Medicine Lodge Cresset, "Livestock Number", March 2, 1900.
Barber County: Richly Endowed by Nature
for the Profitable Breeding of Live Stock;
Unsurpassed Water Supply, Natural Shelter
and Beef Producing Grasses
We are told "all flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flowers of the field."
"Nature and man, co-operating, have made Kansas what she is, a marvelous blending of pasture and corn field - the domain of the grasses. In luxuriance, profusion, nutritious qualities and economy of production, hers are nowhere surpassed. From these her milks and meat are made; from these annually, for two decades, she has given to the shambles alone animals having a home value of 30 million dollars, or an aggregate to 600 million dollars; out of these and by these her future wealth and all it brings of good must largely come. As finished product and raw material they are symbolized in the beef steer, his sister, the hog, the sheep and the corn."
While Secretary Coburn of the state Board of Agriculture here says of Kansas has special application to Barber county. It has all the natural adaptabilities for the successful prosecution of the live stock industry with no drawbacks. It has the natural drainage, an unlimited supply of stock water from river, springs and brooks; natural shelter. It is located in and surrounded by a country producing the quantity and quality of feed and for furnishing a market for the products grown. These are recognized by the most experienced growers as the primal necessities to be considered in the successful founding of a herd and its profitable management, and they are hers in unstinted abundance. In their possession she has no equal. In the future she can have no rival, for they are the work of nature and cannot be duplicated by man.
Barber county was organized in 1873. It is situated in the south central portion of the state, bordering on the Territory of Oklahoma on the south. It has 1134 square miles of territory and a population of 6,413, a gain of 1,274 over 1898. The surface of the eastern half is undulating; the western half is broken and bluffy. Bottom lands in the eastern portion vary from one-half mile to two miles in width, while they are much narrower in the western half. The proportion of valley land comprises about 40 per cent of the total area. They are 123 feet lower than the Pratt county uplands and from all indications far back in the ages formed a vast inland sea.
The Medicine River is the principal water course, flowing diagonally across the county from the northwest to the southeast. The county is well supplied with smaller streams of soft water fed from unfailing springs. One of the most notable of these is Elm Creek, having its rise at the western boundary of the county, in McAdoo and Elm Mills townships, joining the river at Medicine Lodge. The Nescatunga, flowing through Aetna township, is another fine stream. Water is reached anywhere in the county at a depth of from ten to thirty feet. Quite extensive belts of timber of the walnut, elm, cottonwood, hackberry, ash, mulberry and willow varieties. These timber belts are far more extensive in the western part of the county where they form real forests along the Medicine River, Elm creek and other streams. Here the people burn wood largely, which is a great saving, in expense where coal is rather high.
Fire clay of a superior quality in different localities, is found from eight to twenty-five feet below the surface, and clay for brick making near the city of Medicine Lodge.
In the central and west portions large deposits of gypsum rock are found, from which a quality of cement is manufactured recognized by experts as being equal to the best produced anywhere in the world, and with proper transportation facilities could be made of large commercial value to the county and state.
The second largest county of the state in area, with a mild climate, natural protection for stock and a fertile soil, we may say of Barber county that in luxuriance, profusion and economy of production, her advantages are nowhere surpassed applied to all field crops of corn, sorghum, kaffir corn, the grasses, vegetables and fruit.
Sick she has been from the contagion of Kansas booms, depleted of a very considerable portion of her population by emigration to Oklahoma.
Today she has more than recovered from these disasters, crossed the threshold to a new prosperity into fields of renewed activity and advancement. To all comers she offers the gift of her great natural resources and it now needs naught but the co-operation of labor, capital, and a united spirt of enterprise on the part of our people to develop and build up the waste places that sleep at our feet thirsting for civilization and culture.
Second Largest Town in Barber County;
Distributing Point for the South Part of County
and Woods County, Oklahoma
Kiowa, the second town in Barber county in size, is located on the line dividing Kansas and Oklahoma territory. The men who located the town in the early 80s certainly had an eye to its future commercial importance, though but few of the original promoters stayed through the swaddling-clothes period to reap the fruits of the seed sown.
Kiowa has had the experience of all Kansas towns. It boomed like a green bay tree for a while and then went into decline and displayed a sign which indicated that it had "that tired feeling." However, a few doses of push, well shaken by enterprising business citizens before taking, gave it renewed life, and the past half dozen years has seen Kiowa grown, fatten and become one of the first towns of commercial importance on the border.
Kiowa is peculiarly well favored as to location. Situated in one of the richest and most fertile townships in the county, with miles and miles of Oklahoma plain on the south, the view presented is one as fair as the eye ever beheld. The territory contiguous to the town is still in an infant state of development, yet the storehouse of wealth it has already yielded has astonished even itself by its greatness.
