LEGENDS OF KANSAS

 

History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs

 

Pfeifer, Kansas

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Founded in August, 1876 by immigrants from Pfeifer, Russia, the village was built on the south bank of the Smoky Hill River. Among the founders of the colony are numbered some of the very first of the Germans to leave Russia, including Joseph Stremel, Michael Meder, Mathias Urban, and Christ Stegman. They originally left their homes in Russia in October, 1875 and along the way were joined by other groups of Russian immigrants.  Over the next two years, more settlers came to the fledgling village and by 1878, the colony numbered 41 families, numbering 171 people.

 

The original site chosen for the town had been railroad land, and was to be paid for in eleven annual installments. It was divided into shares and each resident paid a cost proportionate to the amount of land held by each.

 

However, trouble soon arose when some of the landholders were not able to pay for their shares. Others, too, objected to the location of the town, so finally, in 1884, the colony moved northwest to its present site, which had been obtained by John Schlieter under the homestead plan. He divided the land into shares, for which he provided a deed to the purchaser on receipt of the purchase money.

 

The residents immediately began to build simple homes and farm the area land. They built their first church, a small frame structure, in 1879.  By 1887, the village had become big enough for a post office, which opened in March. In 1891, the residents built a new stone church that replaced the simple frame building previously used.

 

 

Holy Cross Church in Pfeifer, Kansas

The Holy Cross Church in Pfeifer was voted as one of  the 8 Wonders of Kansas Architecture because it is the finest example of a  Gothic style church in the state.

Image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

 

By 1910, Pfeifer had grown to about 150 people and sported a school and a couple of retail stores. Soon, plans were made for a bigger stone church and construction began on the Holy Cross Church in April, 1915. At the time the church was known as "the two-cent church" because parish families paid two cents for each bushel of wheat they produced to fund construction. They also donated much of their time to build the church, including the quarrying and delivery of the stone.

 

The beautiful gothic style church was completed in May, 1918, at a cost of $56,000. A parochial school was also built for the education of area students.

 

Unfortunately for residents of the community, the decision was made by the Diocese of Salina to dissolve the parish on July 1, 1993. The church today, no longer holds regular services, but remains open to the public on a daily basis and is still used for funerals, weddings, and other special events.

 

The Holy Cross Church in Pfeifer was voted as one of  the 8 Wonders of Kansas Architecture because it is the finest example of a Gothic-style church in the state. A tour through the beautiful building features a rib-vaulted ceiling, decorative columns, and pointed arch windows and doorways. The central spire is 165 feet high, believed to be the tallest Gothic church spire in Kansas.

 

The nearby Holy Cross Cemetery has many interesting ornate Volga German iron crosses and is worth a visit.

 

Pfeifer, Kansas post office Though Pfeifer's population is very small -- about a 80 people, its post office remains open. The tiny town is located about 10 miles south of Victoria along the south bank of the Smoky Hill River.

 

Compiled by Kathy Weiser/Legends of Kansas, updated March, 2015.

 

 

Also See: 

 

Ellis County Gallery

 

 

 

Catholic School in Pfiefer, Kansas

The old Catholic school still stands in Pfiefer, Kathy Weiser, March, 2009.

Image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

Abandoned home in Pfiefer, Kansas

Unfortunately, there are several buildings in the area that speak to more prosperous times, Kathy Weiser, March, 2009.

Image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

 

Pfeifer Slideshow:

 

 

All mages available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

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