[Please note that there are 11 pages.]


Establishment of "FIRSTS" is a very controversial matter with respect to the naming of the city we all know today as Arkansas City, Cowley County, Kansas, and its first settlers.

The Kansas Territory was organized in 1854. Hunter County was one of the counties created in 1855 by the first territorial legislature.

The state of Kansas was admitted to the Union in 1861. The greater portion of what was once Hunter County became Cowley County on March 3, 1867. Cowley County was named for First Lieutenant Matthew Cowley, a member of Company I of the Ninth Kansas Cavalry, who was killed in service in August of 1864 at Little Rock, Arkansas.

The boundaries of Cowley County were surveyed in 1867. The official government survey of the interior of Cowley County was delayed until January 1871.

The Governor of Kansas proclaimed the county of Cowley was organized on February 28, 1870, months before Congress took action to allow settlers on the Osage Diminished Reserve.

On July 12, 1870, Congress passed a law allowing actual settlers thereon to enter from forty to one hundred and sixty acres at $1.25 per acre of the Osage lands within Cowley County. Settlers were required to live upon the land six months, make certain improvements, and enter the same within one year from date of settlement.

For some reason or another, this fact was ignored by some of our earliest settlers, who should be termed as "sooners" inasmuch as they staked out claims before an agreement was made for the withdrawal of the Osage Indians from Cowley County.

Fact No. 1. The first official name of this city was Arkansas City. This name came into being on May 16, 1870, with the establishment of a post office before the Osage Indians had departed.

In the latter part of December 1869 a group of Emporia leaders and politicians became interested in the potential that the southern part of Cowley County presented. They were expecting the arrival of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad in the near future. (A grand railroad celebration took place at Emporia on the completion of the road in July 1870.)

The future Arkansas City started with an interested group from Emporia, Kansas, after that city experienced the "rush" that came with a railroad reaching that point in December 1869. They fully expected that the peninsula between the Walnut and Arkansas Rivers would become important to railroads. As a result, a town company was formed in Emporia to establish a town. Anticipating that the Walnut Valley branch of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad would pass across this site, they initially called this unseen site "Walnut City." On their way to Cowley County in late December 1869, they learned in Butler County that the town of "Walnut City" had been created in that county. They immediately decided on a change in the name of this still unclaimed site to "Delphi," taken from the charter of the Preston (Texas) and Salina (Kansas) railroad.

Professor H. B. Norton and his brother, Capt. Gould Hyde Norton, became the most active in the initial group of fifteen members from Emporia, who sought to establish a town that would be recognized by the post office department.

Professor Norton made the mistake of telling others of their intentions. As a result, other parties such as the Endicott family arrived "sooner" and staked out their claims with others before the Emporia group arrived. E. C. Manning, enlisted by an Emporia politician to assist the Emporia company, broke away from the group and started Winfield.

"Sooners" Who Preceded the Emporia Group at Arkansas City.

Mr. L. S. Cook made the claim in the July 25, 1877, issue of the Arkansas City Traveler that he was the first white man to drive a stake on the townsite of Arkansas City. Mr. Cook was camped on the Walnut River when Osage Indian Chief Chetopah was camped nearby. Cook and his companion ( J. P. Short) on November 4, 1869, took their wagon to pieces in order to get over the bluff near Tom Callahan’s. Cook claimed that there were no whites in this part of the country then. He also claimed that soon after Prof. Norton and others came, they jumped the claims that had been abandoned and started a town.

(Note: The Callahan bluff spoken of was on the east side of the Walnut River on the Chestnut Avenue road. It was only a cattle trail.)

In March, April, and May, 1869, H. C. Endicott, Senior, George and John Harmon, Will Johnson, Ed Chapin, Pad Endicott, Pat Somers, and J. (Z.) K. Rogers took claims near Arkansas City. H. C. Endicott built the first house in that part of the county. In September 1869 Z. K. Rogers died at Endicott’s house: the first death in the Cowley County.

There were other early settlers near Arkansas City: George and John Harmon, James Hughes, Tom Callahan, J. Carr, James Hughes, George Williamson, A. A. Broadwell, Wyland J. Keffer, William Neale Wright, Albert and Cyrus Dean, and others.

The Emporia Group.

