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Kansas Heritage: Barber County

Aimed at preserving the heritage of central and western Kansas

Barber County Map 1899

Barber County map

Prentis, Noble Lovely. "History of Kansas". Winfield, KS: E. P. Greer, 1899

Hardtner

Mr. Jacob Achenbach purchased 6300 acres of land from Dr. John Hardtner in 1884, and it was land that he had been farming. Mr. Achenbach wanted to develop a new community in the area, so he advertised for others to come settle there. Once there were a number of settlers who had arrived, a town site company was formed in 1886. The company purchased 640 acres of land from Dr. Hardtner and laid the town site on that acreage. 

The town was named for the doctor. A post office was established that same year, and Jacob Achenbach became the first postmaster. A railroad line was built from Kiowa in 1908.  

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Sources

Barber County History Committee. "The Chosen Land: A History of Barber County, Kansas." Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company, 1980.

Hebron

Founded by six Russian Jews in 1884, Hebron was located 20 to 25 miles southwest of Medicine Lodge. Sponsored by the Montefiore Agricultural Aid Society, it was called "New Jerusalem" by its Gentile neighbors.

By 1885, there were 30 families consisting of 150 people. By 1886, there were 80 families consisting of 300 people. At its peak in 1886-1887, Hebron encompassed an area of 35 to 40 square miles.

Russians, Poles, Rumanians and Hungarians were part of this colony. The Montefiore Agricultural Aid Society began another colony in 1886 for the Rumanian refugees. It was called Gilead and was located about 10 miles southwest of Hebron in Comanche County.

However, after going through extreme weather conditions such as blizzards, tornados and drought during the years of 1886 and 1887, families began moving away from both of these colonies. By 1891, there were no longer any Jewish colonists in Hebron and Gilead. There were a few who had moved to nearby towns, but most ended up going back east in the United States. 

 Sources

Douglas, Donald M. "Forgotten Zions: Jewish Agricultural Colonies in Kansas in the 1880's." Kansas History 16 (Summer 1993): 108-119.

Harris, Lloyd David. "Sod Jerusalems: Jewish Agricultural Communities in Frontier Kansas". Masters Thesis, University of Oklahoma, 1984. 

Lake City

Reuben Lake had come to Kansas from Illinois in 1865 and settled in Neosho County. In 1873, he came to the area that would be organized as Barber County in September of that year. He was named Sheriff in November.

The town was platted in 1881 after Mr. Lake had established a store; several years later other businesses had gotten their start. Mr. Lake was the first postmaster; he started the newspaper; housed the first school before a school building was built; and in 1885 he built a hotel which just a short while later burned to the ground.

By 1907, the railroad finally had come through Lake City after many town citizens were disappointed earlier that the railroad did not come through in the 1880's. Today all that remains is the elevator - the post office closed in 1993.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Sources

Barber County History Committee. "The Chosen Land: A History of Barber County, Kansas." Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company, 1980.

"Post Offices in Kansas". Kansas State Historical Society. September 28, 2005 <http://www.kshs.org/genealogists/places/postoffices.htm>

Medicine Lodge

Derrick Updegraff, a follower of John Brown, left Eastern Kansas and arrived at the present site of Medicine Lodge in December 1872. A post office was established on December 5, 1872. In February 1873, a town site was laid out, and a general store had been built by the summer. During this time up through 1879, the town was basically a trading post for hunters and the Indians.

Medicine Lodge is named for the river that is on the west side of the town. This stream itself was named by the Indians, who often met in council to make medicine along its banks.

However, Indians were still raiding the settlements in the area, and a stockade was built for the citizens of Medicine Lodge. 200 or so people and their livestock were living inside the stockade walls and were guarded by the Medicine Lodge militia that were are on the lookout for Indians.

On May 21, 1879, Medicine Lodge became an incorporated city. Soon there were hotels, restaurants and general stores, as well as a bank which was the scene of a robbery on April 30, 1884. One person was killed, and the four members of the gang were eventually found and killed.

The town's first newspapers began in 1879 (The Cresset) and 1880 (The Barber County Index). A gypsum plant (the first one west of the Mississippi River) was built in 1889; a sugar mill was established that same year; and the flour mill was built in 1890.

The most famous resident of Medicine Lodge was Mrs. Carry A. Nation who came with her husband, David, in 1889. He was a lawyer and a minister, and he served the Christian Church in Medicine Lodge.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Sources

Barber County History Committee. "The Chosen Land: A History of Barber County, Kansas." Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company, 1980.

"Early History and Settlers of Barber County, Kansas." Kansas State Historical Society. September 28, 2005 <http://skyways.lib.ks.us/genweb/barber/earlyhist.htm>

Hazelton

Founded in July 1883 by J. O. Hazelton and A. H. Peck who had camped in the area with their wives. They admired the beauty that was surrounding them and decided to begin a town. Town lots were set up, and soon settlers were residing on those lots. The town was named in honor of J. O. Hazelton.

