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Kansas Heritage: Trego County

Aimed at preserving the heritage of central and western Kansas

Trego County Map 1899

Trego County map

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

Banner

Once a booming town with a school, creamery, blacksmith shop, and other businesses, Banner was founded primarily by Civil War veterans in the late 1870s. Among its first settlers was A. W. Purinton who ran both a store and a post office next to his home (see picture below). Established in 1879, the post office closed in 1918. Today, little remains of the settlement.

The ethnicity of its settlers remains unknown.

Banner 1

Banner 2

“The Banner Community.” Broadsheet at the Trego County Historical Society.

Sources

“The Banner Community.” Broadsheet at the Trego County Historical Society. WaKeeney, KS.

Harvey, Ethel M. “Postal Service in Collyer.” Chap. in History of Collyer, Kansas. n.p. n.d.

Kroeger, Nadine. Interview by author. Trego County Historical Society. WaKeeney, KS. 5 August 2002.

Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Bosna

The heydays of the Bosna district were from the 1880's to the early 1920's. After the post office was established in May of 1880, Frank W. Zeman served as Bosna’s first postmaster. The post office closed in August of 1921.

Settlers around Bosna often met at the schoolhouse and one of the community’s social activities was “box suppers.” Today, only a few farmhouses stand as reminders of the Bosna community.

The ethnicity of its settlers remains unknown.

Source

Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Buckeye

Unfortunately, little information has survived about this community located somewhere south of the Smoky River. Its post office was only open for two months in 1886, from February to April.

The ethnicity of its settlers remains unknown.

 

Sources

Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Collyer

Collyer’s history began in January of 1878 when New York’s Reverend Robert Collyer placed an advertisement in a Chicago newspaper to start a Civil War veterans’ colony. Collyer, the colony’s president, enlisted the help of a Colonel Pratt, who along with John W. Burns, R. G. Kessler, and L. Lebron, traveled west to find suitable land. On March 17, 1878, this committee stepped off the train at Coyote, a small railroad settlement in what became Trego County. Soon, this committee began filing claims for the colony and constructing a colony house where the settlers could live until they moved onto their homesteads and where they could find safety during Indian scares. In all, almost eighty families found shelter and safety under the roof of the colony house.

Because of his substantial support for the colony, including shipping the lumber for the colony house, sending books for a lending library, and sending a wagon and a team of horses for the colonists’ use, the colony was named in honor of Reverend Collyer.

Although the railroad brought settlers to Collyer, it soon moved the settlement. Unfortunately, the colony house was in the railroad’s line. A better water supply was found only one-half mile east so Collyer was moved. Later, a man named Keeney influenced the settlers to move the town again, this time on his land, three-fourths of a mile further east.

The years of 1878 to 1880 brought many settlers to Collyer. Although most came from Illinois, some came from overseas. For example, in 1879 Victor Zadowsky came from Czechoslovakia while Edward, Ned, Pat, and Thomas O’Toole came from Ireland. Unfortunately, as many came to Trego County for better opportunities, they were welcomed by dry weather and other poor growing conditions for their crops. Desperate, some turned back, but others remained and were soon joined by German, Bukovina German, and Volga German settlers. The Volga Germans came to the Collyer area between 1900 and 1915.

Booming, Collyer had a dance hall, a blacksmith shop, a creamery, two mercantile stores, and at least three churches. Its post office was established in May of 1878, several months before the town was officially founded in February of 1879.

Sources

Baker, Mrs. Walter. “History of WaKeeney & Trego County and the Coming of the
William George Baker Family from Aurora, Illinois to WaKeeney, Kansas in 1878.”
Chap. in Local History as Presented to the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Beason, Mildred Cass. “Pioneer Reminiscences of Emery Cass.” Chap in. Local History
as Presented to the Trego County Historical Society. 4th ed. n.p. 1976.

 Carman, Justice Neal. Account of Settlements in Kansas. Vol. 2. Foreign Language Units
of Kansas. Forsyth Library; Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1962. Text-fiche.

Harvey, Ethel M. “The Churches of Collyer.” Chap. in History of Collyer, Kansas. n.p. n.d.

 Facts about Some Collyer Citizens.” Chap. in History of Collyer, Kansas.  n.p. n.d.

 “Facts Concerning Collyer, Trego County, Kansas.” Chap. in History of Collyer, Kansas. n.p. n.d.

