Alexander City, this very small community of just about 70 people, is the oldest
settlement in what would become
Rush County. It was first established with a
trading post in about 1869 by a man thought to have been named Mr. Fink. The
post, situated on the north bank of Walnut Creek, served as a refuge for
cavalry, freighters, traders and other travelers making their way along the
trail. The trading post, made of logs and topped by a lookout, was surrounded by
a stockade to protect it from outlaws and Indian attacks. When buffalo hunter,
Billy Dixon visited the trading post in 1871, he said it was run by a man named
Johnny Quinn, who was later thought to have been shot by an unknown assailant.
On this block of Alexander's Main Street, the only
operating business is the post office (2nd from
Kathy Weiser, March, 2009.
One of the first settlers in the area was a man named J. C. Young, who had
brought his family from Pennsylvania in 1872. That same year, the trading post was taken over by a man named Alexander Harvey, a soldier in
Custer's 6th Cavalry during his 1868 campaign, and was
called "Harvey's Ranch." As more people began to settle at the
area around the Walnut Creek Crossing, a post office was established on February
13, 1874, with Alexander Harvey becoming its first postmaster. The town soon
took his name and the first mail service was carried by train to the "end of line
depot" where it was transferred to stagecoach and carried along the
Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Trail to Alexander. Before long, a school house was built of logs that also held public and church services.
However, Alexander Harvey didn't stay for long. He soon sold his
store to pursue other interests including working as a school teacher and farming. In December, 1877 he
married Mattie King of Decatur County,
Illinois. Two years later, he was elected
as the Rush County Treasurer, and in 1880 he moved to Rush Center where he
engaged in ranching.
When the railroad was built south of Walnut Creek in 1886, the small community
was moved to the south side of the creek, where it continues to sit today. With
the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad barreling through town, the small
settlement began to thrive and by the turn of the century, it sported a bank, two creameries, several retail stores, an express and
telegraph office, and several churches. In 1910, it boasted a population of
about 150 people and obviously continued to grow as a large red brick school was
built in 1916. Later, the school received the addition of an auditorium in 1830.
Alexander continued to grow until after World War II.
Afterwards; however, the small town declined and today,
is filled with the decaying buildings of once thriving businesses, numerous old
homes in various states of repair, and most impressively, its very large school
that sits abandoned today. Though still a commanding site, its windows are
broken, its interior littered with trash, and its only sounds -- not those of
lectures and laughter, but just the wind whistling through the corridors and
water dripping on its floors.
Though Alexander is mostly quiet today, it still
maintains a small population and a post office.
Though no trace of the old trading post exists
today, a historical marker located on the west edge of town commemorates the
historic site. Alexander is located about 13 miles dues west of Rush Center on Kansas Highway 96.
Compiled and edited by
of Kansas, updated October, 2013.