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


[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]


The city of Salina, as originally surveyed and platted, was located on the southwest quarter of Section 12, and northwest quarter of Section 13, Township 14, south, Range 3, west of the sixth principal meridian. The founder of the town was W. A. Phillips, who succeeded in organizing a Town Company, of which he was president, and composed of the following members: W. A. Phillips, A. M. Campbell, James Muir, Robert Crawford and A. C. Spillman. The survey of the town was commenced in March, 1858, and was continued at intervals, until March, 1862, when it was completed. On March 30, 1859, the company was granted a charter by the Sixth Territorial Legislature of Kansas. After the company was organized, additional members were added from time to time, and on the 14th day of February, 1862, Robert H. Bishop, Ransom Calkin and Rev. William Bishop were added as members. The plat of the survey was filed for record on the 14th day of April, 1862, and Salina takes its place on the map as one of the towns of Kansas. The town is beautifully located, and stands in the center of a rich and fertile valley, on the banks of the Smoky Hill River, just where, coming from the south, it makes a bend to the east. The town is located on both sides of the river, the greater part, including all the business portion, being on the west side. It is somewhat in doubt as to who built the first house in town, but from the statements of the earliest settlers, it will scarcely admit of a doubt that W. A. Phillips put up the first house ever erected in the city. It was a large log house and stood on what is now Iron avenue, between Santa Fe avenue and the river. Whatever doubt may exist as to who put up the first house, there is none as to who opened the first store; the credit for this being attributed to George Pickard, who opened a kind of general store, on a small scale, in a log house in the summer of 1858, and this was followed a few months after by another which was opened by A. M. Campbell in a small house on what is now Iron avenue. In 1859 another store was opened by H. L. Jones, and these three, Pickard, Campbell and Jones, were the pioneer business men of Salina. At that time the county was almost without settlement; what few settlers there were being located in and about what is now Salina. The chief trading of these stores was with the Indians, who came from all directions to the Smoky Hill valley to hunt. Robes and skins were the chief articles the red men would bring to trade, and these they would give in exchange for provisions, ammunition, and, occasionally, a little poor whisky. These robes and skins received from the Indians would be loaded up in wagons by the traders and hauled to Leavenworth or Kansas City, where they would be sold, when the merchants would load up again with goods and start back for Salina. About a dozen families included all the settlers in the county prior to 1860, and these were mostly located at Salina. Among these were W. A. Phillips and his brother, D. L., George Pickard, A. M. Campbell, James Muir, Robert Crawford, A. C. Spillman, H. L. Jones, John and Goothart Schippel, Mrs. Link, Israel Markley, Thomas Coonrad, Charles Holtzman and Simon Garlitz. In 1860, a few additional settlers located in the town, and among these were Rev. William Bishop and his brother Robert, and Ransom Calkins. Settlers came in very slowly, and the war commencing early in 1861, immigration to the county virtually stopped, although a new comer would occasionally drop in at long intervals. The first attempt at anything like manufacturing in the county was a saw-mill erected at Salina on the Smoky, by W. A. Phillips, which was kept pretty busy for some time sawing the native timber into lumber for building purposes. In 1862, the people of the town were thrown into a state of great consternation by a too well founded report that hostile Indians were approaching from the west, massacreing all the white people they found. Some were inclined to pooh-pooh the idea, but when the ranchmen came into the town, after several of their number had been butchered, and confirmed the report, they discovered that it was a matter that required other action than mere pooh-poohing. The consternation became general, and a regular panic seized the community. Those who had settled east of Salina made for Junction City and Fort Riley, and those west and in the immediate neighborhood of Salina hastened to town. Seeing the danger that threatened them, and knowing the terrible results of an Indian massacre, which was likely to take place, they immediately set to work and built a stockade 50x150 feet, on the north side of what is now Iron avenue, nearly opposite where the Metropolitan Hotel now stands. These preparations were made none too soon; for the Indians meeting with no opposition on their way, came on with a whoop; but seeing that the people of Salina were preparted to give them a warm reception, they gave the place a wide berth; and thus Salina escaped a massacre.

