History of Calista
Calista was a thriving little town about the turn of
the century. So the story goes, there was a young
lady by the name of Calista Bennett who lived in the
area, when Calista began to be a town, and so the
town was named for her.
Calista's first location was about one mile west of
the present site on the Santa Fe Railroad. Several
passenger trains and freight trains passed through
every day bringing merchandise for the Calista
Grain & Mercantile Co., the hardware store,
lumber yard, blacksmith shop and mail for the local
The general store, which was a part of the Calista
Grain and Mercantile Co., was a two story building.
The top floor was the entertainment center for the
little town. There were boxing matches, wrestling
matches, dances and box suppers. In the summer,
there was usually a rodeo complete with a carnival.
Families brought their picnic baskets and made a
day of it. Sunday afternoon was time for the baseball
games, weather permitting. After the game, the
general store opened, so that everyone could buy ice
cream that had been brought in special on the train.
John Arrington was the owner of the lumber yard,
and J.R. Harper managed the yard for Arrington.
B.F. DeWeese was one of the first postmasters. P.H.
McKenna managed the grain elevator, which was a
part of the Calista Grain and Mercantile Co. The
Santa Fe Depot was on the main street of the town
for many years. About 1910, it was moved 1/4 mile
west of the town. The depot agent at the time was
Harry C. Snyder, Sr.
Calista was surrounded by some very large ranches,
among them: Arrington's Ranch, Callahan's
Ranch and the Seer's Ranch. The ranches fared
very well for a good many years, and the railroad
played a great part in their survival. The railroad
built a stockyard to handle the cattle for shipping
and receiving. Some of the more beautiful homes
were built by the prosperous ranchers. The Arringtons
built a very sturdy two story house. Sears home
was a sprawling house, that was built for entertaining
As transportation became more accessible, the
little town began to lose its businesses and soon
became a memory, as so many little towns have
done. Calista had its happy times, its sad times and
its mysteries. Who was the man that was shot by the
sheriff, because he was thought to be a bootlegger?
Who was the person who bandaged his wounds after
he managed to escape from the sheriff? Why the
murder of two of the town's citizens for $2.00?
However, the guilty ones didn't know that tucked in
the corner of one of the billfolds was a crisp new
Kingman County, Kansas, And Its People.
(Kingman: Kingman County Historical Society. 1984)
Used by permission
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