“Postal Service in Collyer.” Chap. in History of Collyer, Kansas. n.p. n.d.

Purinton, Mrs. Ray. “History of Collyer, Kansas.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. n.p. 1973.

 Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Coyote

Coyote had its beginnings in 1866 when it served as a terminus for the Union Pacific Railroad. Stopped by the 1867-1868 winter, railroad workers lived in dugouts until the line continued onto Denver. Daily stages traveled from Coyote to Denver and freight was hauled by the wagon loads to the Colorado and New Mexico mining towns.

Arriving in Coyote in 1870, Ben O. Richards oversaw the section house before it was moved to Collyer. Ben and his wife also boarded railroad workers for a weekly rate of $2.50.

A son of Russian Czar Alexander II, Grand Duke Alexis and his hunting expedition escorts, Buffalo Bill Cody, General Phil Sheridan, General George Custer, and Spotted Tail, made Coyote their headquarters. The expedition occurred in 1872.

Although its exact location is unknown, it was west of Collyer and west of WaKeeney 12 ½ miles.
The ethnicity of its settlers remains unknown.

Sources

Beason, Mildred Cass. “Pioneer Reminiscences of Emery Cass.” Chap in. Local History
as Presented to the Trego County Historical Society. 4th ed. n.p. 1976.

Harvey, Ethel M. “Facts Concerning Collyer, Trego County, Kansas.” Chap. in History
of Collyer, Kansas. n.p. n.d.

Purinton, Mrs. Ray. “History of Collyer, Kansas.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. n.p. 1973.

Cyrus

Before the town of Cyrus was moved to Ness County, its post office was established in May of 1880 and remained open until March of 1889.

Cyrus’ location in Trego County and the ethnicity of its settlers remain unknown.

Sources

Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Gibson

Established in December of 1880, the Gibson post office closed in August of 1893. The ethnicity of its settlers remains unknown.

Sources

Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Mendota

Eventually becoming part of Ellis County, the Mendota post office was established in February of 1882. It closed in November of 1909.

The exact location of Mendota and the ethnicity of its settlers remain unknown.

Sources

Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Ogallah

To protect railroad workers vulnerable to Indian attacks, the federal government created Fort Ogallah. Interestingly, the name “Ogallah” has two different origins. Ironically, one origin is Native American; some believe it is an Oglala Sioux word for “big hill.” As the railroad moved west from Ellis, many early locomotives had difficulty scaling the steep incline to Ogallah. This may have prompted the use of the name “Ogallah.” According to Ruth Shearer, some people claim Ogallah’s name originated from a woman who stated, “’O, golly, how far I can see’,” when she stepped off the train.

According to James Randolph Simmons, a descendant of Ogallah settlers, Ogallah’s first location became Park’s Fort, a soldier’s camp. Ogallah was moved further west. Having successfully promoted their settlement at WaKeeney, Warren, Keeney and Company began promoting Ogallah. Its plats were filed in April of 1879.

Union Pacific Railway Plat

In the booming years, Ogallah’s businesses included general stores, grocery stores, grain elevators, a school, a bank, and a creamery. Two business ventures, a race track and a saloon, were short-lived due to the townspeople’s objections. At least three churches served the religious community in Ogallah. Although it was built in 1878, the post office did not open until January of 1879.

Unique among the settlements, Ogallah had a State Forestry Station which the state legislature created in 1887 (pictures). There, west of Ogallah one mile, trees were planted to help settlers obtain timber claims and to help them forest the barren plains. Numerous settlers throughout the state received these trees at no cost. Although dry conditions hurt the tree crop in 1888, over 1.96 million trees were grown the following year. Twenty-five years after its creation, the station closed in 1913.

Kansas State Forestry Station

Lt. Robb

Lt. Robb of the Forestry Station

Most settlers came to Ogallah from Illinois, but others came from Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, New York, and North Carolina. Ancestry of the settlers can be traced to England and Wales, Germany, Holland, Sweden, and Scotland. For example, an early settler, Scottish Joe Tompson ran a boarding house for railroad workers and passengers. Born in Germany, Henry D. and Dora (Heitmann) Hillman were married in Nebraska before they moved to Kansas with their five sons, William, Amiel, Otto, Lewis, and August.

Henry Hillman        Dora Hillman

Ogallah Post Office

Ogallah Post Office - Claud Reeves, Postmaster, Elbert Dean, Ross Blakely - Rural Carriers. Circa 1911-12.