Six years ago Kiowa's trade was confined to a rather circumscribed territory. The vast country on the south known as the Cherokee Strip contained only a few cow camps. In a day the whole scene was changed. Uncle Sam declared the Strip open to settlement, and the thousands of boomers who had congregated at Kiowa because it was the gate city to the fairest land on earth, in their eyes, rushed across the line in a mad race for a home. Before the sun set every quarter section of land in that Strip was occupied, and instead of a small township Kiowa had a territory as large as a New England state to draw trade from. The settlers have prospered, and Kiowa has reaped their prosperity. The small stores were inadequate to the demand. Additions were built, warehouses erected, and now Kiowa has mercantile establishments which will measure in size and trade with the larger stores of Wichita.
She has department stores which employ from ten to twenty clerks and keeps them busy.
All lines of trade are represented in Kiowa, and if there is a single one which does not pay dividends on the investment we failed to find it.
Another thing - Kiowa business men are not content with the trade that just happens in, but are continually going after new customers. They are not afraid to let the public know where they are and what they are there for.
She has lately organized a Commercial Club for the purpose of promoting her trade. In this sense, every man in the town is an ardent expansionist.
The business men of Kiowa stand together in solid phalanx when the interests of the town are concerned, with just enough rivalry between them individually to lend jest to their efforts.
At the present time Kiowa has a population of 700 - 1000. The town is located on the main line of the Santa Fe and the terminus of the Missouri Pacific railroads.
She is on the proposed line of two other railroads, one of which is now being graded a few miles south of town. So it appears almost certain that in the near future Kiowa will have considerable importance as a railroad town.
There are two strong banks in the city - The Bank of Kiowa and the Commercial Bank. Each of them has large deposits.
Each year an agricultural fair and ______ meeting is held in the city. The _____ last year brought horses from Kansas City and St. Louis.
There are three newspapers in Kiowa and they stand up for her interests most loyally. They are the Journal, Review and News, the latter having been established less than a year ago. The Review, edited by Milt A. Hull, brother of Congressman Hull, of Iowa, is a somewhat unique paper, reflecting the characteristics of its editor and publisher. It enjoys the distinction of being the only democratic paper in Barber county. The Journal, edited by Harry E. Glenn, is the oldest paper in town. It is republican in its politics and is a good paper for local news. These papers not only champion the interests of Kiowa but any enterprise tending to promote the welfare of the county receives their hearty support. The Cresset feels under especial obligations to them for assistance in getting up this edition and for the kind words said of it.
The law business is looked after by A.L. Herr and Chas. Rumsey; Kiowa streets are lighted at night with new gasoline lamps; H.G. Waltner has one of the nicest arranged stores in the southwest; D.R. Streeter, one of the oldest citizens of the town, is cattle inspector; J.T. Rickman, the cattle broker, has done a good business since he opened his office; Webb Parker is a new real estate man; Dennis Flynn, one of the founders of Kiowa, is now delegate to Congress from Oklahoma; W.D. Mackey is one of the oldest and most popular business men in Kiowa. He handles lumber and coal; G.F. Haskins, the real estate man, handles just about as much Kansas and Oklahoma dirt as the next one; R.D. Herold's department store occupies six rooms on Main street and we don't know how many warehouses; The York-Kay Mercantile Company is building another store; The meat trade of Kiowa is handled by A. Garland; The popular restaurant and bakery in Kiowa is conducted by G.F. Long; The hotels in Kiowa are the Hardwick Commercial, W.G. Bristow, proprietor of the Hardwick, is a former Medicine Lodge man; H.D. Records, the druggist used to do business in Medicine [Lodge] The town could hardly get along without Abner and T.P. Wilson. Tommie Wilson represented the county in the legislature one term and was mayor of Kiowa until he just wouldn't have it any longer.
Lake City, the site of it rather, was discovered by Reuben Lake in April, 1873. It is situated in Lake township, in the heart of the stock region, eighteen miles northwest of Medicine Lodge, with which is connected by a daily stage and mail line.
Its natural location is all that could be desired. In a deep valley, backed on the north by the bluff that rises above it, with the Medicine River, fringed with a dense growth of forest trees on the south, it is very beautiful.
In the early eighties, Lake had great prospects, and was a busy, bustling village of 350 inhabitants and came about as near making itself solid for the future as any of the numerous towns that started during that eventful period. It got so far along even, that the Santa Fe Co. projected a line of railroad from Medicine Lodge to Lake, secured the right of way and completed the grade. Then something happened, we do not know exactly what, anyway the work was abandoned and the metropolitan hopes of Lake City vanished.