On January 1, 1870, T. A. Wilkinson, John Brown, G. H. Norton, John Strain, and Silas A. Moore staked out their claim and laid the rude log foundations of the town they called "Delphi." H. B. Norton took a claim adjoining the town site on the north, and H. D. Kellogg took a claim south of the town site.

Professor H. B. Norton and others of the town company who returned to Emporia soon went through the process of renaming the site inasmuch as "Delphi" pertained to only one railroad and they became aware that more than one railroad might go through the town they were creating.

The Emporia group formed the Cresswell Town Company on January 8, 1870, in the hope that they could quickly get a post office by naming it after the U. S. Postmaster General. (In their haste they got his name wrong. John A. J. Creswell was the correct name.) Kansas Senator Edmund G. Ross made the application for the town company. He was informed in April 1870 that Cresswell, Labette County, Kansas, had already established a post office and that no two offices of the same name would be located in Kansas. In order to get a post office quickly, Senator Ross was instrumental in changing the name after the other river at this location.

On May 2, 1870, the Emporia group released the news that the town they were creating in southern Kansas was supposed to be the point where the Southern Kansas Railroad would intersect the Preston (Texas), Salina (Kansas), and Denver (Colorado) railroad, for which latter road a bill to secure a grant of land was at that time before Congress. It had already been established as a point upon four chartered lines of railroad, viz: The Walnut Valley Branch of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe road; the Preston, Salina & Denver road; the Emporia & Holden road; and the Arkansas Valley, or Fort Smith & Hays City road.

The town company also confidently expected that this would be the point of crossing for the Fort Scott & Santa Fe road, stating that the Legislature at a recent session had ordered the immediate survey of a State road, by the most direct route, from Emporia to Creswell.

They were wrong! The first whistle from a train came in late December 1879.

Arkansas City, Cowley County, Kansas.

The streets in Arkansas City were laid out north and south and east and west. The main street traversed the summit of the mound upon which the town was located.

The first structure built on the townsite was a log cabin, erected in the 100 block on North B Street. This house was later moved to the northeast corner of B Street and Central Avenue. It was first occupied on April 7, 1870, by Capt. Gould Hyde Norton as a residence and store. G. H. Norton & Co. opened a general stock of groceries, dry goods, boots and shoes in this cabin. It also became the first post office. Captain Gould Hyde Norton was appointed as the first postmaster of Arkansas City on May 16, 1870.

[Note: Many years later the cabin was moved to Paris Park. It was demolished by the flood of 1923. The stone chimney survived. It was torn down in the 1960s.]

In April 1870 Dr. Woolsey, of Iowa, started construction of the first hotel in Arkansas City. A stable was also built nearby. [The site of the Woolsey House later became that of the Osage Hotel: 100 North Summit Street.]

Dr. Woolsey’s son, Alfred, and Billy Anderson purchased the livery stable in October 1874, handling the stable as "Anderson and Woolsey."

Eva Woolsey, daughter of Dr. Woolsey, married John Brown October 30, 1870. They were the first couple married in Cowley County. It has been reported that she established the first greenhouse in Arkansas City at 717 North Third Street.

Frazier, of the firm of Betts & Frazier, opened a branch grocery and provision store in Arkansas in May 1870, after establishing one at El Dorado.

The first well dug for water by the town company in Arkansas City was completed in May 1870. The second public well, completed in July 1870, was situated at the intersection of Summit Street and Central Avenue, the center of the town company, and on the very crest of the ridge. It had about seven feet of excellent water. This allowed the public easy access to water. There were also wells dug by private persons by that time.

In June 1870 the Southern Kansas Stage Company (later called the Southwestern Stage Company) commenced running a tri-weekly line of hacks to Arkansas City in about ten days, carrying mail twice a week from El Dorado. H. O. Meigs, of the firm of Tisdale & Meigs, was responsible for placing stock on the route for the stage line to Arkansas City.

