INTERESTING TIDBITS ABOUT OUR PAST
This pages has interesting facts about our county. Check back often for updates, and if you've missed anything, you can find it in the "Archives" section.
Many cities vied for the title of county seat. Oxford, Meridian, Sumner City, Belle Plaine, Caldwell, and Wellington had all been in the contest.
Sumner City, established on December 20, 1870, flourished during the cattle drive of 1871. As soon as Wellington was picked as the county seat, Sumner City folded, many of it's buildings moved to Wellington.
From 1874 to 1884, county business was conducted at the Wellington Township Hall which was leased to the county. The Hall was at the northwest corner of 7th and Washington in Wellington (now Heritage Park).
In 1884, the county built it's first courthouse at Washington and 10th. That building served the county until 1940 when a citizen was going up the front stairway and fell through the rotted boards, narrowly escaping injury. The courthouse was condemned and torn down.
During World War II, county business was conducted at the Harvey House in Wellington. Finally in 1952, construction of the new and existing courthouse was completed, and county business has been held there ever since.
The Sumner County Democrat listed 1887 Officials as follows...
Representative - T.A. Hubbard
Judge, 13th Judicial District - W.P. Campbell
County Commissioners - N.J. Dixon, Chairman; Samuel Bain, William Carter
County Clerk - Stacy B. Douglas
County Treasurer - A.B. Mayhew
Sheriff - James E. Reed
District Court Clerk - J.H. Dougherty
Probate Judge - E. Evans
County Attorney - J.G. Tucker
Register of Deeds - Jno. T. Showalter
County Surveyor - George T. Walton
Supt. Pub. Inst. - John P. Jones
Coroner - E.F. Henderson
Geuda Springs was organized immediately south of Salt City, a city street being the only division between the towns. Salt City folded, Geuda Springs survived.
The Sumner County Democrat reported in it's May 23, 1877 edition that the Board of County Commissioners were to put up for election a bond issue to build a new County Jail. Sheriff Reed said that a new jail would reduce escapes and better ensure the safety of residents. The cost of the jail was to be $4,000.
Susanna Madora Salter (b. 1860), served as mayor of Argonia in 1887. She was the first woman mayor elected in the U.S.
Caldwell was established on March 1, 1871, and named in honor of U.S. Senator Caldwell of Leavenworth. Caldwell was situated on the Chisholm Trail, and has a history as a "cattle town".
The June 5, 1877 edition of the Democrat printed a "Public Notice" of the intent of the County Commissioners to build a bridge across Slate Creek. The notice stated that the cost of the bridge was not to exceed $439.79.
The same edition of the Democrat reported in the "Caldwell News" section indicated that many people were laboring to collect rabbit "scalps". The rumor that the State would pay for rabbit scalps was found to be untrue. A bill had passed in the State House of Representatives, but had failed in the Senate.
Hunnewell was once further north...about a mile north of the Oklahoma line.
Ninnescah (ironically along the Arkansas River), was the first town site in Sumner County. It was founded north of what is now Oxford on September 15, 1870.
The script on the Chisholm Trail historical marker, east of Mayfield at Anson Rd and 20th Street South can be found here.
The Sumner County Democrat, June 13, 1877 - "Poll Taxes Due - All able bodied men must put up or work".
In the same edition, "The new ferry across the Ninnescah River at London was put into use Tuesday. It is a large and substantial boat and perfectly safe."
Milton was originally two miles west along the Kingman County line.
In the early days, Indians were forced to move to the west side of the Arkansas River and settle. Chetopa, a principal Indian Chief established himself on the mound north of Oxford in 1869. That mound is known as Mt. Chetopa. The second Chief, Napawalla, occupied the present site of Oxford.
Indians were cordial to the white settlers until 1870, then as immigrants settled here, the Indians were forced to move to the Indian Territory.
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Sources: The Chisholm Trail Museum, William Cutler's "History of the State of Kansas", The Kansas State Historical Society, Wellington Public Library microfilm files, Kansas state library Blue Skyways project, University of Kansas "Kansas Collection.