Ogallah (cont.)

Several settlers have Swedish ancestry. Born and married in Sweden, Swan and Sissa Lofstead and their first four children arrived in Trego County in 1881. Six more children were born later. Another Swedish settler, H.L. Olson faced hardship before he moved to the prairies of Trego County. Returning to Sweden to get his family, Olson delayed his trip back to America because of his wife’s illness and death. Remarried to a woman named Bertha, he brought his family first to Assaria, Kansas, in July of 1879 before they homesteaded in 1880. Born in Norway, Sarah Ericson met and married her Swedish husband Swen Pearson in Illinois in 1875. They homesteaded in Trego County but also lived in Ellis, Kansas, because of Swen’s railroad job.

In 1896, the John Saleen family first arrived in Trego County. Upon hearing of a Swedish settlement south of Ogallah, he investigated the community’s religious activities. Anxious to have church services in their native language, Swedish settlers, led by Saleen, first met in 1896. Since they had no church building, they conducted their services and a Sunday school in the Sunny Slope school house. On August 25, 1902, Reverend Carl Waleen laid the cornerstone for the Swedish Evangelical Emmanuel Lutheran Church . The church’s first choir sang “Du Kyrka Po Den Grundvald Bygd” for its dedication. Construction continued until 1904. Services were conducted in the Swedish language until 1920. Services were then conducted in English for at least two reasons: settlers encouraged their children’s use of English and the new members of the church only spoke English. Still, the church kept its nickname, “The Swede Church on the Hill.” 

Swedish Evangelical Emmanuel Lutheran Church  

Swedish Evangelical Emmanuel Lutheran Church

Cornerstone laying

Sources

 *James Randolph Simmons, compiler, Wagon Trails to Contrails: A Centennial History of Ogallah, Kansas, April 18th, 1879-April 28th, 1979 (n.p. n.d.), 21.

+Sadie Yetter Simmons, “History of Ogallah, Kansas,” chap. in Local History as Presented to the Trego County Historical Society (n.p. 1973), 7-8.


Custer, Sr., Mrs. R. E.“Early Days in Trego County and WaKeeney.” Chap. in Local
History as Presented to the Trego County Historical Society. 7th ed. n.p. 1979.


Harvey, Amanda. “Emmanuel Lutheran Church.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 4th ed. 1976.


“The Henry D. Hillman Family.” Chap. Local History as Presented to the Trego County
Historical Society. 5th ed. n.p. 1977.


Kroeger, Nadine. Interview by author. Trego County Historical Society. WaKeeney, KS.
5 August 2002.


“Lofstead.” In In Remembrance: Early Pioneer Settlers of Ogallah and Community
1877-1881, compilers Harriet Ridgway Clark and Norah Yetter Tawney. n.p. 1938.


“Olson.” In In Remembrance: Early Pioneer Settlers of Ogallah and Community
1877-1881, compilers Harriet Ridgway Clark and Norah Yetter Tawney. n.p. 1938.


“Pearson.” In In Remembrance: Early Pioneer Settlers of Ogallah and Community
1877-1881, compilers Harriet Ridgway Clark and Norah Yetter Tawney. n.p. 1938.


Rhoden, Brad. “History of Trego County 1879-1971.” Western Kansas World, 19 April
1971.


Shaw, Mrs. Fred D. “Trego County State Forestry Station 1887-1913.” Chap. in Local
History as Presented to the Trego County Historical Society. 3d ed. n.p. 1975.


Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.


Simmons, James Randolph, compiler. Wagon Trails to Contrails: A Centennial History of
Ogallah, Kansas, April 18th, 1879-April 28th, 1979. n.p. n.d.


Simmons, Sadie Yetter. “History of Ogallah, Kansas.” Chap. in Local History as
Presented to the Trego County Historical Society. n.p. 1973.


“The Yetter Family.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to the Trego County
Historical Society. 8th ed. n.p. 1980-1981.


“Yetter.” In In Remembrance: Early Pioneer Settlers of Ogallah and Community
1877-1881, compilers Harriet Ridgway Clark and Norah Yetter Tawney. n.p. 1938.

The picture of the Swedish church is courtesy of the Trego County Historical Society.

Swedish church membership list:

"Our Golden Anniversary, 1900-1950." Program. Trego County Historical Society, WaKeeney, KS. 

Ogallah (Yetter Family)

Early settlers and Dutch descendants, the Christopher Christian “C. C.” and Elizabeth (Kief) Yetter family became prominent in Ogallah. A Civil War lieutenant who was commissioned on Colonel Benjamin Harrison’s recommendation, C. C. homesteaded in 1878. In April of 1879, his wife and three children, Bereniece, Norah and Culver joined him. Son Judd was born later.

C. C. YetterElizabeth YetterC. C. and Elizabeth Yetter

Yetter boysCulver Dennis and Judd Hill Yetter - Brothers

Yetter girlsBerenice and Norah - Sisters

The Yetters were active in their community. They ran a boarding house in their second home, the “Yetter House,” where those interested paid twenty-five cents for a meal and fifty cents for a room. A stockman and farmer, C. C. served as the postmaster for a few months, from December 1880 until February 1881. He was also a justice of the peace and a township treasurer. The first woman in the town, Elizabeth served as the town’s first school teacher.

Daughter Bereniece married Charles Henry Benson. She served as Ogallah’s postmistress from November 1891 to August 1894. Following in her mother’s footsteps, she taught at the Willcox school. The youngest of C. C. and Elizabeth Yetter’s children, Judd Hill first worked for Capper publications. Having lost his first wife, Lula Housel, in childbirth, he married Elizabeth Bartlett. The couple had four sons, Eugene who died from meningitis, Robert, Keith, and Warren. Judd moved his family to California where he worked and eventually owned a farm newspaper, the California Cultivator. 

Norah Yetter married William Albert Tawney who served as the Ogallah postmaster and owned a mercantile.  Like her parents, Norah was a pioneer. She became the Union Pacific station agent. Another female depot agent, Blanche Brown trained Norah in telegraphy. 

Yetter House Yetter House

Elizabeth teacher report Elizabeth Yetter's Teacher's Report

Wedding Norah and William Wedding picture of Norah Yetter and William Albert Tawney

Norah Instructor

Norah served as the agent from 1888 until 1901 when the depot was either repaired or rebuilt. When the depot reopened in 1902, she again served as the agent and continued until 1932. Great-nephew James Randolph Simmons stated:

At the time of her retirement, Mrs. [Norah] Tawney had worked for the Union Pacific Railroad for 47 years, having taken her first station when she was seventeen years of age. This was a most unusual type of work for a young woman in that day and age. She had, however, learned telegraphy . . . with the consent and encouragement of her parents. There was not a black mark on her record in all the 47 years, which the railroad acknowledged at her retirement.*

Norah’s brother Culver “C.D.” Yetter met his wife Mary McEwen when he was working as the station agent in Lucas, Kansas. Moving back to Ogallah, C. D. served as a Notary Public in the area and also managed the Ross and Waldo grain elevator (picture). In 1912, he began working in the office of Kansas Secretary of State J. T. Botkin. After C. D. retired, he and Mary moved back to Ogallah. Retirement did not slow him down as he was elected as the state representative for the 99th District, Trego County in 1942. He served as a representative until his death in 1947. 

C. D. YetterMary Yetter C. D. and Mary Yetter

Sadie Yetter Sadie Yetter (daughter of C. D. and Mary)

C. D.’s and Mary’s only surviving child, a daughter named Sadie fondly remembered her childhood:  “My own personal recollections of Ogallah would begin about 1903. I remember running barefoot along the road, squishing between my toes the dust as fine as talcum powder, keeping a watchful eye out for snakes, as I ran to my Uncle Albert Tawney’s general store. . . . My arrival usually produced a handout of candy. This was a stop on the way across the tracks to the depot, where my Aunt Norah Tawney held sway. What marvelous delights it held for a child; the clicking [telegraph] instruments, the big levers to change the semaphore signals, the big bound canvas books with yellow tissue on which the records were impressed. . . . Then when the freight trains came in, there were seals to be broken, packages of all shapes and sizes taken out and then the cars resealed. The seals were numbered and strung on a round wire and sometimes I was allowed to carry the seals. This was a great thrill. I would then run over to the elevator, which my father C. D. Yetter, operated. . . . In harvest time the big teams would pull the wagons filled with wheat onto the scales, and father would take the little brass bucket with the scale attached to measure the [bushel age] weight. Then the wheat load would be weighed on the big scale, the horses driven into the elevator, the pit door opened, and the wagon tipped back. Thus, the golden grain was dumped and the empty wagon returned to the scale for weighing. What city child ever had the privilege of seeing these things. Later when I was given my [Shetland] pony, I used to ride him over to Uncle Bob Samuel’s store across the tracks. Uncle Bob, who had been a cowboy and always dressed that way, insisted that I ride the pony into the store, where both the pony and I had a candy treat. . . .

