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


[TOC] [part 15] [part 13] [Cutler's History]


Of the many cities whose rise and fall, or ultimate success are recorded in the history of Montgomery County, Elk City was the first to become established. It is situated in the northwestern part of the county, on the line of the K. C., L. & S. K. R. R., about 175 miles southwest of Kansas City, and in the valley of the Ilk River, at the mouth of Duck Creek.

The town is surrounded by a large territory of excellent and productive valley land - the Elk Valley being noted for the superior excellence and fertility of its soil - from which a large and prosperous trade is derived.

Early in 1868, John Kappel established a trading post here, on the land which he afterward entered and deeded as a claim. Shortly after this date, and in December, 1868, the idea of starting a town, at this point, was conceived, and for the furtherance of the project, a town company was organized, of which A. H. Baird was chairman, and Dr. Miller was secretary. The company selected Kappel's claim, at the confluence of Duck Creek with Elk River, as the town site, as affording the most favorable and desirable location. Besides Kappel's trading post, the next business started in the town was that by A. E. Baird, in a log building, consisting of general stock, and the next was M. D. Wright, who, in 1870, began selling stationery, notions, etc., in a little log building, the upper part of which he occupied as living apartments, carrying on his business on the ground floor, having brought his goods with him in a covered wagon, when he migrated thither.

Among the earliest to establish in business in the town, was A. R. Quigg, who engaged in the hardware trade, which he still follows. Kappel's old trading store, after having undergone overhauling, with new front, etc., forms the room now occupied by Watts & Masterman's furniture store.

In 1869, S. B. Davis, T. J. Brown and Samuel Maples built the first saw mill at the place. The first blacksmith shop was built by J. P. Morgan, in 1870. During the years of 1869-70, the stream of emigration poured at its height, and the population of the town had largely increased, so that as early as the spring of 1871, it had attained the necessary proportions, and was ready to assume the dignity of a city of the third class. Since that time, the growth of the city has been moderate and of a substantial and healthy character, and at present it has a population of 500. The city is experiencing a revival of progress and improvement, several large brick business rooms, a commodious brick hotel and school building having been erected during the present season.

The first death within the limits of the city, was that of Thomas Hammond, who was shot and killed by a man named Morrison. The difficulty had arisen some time previously, concerning a plow, and a rehearsal of this resulted as above, when Morrison fled the country.

The first child born was Willie Hammond, son of Thomas and Bertha Hammond, in April, 1869 and who was killed during the same month, at the disaster at the Elk City fo d.[sic]

Although Elk City afterward proved a successful attempt as an enterprise of town building, her beginning was made in the midst of spirited rivalry. Bloomfield, about a mile northeast, and Tipton a little way east of the town, were established, and sought to win in the race for supremacy. But Elk City took the lead, outstripping these two places, which it afterward wholly absorbed, the latter being now a "city of the dead," the site being occupied as a cemetery, and of the former, not a vestige remains to mark the solitary grounds upon which stood the embryo city. Each of these places, during its existence, contained some eight or ten dwellings, a dry goods, drug and grocery stores.

The railroad was constructed to Elk City in 1879, and was of much advantage in stimulating its improvement and growth.

As before stated, the tide of emigration was at its flood during the years of 1869 and 1870. This, besides filling up the country with a numerous farming population, even, in greater ratio, also stimulated and built up the towns. Elk City coming in for her share, was ready in a little more than two years from its incipiency, having attained the requisite legal population to become organized as a city of the third class. The town, therefore, became duly and legally incorporated in the spring of 1871, and Herbert Prentiss was elected Mayor, James Smith, Police Judge, and Uri Coy, J. Baldwin, Whig Southard, W. W. Woodring and A. R. Quigg, members of the City Council. Prentiss resigned the office of Mayor before the expiration of the term, and was succeeded by Uri Coy. The present city officials are: Samuel Weston, Mayor; A. J. Garrison, Clerk; S. N. West, Treasurer; H. H. Burdick, Police Judge; W. Aldridge, Marshal, and W. Mussen, H. Woodring, M. P. Freely, A. J. Garrison and S. N. West, members of the City Council.

A postoffice was established at Elk City in 1870, and William Henry Harrison Southard, or for short, as he was called, "Whig" Southard, held the commission as Postmaster, the office being kept in Osa Sherman's store. About a year after, A. J. Clark succeeded to the position, who, in about another year's time gave way to M. D. Wright, who has since continued in the capacity of Postmaster, the office being kept in his stationery and notion store.


The first public school was taught in the town by William Osborne, in 1869, and was kept in a log house belonging to a man named Chandler. In this place, and in the building erected by Thomas Harris for a hotel, the schools were held until the completion of the regular school building. The work of erecting a schoolhouse began in 1871, and by the month of January, 1872 was completed, and was 26x40 feet in dimensions one story frame. This building served the schools in a cramped condition, until the fall of 1882, when a commodious new school building was erected. The house is a two-story brick, containing four rooms, being 33x63 feet in size, in the main, with appropriate and artistic wings and projections, and was built at a cost to the district, when completed of nearly $4,000, for the payment of which, in part, bonds were issued by the city to the amount of $3,375.

During the early part of the year 1882 the schools, numbering 218 pupils underwent a sort of grading or division, and were made to comprise the primary, intermd ate[sic] and grammar school departments, which respectively, were under the charge of Miss Ella Perkins, Miss McDowell and A. C. Sewell, each of whom were generally regarded as teachers of superior efficiency, and under whose management the schools experienced a degree of prosperity never before equalled.

