Towns of Sedgwick County, Kansas (Page 2)
From: History of Wichita and Sedgwick County, Kansas
Past and Present
O. H. Bentley, Editor-in-Chief
C. F. Cooper & Co. Publisher.
Chicago 1910


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."


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.


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.

Return to [ Kansas History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ] [ Illinois Biographies ]

Kansas Counties at this web site - Anderson - Atchison - Butler - Leavenworth - Lyon - Sedgwick - Shawnee

Also see the local histories for [ CT ] [ IA ] [ IL ] [ IN ] [ KS ] [ ME ] [ MO ] [ MI ] [ NE ] [ NJ ] [ NY ] [ OH ] [ PA ] [ WI ]

All pages copyright 2003-2013. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy