History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Marshall County, Kansas Towns - Page 2

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Home, Kansas buildingHome - An unincorporated community in southern Franklin Township, the town is located along U.S. Route 36 – the Pony Express Highway – and a Union Pacific Railroad about seven miles east of Marysville. Its post office opened in February, 1874 and the town name comes from the fact that it was established in someone's home. In 1910 it was a busy shipping point for grain and livestock along the St. Joseph & Grand Island Railroad. All of the main lines of business were represented including banking facilities, schools and churches, express and telegraph offices and a post office with two rural routes. The population in 1900 was 450. Locally, it is called "Home City." Its population to day is unknown but it still retains a post office.


Old highschool gymnasium, Lilllis, KansasLillis - Rich in Irish heritage he village of Lillis, located on the Topeka-Marysville “cut off”, was chartered on October 29, 1906. It was named for the Reverend T.F. Lillis of Kansas City. The townsite was platted on the land of Ed. Walsh, on the former site of of the town of Wyoming. The first house was erected by Patrick Brannan and the first store building by the Lillis Townsite Company. A post office opened on March 3, 1910. The limestone St. Joseph's Church was built between 1912 and 1916. It continues to be an active church today and is located on on 27th Road between Bobcat and Cyclone Lanes. By 1917, the settlement boasted a two-teacher school with an enrollment of 24 students, a large grain elevator, two stores, a lumberyard, a blacksmith, and a bank. During the Depression a high school gymnasium was built by the WPA in 1936-1938 and dedicated as a memorial to 21 Lillis community men who served in World War I. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building still stands on 28th Road north of Bobcat Lane. The post office in the community closed its doors on March 7, 1958. Though the town today is little more than a scattering of homes, it continues to boast a restaurant and a well-kept baseball field. Lillis is located about 13 miles southeast of Frankfort at 28th Road and Bobcat Lane.


Marietta - A hamlet of Marshall county, Marietta is located in Oketo Township on the Union Pacific Railroad eight miles north of Marysville. In 1888 the Union Pacific railway, being unable to buy land for side tracks at Oketo, located the tracks 1.5 miles south of Oketo. Angus McLeod, T. J. Mann and Jacob Lawson platted 40 acres of land for town lots. Side tracks were laid and a depot built. The McLeod Brothers put up an elevator and for several years did a big business buying and shipping grain. Stockyards were built and James Buchanan carried on an extensive business in shipping cattle. In 1889 the Peavy Elevator Company built a second grain elevator.


On April 21, 1890 a post office was established with C. T. Mann as postmaster. Initially, the post office was conducted in the depot. The first general store was started in 1892 by Charles Pritchard and the post office then operated from that location. That same year, a bridge was built across the Blue River.

The United Evangelical church was built in 1901, with Reverend Charles Taylor as pastor. In 1909 the Marietta State Bank was organized with B. R. Bull as president. By 1910, the town had a population of 100. In 1914, the Cottrell Brothers put in a lumberyard. By 1917, the town boasted  telegraph and express offices, a general store, a hardware store, a meat market, a barber shop, the lumberyard, and an elevator company. There was no school. Marietta's post office closed in February, 1890.


Summerfield, Kansas Main Street todaySummerfield - Located in the northeast part of Marshall county, along the Missouri Pacific Railroad, Summerfield was named in honor of Elias Summerfield, who was at that time, superintendent of the railroad. The Summerfield Townsite company was formed in 1888 and purchased 240 acres of land in St. Bridget Township. Soon the original townsite was laid out. Construction on buildings began before the first train arrived in 1889. The building material was hauled from Beattie and Axtell, as were groceries and provisions. The first store building was erected by Heard & McGinty. E. J. Smiley and J. J. McClennan ran a grocery store in the basement of the old Smiley house. An auction sale of town lots was held in February, 1889. The post office was established on February 11, 1889.


In the spring of 1890 the town was incorporated with R.G. Cunningham elected as Mayor. The population at that time was about 100.


