1400 North Third Street
Arkansas City, KS 67005
February 28, 2001
Mrs. Kim Benedict, Publisher
Arkansas City Traveler
P. O. Box 988
Arkansas City, KS 67005
Dear Mrs. Benedict:
THE FACT BOOK.
At the present time I am president of the Arkansas City Historical Society. My attention was called to “The Fact Book,” printed by the Arkansas City Traveler on Monday, February 26, 2001. The so-called “Historical facts about Ark City” were submitted by Geneva Todd.
Last year I contacted Shantell Schweer, then a member of the Arkansas City Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, telling her that the so-called “fact sheet” had errors. In September 2000 I made corrections for some of the items. They were personally delivered by a Society member, Mrs. Robert [Jana] Brown, to the Chamber of Commerce. None of the changes submitted were ever printed by the Bureau.
The “Fact Book” contained the following items, which I am numbering.
1. The first name of Arkansas City was Walnut City. Three months later the name was changed because of conflicts with another town by the same name. The name was then changed to Delphi and subsequently Creswell in honor of the Postmaster General in the President’s cabinet. The Postmaster later renamed the town Arkansas City.
2. The first Post Office was established May 16, 1870 and was located at the corner of what is now B and Central.
3. The first Postmaster was Cloud Hyde Norton.
4. The first refinery was constructed in 1917.
5. The first settlers of Arkansas City were — John Brown, T. A. Wilkinson, John Strain and G. H. Norton.
6. The first canal was constructed in 1881.
7. The first Fred Harvey House in Arkansas [City] was opened on November 15, 1888. For many years this was the finest eating house in the area. (City should be added.)
8. The first marriage was on October 30, 1870 when Jim Brown and Eva Woosley wed.
9. The first graduating class from high school was June 8, 1880. There were two boys and three girls.
10. The first saw mill was owned by Major Sleeth and his brother David.
11. The first practicing physician was Dr. H. D. Kellogg.
12. The first hotel was the Woosley House at Summit and Central. The Osage Hotel is now in its place.
13. The first hardware store was owned by the Norton Brothers.
14. The first school was started in 1871 by Prof. H. B. Norton in his home. The teacher was Miss Mary E. Swarts. There were seven pupils in her class.
15. The first election was held July 1, 1872.
16. The first mayor was H. O. Meigs.
17. The first ordinance concerned dogs.
18. The first real library was started in 1900 by Miss Lillie Gilliland. The building was donated by the Hill Investment Company.
19. The first telephone company was the Pioneer Tele Company in 1884.
20. The first means of transportation in Arkansas City was a stage-line. This operated from the 1870s to the late 1880s.
21. The first steamboat to come up the river was a Sunday morning in June, 1887.
22. The first mill was built in 1899.
23. The first log house erected in Arkansas City was at the north corner of B and Central.
24. The first church was founded by the Rev. B. C. Swart in 1870.
25. The first city building was erected in 1888.
26. The first Halloween celebration called Arkalalah was held in October, 1928.
27. The first bank erected was in 1883 and is what is now known as the Union State Bank.
28. The first sidewalk, Art Festival was held in May of 1964.
Some of the listed items are a mystery to me! I do not know if they are correct or not. My concern rests with the early items that are incorrect.
If it is at all possible, The Arkansas City Historical Society would appreciate the “truth” concerning mistakes that have been made would at long last be told.
Please correct some of the items given as “historical facts.” I believe the citizens of Arkansas City would appreciate learning the “facts.”
First item mentioned on Page 13: Incorrect!
The first name of Arkansas City was Walnut City. Three months later the name was changed because of conflicts with another town by the same name. The name was then changed to Delphi and subsequently Creswell in honor of the Postmaster General in the President’s cabinet. When that did not work because Labette County had already had a postoffice by that name, Senator Ross succeeded with “Arkansas City.” See below.
Correction of first item mentioned on Page 13.
The future Arkansas City was started by “The Walnut City Town Company,” whose members lived in or near Emporia, Kansas. Before they even got to the future Cowley County in late December 1869, they learned that Butler County had a “Walnut City.” They quickly chose the name “Delphi,” part of the charter of the Preston (Texas) and Salina (Kansas) railroad. On their return to Emporia, they were apprized that this location near the southern Kansas border would become a point upon four chartered lines of railroad. To curry favor with the U. S. Postmaster General, John A. J. Creswell, they filed a new charter January 10, 1870, for “Cresswell.” In their haste they spelled his name incorrectly. Kansas Senator Edmund G. Ross made the application for the Emporia group. It was denied by the U. S. Post Office Department, which informed Senator Ross that Labette County, Kansas, already had selected that name and that no two offices of the same name would be located in the same state. Senator Ross submitted the name of “Arkansas City,” which was accepted in April 1870.
Second and third items tie in with twenty-third item. See Item 23 below!