In June 1870 Charles R. Sipes opened up the first store on Summit Street. It was 16 by 20, and on the site now occupied by Bryant Hardware at 102 South Summit Street. He put in a stock of hardware, stoves, tinware, iron and agricultural implements. The store boasted of a proprietor, a salesman, a tinner and a man of all work. Charles was all of them. He put in a stock worth about $1,500, hauled from Emporia, 125 miles away, and paid $4.50 per hundred pounds, or about 20 percent, for getting them here. He next traded a pony for enough lumber to make an addition of 20 feet more, making his storeroom 16 by 40, a truly mammoth structure. This was in the fall of 1870. Charles now began to manufacture his own tinware instead of buying it. In the spring he put on another addition of 16 feet, and the citizens "pointed with pride" to its metropolitan proportions. His first year he sold about $3,000 worth of goods.

The second Summit street business was a grocery store started in a log shanty by L. F. (Lafe) Goodrich, previously of Emporia, in June 1870.

E. D. Bowen completed his grocery store in Arkansas City in June 1870, one week after Goodrich.

Richard Page started a butcher shop in Arkansas City in June 1870. He later became a partner of Hermann Godehard and they ran the City Bakery. They also handled groceries, confectionaries, and Queensware. Mr. Page accidentally poisoned himself in 1876 by getting strychnine, which he planned to use to kill mice in his house, mixed up in his vest pocket with his tobacco. Mr. Godehard carried on the bakery after Mr. Page’s death.

By June 1870 Wm. M. Sleeth and his brother, David, had moved their steam sawmill and shingle-machine from El Dorado to Arkansas City to manufacture lumber. About August 1870 Sleeth built a residence and commenced building another one.

Prof. T. R. Wilson sold out at El Dorado and moved his family to his claim near Arkansas City in July 1870.

Pond & Blackburn established a real estate agency in July 1870.

H. O. Meigs soon became a valuable member of the town company. He built a structure in July 1870 that was 20 x 32, two stories, with a cellar under the whole building, that became the City Hotel, the second hotel in Arkansas City. As a proprietor, Meigs developed a reputation for keeping his guests comfortable and supplied with good, substantial food. As one visitor said: "Even their neat bed chambers are so arranged as to be warmed from the fires below." The hotel was later purchased by Mantor & Son. H. O. Meigs went handled real estate at a later date. He and Amos Walton published the first monthly Real Estate Record.

The first issue of the Arkansas City Traveler, the first newspaper, was printed by C. M. Scott August 24, 1870, and distributed on the following day.

C. M. Scott arrived in Arkansas City August 4, 1870, to observe twelve horses grazing on the grass in the meadows, and a newspaper office with no roof. He was recognized as local editor of the Arkansas City Traveler, published by Mike Mains of Emporia. H. B. Norton was a guest editor. On December 15, 1870, L. B. Kellogg succeeded Mains in the proprietorship and became editor, with Norton serving as special contributor and Scott still acting as local editor. In October 1872 Scott became proprietor and editor of the Traveler.

Rev. Benjamin C. Swarts, an itinerant Methodist minister, took up a claim near the townsite of Arkansas City in January 1870. His daughter, Mary Elisabeth Swarts, took a claim on the townsite. Possessing a piano, she was gifted in both music and art. She became the first school teacher in Arkansas City in 1871 in the home of Professor H. B. Norton. She later married C. R. Mitchell, an attorney.

The citizens of Arkansas City met Saturday evening, August 20, 1870, for consideration of business connected with the erection of a public school building. In 1871 Arkansas City citizens subscribed $400 to buy lumber and build a school at 205 South Summit Street. The lumber was bought from Wm. Sleeth, who cut it at his new saw-mill. The building was erected of this green wood and school was started. As the school year progressed, the green wood started warping and large cracks appeared between the boards. The wind and cold was very disturbing to the parents and students. A movement was started to build the first permanent school.

The second schoolhouse, dedicated in May 1874, cost $10,000. It was constructed of brick with cut stone trimmings, designed by J. G. Haskell, the first architect in Kansas. It was considered the finest schoolhouse southeast of Emporia.

The second schoolhouse in Arkansas City, dedicated in May 1874, was constructed at a cost of $10,000, of brick with cut stone trimmings, designed by J. G. Haskell, the first architect in Kansas. It was considered the finest schoolhouse southeast of Emporia. It was referred to as the "First Ward School" after December 1884. [Later it became Roosevelt school] It was located in the 300 block of North B Street.

When the new schoolhouse was opened the wooden school building was rented as a warehouse/store for a few years before it was torn down.