Among the early businesses were several general mercantile stores, a dry goods store, a pharmacy, grocery store, department store, lumber yard, a milliner, a photographer, two restaurants, a bakery, hardware story, livery barns, barbers, a blacksmith, a physician, a lawyer, a hotel, and a billiard parlor.




Summerfield, KansasThe first elevator for grain was built for O'Neil Brothers, who also owned and operated a hardware and implement store. The second elevator was built in 1893, for the Brunswig Elevator Company. A third elevator was built in 1893, known as the Farmers Elevator. Among those who early located in Summerfield were Dr. J. H. Murphy and Dr. William Johnston. The first carpenters were David Wilson, George Van Allen, James Monroe and Webster Brothers. The first draymen were Charles Travelute, George Curtis and John Nelson.

The first newspaper, the Summerfield Sun, was published by Edward and Harry Felt, sons of Hon. A. J. Felt, of Seneca, former lieutenant-governor of Kansas. The office was in the second story of the I. Jay Nichols building, and the proprietors shared the floor with a hardware and implement dealer. The name of the paper was , and it was a bright, newsy sheet. The first story of the building was used as a livery barn and feed stable. It was totally destroyed by fire in 1892. A. A. Gearhart built a livery barn on the same site and a few years later it was burned and Mr. Gearhart lost a number of horses in the fire. Later another livery barn was built on the same site.

A great fire occurred on June 29, 1894, when almost the entire business portion of the city was reduced to ashes. The fire started in the store building owned by H. H. Lowrey and destroyed every store building north, including two general merchandise stores, variety and book store, drug store, and a hardware store. The loss was near one hundred thousand dollars.
The ruins had hardly quit smoking when preparations were begun for larger and more substantial buildings.


In 1910 Summerfield was described as having has banking facilities, a weekly newspaper (the Sun), telegraph and express offices, schools and churches, and an international money order post office with three rural mail routes. That year the population peaked at 554 people.


By 1916, the elevators handled about 200,000 bushels of grain and the deposits in the State Bank of Summerfield amounted to $250,000, making the third in line of deposits among the 27 banks of Marshall county. In 1917, there were 40 prosperous business houses, five miles of sidewalk, well-graded streets, a splendid park, many fine residences and three churches, with good congregations. Fifty automobiles were owned in the town, and was described as being one of the most prosperous and active business centers of northern Kansas.


But, for Summerfield, it had already reached its peak. Over the next decades its population would gradually decrease and today is called home to an estimated population of 151 people. It is located on
Highway 99 at the Kansas-Nebraska border.


Vermillion, Kansas Main Street todayVermillion - A village of Noble Township, Vermillion got its start in 1869 with the coming of the Central Branch Railroad. It is located 28 miles southeast of Marysville on the Black Vermillion River, from which it takes its name. A townsite was laid out in 1869 which contained 240 acres, with 100 acres given over to the railroad, which built a depot and side track. The first building was erected in 1870 by W. H. Dickinson as a store. The post office was established in May of the same year with Theodore Collier as postmaster.


The first building erected on the townsite was built by W. H. Dickinson in the spring of 1870 and used as a store. Soon after a large building was erected by Robert Shields for a store. In 1872 this building was used as a hotel. In 1872 a new frame building, 24x42 feet was erected for use as a school at a cost of $2,000. The first teacher in the new building was L. B. Holmes. In the summer of 1874, G. W. Duffy built an elevator with a capacity of 3000 bushels


Several churches were organized during tje town's early years including the Presbyterian in 1871, which had a church building by 1879. The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized and first meetings were held in the depot until a church building was built in 1874.

In 1895 Ed Horth built another elevator. The telephone system was organized by P. H. Hybskmann and H. D. Williams, with the first connection made in 1901. In 1903-04, a new modern brick building was erected to use as a highschool. There were 58 pupils initially. The city erected a public hall for its use, a room in which was set apart and donated to the Mutual Improvement Club for a library room.