Uncle Bob's General Store Uncle Bob's General Store

Homesteading in Trego County

Named in honor of Civil War Captain Edgar Poe Trego, who was killed at Chickamauga, Tennessee, while trying to recover his wounded comrades, Trego County was first surveyed in 1867. Although he was a Pennsylvania native, Captain Trego enlisted for service in Illinois. Eventually his unit was attached to a Kansas unit, the 8th Kansas Volunteer Infantry.

Captain Trego

Trego County was sparsely populated before the introduction of Union Pacific Railroad lines in the 1860's. Primarily obtaining homesteads through veterans’ claims and timber claims, most settlers came by railroad or covered wagons. Although most came from the East, from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, New York, Vermont, and North Carolina, some came from Nebraska. Few came directly from overseas.

Still, the ancestry of Trego County settlers can be traced to England and Wales, Scotland, Sweden, Ireland, Holland, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Bukovina and Czechoslovakia. Germans who had lived in the Volga region of Russia and immigrated to America also settled in Trego County.

Organized on June 21, 1879, Trego County was originally part of Ellis County.

Tricia North wrote the history of Trego County with assistance and expertise from Nadine Kroeger

Sources

Sources

Baker, Mrs. Walter. “History of WaKeeney & Trego County and the Coming of the
William George Baker Family from Aurora, Illinois to WaKeeney, Kansas in 1878.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Harvey, Ethel M. “The Churches of Collyer.” Chap. in History of Collyer, Kansas. n.p. n.d.

“Facts Concerning Collyer, Trego County, Kansas.” Chap. in History of
Collyer, Kansas. n.p. n.d.

Karst, Martha Deines. “The Deines Family.” Chap in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 7th ed. n.p. 1979.

Kroeger, Nadine. Interview by author. Trego County Historical Society. WaKeeney, KS.
5 August 2002.

Kroeger, Nadine. Telephone Interview by author. 15 March 2002.

Millard, Cathy, compiler. “100 Year Files of the Western Kansas World.” Western
Kansas World, 12 December 1991.

“Park’s Fort.” Dwayne Scott. Exhibit at the Trego County Historical Society. WaKeeney, KS.

Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Simmons, Sadie Yetter. “History of Ogallah, Kansas.” Chap. in Local History as
Presented to the Trego County Historical Society. n.p. 1973.

“The Yetter Family.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to the Trego County
Historical Society. 8th ed. n.p. 1980-1981.

Whisler, Robert. “The Wissler Family Record.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 9th ed. n.p. 1985.

Park's Fort

Established as a fort to protect railroad workers from Indian attacks, Park’s Fort was named after Thomas Parks who was killed by Indians on June 18, 1867. Although no buildings existed at this tent encampment, the Union Pacific Railroad did establish a pumping station there.
The fort was east of WaKeeney two miles.

Established in 1871, the post office closed in 1872, only to be reopened in May of 1874. Moving to Trego, it closed a few months later in November of that year.

The ethnicity of those at Park’s Fort remains unknown.

Sources

Baker, Mrs. Walter. “History of WaKeeney & Trego County and the Coming of the
William George Baker Family from Aurora, Illinois to WaKeeney, Kansas in 1878.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Kroeger, Nadine. Interview by author. Forsyth Library. Hays, KS. 6 September 2002.

“Park’s Fort.” Dwayne Scott. Exhibit at the Trego County Historical Society. WaKeeney,
KS.

Purinton, Mrs. Ray. “History of Collyer, Kansas.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. n.p. 1973.

Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Schreader

Established in October of 1878, the Schreader post office closed three years later. The ethnicity of its settlers remains unknown.

Sources

Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Smytheville

Although its exact location is unknown, Smytheville was near Ogallah. Established in March of 1879, its post office closed a few months later, in September.

The ethnicity of its settlers remains unknown.

Sources

Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Stockrange

The Stockrange post office opened in February of 1900. It closed eight years later.

The ethnicity of its settlers remains unknown.