The first brass band (numbering 14 members) and a glee club (numbering 15 to 20 members) was organized in Arkansas City in June 1870. The first three band members were Messrs. M. C. Baker, Ed Chapin, and Max Fawcett.

In 1870 Paul Beck started the first blacksmith shop in Arkansas City.

S. P. Channell built a dry goods and grocery store in 1870. His wife opened up the first millinery shop in Arkansas City in 1870.

Mrs. E. I. Fitch opened up a millinery and dressmaking establishment in 1870.

Wm. Speers started the first ferry across the Arkansas River in 1870.

Silas A. Moore started the first paint shop in Arkansas City in 1870.

T. A. Wilkinson maintained the first restaurant and boarding house in 1870 in Arkansas City before he became the second schoolteacher. He later became Superintendent of Public Instruction in Cowley County. He and his brother, Orrin Wilkinson, established their claims near Arkansas City.

A restaurant was started in Arkansas City by Mr. Groat. His son, Cresswell Grote, born October 5, 1870, was the first native of Arkansas City, Kansas.

A. D. Keith started the first drug store in Arkansas City in 1870. Before his opening, he was joined by E. D. Eddy, who later became sole proprietor of the drug store.

Frank H. Denton built a 18 x 24 ft. residence in August 1870 at the corner of B Street and Central Avenue, until he and his wife moved to their farm in East Bolton.

James I. Mitchell built the first harness shop in Arkansas City in 1870.

C. E. Nye constructed a harness and saddle shop during the summer of 1870.

After a trip in March 1870 by A. A. Newman, accompanied by his father, brother, and uncle, Daniel Beedy, plans were made by Beedy and Newman to construct a dam and put in machinery for a grist mill, sawmill, lath and shingle mill on the east bank of the Walnut River. By November 1, 1872, the Arkansas City Water Mill was in full operation. The flouring mill (35 x 40 feet) was four stories high.

Dr. J. Alexander started an office and drug store in late 1870.

O. P. Houghton and A. A. Newman started the first clothing store in Arkansas City in the latter part of 1870.

The first bank in Arkansas City was a privately owned bank started by Col. Jno. C. McMullen in 1871 named the Citizens bank. In 1873 he moved into a new cut stone bank, called the ARKANSAS CITY BANK of Arkansas City, one of the finest structures in the city. He also had an elegant private residence constructed of brick with cut stone trimmings, costing $6,000, one of the most prominent and expensive of the buildings in Arkansas City.

The first jeweler in Arkansas City was L. Perry Woodyard. By 1874 he moved to Winfield. He started a silversmith shop in the J. H. Sherburne Co.’s store in 1876.

His brother, John P. Woodyard, became proprietor of the Arkansas City Water Mills in 1876.

Arkansas City Town Company.

On July 13, 1871, the Arkansas City Town Company Corporation was formed by Daniel Beedy, L. B. Kellogg, M. R. Leonard, H. O. Meigs, A. A. Newman, G. H. Norton, H. B. Norton, C. R. Sipes, and W. M. Sleeth. Its capital stock was $15,000, which was divided into three hundred shares of $50.00 each. The term of its existence was ten years.

First City Election.

Incorporation of Arkansas City as a City of the Third Class.

An election was held on Monday, July 1, 1872, in which the voters of Arkansas City agreed that Arkansas City, an unincorporated town, would become a city of the 3rd Class as provided by law. The judges of said election were C. F. Allen, David Thompson, and Peter Pearson. R. J. Pond and Amos Walton acted as clerks. The votes were canvassed on Tuesday, July 2, 1872, by the board of canvassers at the said first city election: W. J. Mowry, E. B. Kager, and J. I. Mitchell.

The metes and bounds of Arkansas City on July 1, 1872, were as follows: Beginning at the North East Corner of the west half of Section thirty (30), thence South one mile to the south line of said Section, thence west one mile to the South West corner of the east half of Section Twenty five (25), thence north one mile, thence North one mile to the north line of said Section, thence East to the place of beginning, it being the East half of Section Twenty five (25) in Section Thirty (30) in Township Thirty four (34) South of Range Four (4) East.

[The city limits in 1872 of Arkansas City were as follows: starting at what is now the corner of Birch Avenue and F Street, and extending south to Madison Avenue, west to Eighth Street, north to Birch Avenue, and east to F Street.]