Perhaps it is just as well, it is a good town anyway, one of the best trading points in the county. Has two large business houses and a blacksmith shop, all that is needed to supply the wants of the town and the community surrounding it.
It has a fine school building and there are many fine residences. The Masonic order is represented here and is perhaps the strongest lodge in Barber county, numerically and financially, having a membership of forty and a surplus fund of $500 in the treasury. The M.W.A. [probably Modern Woodmen of America] is also represented by a membership of eighteen.
The hospitality of the people is unbounded and the latch string always hangs out.
Sharon is a smart little town of 200 inhabitants situated on the Medicine Lodge branch of the Santa Fe, eleven miles distant from this city.
It has three good stores, excellent hotel accommodations, a church of the Christian denomination, a handsome and capacious school house. It is surrounded by a fertile scope of country, well adapted to agricultural and stock farming, people by an industrious, thriving and prosperous class of citizens.
Sharon will grow bigger as business expands and the people prosper.
Is a prosperous and growing little village located in the southeast corner of the county, on the Santa Fe and M.P. railways.
It was settled by people from the Keystone state [Pennsylvania] in the early eighties and their inherited habits of thrift, neatness and industry have made it a model town.
It has a good hotel, a bank, stores sufficient to accommodate the business of the town, it has a fine school building and more churches in proportion to its population than any town in the state. It is surrounded by an agricultural community in one of the most fertile sections of the county and the handsome, well kept farm houses and spacious barns and granaries are good to look upon, constantly reminding one of the state of Wm. Penn.
It is a great corn market and feeding point for stockmen in winter time, who hold their cattle in the grass regions where no grain is grown.
Upon the whole, judging from appearances, the people of Hazelton and vicinity are prosperous, progressive and under bonds to no one but themselves.
Sun City is located in the western suburbs of the county, where Turkey Creek, the most picturesque stream in Kansas, joins the Medicine River.
Like all Kansas towns born of the "boom," it has had its gala day, and like so many of them, clothed itself in sackcloth in atonement.
It is not so many years ago Sun was a lively business center of several hundred inhabitants, with hotels, stores, saloons and all the et ceteras that go to make up a typical western border town. Land agents and land seekers covered the country and the resources of three livery stables were taxed to their utmost showing them the country. Today the country has returned to its normal condition. Its industries and business confined to legitimate bounds, its population reduced in numbers is self-supporting and prosperous accordingly.
Sun City now has a population of less than a hundred people, two stores and is a trading point of considerable importance, connected with Medicine Lodge by a daily stage and mail line. Coats, a mail station on the Mulvane branch of the Santa Fe, fifteen miles distance, is the nearest railroad point. A neat wood structure serves for school and church purposes.
The secret orders are represented by Sun City lodge, I.O.O.F. No. 262, with 45 active members, a lodge of Rebekahs with a membership of 40. The M.W.A. with twenty members. The Odd Fellows are in very prosperous circumstances, own their building and have plans perfected for its repair at an expense of $500. John Adams is the president N.G., J.P. Thomas, secretary.
It is not situated right for extensive growth, but it will always command about so much trade and prosper to a certain degree.
Isabel is a little village on the north line of the county, on the Mulvane extension of the Santa Fe, in Valley township.
It does not make much of a showing on the delinquent tax rolls, but it is quite a grain-shipping point for the thrifty and prosperous farmers living around it. It is located in a rich and beautiful plain, with nothing but comfortable farm houses, barns and orchards to break the view.
Those engaged in business in Isabel enjoy a good trade.
The time was when Aetna had considerable pretensions and her progenitors thought they could see in the near future a city that would cut much ice in the commercial and industrial world. But where it was proposed to have a public park is now a horse pasture and on the site reserved for manufactories the gentle cow chews her cud in contentment.
While the town has not fulfilled the prophesies made for it, it nevertheless remains on the map, and the one man who represents the mercantile interests of the town - W.S. Richardson - does a business that many merchants in larger towns would be glad to have.
Aetna is located in the southwest corner of Barber county. Aetna township is given over entirely to the cattlemen, and some of the largest ranch owners in the county reside in that part of the county.
It is said that a cow can come nearer going through the winter solely on the fruits of her own industry in this township than anywhere else in Kansas.
Thanks to Ellen (Knowles) Bisson for finding, transcribing and contributing the above Medicine Lodge Cresset article to this web site!
It is one of a series of articles published together on 2 March 1900 under the title of "Livestock Number", another collection of these articles is entitled Barber County Profiles: Men Who Have Taken a Prominent Part in Developing the Stock Industry in Barber County.
It was transcribed from Kansas State Historical Society microfilm reel #M 870.
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