Sources

Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Trego

Trego was more a stopping point for the railroad than a settlement since it only had a tank, well, and windmill. A post office was established in November of 1874 but it was moved to WaKeeney in February of 1878. After the WaKeeney post office closed in April of 1879, Trego’s post office reopened, only to be closed again four years later. Reopening in March of 1900, it closed a final time in December of that year.

According to Ruth Shearer, Trego was west of WaKeeney one mile.

The ethnicity of its settlers remains unknown.

Sources

Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Trego Center

Germans first arrived in the area in 1882 but years passed before Trego Center became a settlement in 1904.

Beginning in 1905, many Volga Germans from Russell County began acquiring land around Trego Center.

According to Nadine Kroeger, this settlement was south of WaKeeney.

Sources

Carman, Justice Neal. Account of Settlements in Kansas.

Vol. 2. Foreign Language Units of Kansas. Forsyth Library; Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1962. Text-fiche.

Kroeger, Nadine. Interview by author. Trego County Historical Society. WaKeeney, KS.
5 August 2002.

Trego Station

In the west side of present day WaKeeney, Trego Station was created by the railroad. It consisted of two section houses for railroad workers. When the railroad moved west, non-railroad workers moved into the section houses. A water tank remained for railroad purposes.

The ethnicity of its settlers remains unknown.

Sources 

Kroeger, Nadine. Interview by author. Forsyth Library. Hays, KS. 6 September 2002.

Tregola

Although it was surveyed, blocked, and platted, Tregola had few settlers. The primary occupants, soldiers found safety from the Indians in the all-rock buildings. Lumber was not used in any of the buildings.

After the post office was established in October of 1891, Claus Schermann served as the postmaster. The post office closed in June of 1893.

Today, nothing remains of Tregola, and the ethnicity of its settlers remains unknown.

Sources

Kroeger, Nadine. Interview by author. Trego County Historical Society. WaKeeney, KS.
5 August 2002.

Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Valley

Little is known about Valley other than it was located one mile south and four miles west of Stockrange. Its post office was established in June of 1907 and John W. Rauch served as the postmaster. The post office closed in January of 1917.

The ethnicity of its settlers remains unknown.

 Sources

 Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

 

Voda

At its beginning, Voda was a Union Pacific switch station called “Colona.” As a settlement developed in the early 1900's, its name became “Voda,” the Czech word for “water.” The settlement grew to include a school, a blacksmith shop, a general store, and two grain elevators. Local Czech settlers built the Voda Hall where dances and meetings were held.

Voda Hall Courtesy of the Trego County Historical Society

Names of people

Voda Picture with Names courtesy of the Trego County Historical Society

Almost as quickly as the settlement grew, its population declined. After a previous opening and closing in 1904 and 1907 respectively, the post office reopened in 1912. It closed a final time in December of 1913. Although people still live in the Voda area, most businesses have been abandoned.

Kristof Post Office

Located in George and Ann Kristof’s home in Colona (what became Voda), the Kristof post office was established in January of 1904. It became the Voda Post Office when it was moved two months later.
Although the ethnicity of many of its settlers remains unknown, Postmaster Frank Bordowsky eventually moved to Czechoslovakia.

The exact location of the post office remains unknown.


 Sources

Harvey, Ethel M. “Postal Service in Collyer.” Chap. in History of Collyer, Kansas. n.p. n.d.

“John C. Fremont was First White Man to Cross Trego County. First Settlers along the
East Line – Organized in 1879.” Western Kansas World, 7 March 1929.

Kroeger, Nadine. Interview by author. Trego County Historical Society. WaKeeney, KS.
5 August 2002.

Telephone Interview by author. 15 March 2002.

Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Source for the Kristof Post Office

Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

WaKeeney

Franklin Street

Brad Rhoden, “History of Trego County 1879-1971,” Western Kansas World, 19 April 1971.  

(Today Franklin Street is Main Street and the Commercial House, pictured above, sets where Dietz's IGA is located. On March 4, 1893 the row of 13 frame buildings extending from the Commercial House on the south to the First National Bank were destroyed by fire.) 

Like Collyer, WaKeeney began with an advertisement, a railroad advertisement that James F. Kenney of Chicago noticed. In 1877 he purchased some of this railroad land, and another speculator, Albert E. Warren, joined Keeney to found Warren, Kenney, and Company. Soon, these two men, along with others who sought business opportunities, James’ brothers John Keeney and Charles Keeney as well as George Barrel, Thomas Peck, W. S. Harrison, C.W.F. Street, and F. O. Ellsworth, traveled west to found a colony. Contracting their names, Warren and Keeney had their colony, WaKeeney, surveyed and plotted in 1878.