The city contains, among her institutions several church organizations, by which is indexed the moral and Christian sentiment cherished among the majority of the citizens.

The first sermon preached in the place was delivered by the Rev. Smith Gossett of the denomination of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, in 1869.

The Primitive Baptist Church was established on the first Saturday of September 1869, by the Rev. M. F. Hedges, at the residence of W. W. Woodring, then about a mile and a half southeast of town, with a membership of nine. Meetings were held at residences and schoolhouses until in 1882, when they conducted worship in the Presbyterian Church. The present membership is fourteen, under charge of Rev. J. T. Swinney.

The Missionary Baptist Church was organized in November, 1869, by Rev. John Roe at the residence of T. J. Brook, about two miles south of the town, with eleven members. This body, also worshiped in private houses and in school buildings until in 1882 , at which time they purchased the old school building in the city, which undergoing remodeling and repairing, was fitted up as a place of worship. The congregation now numbering twenty-six members, is under the pastorate of Rev. W. Gable.

The Methodist Episcopal Church became established in 1871, under the supervision of Rev. Samuel Lampman. The congregation, having no church building, then, as now was compelled to shift about for a place of holding meetings, as necessity demanded, and at present occupy the Presbyterian Church and is ministered to by Rev. Mr. Bennett.

The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was instituted at Elk City, in 1873, by Rev. Mr. McClure. The work of organization took place in the school building, and was effected with fourteen members. Services were held in the schoolhouse until the Presbyterian Church was completed, and were then conducted in that building. Rev. Mr. Harris is the present pastor.

The Disciple's Church was formed on the first Sunday of March, 1882. Elder W. M. Babbitt was chiefly instrumental in effecting the work, which took place in the school building at Elk City, with a total of twenty members. Meetings are now conducted in the Presbyterian church, by Mr Babbitt.

The Presbyterian Church was organized in 1880, through the efforts of Rev. Sidney Allen, a noted pioneer minister and physician. A church house was built, during the early part of that year, and dedicated on the 4th of July. The building is a one-story stone structure, and serves numerous other congregations of the city for church purposes. The congregation has thirty-five members, and was under charge of Mr. Allen until recently when he was succeeded by Rev. E. B. Evans as pastor.

Nowhere, perhaps, does social order attain greater perfection and fraternal feeling higher cultivation than in this little city. Her quota of lodges and social fraternities clearly demonstrates this fact; not alone in the comparative number of these, but also in the vigorous spirit with which they are conducted and the prosperity they enjoy.

Carson Lodge, No. 132, A., F. & A. M., was instituted under a dispensation, in November, 1871, and chartered October 7, 1873, with thirteen charter members. The first officers were J. W. Bell, worshipful master; J. P. Swatzell, secretary, and G. T. Sherman, treasurer. The lodge, since the beginning, has enjoyed a high degree of prosperity, and now has a membership of fifty-four, with W. S. Hough, as worshipful master; S. S. Benson, secretary, and W. W. Woodring, treasurer.

William Penn Lodge, No. 78, I. O. O. F. became organized under a dispensation, August 29, 1871. The work of institution was under the direction of Isaac Sharp, special deputy grand master, and Samuel F. Burdett, special deputy grand secretary. The order began with five members, and Whig Southard was chosen noble grand, and E. T. Walker, secretary. The present officers of the Lodge, which now numbers a membership of thirty-two are: S. S. Benson, noble grand; L. Kniffen, vice grand; T. J. White secretary; G. W. Kniffen treasure, and W. W. Woodring, sitting past grand.

Enterprise Lodge, No. 2078, K of H., was instituted by D. G. Himrod, of Chanute, Kan., as special deputy, on the 11th of February, 1880, with twenty-two charter members. Those first elected as officers were: J. W. Simpson, dictator; S. B. Davis, secretary; Joseph Robins, treasurer. This order, however, only enjoyed a brief existence, having become disorganized in the spring of 1882.

Elk City Lodge, No. 108, A. O. U. W., was organized August 4, 1882, by D. M. Legg, who was specially deputized for this purpose. Officers to take charge of the order were then chosen as follows: F. W. Baker, master workman; William Stewart, foreman; William Wright, receiver, and E. C. Rogers, financier. These flourishing fraternities all hold their meetings in the same hall, at different times.

Three attempts have been made toward the publication of a newspaper at Elk City. The last of these was made during the summer of 1882, in the publication of a paper called the Elk City Globe, by W. C. Gettys, the first issue of which appeared on the 28th of July. The paper is a six-column folio in size, neutral in politics, and has a circulation of three hundred copies.

The only strictly monetary institution in the place is the Elk City banking house, which was established in March, 1881, by F. E. Turner, who for some time was engaged in mercantile pursuits, which he gave up to begin banking. This institution is provided with a vault of solid masonry, with Diebold entrance, in which is a Hall's best time lock safe.

The only manufacturing establishments of importance at this place are the saw-mill established in 1869, by S. B. Davis & Co., and the Elk City flouring mill, owned by Wright & Musson. This establishment does a large and successful business, and sustains a high reputation for the excellence of its work and the honorable dealing of its proprietors.

There is also a brick yard here in successful operation by Price & Woodring, from which there was manufactured during the season about 600,000 brick, for the supply of building material to the city, and for which there was a pressing demand, during the summer, by reason of the many buildings being constructed, both as public buildings, business houses and residences. Besides these are other smaller factories, such as wagon shops, etc. A manufactory for the making of the Double Spiral Bed Springs is operated by William Stewart, who owns the State right of this patent, for both its manufacture and sale.

[TOC] [part 15] [part 13] [Cutler's History]