The town made but very little progress during the years of the war, and until the Kansas Pacific Railway was built in 1867 its growth was extremely slow. With the coming of the railroad came a stream of immigration and Salina pushed rapidly ahead. Prior to the advent of the railroad there was neither a schoolhouse nor church edifice in town, although there were several church organizations. A school has been taught, however, since as early as 1862, the first teacher being Miss Thacher, who taught in the small frame house on Iron avenue. Anticipating the railway, which was then being pushed towards Salina as rapidly as possible, W. A. Phillips, in December, 1866, had surveyed and laid off into lots "Phillips' Addition to Salina." Ante-dating this by a month, "Jones' Addition" was added, and in April, 1867, "Calkins' Addition" was added, followed in May of the same year by the "Depot Addition." In 1867 a two- story frame schoolhouse was built on the corner of Santa Fe avenue and Ash street, being the building now owned by C. T. Hilton, and by him used as a livery stable. The first teacher that taught in this school was Philip Wickersham. Now that a good schoolhouse was erected, churches soon followed, and in that same year, 1867, the Methodists built the first church in town, a small frame on Ash street, between Seventh and Eighth streets, being that now owned and occupied by the colored Methodists. With the coming of the railroad, a better class of buildings commenced to spring up, and instead of the original log cabins and board shanties, neat frame residences were erected. The first frame residence put up in town was by B. J. F. Hanna in 1868. From 1867 to 1869 the town advanced very rapidly. In 1867 C. R. Underwood built a grist mill on the Smoky, at Salina, which was operated by both steam and water power. In 1869 the Baptists erected a very neat frame church, and many comfortable residences were put up, besides several very good stores. In 1870 there was a lull in immigration, but a great many very fine improvements were made in town, among which was the erection of quite a large and handsome Presbyterian Church. The business of the town increased rapidly, and as the country settled up, north, south, east and west, trade was greatly augmented. By 1871, Salina was quite noted as being one of the most flourishing towns in the State. The town was all life and everything in the business line was in the most flourishing condition. The town had grown to considerable proportions and could boast of some very fine buildings. The first building in town that can be said was used for hotel purposes was a frame building erected by W. A. Phillips, who occupied it for some time as a residence, when he sold it to H. L. Jones, who used it in the double capacity of a store and hotel for some time, when he in turn sold it to Hamlin & Wooley. The first building erected in town expressly for hotel purposes was the "Planters' House," which was built by T. L. Webster in 1866. As a hotel it has long since ceased to exist. In 1867, after the coming of the railroad, one Mrs. Emma Bickerdyck built a large frame hotel close to the depot, which still stands, but being about half a mile from the business portion of the city, and the railroad failing to draw business that way, its hotel career was short. In 1870, the people having previously voted bonds to erect a court house, a very fine stone county building was erected on the square, bounded by Elm street on the north, Park street on the south, Ninth street on the east, and Tenth street on the west. The building stands on a beautiful plat of ground, surrounded by a nice artificial grove of maple trees of seven or eight years' growth. The ground floor of the building is divided into county offices, and the upper floor is used for a court-room.

After the completion of the court house, J. M. Postlewait, in 1871, erected the Pacific House, at the corner of Ninth and Park streets. It is a large frame building, with a frontage of eighty-six feet on Park street, and 130 feet on Ninth street. It stands just across the street from the court house, and three blocks from the business heart of the city. The building and furnishing of this house was a great improvement to the city, and also of vast convenience to the traveling public. While these improvements were being made, others of less importance were going on, but none of a substantial character, excepting the two-story brick building erected on the west side of Santa Fe avenue, for a bank, now used by the First National Bank, and which was built in 1871 by John Geis & Co. The year 1871 had been one of great prosperity for Salina, and on Christmas day of that year everybody was feeling happy over their own individual prosperity and that of the city. In the midst of their felicity, however, just as they were about sitting down to partake of their Christmas turkey, the town was startled by the cry of "Fire!" The cry was taken up by people as they ran, and "Fire! Fire!" passed rapidly from street to street. The bells rang out the alarm, and many a Christmas dinner was left untouched. The fire originated in a saloon on the west side of Santa Fe avenue, and spread rapidly from building to building until it was checked by Geis' bank building, constructed of brick, and which had only been erected a few months previously. Some of the frame buildings south of the bank building were torn away to prevent the spread of the fire, but before it could be extinguished, several business houses, with the greater portion of their contents, were destroyed, entailing a loss of about $20,000, which was quite a blow to the young and prosperous town. Salina at that time was a city of the third class, having been so created in 1870, C. H. Martin being the first Mayor. An effort was made by the city council to pass an