The first city ordinance passed was "concerning dogs." It imposed a two dollar license fee on dogs, and provided a ten dollar fine on owners who allowed their dogs to run loose. The Marshall was instructed to kill stray dogs and provision was made to declare a hydrophobia emergency when dogs must be kept muzzled.

Three days later, the council met again to provide for the construction of a "city prison." This was city ordinance number two. Specifications called for a jail 12 by 14 feet in size, and seven feet in height. The walls were to be built of 2 ft. by 6 ft. oak planks and the floor and ceiling of six-inch oak. Three eight-inch windows were to be provided.

The thoughts of the councilmen then turned to revenue. They passed ordinance number three, which assessed a tax levy of 10 mills on "real, mixed and personal property."

The fourth city ordinance provided that when citizens had raised enough funds by subscription to pay half the cost of drilling a public well, the city would provide the other half. Provisions to encourage the drilling of water wells were made at the same meeting.

Those four subjects, dogs-jail-taxes-water, still play a part in today’s municipal affairs.

Establishment of City Wards.

Arkansas City Republican, December 20, 1884.

The city council convened last Monday evening in the council room. The following is a report of the business transacted.

C. G. Thompson, mayor pro tem, Theo. Fairclo, and A. A. Davis were the members present. Several bills were allowed.

ORDINANCE NO. 126, Entitled an ordinance dividing the city of Arkansas City into wards, and numbering the same. Be it ordained by the mayor and councilmen of the city of Arkansas City.

SECTION FIRST. That the said city and the addition thereto shall be and is hereby divided into wards and numbered as follows, viz:

All that portion of said city and the addition thereto lying east of the central line of Summit Street and north of the central line of Central Avenue in said city, shall constitute a separate ward and shall be known and numbered as the First Ward.

All that portion of said city and the addition thereto lying east of the central line of Summit Street and south of the central line of Central Avenue in said city shall constitute a separate ward and shall be known and numbered as the Second Ward.

All that portion of said city and addition thereto lying west of the central line of Summit Street and south of the central line of Central Avenue, in said city, shall constitute a separate ward and shall be known and numbered as the Third Ward.

All that portion of said city and the addition thereto lying west of the central line of Summit Street and north of the central line of Central Avenue in said city shall constitute a separate ward and shall be known and numbered as the Fourth Ward.

An Early Citizen Who Settled Outside Arkansas City.

Max Fawcett, a well-known nurseryman from Emporia, settled near the Arkansas River in March 1870. Mr. Fawcett surveyed our southern border to determine whether or not we were indeed in Cowley County inasmuch as the Government surveyors had not started their work. He was quite satisfied we were in Kansas.

Mr. Fawcett took a claim one-half mile west of Arkansas City situated on the north bank of the Arkansas, at that time a stream forty rods in width. It was described in April 1870.

"A bluff of magnesian limestone some thirty feet high here rises abruptly, washed by the river a part of the way, but bending in such a manner as to enclose a bottom of some thirty acres, covered with a splendid growth of timber and grape-vines. Out of this bluff pour three beautiful springs. One is received in a square cavity cut with a chisel in the soft magnesian stone. Another pours out of a pipe in such a manner as to form a miniature and fanciful cascade, showing some of the peculiar touches of the proprietor. A few rods from this is a cave about ten feet wide and four feet high at the entrance, larger within, and passable to the depth of about one hundred feet; beyond that too small to conveniently penetrate, but of unknown extent. Here is a most perfect natural cellar for meat, fruit, and vegetables. The cabin stands on the bank just above. It is not yet very thoroughly completed, and was, a few nights ago, invaded by a pack of prairie wolves, doubtless attracted by the scent of dried apples and graham crackers. One yell from under the blankets caused them to vanish more rapidly than they entered. Just back of the house is Max’s garden. This is in a conical sink-hole, evidently connected with the cave below. He has shoveled this partly full of loose earth, and laid it off in garden beds with his own quaint taste. Various ornamental plants are also growing about the house. The land is a warm, sandy loan, admirably adapted to the growth of corn, fruit, and nursery stock. The Chickasaw plum, now in full bloom, grows in thickets all over it. From the building site the scenery is truly magnificent, including many miles of the river, the townsite, and vast vistas of bottom, upland, and bluff. Here ‘Mac’ has found a site exactly adapted to his genius. He seems perfectly happy here, and declares that nothing could induce him to return to dull, muddy, monotonous Emporia. His estate here will soon be the most beautiful in Kansas."

