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Kansas Heritage: Comanche County

Aimed at preserving the heritage of central and western Kansas

Comanche County Map 1899

Comanche County map

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

Avilla

The 1890 census does indicate a German settlement in the town of Avilla. Avilla was located south of Coldwater and ceased to exist as a town in the 1890s.

Sources

Information from Ellen Selzer, Library Director, Coldwater-Wilmore Regional Library.

Coldwater

Coldwater was established in 1884. A group of men from Harper County set out to establish a county seat centrally located in Comanche County. When they found the perfect destination they came in contact with a man named Mr. C. D. Bickford who was already figuring on setting up his own township in this location. They agreed to let him name the town if he would give up his own township project. Being from Coldwater, Michigan, he decided upon the name of Coldwater.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Main Street

Main Street in Coldwater in the 1920's

Coldwater bakery Coldwater Bakery in 1925

Helton Store Helton Store

Sinclair Gas Station Sinclair Gas Station

Sources

Life As It Should Be: Comanche County, Kansas. Coldwater: Comanche County Economic Development Foundation, 1999.

Comanche County Historical Society, ed. Comanche County History. Dallas: Taylor Publishing, 1981.

Contact Us

Comanche County Historical Museum
105 W. Main
Coldwater, KS 67029
(620) 582-2108

Coldwater-Wilmore Regional Library
221 E. Main
Coldwater, KS 67029
(620) 582-2333

Homesteading in Comanche County

Comanche County was first started in 1873. The county was started fraudulently by a group of men wishing to obtain money from the government. These men used several officials and an old hotel registry to obtain money for schools, bridges, and a courthouse. The county was first politically represented in 1874, but it was a county with no residents.

The first real residents of the region were Indians of the Comanche, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Plains Apache Indians. They camped along the streams and hunted bison on the prairie. The southern part of Comanche County was once Indian Territory. In 1878 the Cheyenne left their reservation in Oklahoma and made their way to Kansas toward what they still considered their homeland: Comanche County.

In the late 1800's the county began to thrive and was once populated with over twenty townships and post offices. Coldwater was established as the county seat in 1885. All that remains today of this agricultural community is the towns of Coldwater, Protection, Wilmore, a local church, and a few houses of the once populated town of Buttermilk.

Gilead was a settlement founded by Rumanian Jews who came to the area in 1886. German settlers founded a town called Avilla before 1890, but it did not last. 

Sources

Life As It Should Be: Comanche County, Kansas. Coldwater: Comanche County Economic Development Foundation, 1999.

Comanche County Historical Society, ed. Comanche County History. Dallas: Taylor Publishing, 1981.

Gilead

After the Jewish colony of Hebron in Barber County had experienced a nice growth during its first two years, the Montefiore Agricultural Aid Society set up a nearby colony which was named Gilead. Founded in March 1886, Gilead was a colony of Rumanian Jews. About a dozen families settled in a spot about 3 miles south of Evansville.

However, a ten-year period of drought began in 1887, and there were also some severe winters. By 1891, there were no settlers left from the Gilead colony.

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.