Ellen KeeneyJohn Keeney Ellen and John Keeney

Keeney House

Mrs. Albert WarrenAlbert WarrenMr. and Mrs. Albert Warren

Warren house The Warren house

To attract settlers to their colony, Warren, Keeney, and Company turned to advertisements and celebrations. Hoping to draw people to their colony, Keeney and Warren organized a grand July 4th celebration. Singers and organ music entertained the large crowd. Invited, Governor John P. St. John spoke before the potential settlers. In 1880, WaKeeney was incorporated into a city by Judge John H. Prescott.

Sale Ad for land

Among the settlers to WaKeeney were those of English descent. G. B. Baker moved his family from Illinois to WaKeeney in 1878. Settled, he turned to a profession he had when he lived in England, a butcher. Having run a successful meat market and having gained the public’s trust, he was elected WaKeeney’s sheriff. In 1884 he became a U.S. Deputy Marshall.

Although crop failures forced some settlers to leave in 1879 and 1880, others soon took their places. Volga Germans moved into the area. On October 31, 1897, those who settled west and north of WaKeeney founded the Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Those who settled south of WaKeeney founded the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1905.

During its boom, WaKeeney area businesses included four hotels, four mercantile stores, two banks, two newspapers, an Opera House, and at least six churches. According to William G. Cutler, WaKeeney was a settlement of activity:

Never did people flock to a place as they did to Wakeeney [a former spelling of WaKeeney]. Merchants by the score, professional men by the dozen, mechanics and tradesmen by the hundred, and speculators by the [hordes], all rushed to Wakeeney as though it was a new [El Dorado]. About one hundred carpenters were kept busy night and day, and yet houses could not go up fast enough to accommodate the people. Buildings would be occupied long before they were finished, and although they sprung up as if by magic, “[More] houses” was still the cry. The immense crops of that year added to the rush, and during the fall of 1878 and spring of 1879, Wakeeney was literally jammed with people.*

Sources

*William G. Cutler, “Trego County,” chap. in History of the State of Kansas (Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1883; repr., Atchison: Atchison County Historical Society, 1976), vol. 2, 1927.

Custer, Sr., Mrs. R.E. “Early Days in Trego County and WaKeeney.” Chap. in Local
History as Presented to the Trego County Historical Society. 7th ed. n.p. 1979.

Cutler, William G. “Trego County.” Chap. in History of the State of Kansas Vol. 2. Chicago: A.T. Andreas, 1883. Repr. Atchison: Atchison County Historical Society, 1976.

Favinger, Lynne. “Early History of WaKeeney.” Chap. in Local History as
Presented to the Trego County Historical Society. n.p. 1973.

Heckman, Robert Wilson. “Robert Coulter Wilson.” Chap. in Local History as Presented
to the Trego County Historical Society. 7th ed. n.p. 1979.

Kroeger, Nadine. Interview by author. Trego County Historical Society. WaKeeney, KS. 5 August 2002.

Rhoden, Brad. “History of Trego County 1879-1971.” Western Kansas World, 19 April 1971.

“Warren, Keeney & Co’s Lands in Trego County, Kansas.” Advertisement. Reprint. Hays
Daily News, 25 April 1990.

Photographs
Courtesy of the Trego County Historical Society

  Advertisement for WaKeeney
“Warren, Keeney & Co’s Lands in Trego County, Kansas,” advertisement, reprint, Hays Daily News, 25 April 1990.

Wilcox

A school and post office were named after William K. Willcox, a local landowner. Opened in April of 1879, the post office may have been located in Mr. Willcox's home. Mr. Willcox did not serve as postmaster.

In May of 1896, the post office closed. Anna Kristof Brown, Bereniece Yetter, Carrie Mummert Kline, Walter Swiggett, Hattie Kirby, Ollie Musgrave, Wilma Bell, and A. S. Peacock served as teachers in the school. 

According to Ruth Shearer, a small community still exists at Willcox. The ethnicity of its settlers remains unknown.

Willcox School

Mrs. Charles Surprise, "History of Wilcox [six] School," chap. in Local History as Presented to the Trego County Historical Society, 2d ed. (n.p. 1974): 17.

Sources

Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Surprise, Mrs. Charles. “History of Wilcox [sic] School.” Chap in Local History as Presented to the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.