Aunt Sally.

James Christian, filling in for C. M. Scott, wrote to Murdock, editor of the Wichita Eagle, on the day that the first steamboat arrived at Arkansas City.

ARKANSAS CITY, June 30, 1878.

The steamer "Aunt Sally," from Little Rock, arrived this morning. Our town is mad with excitement. Men, women, and children, some on foot, some on horseback, others in buggies and wagons, rushed "pell mell" for Harmon’s Ford on the Walnut, to witness a sight that our people have thought of, dreamed of, and prayed for the last six or seven years: a real, living, breathing steamboat; as the children sometimes say, "a sure enough steamboat."

There she was, puffing and blowing like a thing of life. Some two hundred people rushed on board and examined her all over, from deck to Texas—cabin, engine, boiler, water wheel—all were scrutinized. They were in her and all over her.

Steam being up, the captain invited all hands to a ride up the Walnut as far as Newman’s mill and back. The bank was lined with people and the yells and cheers of those on deck and those on shore made the welkin ring. It was hip!—rip!—huzzah!—one after another. A general good time was had.

In the afternoon three hundred persons went aboard by invitation, for a ride down the river. Our cornet band did their best tooting on the occasion. Everything was hilarity and joy.

Little preaching was heard in Arkansas City today, you may depend. "Aunt Sally" was in everybody’s mouth.

She will stay until after the 4th, and will try to get up and see Wichita, if possible. The boat is owned by Captains Burke and Lewis, of Little Rock; is 85 feet long, 18 feet wide, and draws 14 inches light, and about two feet when fully loaded; carries 40 tons; made the run from Ft. Smith to this place in six days; met with no difficulty or obstructions on the way; the pilot thinks the river even better above than below Ft. Smith.

At this stage of water a railroad is nowhere alongside of a steamboat. Hurrah for the navigation of the Arkansas! It is no longer a matter of speculation, but is now a fixed fact—a reality. The "Aunt Sally," the pioneer steamer of this great Southwestern river, has proved it. JAMES CHRISTIAN.

First Fourth of July Celebration at Arkansas City.

On June 30, 1870, a large party of emigrants and excursionists left Emporia to make their way to Arkansas City for the big celebration expected there on July 4th. They were soon joined by Capt. Smith, of Gen. Custer’s staff, who was on his way to the Osage country in search of scouts to use on the plains as the Indians at that time were quite troublesome on the plains. (On the morning that Capt. Smith left Fort Hays for Emporia, Gen. Custer received a telegram from Kit Carson informing him that about twenty Indians had just been captured who had made a raid on a Texan train, killing six or seven men.)

At ten a.m., July 4, 1870, the citizens and residents of the surrounding country were formed in procession in front of the Woolsey House by Capt. Smith, and proceeded to Max Fawcett’s grove, on the banks of the Arkansas River. This grove, beautiful by nature, had been rendered more so by Max’s artistic hand. Arriving there, strolls and chats were indulged in until the dinner hour, when the crowd crystallized around different points of gastronomic interest, and proceeded to discuss, with much interest and apparent satisfaction, the contents of diverse and sundry baskets, buckets, and boxes, enjoying the pure cold water flowing from Max’s springs.

Dinner dismissed and the crowd settled, a selection of vocal and instrumental music was finely rendered by a number of ladies and gentlemen. The crowd was then addressed for about three quarters of an hour by Prof. Norton, the orator of the day.

After the speaking and singing the crowd dispersed, some to their homes, some to the river to sail and fish, and all ready to declare that the first Fourth of July celebration in Arkansas City was a success.

First Bridge Across the Arkansas River South of Arkansas City.

In May 1871 a pontoon bridge was built by public subscription and put into service as a toll bridge that went south of Arkansas City across the Arkansas River. The citizens of Arkansas City had high hopes that the city might become the initial point for the Fort Sill mail and stage route. Adley Davis was given the job as toll keeper. (At a later date he was called "Peg Leg Davis" after he accidentally shot himself in the calf of the leg while handling a revolver.) In August 1871 plans were made to build a truss bridge.