In 1910, Vermillion had become a trading point for a large section of farming country, has banking facilities, grain elevators, a newspaper, schools, churches, express and telegraph offices, and an international money order post office with four rural mail routes. That year, the population peaked at 366 people


In 1817, Vermillion was represented by two hardware store, general merchandise store, two meat markets, a harness shop, two resturants, two hotels, a lumberyard, a drug store, a furniture store, and two garages.

Over the years Vermillion's population declined and today is home to just about 109 people It still retains its post office. Its originally depot still stands on East 2nd Street. It is the oldest existing depot in the county and possibly in the state. The structure next door, built in 1885 as a hotel for the depot, now houses the city hall and library, with a museum on the second floor. It is located at 02 Main Street.

Vermillion can be reached directly from U.S. 36 on Highway 187, the shortest Kansas state highway.


Vliets, Kansas CoopVliets - An unincorporated town in Marshall County, Vliets was was laid out in 1889. It was named for the Van Vliet family, the original owner of the town site. It was located on the Central Branch Railroad and the Vermillion River. On November 11, 1887 a post office was established.


The East elevator was built and operated in 1889 by the Union Commercial Company, an organization of Swedes. A Mr. Buck owned and operated another elevator known as the Buclo elevator. The annual shipments average one 150,000 bushels of grain. The school was organized and built in 1899 at a cost of $2600. The building contained two rooms, in which four grades were taught and one year high school. The local telephone system was owned by the State Bank of Vliets. A large general merchandise store of J. M. Owen, opened for business June, 1914.


In 1910 the main lines of business and professional pursuits were represented. It has banking facilities, telegraph and express offices and a post office with one rural mail route. The population in 1910 was 350.

The Farmers Union Co-operative Business Association was organized in April, 1915, and opened business on September I5, 1915, with a capital stock of $10,000. The plant was built at a cost of $5000; which included an elevator, coal house, corn crib, office and full equipment of machinery with which to operate. The company handled grain, flour, cream, eggs, poultry and salt. The first year the shipment of grain was 120,000 bushels.


Over the years the population of this small community dwindled and its post office closed in December, 1992. Today, it is primarily comprised of a Coop elevator. It is located between Vermillion and Frankfort.



Winifred, Kansas old bank buildingWinifred -  The town of Winifred was founded in 1907 and platted and laid out by Gottfried Keller on his farm. It was on the Topeka and Marysville branch of the Union Pacific Railroad, eleven miles southwest of Marysville.


The present site of Winifred was made the county seat of Marshall County in 1858 by the Territorial Legislature, and was named Sylvan. A body of men representing the Nebraska Town Company came to Sylvan at that time with 24 oxen and wagons loaded with lumber to build the town; they also brought some mercantile goods which they sold in a tent. No buildings were erected. The only official business transacted at the new county seat was the canvassing of the vote of 1859. There being no house at Sylvan, the county commissioners held their session in the house of George D. Swearingen, a mile distant. The vote of the "people" returned the county seat status to Marysville. Afterwards Sylvan was abandoned until the new town of Winifred was founded.


One of the first pioneers was Isaac Walker and family who had settled the land adjoining the land where Winifred would be established. The new town was called Winifred for Mrs. Isaac Walker


The town grew slowly and did not receive a post office until February, 1910. The school house was built and opened in 1911 at a cost of $2500. The two room school initially had two teachers providing instruction from the first grade to the second year of high school. The first store was operated by S.C.M. Smith. By 1917, the town boasted the Winifred State Bank, a hardware store. two grain elevators, a garage, a general merchandise store, a barber shop, restaurant, lumber company


Today, Winifred is a ghost town. Its post office closed on January 1, 1986. All that is left today is an old bank building, grain elevators, and the Winifred Baptist Church, which still holds services.




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




Axtell, Kansas

Blackmar, Frank W.; Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Vol I; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912.

Cutler, William G; History of Kansas; A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL, 1883

Foster, Emma; History of Marshall County, Kansas: Its People, Industries, and Institutions, F. Bowen, 1917

Kansas Historical Society

Marshall County, Kansas


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