[Please correct the first name of Capt. Norton to “Gould.” Cloud is wrong!]
Fifth item, to be complete, should be as follows.
On January 1, 1870, T. A. Wilkinson, John Brown, Capt. Gould Hyde Norton, John Strain, and Silas A. Moore staked out their claim and laid the rude log foundations of the town they then called “Delphi.” Professor Henry Brace Norton took a claim adjoining the townsite on the north, and Hiram D. Kellogg took a claim south of the townsite.
Eighth item mentioned on Page 13 has incorrect names! [Need to be corrected.]
Eighth item should be as follows.
First marriage in Arkansas City took place October 30, 1870, between John Brown, one of the first settlers, and Eva Woolsey, daughter of the first man to establish a hotel.
Ninth item mentioned needs date correction, clarification.
Ninth item should be changed to the following.
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.
Eleventh item mentions wrong doctor. Kellogg’s main interest was in drug store.
The first practicing physician was Dr. H. D. Kellogg.
Eleventh item should be as follows.
Dr. John Alexander was the first physician in Arkansas City.
Twelfth item has the man’s name misspelled. Should be “Woolsey.”
The first hotel was the Woolsey House at Summit and Central. The Osage Hotel is now in its place.
Thirteenth item is incorrect. It now shows:
The first hardware store was owned by Norton Brothers.
Thirteenth item should be as follows.
C. R. Sipes put in a stock of hardware and tinware in April or May 1870. Mr. Sipes came from El Dorado. He bought John Strain’s claim.
Sixteenth item is wrong as it now stands.
The first mayor was H. O. Meigs.
Sixteenth item should be changed as follows.
A. D. Keith was the first mayor. [He served as mayor in 1872 and 1873.] H. O. Meigs became mayor in 1874.
Seventeenth item is correct, but you might add more to it.
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.
Nineteenth item, as it now stands, is WRONG!
The first telephone company was the Pioneer Tele Company in 1884.
Nineteenth item has much more to it than the name! See below.
Permission was granted by Ordinance No. 108 in April 1883 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. In 1901 this company was sold to the Pioneer Telephone and Telegraph Company of Oklahoma. The Missouri and Kansas Telephone Company purchased the Pioneer Telephone and Telegraph Company (which included the Arkansas City exchange with its 647 stations) June 1, 1905. The Missouri and Kansas Telephone Company’s franchise expired in 1912. They continued to operate under the Pioneer Telephone Company’s franchise acquired at the time of the purchase of that company. The name of the Missouri and Kansas Telephone Company was changed to the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in 1917.
Twentieth item as it now stands, is very vague. Much could be said about this!
The first means of transportation in Arkansas City was a stage-line. This operated from the 1870s to the late 1880s.
Twentieth item: proposed changes!
The Southern Kansas Stage Company announced in early June 1870 that they would commence running a tri-weekly line of hacks to Arkansas City, carrying mail twice a week from El Dorado. Henry Tisdale was Superintendent of the company; H. O. Meigs became the local agent at Arkansas City, placing on the route the stock used for the stage line. The Kansas Stage Company and Southern Kansas Stage Company consolidated January 1, 1871, and became the Southwestern Stage Company. They erected large stables at Arkansas City, which became their headquarters for Southwestern Kansas. The company operated for many years with Tisdale at the helm.
Twenty-first item is extremely vague as it now stands.
The first steamboat to come up the river was a Sunday morning in June, 1877.
Twenty-first item would look much better if changed as follows.
The first steamboat, the “Aunt Sally,” arrived in Arkansas City from Little Rock, Arkansas, via the Arkansas river, on Sunday morning, June 30, 1878, docking at Harmon’s Ford on the Walnut river.
Twenty-second item does not make sense to me!
The first mill was built in 1899.
Twenty-second item should probably read as follows.
A. A. Newman, accompanied by his father, brother, and his uncle, Daniel Beedy, came to Arkansas City in March 1870, to formulate plans 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, Beedy and Newman had the Arkansas City Water Mills in full operation. The flouring mill (35 x 40 feet) was four stories high.
Twenty-third item needs clarification. It now reads as follows.
The first log house erected in Arkansas City was at the north corner of B and Central.
[Twenty-third item should incorporate items 2 and 3.]
It should probably read as follows.
The first structure built on the Arkansas City 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.]
Twenty-fourth item is incorrect in so far as his name. Needs clarification also.
The first church was founded by the Rev. B. C. Swart in 1870.
Twenty-fourth item should probably read as follows.
Rev. Benjamin C. Swarts, an itinerant Methodist minister, took up a claim near the townsite of Arkansas City in January 1870. After he completed building his cabin, Rev. Swarts offered it as a place of public worship. The first Sunday school was organized in his house in 1870.
Very truly yours,
Mary Ann Wortman, President
THE ARKANSAS CITY HISTORICAL SOCIETY