William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


[TOC] [part 4] [Cutler's History]


The town known by the name of Ellis was laid out by the Kansas Pacific Railway Company in 1873, and was surveyed and platted by Holland Wheeler, a civil engineer in the employ of the company. It is located on the northeast quarter of Section 8, Township 13 south, Range 20 west of the Sixth Principal Meridian. It is situated on the north bank of Big Creek and just one mile east of the west line of the county.

It is what is usually known as a railroad town, and the fact of it being the terminus of the third division of the Kansas Pacific Railway, it is depended, chiefly for its support, on the employes (sic) of the company. The roundhouse and machine shops of the company being located there, gives employment to a great many men, and aside from the support derived from these sources, the town has very little to rely upon. It is surrounded by a rough, broken country, altogether unsuited for agricultural pursuits, so that its country trade is very limited.

The railway runs through the center of the town from east to west, and that portion north of the track is designated the North side, and the opposite portion on the South side. All the business portion of the town is north of the track, and confined chiefly to the street fronting the railway, whilst the greater portion of the residence part is south of the track. The buildings of the railway company are all good, substantial, stone structures, and quite extensive, the roundhouse having stalls for fourteen locomotives. The building erected by the company for a depot is a very fine two-story stone building, and is both a depot and hotel combined. All the business houses are rather inferior buildings, there being only one two-story stone business house in town, that of Kelly & Ormrod (sic) The others are all one-story buildings, some stone and some frame.

The first man to start merchandising in town was Thomas Daily, who erected a one-story double storeroom, one room being devoted to the sale of clothing exclusively, and the other to general merchandising. There are but few business houses in the town, but what there are, is amply sufficient for the trade. The business men of the place are Thomas Daily, Nichols & Bros., Reading & Bowen, G. F. Lee, Kelly & Ormrod (sic) and Eli Sheldon. The majority of the residences of the town are plain, unpretentious, but neat and comfortable looking buildings, and such as would indicate the home of the thrifty, industrious mechanic.

In 1882, a very fine improvement was made to the town in the erection of a very fine two-story stone school building in the southern portion of the town. It is a very neat, well-finished structure, surmounted by a belfry that is quite ornamental in design. Although there have been for some years several church organizations in town, there never has been a church building erected. After the new schoolhouse was completed, however, in 1882, the members of the Congregational Church Society purchased the old frame school building, which they are now converting into a church. There is a Masonic Lodge in town, and one of Odd Fellows has been organized recently.

Like most of the other towns west of Abilene on the Kansas Pacific Railway, Ellis had for a brief period the advantages and disadvantages of the cattle trade. This was during 1877-78, and the history of the place during that time was about similar to that of other places similarly situated. If business was increased by the trade, crime was also increased, and a certain class of characters attracted to Ellis by the cattle trade could be very well dispensed with in any society. So long as Ellis remains a terminus of a division of the railroad, and the company maintains its shops and roundhouse there, it will be a town of some importance, but aside from these it has very little to support it.


W. H. BELL, postmaster and dealer in stationery, fruits, cigars and tobacco, came to Ellis, Kan., in 1872. He farmed until 1873, then worked for the Kansas Pacific Railroad Company until February, 1877, when he took charge of the post-office. Has been identified in farming since he settled in Kansas. He now has a farm of 160 acres north of Ellis, eighty of which are cultivated. He opened a general store after taking charge of the post-office; was burned out in March 10, 1881, with a total loss of $3,000. He was born in Montgomery County, N. Y., in 1837. Was engaged in photographing in Troy, N. Y., and afterward in grocery business in Syracuse, N. Y. Married in 1860 to Miss Laura A. Hall, a native of Edenville, Herkimer Co., N. Y. They have seven children -- Jessica M., Harry W., Beecher, Bradley, Allie, William and Lynn. He is a member of Apollo Lodge, No. 13, Masonic, of Troy, N. Y.

R. S. ORMEROD (sic) firm of Kelley & Ormerod (sic) dealers in general merchandise. They opened trade in 1878, and carry a stock of about $5,000. They erected their store building in 1877, at a cost of $1,500; size of main building, 25x45 feet, and built of stone. R. S. Ormerod (sic) first came to Ellis, Kan., in January, 1873. Being a machinist by trade, he worked in that capacity for the Kansas Pacific Railroad five years, then went into merchandising. Born in England in 1853, he came to American with his parents in 1863, and settled in Peoria, Ill., where they lived until coming to Kansas.

THOMAS DALY, dealer in a general line of merchandise. He keeps all varieties of goods, and carries a stock of $40,000. He opened trade in 1870, and erected his present large store a few years afterward; occupies two rooms, 23-80 feet, built of stone. He came to Ellsworth in 1868, where he engaged in merchandising a short time, and was also in the employ of the United States Government some time. Afterward located in Ellis and began the above trade. he was born in Ireland in 1830, and came to America when a small boy. He enlisted May 25, 1861, in Company E, Fourteenth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, participating in all the battles of his company; was mustered out in June, 1864.