ordinance, prescribing fire limits in the city, and to prohibit the erection of any buildings within said limits, except those constructed of either brick or stone, but for some cause or other, the ordinance failed to pass. Although 1871 closed so disastrously, it was a prosperous year for Salina, and one of great improvement. Besides those buildings already mentioned as having been put up that year, four very elegant churches were erected, the Catholic, Methodist, Christian and Episcopalian. Of these, the two former are brick, and the two latter frame, but all are handsome edifices. The fire of December, 1871, had one good effect, in that it caused many of those who put up business houses afterwards, to use other material in their construction than wood. Thus in 1872, Hamlin & Wooley put up a fine stone building on the southwest corner of Iron avenue and Santa Fe avenue, which was the best improvement to the town up to that time, and is among the best buildings in the place yet. About the same time Oscar Seitz, who had been doing business in the town for a number of years, erected a two story brick building on Santa Fe avenue, nearly opposite to that erected by Hamlin & Wooley, the lower room of which he continues to occupy as a drug store. Adjoining this, to the north, and simultaneously with the Seitz building, the Ratcliffe Bros. erected one of a similar character, and both together make quite a fine appearance. During that year another church edifice was added to the number already built, by the Swede Evangelical Lutherans, a very neat frame structure. As indicative of the extent to which it was supposed the town would grow, it may be well to state that, in addition to the additions already mentioned, Bishop's was added in February, 1870, and Holland's in May of the same year. In June, 1872 the corporate limits were further enlarged by Geis' Addition, and in November of that year, they underwent further enlargement by the accession of Carrol's Addition. Bishop & Blodgett's Addition was added in June, 1874; Oak Dale Addition in August, 1878; Bube's Addition and Phillips' Second Addition in October, 1878; Berk's Addition in November, 1878; and Prescott's Addition in April, 1879. These are the additions to the city of Salina, as shown by the county records, and if there are any more the records fail to show them. The limits of the town are now sufficiently extended so that, so far as room is concerned, its growth need not be stinted.

In 1872 Salina became a cow-boy town, or a cattle trading point. The business men of the place had expended a good deal of money to secure the trade that would be derived from the town being made a trading point for cattle, but having secured it, the people soon discovered that it was not such a desirable thing to have after all. The trade in itself was good enough, and the business of the merchants in town was greatly increased thereby, but the town became infested with such a crowd of disreputable characters, both male and female, that whatever advantage was gained in trade was more than counter-balanced by loss in morals, and when the cattle trade moved westward two years afterwards, the citizens of Salina were more rejoiced at its departure than they were at its coming. The year 1873 was one of rapid advancement, and many good residences were put up, but the chief improvement that year was the erection of a large brick schoolhouse. The town had grown so rapidly that the frame schoolhouse erected in 1867 was totally inadequate to meet the demands of the community, and the people voted to issue $30,000 in bonds to erect a school building that would not only be sufficiently commodious, but would also be an ornament to the town. The building is among the finest in central Kansas, and not the least feature about it is the ample and beautiful grounds that surround it. The rooms are large and well ventilated, the halls and stairways are wide, affording excellent means of exit in case of fire or other disaster. It is substantially built, neatly finished, and the style of architecture is beautiful. In 1874, the residence of W. A. Phillips was destroyed by fire, and the Colonel was obliged to take up his abode in less pretentious quarters. He, however, the following year, erected a large brick residence, which, with its surroundings, is the finest in town, so that if he was the loser by the fire the city was the gainer. In 1875 also, C. R. Underwood & Co. built a large flouring mill, at a cost of $40,000, which is run by water power. In 1878, F. Goodnow & Co. erected a large steam flouring mill near the depot, at a cost of $75,000; and while the improvements were going on, Whitehead brothers, John Underwood and John A. Nelson erected a brick block, on the south side of Iron avenue, a little west of the bridge, containing three storerooms below, with office rooms above. More money was expended in improvements in 1875 than any year preceding it. If 1875 was a year of great improvement, it was also one of some disaster. The effects of the grasshopper raid in 1874 were felt in all branches of business, and a good deal of uncertainty existed as to the future. In that year also another disastrous fire visited the town, by which a great deal of property was destroyed. Several buildings on the west side of Santa Fe avenue were wiped out by the conflagration, and likewise a large livery stable, in which thirty horses perished. The loss entailed was about $25,000. This fire had the effect of awakening the City Council and business men to a sense of the constant danger they were exposed to by having wooden buildings in the business portion of the city. An ordinance was passed prescribing fire limits, and forbidding the erection of any wooden buildings within said limits. In the following year, being 1876, a very handsome brick block was erected by Schwartz