller places. It has three churches and a fine school building
with an enrollment of ever 300. Clearwater is the best town in the southern and southwestern part of the county.
The town is located on two railroads. The Santa Fe and the Missouri Pacific passing through Clearwater do a large
freight and passenger business. The Santa Fe enters the town from the east, going to Clearwater from Wichita via
Mulvane, while the Missouri Pacifie goes there direct. The latter is the most direct route and carries the most
passengers. The country around Clearwater is well adapted for the raising of corn, oats, wheat, barley, and fruits
of all kinds. A great deal of garden stuff is also raised. All the farmers living in the vicinity of the city are
prosperous and nearly all own their own farms. The city has two large elevators well filled with grain, which finds
a ready market in Wichita and other cities east of it.
The bank deposits in the two banks will exceed $150,000. They are both state banks and have been in existence for
many years. Never once during the career of either bank have the deposits ever decreased - that is, on statement
days. They always show a marked increase, which is the best indication that Clearwater is prosperous and growing.
There are two very large hardware stores, in fact larger than any other town in the county can boast of - Kirk,
Mathews and Company and the Smith-McLaughlin stores. The latter, however, is the largest, carries the most stock
and has been in existence for several years. It is located on North Main street Among the general stores those
of Ross and Company and the Racket are the largest, while in the harness line, the store of A. H. Wood is a credit
to any city twice or three times the size of Clearwater. The city also has a large and up to date livery barn which
does a tremendous business at all times of the year.
The postal receipts of the city have made a twenty per cent increase during the past quarter. The rural routes
are in existence and have an average of eighty families each. They cover a distance of over thirty miles and the
mail is always heavy. There are two lumber yards in Clearwater, the Farmers and the Hill-Engstrom Company. Both
carry large stocks and do a lucrative business. The city has one large and well stocked drug store, besides the
above mentioned business houses, two hotels, one millinery store, two restaurants, one weekly newspaper with a
large circulation, one real estate firm, one opera house and lodge hall and a score of smaller places.
Most of the business men of the thriving little city are pioneers and have lived there for the greater part of
their lives. Among them are some of the founders of Sedgwick county. Clearwater wants more people. It has the room
and there is lots of valuable ground around it for the city to spread. There are very few empty houses in the town,
but as the business men say, there is lots of lumber there to build new ones with and they want to see the new
ones going up. More people is the constant cry of the residents. Among the active business people of the town in
the past and present may be mentioned F. Herroion, Magill and Bliss, Hammers Bros., A. Banter, Jesse Elliott, T.
McCready and the Howard Milling Company, while H. R. Watt and the Chambers Brothers are prominent farmers in its
vicinity. John R. Stanley is the very accommodating postmaster of the town.
DAN E. BOONE.
In the early eighties there was a bunch in Wichita called the "Big Four." This Big Four was made up
of Col. M. M. Murdock, N. F. Neiderlander, M. W. Levy and A. W. Oliver. Of this aggregation of men who did things,
M. W. Levy is living in New York and A. W. Oliver and N. F. Neiderlander are living in St. Louis. Colonel Murdock,
the able editor of the Wichita "Eagle" for many years, has passed to the great beyond. The Big Four exploited
and promoted the Wichita and Colorado railway from Wichita to the northwest. It was originally designed to go westward
leaving Hutchinson six miles to the northward. When the line reached Elmer, six miles south of Hutchinson, L. A.
Bigger and some of the business men of Hutchinson got busy. They went to New York and personally saw Jay Gould,
the wizard of Wall street at that time; Gould was then, as his heirs are now, the moving force behind the Missouri
Pacific railway. The "Big Four" had a deal on hand with the Missouri Pacific people to lease the Wichita
and Colorado railway to them, and this was subsequently done; suffice it to say that the Hutchinson influence turned
the line into that town.
Early in the building of that line and the second station out of Wichita, was established the town of Colwich.
This name was made of compounding the two names Wichita and Colorado; only the founders turned the name around.
The town was established on sections 15 and 16 in Union township. The land was purchased of Lewis Rhodes; the first
town company was made of the following named well known citizens of Union township and Wichita: C. F. Hyde, Geo.
W. Steenrod, Henry Haskins, Dan E. Boone, Kos Harris, M. W. Levy, L. D. Skinner, N. F. Neiderlander, and M. M.
Murdock. The railway company put in the railway and the town company put in the land. Henry Haskins was the first
postmaster. N. A. Sterns is now the postmaster of Colwich. The town is the center of a very fine farming country.
Once upon a time when the Kansas Midland railway built from Wichita to the northwest, just north of Wichita,
it passed what was then known as the Burton Car Works. The Car Works had been promoted by J. O. Davidson, who was
also the treasurer of the Kansas Midland Railway Company. The Construction Company then building the Kansas Midland
railway, and John B. Dacey its manager, thought it would be a nice compliment to Mr. Davidson to name the station
at the car works "Davidson." This was done and a nobby depot was erected at that point.
The hard times came on and the car works faded away; the houses began to take wings, the works closed down, many
of the houses were moved to farms, some went to Oklahoma on wagons and some were torn down and thus moved away.
It began to dawn upon the people of Wichita that the manufacture and repair of cars miles away from fuel and material
was an abnormal condition of affairs. With sorrow they saw what promised to be a successful manufacturing plant
gradually fade from the landscape. The Burton Car Works are no more, and having no further use for the depot at
Davidson, the railway company moved it to another point, and now the Frisco trains go by Davidson without even
whistling. The siding has gone and nothing remains of Davidson except a very fine patch of alfalfa which probably
pays better returns than the station.