Towns of Sedgwick County, Kansas (Page 3)
From: History of Wichita and Sedgwick County, Kansas
Past and Present
O. H. Bentley, Editor-in-Chief
C. F. Cooper & Co. Publisher.
Mulvane, Kansas, is located on the county line between Sumner and Sedgwick counties, five miles west of the
corner of Sumner, Sedgwick, Cowley and Butler counties. The city was laid out by the Mulvane Town Company in August,
1879. and was named in honor of Joab Mulvane, a prominent Santa Fe official who was instrumental in locating both
Wichita and Mulvane on the line. Mulvane was incorporated as a city of the third class by the Sumner County District
Court under Judge E. S. Torrence on the 27th day of September, 1883. The first city election was held on the 6th
of November, 1883, at which time A. D. Doyle was elected mayor. There is no better farming country in the United
States than that which surrounds Mulvane.
FARMER DOOLITTLE IS INSPIRED OVER MULVANE.
Wichita people know that this city is growing and they are firm in the belief that the Peerless Princess is
now and will continue to be the gateway to the great Southwest. There is, however, one pleasing feature of the
growth of Wichita that a good many people overlook, and that is the growth of surrounding towns. A great city is
always surrounded by large towns. This fact was presented to me in a rather forcible manner when I attended the
old settlers' meeting at Mulvane last Thursday. I carried one end of the surveyor's chain through the tall prairie
grass about a quarter of a century ago that set the bounds of the main business street of Mulvane. The town today
has a population of a little less than 2,000, but on every hand there are evidences that this town which Mrs. Clay
Hilbert elected should be named for J. R. Mulvane, of Topeka, is going in the near future to become a considerable
A history of Sedgwick county would be incomplete without a write up of Oatville. When J. W. Miller first laid
out his plans to build the Wichita, Anthony and Salt Plains Railroad (what a name for a railroad), the first station
out of Wichita to the southwest was named Oatville. This station was upon the land of James P. Royal. The weary
traveler through this vale of tears, embarking at Wichita upon a Missouri Pacific train, with his life in his hands,
as he nears the town of Oatville always wonders why the railway there runs upon a direct north and south line.
He is riding upon what was once the Wichita, Anthony and Salt Plains Railroad, now the Missouri Pacific Railway.
The influence of James P. Royal and his old time partner, Newton H. Robinson, put the iron rails upon a half section
line through the land of Mr. Royal and upon his half section line. These men named the town and platted it upon
the section line running east and west between Sections 11 and 14 in Waco township. James P. Royal still lives
upon his fine farm just west of the town. Newton H. Robinson, one of the brightest men in Sedgwick county, has
passed to his reward. Bernell Bigelow is the postmaster at Oatville; he has held this place for many years. Oatville
without Bernell Bigelow would be like the play of Hamlet with Hamlet left out. The coming generation around Oatville,
and the boys now wearing kilts, twenty five years hence will probably get their mail at Oatville from Bernell Bigelow,
postmaster By reason of its contiguity to this city, Oatville will probably never make a metropolis, but it is
a pleasant place to live, in sight of the lights upon the Boston Store, and most any day James P. Royal and his
family can hum into town in his automobile. The Bigelows, Carrs and Turleys are familiar names about Oatville.
Peck is one of the few towns in Sedgwick county that has the distinction of being on two railroads and in two counties. It is located fifteen miles south of Wichita on the Rock Island and is twenty one miles from the same place via the Santa Fe by way of Mulvane. The fare, however, is the same over both roads from the county seat. The postoffice, one general store, blacksmith shop and a lumber yard are in Sumner county, while the rest of the business houses are in Sedgwick county. Peck really belongs to Sedgwick. despite the fact that the postoffice is in the other county, for most of the people live on this side of the line.
The little city has a population of approximately 300 and was incorporated several years ago. It has a mayor
and city council and takes on all the airs of a city several times its size, and well it might, for it has boosters
living in it. Every resident of that thriving little city is a booster and has been ever since he has lived there.
Within the Sedgwick county side of the town are located one large elevator, two general stores, one restaurant,
one hardware store, a livery barn, one drug store, one pool hall, one hotel, and the bank. The city has a large
and handsome school building and two churches with large congregations. The depot is situated some little distance
from the main part of the town, but that is owing to the fact that the Santa Fe and Rock Island cross several hundred
yards from that part of the city. Both roads use the same depot. The fine farm holdings of Henry Stunkel are near
Peck; the Kerley brothers are prosperous stock dealers and farmers in and near Peck; the Roll brothers reside to
the northward of the town, while William Roll is an active business man in Peck. Everybody knows Hiram Hitchcock,
the most genial man in Sumner county His fine farm is just south of the town. There is no finer farming land in
Kansas than the valley of the Ninnescah, adjacent to this town.
