LEGENDS OF KANSAS

 

History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs

 
 

Extinct Towns of Atchison County, Kansas

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Extinct Towns:

Arrington

Farmington

Kennekuk

Monrovia

Mormon Grove

Mount Pleasant

Oak Mills

Pardee

St Pat

Sumner

More Extinct Towns  

 

Oak Mills, Kansas

A sign designates where Oak Mills once stood in an empty field on the

 River Road south of Atchison. Kathy Weiser, May, 2010.

 

 

 

With its proximity to Missouri, Atchison County was one of the first to be populated in Kansas Territory. Immediately, the fight between pro-slavery advocates and abolitionists began as settlers from both sides rushed into Kansas in an attempt to establish the state with their own politics. Some of the first in Atchison County were a party from Iatan, Missouri., who took claims in the vicinity of Oak Mills in June, 1854. The following month, a larger group of settlers and those who would become the founders of the county flooded in to what would become Atchison. Settlements soon sprang up all over the county, but, like other new territories, only the strongest would survive to the present time. Some of these old extinct towns would be very difficult to find, but for the many signs posted by the FFA (Future Farmer's of America) years ago. Though the signs placed by students of long ago are very helpful in determining the sites of these "lost" settlements, they haven't been maintained over the years and are sometimes unreadable.

 

Arrington, KansasArrington - Also called Arrington Springs, this settlement, located in the southwestern part of Atchison County on the Delaware River, was founded in 1855. Its first settler and founder  was Ransom A. Van Winkle who built a steam sawmill, the first farm house and the first school, in which he became the teacher. The town was named for his girlfriend. An abolitionist from Kentucky, Van Winkle took an active part in the Free-State efforts, despite the pro-slavery sentiments of other Atchison County citizens. When Arrington gained a post office in June, 1862, Ransom A. Van Winkle also became the first postmaster. Later he would hold a number of offices in Atchison County and become a member of the Kansas Legislature. The town grew slowly until the arrival of the Leavenworth, Kansas & Western Railroad. By that time, The town boasted a large flour mill as well as the sawmill which had been purchased by a man named David Heneks.

 

Heneks also purchased some eighty acres of land lying on both sides of the Delaware River and discovered the first mineral spring near the mill dam in 1881. Later, he discovered two more springs and when the Arrington Mineral Springs Resort was built it brought with it a number of people and much prosperity to the town. By the late 19th Century, the resort was hosting hundreds of guests each week and the town had boomed to nearly 1,000 people. However, in 1903, a flood devastated the town and the resort was closed. Afterwards, the town rapidly declined, boasting only a population of 210 by 1912, but, it still had a post office, a school and a couple of stores. Its post office closed in May, 1973. Today, were it not for the sign indicating the town and the few scattered homes about, it would be difficult to know that a town had ever existed. It is located about 26 miles southwest of Atchison on Kansas Highway 119.

 

Farmington - Located on the Central Branch of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, this small town got its start as a station on the railroad. It gained a post office in November, 1868. By the 1880s, it consisted of just a few families and had a school, in which church services were held. In 1910, it had a general store, a blacksmith,  telegraph and express facilities, and 46 people. Its post office closed in May, 1940. The town was located about 12 miles southwest of Atchison.

 

Chief KennekukKennekuk - Originally established in Brown County, the hamlet was located in the extreme northwestern part of Atchison County about two miles southeast of Horton, the nearest railroad town. It was one of the first places in the county where whites located permanently, when a Methodist Episcopal Church Mission of established in 1833 among the Kickapoo tribe.

 

The first white man to locate permanently and erect a home was a Frenchman named Pensoneau, who married a Kickapoo Indian and settled on the banks of Stranger Creek in 1839. The village was named for Kickapoo Chief and prophet Kennekuk, who moved with his tribe to present-day Kansas in 1832. Later, the Indians were forced to cede their lands to the federal government.

 

In 1844, Captain Wharton established the Old Fort Laramie Road through the area.

 

In 1854, the land was opened to settlement. The village gained a post office in June, 1857, but wasn't officially platted until the following year. Later, the settlement also had a stage stop. Situated on the great wagon highways to the west, it flourished for some years during the period of emigration in the late 1840s-'50s. The town was officially platted by Royal Baldwin, President of the town company in 1859. It became a station on the Overland Stage Route and a man named Thomas Perry ran an eating house there that quickly became known to travelers as one of the best on the route.

 

In 1860, the town was described in a letter as a thriving town where whiskey was its entire business. By 1863, it had only about a dozen houses with one store and a blacksmith shop. The Kickapoo Indian Agency was one of the most prominent buildings located in the northwestern part of the town.

 

However, when the railroads were built it sank into insignificance. By the early 1900's it had only about 30 residents. It's post office closed in October, 1900.

 


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