Businesses included a lumber yard, grocery stores, a livery stable, a hotel and some banks. Many homes and businesses were moved into Oklahoma when the Cherokee Strip was opened, then on September 29, 1911, a fire destroyed many of the buildings on the north side of Main Street.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Sources

Barber County History Committee. "The Chosen Land: A History of Barber County, Kansas." Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company, 1980.

Homesteading in Barber County

The first settler, a man named Col. Griffin, lived on a ranch which was located about 1 mile from the present city of Sun City. He came to the area in the winter of 1871-72. A man named E. H. Mosley set up a small trading post in the spring of 1872 in Kiowa. Two other men named Lockwood and Leonard who came to Kiowa with Mr. Mosley began farming in the area. The first store was opened in Kiowa in the spring of 1873 by Gus Hegwer.

In December 1872, Derrick Updegraff settled in Medicine Lodge and was soon followed by several other gentlemen in the spring.

The summer of 1873 saw rapid settlement in the county, and because there were hostile Indians still in the area, stockades were built at Medicine Lodge and Sun City. The last Indian scare was in 1878; a band of Indians led by Little Wolf came through the area on their way north from Oklahoma.

The county was organized on July 7, 1873, despite the fact that there were less than 100 settlers, far less than the 600 settlers that were required for county organization. Unsavory means were used to get 600 signatures.

The county was named for Thomas W. Barber, a member of the 1st Regiment, Kansas Volunteers, who was shot and killed by pro-slavery men. Through an error, the name was misspelled as Barbour and that was the official name from the time the county was established in 1867 until 1883 when it was corrected by an act of the legislature.

Barber County was home to Hebron (New Jerusalem) which was a Jewish colony. Russians, Poles, Rumanians and Hungarians were part of this colony. A Christian colony founded the community of Sharon.

Sources

Barber County History Committee. "The Chosen Land: A History of Barber County, Kansas." Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company, 1980.

Isabel

The Isabel Town Company platted the town on September 21, 1887. Some of the buildings included a hardware store, a grocery store, a hotel, a feed mill, and a drug store.

The ethnicity of its settlers is not known.

Sources

Barber County History Committee. "The Chosen Land: A History of Barber County, Kansas." Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company, 1980.

Kiowa

This town was started as a trading post for the buffalo hunter and the Indians in 1874. It was originally located about four miles northwest of the present town site. W. E. Campbell, a trail driver living in Wichita, established a ranch on land that was part of the Cherokee Strip claimed by both Kansas and Oklahoma. The controversy was settled after a treaty in 1866. The lands were put up for sale by the government, and Dr. John Hardtner of Illinois purchased a large portion of the strip in Barber County. Mr. Campbell began ranching the land and purchased some of it in 1884.

After hearing rumors that the railroad was going to build through Old Kiowa, Mr. Campbell went to Topeka to make a deal to have the railroad built through a new town site located on the west end of his ranch, about 5 miles from Old Kiowa. The New Kiowa Town Company was established on August 2, 1884, and it purchased about 5,000 acres from the west end of Mr. Campbell's ranch with the town site called New Kiowa placed on the western most edge.

By August of the next year, there were 1,000 residents, and on August 6, the first train stopped in New Kiowa.

A petition was presented to the District Court asking to change the name of New Kiowa to Kiowa on September 15, 1890. The post office and the railroad already had the names of Kiowa. The judge ordered the name change from New Kiowa to Kiowa.

Carry Nation's first smashed saloon in 1900 was in Kiowa.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Sources

Barber County History Committee. "The Chosen Land: A History of Barber County, Kansas." Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company, 1980.

Sharon

Sharon was founded in April 1879 as a Christian Colony by Reverend A. H. Mulkey with fifty families that were members of the Christian Church. It was named after the fertile valley mentioned in the Bible. The town site was in the northeast part of the present city, then after the railroad was built in 1885, the town was moved to its present site in 1886-87. There was a grocery store, a restaurant and a livery stable in the old town site. A bank was established in 1893.

Country singer Martina McBride was raised on a farm outside of Sharon.

The ethnicity of its settlers is not known.

Sources

Barber County History Committee. "The Chosen Land: A History of Barber County, Kansas." Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company, 1980.

Sun City

George Walker was among the first business people in the area in 1871, and he established a trading post on Turkey Creek with his brother and an Army office as his partners. The honor of the first settler in Barber County goes to Col. Griffin who settled in the location close to the trading post during the winter of 1871-72.

Platted in 1872 and settled the following year, home to the first residents of Sun City were dugouts. The stories about how it got the name of Sun City are that settlers arrived at sunrise, they arrived at sunset, or that it was named for an Indian whose name was "Sun".

Families began arriving in 1873, and they had to deal with Indian raids. A militia was organized in 1874, and a stockade was built a short time later that same year.

By 1885, the town had three livery barns, a bank, two hotels, and three grocery stores. The Denver, Kansas, and Gulf Railroad came to Sun City in 1906, but plans to go on to Dodge City were put aside.

Sun City is located in the Gyp Hills, and the National Gypsum Company has a mine close by the town.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Sources

Barber County History Committee. "The Chosen Land: A History of Barber County, Kansas." Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company, 1980.