Schulte sprang into existence upon the building of the Orient Railway from Wichita southwest. It is a hamlet
located in a fine portion of Waco township, on the section line directly west of Oatville. The town is named for
Peter Schulte, a well known German farmer of that locality. The location is upon section 7 of Waco township. Here
is located a fine Catholic church and a strong German parish of this church; also several stores, an elevator and
blacksmith shop. Fine farms abound and the people are prosperous. John Springbob, Henry Gadeke, Charles Zim and
D. W. Wilson are prominent farmers in this township and in the vicinity of Schulte.
That part of Sedgwick which is in Sedgwick county is located on the northwest quarter of section 3 in Valley
Center township. Most of the town is in Harvey county, which bounds Sedgwick county upon the north. Sedgwick as
a village contains about 700 people. It is a delightful village, peopled by a prosperous community, and borders
on the Little Arkansas river, one of the most beautiful streams in Kansas. It contains banks, schools and churches
and also some live merchants and very pleasant homes. Valley Center township is one of the most fertile bodies
of land in Sedgwick county and its fine farms are unsurpassed in the entire state.
There are four German townships in Sedgwick county. They are Union, Sherman, Garden Plain and Attica township.
The Germans who farm in these townships, and they are among the best farmers of the state of Kansas, are largely
Catholics. Near the center of the territory embraced in these townships is located the town or hamlet of St. Mark.
This point is the seat of a magnificent Catholic church and school. The parish is a large one and a most prosperous
one. Some of the wealthy German farmers of this section reside here. They are the great wheat raisers and their
farms are in a fine state of cultivation. This town has no railway, but that does not matter, for there are fine
railway facilities all around them and they are growing richer and more prosperous each year. J. Smarsh, John B.
Simon. John Betzen, Peter Betzen, Moses Jay and Peter Strunk are familiar names in this locality.
Sunnydale is a postoffice in Grant township. It is located upon the southeast quarter of section 15, in this
township, and adjoins the well known McCracken fruit farm. The business consists of a general store and a cluster
of houses. Grant township has no railroad and the Hamlet of Sunnydale lacks railway facilities. The farming country
surrounding the town is first class and in a high state of cultivation. S. H Harts, Isaac T. Ault, William McCracken
and J. O. Mead are familiar names in Grant township. Many of the old settlers have become well off, still own their
farms, which are rented, but their owners reside in Wichita.
Valley Center, as its name implies, is situated in the valley of the little Arkansas river, ten miles north
of Wichita. When the Santa Fe line of railway was built from Newton to Wichita, E. P. Thompson was a member of
the legislature from Sedgwick county. Mr. Thompson, owning a large body of land in Kechi township, was importuned
to go into a townsite deal with the railway company for a townsite several miles south of the present location.
Being of a highly sensitive nature and fearing that his motives would be misconstrued, Mr. Thompson refused. His
refusal located the present town of Valley Center on section No. 36, in Valley Center township, and this town has
both the Santa Fe and Frisco lines. For many years the Carpenters and the Dewings and the Beaches were the leading
families of Valley Center. Henry C. Boyle was a leading spirit of the town, so were Willis Davis and Orville Boyle,
the present head of the Chamber of Commerce. The town has a staunch friend in the person of Mr. Boyle, who is at
this time promoting and building the Interurban line from Wichita to Newton and Hutchinson via Valley Center. The
grade is almost completed at this time from Valley Center to Wichita and the project is being pushed as fast as
possible The early settlers are all away, some of them are dead. Al Johnson, one of the old landmarks and business
men of the town, is in Wichita. But still the town goes on, fully illustrating the old theory that "No man
is a necessity." Around the town are expansive fields of alfalfa and this industry is in a most flourishing
condition in Valley Center, Grant and Kechi townships. Fine farms are the rule and the soil is a perfect garden
spot, while the Little Arkansas river meanders to the west of the town. O. G. Jacobs, S. I. Perrin, H. W. Reynolds
and George R. Davis are business men and land owners in Valley Center and its neighborhood.
