LEGENDS OF KANSAS

 

History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs

 
 

Ford County Towns  - Page 2

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Kingsdown - Established as a station on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, the land was obtained from a settler named James A. Fishback in April, 1887. Fishback then sold more land to the South Arkansas Valley Town Company for the formation of a town. The town was named for the "downs" in England, which are open grasslands. According to the the tale, when an  English homesteader was heard to say that the prairies reminded him of the King's Down, the name was utilized for the new settlement. However, there is another version of how the town came to get its name, and that, was when railroaders were playing poker, and someone called "Kings Down".

 

The railroad soon built a depot, roundhouse and section houses over the next year and in January, 1888, the settlement received a post office. However, Kingsdown did not fair well during its first few years, and the post office was closed in December, 1891. It reopened from February, 1892 to November, 1893, when it closed again. In the meantime, the railroad left and by 1898, the land was sold for taxes.

 

Kingsdown, Kansas Main Street

Kingsdown is a ghost town today. There re only a few buildings

 left on Main Street. Kathy Weiser, July, 2013.

This image available for photo prints & commercial downloads  HERE!

Early in the 20th century however, Kingsdown revived and it once again got a post office in April, 1904. As new businesses began to be built, the railroad also came back in 1910, at which time the population was about 150 people. A new depot was built the next year and for decades, Kingsdown became a small local trading and transportation point for the area. However, over the years, it declined again and the train depot was once again closed in 1968. On January 3, 1998, it also lost its post office. Today, all that remains are a few houses and a grain elevator. Also near here, is the Clark State Fishing Lake nestled in Bluff Creek Canyon. The lake provides not only fishing, but also nature trails, hunting, camping and boat ramps. Kingsdown is located about six miles southwest of Bucklin on Highway 54.

 

Spearville, Kansas MuseumSpearville - Yet another town on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, land was deeded by the railroad to the Arkansas Valley Town Company in March, 1873, and was surveyed and platted. It was first called Speareville, for Alden H. Speare, railroad director and president of the town company. The town name was consistently misspelled "Spearville," and finally the "e" was eliminated altogether. In the early days, the town was also called Dry Ridge and had a big water tank beside the railroad. Its first settler was railroad section foreman, Jonas Stafford and his family, who settled in January, 1875. Mrs. Stafford and their daughters soon opened an eating house which soon gained a reputation for its excellent food. Their home restaurant was the only sign of life between Offerle and Dodge City for some time, but it was also a "must stop" for the railroad men who made it a point to stop at the Staffords for their meals. Two more settlers finally came to the town in June, 1877 -- George Hall and M. Wear. And the following year, a group from Cincinnati, Ohio also settled there. That same month, the area population was sufficient enough for a post office which was opened on June 11th. The next year, the Spearville Enterprise newspaper was established in May, 1878. It later was renamed the Spearville News. The Leidigh & Co. merchandise store was established the same year. 

 

By the early 1880's, the town had developed into into a lively business community with two hotels, several supply and grocery stores, a Methodist Episcopal Church, and a bank. The area was surrounded by sheep farms with some 60,000 head roaming the prairie. Situated near the German community of Windthorst, after a railroad venture to that settlement failed, Spearville profited from the Germans who shopped and worked in Spearville.

 

 

 

In the early 1880s, a New York millionaire named Asa Soule financed the Soule Canal which was to be an irrigation ditch that would provide water from the Arkansas River to Ford, Gray and Edwards Counties.

 

Building for the canal began in 1884, but  by 1887, as the construction came near Spearville the project was beginning to fail due to other projects upstream and drought. By 1890, the irrigation Canal was no longer a viable way to use the Arkansas River water.

 

By the turn of the century, Spearville had become the center of the farming and ranch area and in 1910, it had two banks, the Spearville News, flour mills, grain elevators, hotels, churches and schools, express and telegraph offices, and an international money order post office with two rural routes. The population was 576. Over the next century, Spearville continued to be an agricultural community and in 2006, benefitted from one of the largest wind farms in Kansas being established. Spearville is located about 16 miles east of Dodge City on Highway 56.

 

Wright - Even before the town was officially founded, Wright started as a stagecoach stop. A post office was established in March, 1886 and named for  Robert M. Wright who owned a large stockyard in the area. That same year, a hotel was built. The settlement itself was chartered in 1887 by  William Hunt, J. D. Hendricks, Ira M. Cobb, John Murphy, and A. McLeod.

 

Spearville, Kansas Wind Farm

Spearville Wind Farm, September, 2008, Kathy Weiser.

This image available for photo prints & commercial downloads  HERE!

Wright, Kansas

Wright, Kansas, Kathy Weiser, September, 2009.

This image available for photo prints & commercial downloads  HERE!

 

Situated along the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad seven miles northeast of Dodge City, it did not become the cattle market its founders were hoping for, but grew gradually eventually having a newspaper, a grain and shipping company, a general store and several other businesses. In September, 1893, its post office shut down, but reopened in October, 1895. In 1910, it had a population of about 60 people and a general store. Over the next century, Wright remained a small agricultural community and was never incorporated.

 

 

 

Compiled by Kathy Weiser/Legends of Kansas, updated March, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ford County Slideshow:

 

 

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