brothers, on the south side of Iron avenue, a little west of Santa Fe avenue. On account of the year in which it was built, it was named the Centennial Block, and about the same time a building similar in character was erected just beside it by the firm of Markland, Dodge & Moore. Nearly all the improvements made in the centennial year were confined to dwelling houses, of which a goodly number were erected, and among them many of the better class. The grandest improvement in town was made in 1877. This was the erection of the Opera House, a magnificent three- story brick building on the southeast corner of Seventh street and Iron avenue. The dimensions of the building are 48x100 feet; the ground floor being fitted up as a double store-room, the upper portion being finished off in opera house style, with stage, scenery and gallery. It is a magnificent building, and was put up and finished and furnished by a joint stock company, composed of the citizens of the place. The city, in 1878, advanced a grade, and was created a city of the second class, of which A. W. Wickham was the first Mayor. Up to that time the Pacific House was the only first-class hotel in town, but as already stated, it was located about three blocks from the business portion on the city. John Ericson conceived the idea of putting up a hotel more convenient to the business center, and the result of this conception was, that, in 1878, he erected a brick hotel on the west side of Santa Fe avenue, a little south of Iron avenue, to which he gave the name of "Grand Central." The following year witnessed the construction of the McPherson branch of the Kansas Pacific Railway, a branch that runs from Salina to McPherson, a distance of thirty- five miles. The construction of this branch road gave quite an impetus to building in town, and many brick buildings were erected during the year. Miller, Haggard & Peterson put up the "Commercial Block," a neat row of brick buildings, directly opposite the "Grand Central Hotel." Eberhardt & Sudendorf, and Briggs & Gebhart, erected together two brick buildings, side by side, on the east side of Santa Fe avenue, and opposite to these, two more were erected by A. F. Shute and J. C. Rash & Son. Another good improvement of that year was the erection of the Metropolitan Hotel, which was put up by W. P. Thacher. It is a neatly constructed brick building, and is located on the southwest corner of Seventh street and Iron avenue, on the opposite corner from the Opera House. At the close of 1879 the business portion of the city was commencing to make a very fine appearance, with its numerous brick stores and large plate-glass windows, while at the same time, the resident portion, especially in the southern part of town, gave evidence of rapid improvement in a number of very fine residences. The year 1880 kept pace with the one preceding it, and that year witnessed the erection of a large stone business house on the northwest corner of Santa Fe avenue and Iron avenues. The building was erected by G. C. Kothe and Oscar Seitz, and is now occupied by the firm of Ober & Hageman as a dry goods and grocery house. Opposite to the Centennial Block, on Iron avenue, Dr. Daily erected a brick block containing three store-rooms and apartments above. The church improvement that year was greatly advanced by the erection of a large brick edifice by the English Lutherans. It is a building that would be an ornament to any city, and is of beautiful design. From the time the large brick schoolhouse was built in 1873 the population of the city had increased so rapidly that, notwithstanding the spaciousness of the building, it was found to be too small to accommodate the number of school children in the city. To supply the demand for more room, bonds to the amount of $10,000 were voted, and with the money realized from these bonds a very neat two-story six-room brick schoolhouse was erected in the northern part of town almost opposite to the courthouse. The year 1880 was the one in which Salina reached its climax in the line of improvements, and since that time, little, if any, improvement had been made. Salina is a beautifully laid out town, with wide streets and avenues, and can boast of one of the handsomest parks in the State of Kansas. The park is named "Oak Dale" and is located on the east side of Smoky Hill river. It contains about fifty acres, the western boundary of which is formed by the river. The center of the park is a clear, open space, on which a half-mile track has been built, where horses can test their speed. Outside the track and all the way round, is a beautiful grove of large shade trees, and take it for all in all, it is one of the neatest parks in the State. The business of the place is represented by two auction and commission houses, five dealers in agricultural implements, three in boots and shoes, two in books and stationery, four bakeries, three banks, one store, exclusively clothing, four drug stores, two furniture stores, seven general merchandise, ten groceries, six hotels, two the "Pacific" and "Metropolitan," being superior and the others inferior, four hardware, three jewelry stores, four bakeries, and four restaurants. The manufactories of the place are represented by two large flouring mills and one smaller one, a bed spring and wire mattress manufactory, a carriage and wagon factory, a foundry and agricultural implement works, and two cigar factories. There are six grain elevators in town, three lumber yards, two marble works, five blacksmith shops, four livery stables, and two wagon shops. There are ten church edifices in town, a courthouse, an opera-house, and two good school buildings. The press is represented by the Journal, Herald and Independent. The population of the city is estimated now, 1882, at 3,500.

[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]