Unfortunately the church was destroyed by a fire
in February, 1932. However, reconstruction soon began and it was soon restored.
However, the steeple was never replaced. The village obviously saw a
growth spurt in the 1930s as it once again obtained a post office in May, 1936.
Its life; however was short. Five years later, in September, 1941, it closed its
doors forever. The St. Francis Catholic Church continues to serve parishioners
today and the old parochial school building is now utilized as a parish hall.
The village is located about seven miles southeast of Hays, Kansas.
Ellis - Ellis got its start as a water station along
the tracks of the Kansas Pacific Railroad in 1867. Later the
railroad purchased the site for $1200 through the Homestead Act. On June 27,
1870, the fledgling town gained a post office. The
townsite was laid out by the Kansas Pacific Railway Company in 1873,
Ellis is located on the north bank of Big Creek just one mile east of the west
line of the county. In its early days, Ellis was a typical railroad town with
most of the men employed by the Kansas Pacific Railway. As it was surrounded by
a rough, broken country, unsuited for agricultural pursuits, its trade was very
limited. The railroad built substantial stone structures including a two-story
stone building that served as a depot and hotel, a roundhouse that could service
up to 14 locomotives, and several outbuildings. In the early years.
The first person to start merchandising in Ellis was a man named Thomas Daily,
who erected a one-story double storeroom, one room being devoted to the sale of
clothing exclusively, and the other to general merchandising. Daily was born in
Ireland and came to America with his family when he was still a boy. After
serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, he made his way to Ellsworth,
Kansas in 1868, where he engaged in merchandising a short time, and was also in
the employ of the United States Government. A few years later, he made his way
to Ellis in 1870, where he erected the first store in town, which he enlarged a
The first school was established in 1873 and the first church organization, the following
Beginning in 1875, Ellis became a shipping point for cattle herds, driven up
from the south and continued to be so for nearly five years. The busiest years
were 1877 and 1878, at which time, like many other Kansas cowtowns, it had the
reputation of being a "tough place." Law-abiding people were glad when the trade
Another general merchandise store was built in 1877 by R.S. Ormerod, who had
arrived in the Ellis in January, 1873. Being a machinist by trade, he worked in
that capacity for the Kansas Pacific Railroad five years, then went into
merchandising. Born in England in 1853, he came to American with his parents in
1863, and settled in Peoria, Ilinois, where they lived until coming to Kansas. The
store, known as Kelley & Ormerod, a two story stone structure, opened in 1878. Other early merchants were
the Nichols Brothers, Eli Sheldon, Reading & Bowen and G. F. Lee.
By the early 1880s, the railroad building continued to dominate the town, with
only one other two-story stone business building being that of the Kelly &
Ormrod General Merchandise Store. All other buildings and homes were one story,
some made of stone and more made of wood frame. The majority of the residences
of the town were plain, unpretentious, but neat and comfortable looking
buildings, indicative of the homes of thrifty, industrious
In 1882, a very fine improvement was made to the town with the construction of a two-story stone school building in the southern portion of the town. It
a very neat, well-finished structure, surmounted by a belfry that is quite
ornamental in design. By that time there had been, for some years, several church
organizations in town, but there had never been a church building erected. After the
new schoolhouse was completed, the members of the
Congregational Church Society purchased the old frame school building, which
they then converted a church. John Henry, an UP train dispatcher in Ellis,
invented the electric streetcar in 1882.
On January 10 1888, the City of Ellis was incorporated as a Third Class City. At
about this same time, two characters well known in the Old West, were often seen
in town -- Wyatt Earp and Buffalo Bill Cody.
By 1910, Ellis boasted two banks, four grain elevators, the railroad repair
shops, a weekly newspaper called the Review-Headlight, four
churches, good hotels, a modern public
school building, several well appointed mercantile establishments, an
international money order post office, and a population of
1,404, a gain of 472 during the preceding decade.
Over the next decades Ellis continued to slowly grow. Today, Ellis is a City of
the Second Class with a population of more than 2000 people. The town is the
site of Walter P. Chrysler Boyhood Home and Museum. Chrysler, founder of the
Chrysler Corporation, grew up in Ellis. When he was 17, he began his career
working in the railroad roundhouse, where he became a machinist's apprentice and
developed his expertise for metal working and machinery.
Founded in 1994, the Ellis Railroad Museum features items and photographs from
Ellis' railroading past. A 5,000-square-foot model train exhibit is also on
display. Outside the museum is a miniature railroad that runs on a one mile loop
City of Ellis
Ellis, Kansas 67637
Or phone 785-726-4812
- Another of the several villages established by Volga German immigrants, Schoenchen
got its start when a conflict arose among the first settlers of Liebenthal, in Rush
County. When several proposed moving the Liebenthal to another location that had a
better water supply, it split the group, and part of them moved out of the
county altogether, settling in what would become Schoenchen. The town was
originally called San Antonio, but several of the settlers wanted it to be named
after their villages in Russia -- Schoenchen and
Neu-Obermonjour. As a compromise, they named their new village Schoenchen, and
church was named for the patron saint of the church in Neu-Obermonjour, St.
The settlers built their first small stone church in 1880, but when the
foundation settled badly after a heavy rain, they abandoned it. It was replaced by a frame structure in 1881
and in 1900 they began building the large stone St. Anthony's Church which
continues to stand today. It was dedicated on June 13, 1901. The tiny village
finally obtained a post office in 1902. In 1916, a new stone parochial school
was built and placed in charge of the Sisters of St. Joseph. In 1917, the
population must have fallen as Schoenchen's post office was closed. However, the
city voted bonds for the building of a new high school in 1926. The town once
again gained a post office in May, 1938, which remains open today, serving a
community of about 215 people.
of Kansas, updated March, 2017.