Platting and Plotting
Using the North Star for orientation, surveyors laid out the streets of the new town, and the plat was filed on Saturday, January 5, 1889. Four of those properly-aligned streets were named after railroad company officials. The city's northern border, the 40th parallel of north latitude which was also the state line street, was named after W. P. Dunavant of Memphis, one of the board of directors and a contractor who built part of the road from Kansas City. The next street was named for Samuel Tate, Jr., also a Memphian on the board of directors. The street just south of Tate street was titled in honor of W. D. Bethel, another board member from Memphis. A block from Bethel lies the street named for a Kansas Citian, Newman Erb, who was a board of directors member, vice president and general manager of the railroad company.
Tree names were given to the next two streets, Poplar and Walnut. Two streets in Smiley's Addition bore the names of John Smiley's daughters, Minnie and Pearl. Six of the streets lining up with the star Polaris are known by number. First street is on the east side of town. Second and Third streets are three blocks apart, separated by Front street, adjacent to where the railroad tracks were located, and by Main street, lying next to Front. West of Main are Third through Sixth. Sixth street came with the later Joseph's Addition.
On Tuesday, January 8, 1889, Thomas Hynes and Dr. C. A. Cole, well-known by residents of the vicinity, were in Summerfield completing arrangements for building their business place, a structure two stories tall, 24 by 60 ft., carrying a line of goods to rival any drugstore in the county. New buildings were going up rapidly with the sporadic rapping of hammers mixing with the grating drones of saws, sounds continuing seven days a week. Merchants and hotel keepers reportedly thought a "bonanza of wealth" was soon coming and Seneca stockholders chartered a new bank to be named the State Bank of Summerfield.
By mid-January, Thomann & Weuster of Beattie contracted to build their own drugstore, expecting to open around the first of March. Soon lumber was hauled from Beattie and Swindford & Newton's men started construction. In late January, Russell & Shutt of Axtell moved to Summerfield with the intention of opening their lumberyard. A new stone church was also being planned, but work on the railroad was delayed due to a shortage of iron.
Reports circulating in late January revealed plans for four general stores, three hardware stores, Russell & Shutt's lumberyard and Trekell's lumberyard, Thomann & Weuster's drugstore, a hotel, and a bank within the next month or six weeks in addition to a number of smaller establishments.
Being the youngest of John and Elizabeth Ann Hutton's children, John Thomas "Tom" Hutton had been born in the state of Indiana to his English father and New York mother. Tom came up from Waterville, Kan., and bought two lots in Summerfield, intending to open his own blacksmith business in the near future. Tom had married Aida Mae "Addie" McKellep back in Indiana, and they would soon live at Summerfield with their three children, James, Laura, and Ernest. The father of Addie, Edwin C. McKellep (McKillip), was another Indiana native; and her mother was Mary Jane Posten, born in Ohio. In 1892, little Addie Mae Hutton would be born only two months before the death of her namesake mother. Tom Hutton would later wed Letisa Taylor, whose parents, Andrew and Elizabeth (Edwards) Taylor, lived east of Summerfield on the Kansas side near Shafferville, Neb.
John J. McLennan, Ed Smiley's partner, disappeared to St. Joseph, Mo., and bought goods for their home-basement store. Hynes & Cole of Axtell purchased lots to build a large brick drugstore. While Lourey's building was about finished, Hord & McGinty opened their new business, the first commercial store building actually completed in Summerfield, and were doing a thriving trade.
I. Jay Nichols' livery barn was soon completed, where Dick Waugh worked as "chambermaid." Mr. Vorhees was builder and superintendent of the project during construction. The building, 48 by 70 ft. and 18 ft. high, in the following days also simultaneously housed a hardware store, the railroad company's real estate office, and the temporary second floor newspaper office of Fabrick & Felt. A 30-room hotel was being constructed, and the depot for the railroad, 24 by 80 ft., was being built.
Stone was sought to build a church in Summerfield, and Bert and Squire Garrison planned to open a quarry. In all, there were about 20 buildings in the course of being erected in January.
Around the first of February, Dan Joyce of Axtell, said to have been a "first-class barber," made plans to open his shop in Summerfield. But Waterville was being given credit of furnishing the largest number of people moving to the new town.
On Saturday, February 2, advancing north out of Axtell with a shipment from Seneca, engineer George Smith set the throttle while J. T. Haynes fired the boiler of the KC W & NW locomotive crossing over Skunk Creek Bridge. The train, carrying conductor T. Costello, and brakemen E. E. Smith and H. Thompson, maintained a generally northwesterly bearing through Murray township. Their path avoided Clear Creek and Manley's Creek in St. Bridget township and Vermillion Creek to the west on the Richland township side.
Rolling diagonally across section 32, Engine Number Two led five cars and a caboose into a turn at the high point of the divide along the township boundary and steamed due north the last four miles to the end of the available track, within 40 rods of Summerfield, reaching its destination with the very first freight load.
The train's cargo was printing equipment for Charles J. Fabrick and Harry V. Felt, proprietors and editors of the new Summerfield Sun, who had arrived from Seneca two days earlier, bringing 12 years' experience in the newspaper business.
Born in New York in 1833, Kansas lieutenant governor Andrew Jackson Felt had already been a teacher, newspaperman, lawyer, prisoner in the Civil war, and a banker before leaving Iowa for Kansas in 1880 to become editor of the Seneca Tribune. Andrew and Emily Felt had three children, Edward, Harry, and Bertha.
Harry had worked at the Seneca Courier-Democrat and had attended Washburn College in Topeka. During his Summerfield days, Harry Felt was a very strong supporter of the new town and often bickered through the press with the Beattie Star, whose proprietor and publisher was Dan M. Mabie. With the traditional rivalry between editors of those days, their open dispute was over the comparative prosperity and outlook for the relative future of each town.
Charles Fabrick, the other member of the Sun's partnership which published the first edition for February 14, 1889, had earlier worked for the Seneca Tribune. Before coming to Summerfield, he had lived in northwest Seneca, engaged in farming. Fabrick was to stay at Summerfield only three months until early May when the Sun operation moved out of I. Jay Nichols' building to another location, probably on Main street. Leaving the business because of ill health, he immediately went to Chicago and later to Michigan. In October of 1889, he was back in Seneca helping on the Courier-Democrat, having gotten back into the news business once again.
After Fabrick's departure, Harry Felt became the sole newsman until elder brother Edward R. Felt assisted him later. The last edition of the Sun printed under Felt ownership was the November 29, 1889, edition. At that point, Moore & Kendall took over the newspaper with Harry continuing as assistant and Ed returning to Seneca.
(Harry Victor Felt later wed Grace Greenwood Johnson, and son Harry Donald Felt was born to them at Topeka in 1902. After residing in Topeka, the Felt family lived at Goodland for several years before moving on to Washington, DC. Having a very distinguished US Navy career, CINCPAC Commander Harry D. Felt was featured on the January 6, 1961, cover of Time Magazine. He died in retirement 31 years later at the age of 89. Admiral Felt passed away in Honolulu and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.)
Copyright © 1996 Dick Taylor All Rights Reserved