There was an immense usage of the road in the southern part of Cowley County by those who traveled to and from Bolton Township as well as Walton and other townships in Sumner County as far west as Caldwell. Travelers were compelled to go at least one mile out of a direct line in order to get to this bridge, the only crossing on the Arkansas River south of Oxford.

The contractor, Mr. Hobson, had to delay work until the needed long timbers could be furnished. Parties on Grouse Creek contracted to furnish timber, but trees of the right size were not to be found. It was necessary to order pine timbers from Michigan. In late January 1872 work commenced on the bridge. E. P. Kinne and Dr. A. D. Keith handled the hiring of laborers on the bridge.

On August 30, 1873, residents of Bolton Township voted on the proposition to buy and make free the bridge across the Arkansas River inasmuch as the value of the bridge had decreased $4,000 after the bridge bonds were voted. The bridge became "free" on Saturday, September 27, 1873.

Portions of this bridge fell down Saturday night, May 19, 1877, or in the early morning hours of May 20, 1877. No one saw it being carried away.

In the middle of July 1877 a petition was put into circulation in Bolton Township asking for a special election to be held for the purpose of voting bonds to repair the bridge across the Arkansas River in Section One, Township Thirty-Five, Range Three East, to the amount of $2,000 in bonds, payable in two years. Creswell Township, or Arkansas City, were called on for $3,000. This would make a total of $5,000 for an iron bridge.

This petition met with an extremely negative response from West Bolton Township.

It is impossible to describe briefly all the trials and tribulations that took place for many years before an iron bridge was put in to replace the portion of the bridge that was swept away during the flood of 1877. For years a ferry had to be used in lieu of a bridge.

Second Bridge Built Across the Walnut East of Arkansas City.

The second bridge was built across the Walnut River east of Arkansas City. It was built in 1873 at a cost of $5,000.

Arrival of the First Train at Arkansas City.

Our first railroad was the Walnut Valley Branch of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. The last rail connecting Arkansas City with other railroad towns was laid on December 23, 1879. A big celebration of this event did not occur in Arkansas City. The editor of the Traveler informed his readers that a caboose would come down the road on the evening of December 24, 1879, to take part in the Christmas Festival at Arkansas City.

First High School Graduation Class.

Commencement exercises were held in the Methodist Church at 7:30 p.m., on Friday, June 4, 1880, of the first class to graduate from the Arkansas City High School. The graduates were Jerry Adams, Henry Smith, Linnie Peed, Blanche Marshall, and Mary Theaker. The exercises lasted about ninety minutes under the care and attention of Professor Sylvester.


A. A. Newman, familiar with telephone usage in New York City, Boston, and his home state of Maine, developed his own primitive use of the telephone in Arkansas City.

The August 14, 1878, issue of the Arkansas City Traveler made note of this: "The string from Newman’s block to Benedict’s upper story is the conductor of the telephone. You can put your ear at one end and your mouth at the other and hear everything that is said."

First Telephone Company in Arkansas City: 1883.

Merchants Telephone and Telegraph Company of Kansas and Missouri.

Arkansas City Traveler, April 18, 1883.

Permission has been granted by Ordinance No. 108 to the Merchants Telephone and Telegraph Company of Kansas and Missouri, the right to construct and maintain a telephone line in the city of Arkansas City, Kansas.


Important Dates.

July 20, 1871: town site was entered at the Augusta land office.

July 1, 1872: First election in Arkansas City.

July 1, 1872: Arkansas City was incorporated as a city of the third class.

December 1874: Arkansas City became a city of the second class.



First City Officials.



  1. A. D. Keith [Mayor].

    Listed as the other members of city council: W. F. Benedict, J. I. Mitchell,

    Henry Endicott, L. H. McLaughlin, and George McIntire.

    Police Judge: Amos Walton.


  2. A. D. Keith [Mayor—elected for second term.]

    Listed as the other members of city council: A. N. Denning, E. D. Eddy,

    C. R. Mitchell, and W. A. Hallett.

    Police Judge: Timothy McIntire.


  3. H. O. Meigs [Mayor].

Listed as the other members of the city council: A. K. Milton, E. P. Kinne,

I. H. Bonsall, W. S. Packard, and J. T. Shepard.

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