Transcribed from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar.

Wichita, the second largest city in Kansas, is the judicial seat of Sedgwick county, in the southern part of the state. It is located 230 miles from Kansas City on the Arkansas river, and is one of the most mportant railway centers in Kansas, having direct connections with almost every city west of the Mississippi. Five roads—the Missouri Pacific, Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific. St. Louis & San Francisco, and the Kansas City, Mexico & Orient—radiate from this point, and three new roads are in prospect. An interurban line, connecting Wichita with Wellington, Hutchinson and other points, is in the course of construction. The Kansas City, Mexico & Orient, which has lately placed Wichita in position to handle vast shipments from the southwest, is building workshops at this point which, when in operation, will add a new colony to the already cosmopolitan population. New elevated tracks and a union depot are under construction. There is an average of 110 freight and passenger trains per day. The value of the city's manufactured products for the year 1909 was $9,000,000. Among the important manufacturing concerns are 5 flour mills with a daily capacity of 4,100 barrels, a broom factory with a daily capacity of 2,000 dozen, 2 packing plants with an annual production of 60,000,000 pounds, 4 alfalfa mills, 3 overall factories, 6 planing mills using more than 12,000 cars of lumber annually, and 6 foundries. There are in all 230 different manufacturing concerns in the city, and 138 wholesale houses, shipping over 50,000 cars of the finished product to its tributary territory. The wholesale and jobbing interests are represented by 500 traveling men who live in the city, and the volume of business in 1909 was $30,000,000.

Main Building, Fairmount College


The area of Wichita is about 20 square miles, with 30 miles of paving, 35 miles of street railway, 6 miles of water mains, 75 miles of sewer, 11 public parks, 100 miles of natural gas mains, 6,500 telephones in use, 16 publishing houses, 2 daily newspapers (the Beacon and the Eagle), 20 public school buildings, 3 Catholic academies, 2 business colleges, an art school, 2 music conservatories, 2 colleges ranking with the best in the state—Fairmount College and Friends' University—11 banks, good hotels, etc. The amount spent for building in 1910 was $6,000,000. There are a number of large office buildings and department stores, 6 sanitariums, 10 theaters, one of the finest Masonic buildings in the country, costing $250,000, a Masonic home and grounds worth a similar amount, a $150,000 Federal building, and a city hall which cost about the same, a chamber of commerce, a commercial club, a fair association which holds one of the largest fairs in the state, a Commercial League, 2 country clubs, owning fine buildings, all of which are busy promoting the development and best interests of the town. The women's clubs, of which there are four, have memberships of several hundred each and large, well furnished club rooms.

The history of the city begins with the establishment of a trading post at that point in 1863 by J. R. Mead. The Wichita Indians were then occupying the land and the town was named for that tribe. The word means "Scattered Lodges," and for a long time the little town lived up to its appellation. As early as 1860 William Mathewson, the original Buffalo Bill, freighted through Wichita, and in 1869 settled on a claim near the town site. On July 9, 1868, a military postoffice was established with Col. Barr, who was in command of the militia stationed there, as postmaster. Shortly afterward a civil postoffice was established with Milo B. Kellogg, manager of Durfee's ranch, as postmaster. About the same time the Wichita town company was organized by Gov. S. J. Crawford, W. W. H. Lawrence, J. R. Mead, E. P. Bancroft, A. F. Horner and I. S. Munger. A survey of the site was made by Mr. Finn. William Greiffenstein bought Moore's place, now comprising a part of the city, and for a long time there was a rivalry between the two sites. In 1870 Mr. Munger opened a hotel and the Wichita Vidette was started by F. A. Sowers. Before the railroad was completed there was bitter rivalry between Wichita and Park City, which stood 14 miles to the northwest on the Arkansas. An attempt was made to divert the cattle trade to the Park City route, and for a long time it seemed that this might be successful. However, Wichita succeeded in securing the county seat and in May, 1872, the railroad reached this point and settled the rivalry. By that time quite a city had grown up, handling the vast cattle trade of the southwest and having all the undesirable conditions connected with a rapidly growing frontier town.

In 1871 Wichita was incorporated as a city of the third class. At the election 156 votes were polled and the following officers were elected: Mayor, E. B. Allen; attorney, D. C. Hackett; police judge, H. E. Vantrees; clerk, O. W. Brownwell; treasurer, N. A. English; marshal, M. Meagher; councilmen, W. B. Hutchinson, S. C. Johnson, C. Schattner, George Schlichter, A. H. Fabrique and George Vantillburg. The next year, having sufficient population, the form of government was changed to that of a city of the second class. In March, 1872, the United States land office was moved here from Augusta, Butler county. The first school was held in an army dugout in the winter of 1869-70. A $5,000 school house was built in 1871. The Wichita Eagle and the Wichita Beacon were both founded in 1872, and have since been among the leading newspapers of the state. The first financial institution was the Arkansas Valley bank, started in 1870 by W. C. Woodman. Although the cattle driving business closed in 1875 the growth of Wichita kept on as rapidly as before. In 1880 a board of trade was organized with $20,000 capital, the waterworks were installed in 1882 and the street railway the next year. Improvements of all kinds went on very rapidly, new additions were laid out, lots were sold and houses built miles from the business section of the city. In 1888, on the occasion of the auction sale of the lots in a new addition, the Wichita Eagle wrote an editorial calling a halt on speculation and telling the people that the time had come to quit buying and selling at inflated values. With that the boom was over, the lots were turned back to cow pastures and cornfields and the city paid for the boom with fifteen years of comparative depression.

The Coronado club, which later became the Wichita commercial club, was organized in 1897. The chamber of commerce was organized in 1901. The growth of the city in the last ten years has been wholesome as well as remarkable. The population in 1900 was 24,671, and in 1910 it was 52,450, an increase of more than 100 per cent. The postoffice receipts of 1900 were $73,934, against $232,326 in 1910, and the bank deposits show a tenfold increase. The building permits for 1910 were three times those of 1908. Among the buildings erected in 1910 was the Beason building, which at the time was the tallest "skyscraper" in Kansas. It is ten stories high, cost $380,000, and accommodates 1,000 people. The public and private improvements for 1910 cost $7,000,000. Seven of the eleven banks have been organized since 1902. The value of city property and improvements is more than $3,000,000.

Pages 911-914 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.