Years ago upon the building of the Englewood branch of the Santa Fe Railway in Viola township, on section 33
it established a depot and called it Viola. The town slumbered for years, content with a small trading point where
Nighswonger & Robinson sold most of the things in a mercantile way and one or two stores transacted the business
of the town. But there came a change in matters; the Orient Railway headed out of Wichita, it crossed the fertile
Ninneseah valley and crossed the Santa Fe at Viola. The town woke with a start, new people came in, new buildings
were built, new blood was infused, and Viola became a thriving village. It found itself upon a great trunk line
of railway from Wichita to Old Mexico, and in direct communication with the metropolis of southern Kansas. Viola
township is a fine body of land; it excels in the raising of wheat and corn. The Nighswongers, Robert Little, C.
Wood Davis, M. R. Davis, Miller Dobbin, James Grimsley, Manford Miller. W. H. Ware and W. L. Porter are familiar
names in Viola township.
Waco is located in Salem township and there is no better farming country in the state of Kansas. It is the fertile
valley of the Cowskin. Waco at present has no postoffice. It is supplied by rural delivery from Peck. John Deihl,
whom most everybody in that locality knows, carries on a general store at Waco. There is also a blacksmith shop
here. The hamlet is located at the junction point of sections. 20-21, 16 and 17, in Salem township. Here is also
located a commodious town hall and a roomy school house, where the kindergarten politicians of Sedgwick county
often hold meetings and inflict their small oratory upon the farmers and practice upon the people. The town is
also noted for good yellow leg chicken dinners, served in the town hall by the good housewives of Salem township.
To these feeds are always invited the ambitious young lawyers of the county capital, who after the feed and when
full of chicken, berry pie and frosted cake make the welkin ring, greatly to the delectation of Wilbur Huff, Tom
Green and Uncle John Copner. Waco is now fondly hoping for a railroad and an interurban line from Wichita would
be most acceptable to the people of Waco and Salem township.
Six miles north of Wichita, on a section line which in Wichita is Lawrence avenue, where the Frisco line of
railway crosses the highway on its way to Valley Center, is now a flag station known as Wichita Heights. During
the building of this railway in 1887, on the land now owned by Isaiah Smyser, was located the future great city
of Wichita Heights. The entire 160 acres of land, then the old William McCollock farm, was purchased by some Boston
men, who laid out the entire quarter section. They had Ransom Brown survey it, lay out the corners and take out
the lots. This enterprising surveyor drove pegs all over that hill and a town company was formed which was capitalized
at $150,000. A rather pretentious depot building was built, the building being a rustic affair: and considerable
good steel rails were wasted in locating and laying out extensive yards at this point. A general store was put
in operation and a postoffice was established. It was a town of great expectations, but there was really no call
for Wichita Heights. With the waning of the boom the town waned. It is an old and very trite saying that the stream
cannot rise higher than the fountain, and today Wichita Heights is but a memory. The company, however, left one
desirable thing on the townsite. It planted a fine grove of trees near the crossing, and this grove with its maples
and cottonwoods alternating is now a refreshing thing to the weary traveler upon a hot day. The greatest returns
ever made to the company from this townsite was on one occasion when Charley Simmons paid them $17 for hay cut
on their land. Wichita Heights has faded away; gone like a hard trotting nightmare of finance, down the back alley
of time. Adios, Wichita Heights.
WESTERN SEDGWIOK COUNTY.
There is no denying the fact that the western portion of Sedgwick county is the most fertile portion of the county and now produces the best crops of the county. The time was in the early history of the county when the old settlers at that time declared that the western portion of Sedgwick county was only fit for the ranging of cattle. This was at a period of time when G. W. C. Jones, Judge Tucker, Hank Heiserman and others used to hunt buffalo down on the Ninnescah river, in the locality where Clearwater now is. But notwithstanding this avowal of the old settlers, the tide of immigration flowed in it, flowed westward and crossed the Arkansas. The buffalo were pushed westward, the settlers pushed out into range 4, later on into Kingman county, and finally the loan companies began to loan money on farms as far west as range 8 west. In the meantime the western part of Sedgwick county was put under the plow. The sod was turned, sod corn was planted and in the fall following all of this land was put into fall wheat. A good yield followed and western Sedgwick county took its place as a fertile agricultural country and has since remained so. Corn, oats, wheat and alfalfa abound, Kaffir corn and cane is grown in abundance, the buffalo sod gave place to crops, the buffalo was driven from his ancient pasture field, his place was taken by the big steer and his sister, towns and villages sprang up, postoffices were established, and later on mail routes reached nearly every farm house. At this time in western Sedgwick are good farms, good farm houses, and big red barns. Shorthorn and Hereford cattle, and fat hogs galore.