Located nine miles northeast
Hays on the banks of Victoria Creek, the settlement was named in honor of
the Great Empress of Russia, Catherine the Second. Founded in April, 1876 by German-Russians from Katharinenstadt, Russia,
these included the families of Justus Bissing, Friedrich Karlin, Peter
Karlin, Jacob Karlin and and Friedrick Koerner. When the families, which
number about 27 people, arrived in Hays, they first rented a building, in
which they all lived for about five weeks. Every morning, they drove their
wagons to the new townsite, hauling material and building homes. More
families, comprising 73 people, arrived in July. Yet other German-Russians
would join the others in September, 1876 and August, 1877. The
original land was purchased from the
Kansas school commission, with each
resident contributing to the purchase price, and receiving shares. A post
office was established in the village in November, 1882.
In April, 1893, the St. Catherine Town and
Grazing Company was established by the shareholders that established specific
rules for the settlement. Some of these established taxes, prohibited the
cutting of timber along the creek, and though shareholders were allowed to sell
or rent shares, a two-thirds vote of the shareholders was required to
prevent undesirables from coming into the village.
St. Catherine Catholic Church in Catherine, Kansas
The first homes in Catherine were simple, having no luxuries, but their
appearance was far better than other area villages and they were built of high
quality, mostly of stone quarried in the area.
The townspeople continued their Russian custom of
living in towns and driving to and from the farm each day to work. The livestock
was kept in town on a specific section set aside for grazing purposes. While
this custom was socially advantage, over time, it would cause the village to
become one of the poorest settlements in the area, due to all of the commuting
time. Finally, the people realized this was not practical, and the practice was
In absence of a priest, Catholic services were
often held outside or in homes until a school house, which also served as a
church, was built in 1879. For the next 13 years, services were held there until
a new church building could be completed. In October, 1892, the new church was
In 1897, the communal shareholding of the St.
Catherine Town and Grazing Company, was changed and deeds were issued for
ownership of town lots and land. By 1902, the children of the community had
outgrown the school, and a new new four-roomed stone structure was built. It was
entrusted to the Sisters of St. Agnes, who had taken charge of the old school.
Another change was in the making for the St.
Catherine Town Company in 1908. In February, the last bit of communal land,
upon a petition signed by two-thirds of the shareholders, was divided among the
shareholders by casting lots. By 1910, the town was called home to about 50
Catharine continues to survive,
the St. Catherine Catholic Church church still
serves parishioners, and the small town still has an open post office. The village is
located about nine miles northeast of Hays.
of Kansas, updated March, 2017.
From Legends' General Store
Old West Lawmen
Legends of America
and Legends of Kansas,
who is FROM
sheriffs were in high demand in some of the most lawless settlements as
well as the numerous mining camps that dotted the West. Though the vast
majority of these lawmen were honorable and heroic figures, ironically,
many of them rode both sides of the fence and were known as outlaws as
well. Old West Lawmen is a collection of stories featuring 57