DANIEL GRIEST, land agent for the Union Pacific Railroad; land office located at Ellis, Ellis County. He came to Ellis March 23, 1881, and took charge of the above business. Came to Larned, Pawnee Co., Kan., in January, 1878 where he engaged in the same business as at present for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad two years. He was born in York County, Pa., in 1837, and made that county his home twenty-five years. He lived in Indiana five years and six months, Maryland eleven months, then went back to Pennsylvania, Adams County, and remained ten years, and from there came to Kansas. He first began business in life as a salesman for fruit trees, and followed it for fifteen years. He began to shift for himself at the age of twelve years. He was married in 1861 to Miss Rose D Mendelson, a native of Philadelphia, Pa. They have three sons and three daughters -- Emily R., married to Oscar Erway, of Pawnee County; Wilmer M., who now has charge of their dairy ranch in Pawnee County of 240 acres; Mary, Lizzie, John E., Florence T., and Mordecai P. Mr. Griest was a member of Moneellen meeting of Hicksite Friends, Pennsylvania, and Relief Lodge, No. 145, I. O. O. F., of Camden Ind. His wife is a Homeopathic physician and surgeon, self-taught, and has quite a practice in the place where they live. He followed teaching in the winter until thirty-one years of age. He has now 200,000 acres of land for sale for the Union Pacific Railroad Company; also agent for 10,000 acres in Pulaski County, Ky.

J. E. HUBBARD, superintendent of bridges and building on Smoky Hill Division, Union Pacific Railroad, in Kansas. He has forty men under his supervision, and the payrolls show $800 paid out monthly on this division. He came to Kansas in the spring of 1866, and located at Leavenworth, where he worked at the carpenter's trade a year. He then engaged in the same capacity for the United States Government at Fort Riley a year; thence to Fort Harker a year; thence to Fort Dodge, Kan., a year. Then entered the railroad service as a carpenter, and by strict attention to duty secured his present position in 1872. He was married in 1875 to Miss Louisa Palmer, a native of Buffalo, N. Y. They have two daughters -- Irene and Stella. Mr. Hubbard is a native of Aurora, Ind., born in 1843. He enlisted in September, 1861, in Company A, Seventh Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry; participated in all the battles of his command, comprising thirty-two engagements. He was mustered out in 1864.

H. W. MORGAN, physician and surgeon, came to Wa Keeney, Kan., in April 1879, where he practiced medicine for two years. He then moved to Ellis on account of its being a central location. He is a physician and surgeon for the Union Pacific Railroad. His private practice extends west from Ellis on the line of the road as far as Wallace (119 miles). His practice for the Union Pacific Railroad Company extends from Wallace on the west to Brookville on the east. He was born in Burlington, Iowa, in 1849. Was educated in New York City, and graduated from the medical department of the University of New York City in 1879. He practiced medicine three years in Dallas County, Iowa, previous to his going to New York City. He was married in September 1877 to Miss Della C. Baldwin, of Grafton, N. H. He is a member of Wa Keeney Lodge No. 148, Masonic.


Victoria was the scene of the attempt by George Grant to establish a prosperous colony in the wilderness, elsewhere described. This colony was established in 1873. It brought considerable capital with it, and for a time its success seemed very probable. The first church in the county was built by this colony in 1877. It was intended for Episcopal services, nearly all of the colony holding the faith of the established church of England. The final dissolution of the colony is detailed in the general history of the county.

St. Fidelis Church, of Victoria, Ellis County, Kan., was founded by Rev. Father Anthony Mary, and the erection began November 1, 1881, and will be completed in the fall of 1883. The size of the church building is 50x123 feet; including sacristy, it is 169 feet long. The walls are of cut Magnesia limestone, 30 feet high and 2 * feet thick. The steeple walls are 3 feet thick. Every 12 * feet around the building is a pillow 2x2 * feet. The sanctuary is 24x30 feet. The sacristy is 22x30 feet. The above church is built entirely by Russians. The walls, including steeple tower, will cost $2,417. Total cost of the structure will exceed $8,000. There are 152 families who are members of the above church.


REV. FATHER ANTHONY MARY, a Catholic priest, was born in Westphalia, in the kingdom of Prussia, in 1834. He began his scientific education in the Gymnasium at Muenster, in Westphalia. Afterward he made his philosophical and theological studies at Mainz, in Hessia, and became priest in 1859. Then he worked as priest, especially as missionary, in Westphalia until 1875, when he came to America and located in Cumberland, Md., where he worked as priest in the Saint Peter and Paul's Church. Two years afterward he came to Metamora, Ill., and built there a church, monastery and schoolhouses. In the year 1879 he went to Peoria, Ill., and built there the Church of the Sacred Heart, a monastery and schoolhouse, and worked there for two years as priest. Thence he came to Victoria, Kan., in 1881, where he is building a large church. He has there twenty-three missions under charge, besides his own church at Herzog, Victoria Station. He has built many churches, monasteries and schoolhouses in his ife-time (sic) In 1870-71 he was Chaplain in the Franco-Prussian war. He is a member of the Capuchin Order.

[TOC] [part 4] [Cutler's History]