History of Norwich
The Old Norwich Fire Bell ·
The local news for June 2, 1905
The City of Norwich was in the area of the Osage
Indian Trust Lands. The townsite was purchased
from William Willhower and James Skillen. Town
lots first sold on July 2nd and 3rd of 1885. The sales
totaled between $7,000.00 and $8,000.00 each day.
Most sales were made on a three payment plan, with
one third cash.
Pioneers arrived daily on foot, horseback and in
wagons and carriages. Soon a stagecoach line was
started, connecting Norwich, Harper and Conway
Springs. Also, P.C. Lear, who had a livery stable,
made a trip by buckboard to Harper twice a
week, rain or shine, to carry money to the bank and
The surrounding farms and ranches, the beauty of
the location and the arrival of the Denver, Memphis
& Atlantic Railroad made it apparent that the site
selected was a good place for a town.
New settlers hastily erected a building and began
business. Bricks were made, but after being fired
they crumbled, probably due to some substance in
Bennett built a structure, which housed the hardware
store. There was a Norwich Hotel, which
burned in 1929; an opera house, which burned in
1923; a bank's second floor was used for publishing
the NORWICH NEWS, and the law office of E.N.
Haag, who was also General Agent and Treasurer of
the Norwich Town Company.
A man by the name of Everitt was a good
carpenter, except when the town "druggists" sold
him too much "joy juice."
The Stage brought a shoemaker. There was no
place for his business. The town erected a small
building for him, because there were many shoes
needing repair. He was called "Shoester." His tall,
straight stature showed the effects of military
training he'd received in Germany.
Early barbers were: DavidWillhower, who gave
it up to become Marshall; Herman Zieten from
Paris; and Ike Hendry from Kingman, who opened
a barber shop in 1887.
The first Post Master was Squire Ferris until Mr.
Carter, who ran a general store, was appointed. The
first Police Judge was Nate Feris in 1888. Mrs. John
Holder was the first school teacher. Frank Miller
opened the first Butcher Shop in 1886. After butchering,
he peddled meat by wagon to the settlers.
Other stores included: grocery, hardware, furniture,
lumber, livery, coal, sash and screen, blacksmith,
boarding house, real estate, wagon maker, drugstore
and shoe manufacturer. There were preachers,
teachers, an oculist, veterinarian and physicians,
Dr. Eugene Wallace being possibly one of the most
noted physicians in the community, having moved
from Belmont in 1928 to Norwich, where he immediately
established a ten bed hospital.
The City of Norwich, incorporated as a third class
city, elected E.N. Haag, the first mayor and George
Willis, probate judge. Street lamps were erected.
The first religious services were held by evangelists
or ministers from neighboring churches in
schoolhouses or other small buildings. The citizens,
desiring a real church, took up a collection, and felt
great pride when Norwich had a church, complete
with a steeple and an organ.
It was noted there was no jail, so money was raised
and a "lock-up" erected. It was made of "2 x 6's",
spiked one on top of the other. It had a door and
window for ventilation.
At its peak, Norwich had about fifteen hundred
persons. Today it's aprogressive town of about five
hundred people, also filling the needs of surrounding
The four churches in town are: Baptist, Christian,
Church of Christ, and United Methodist. There are
new modern spacious grade and high schools in use.
The recreation center was recently remodeled
with money from the City of Norwich and Kingman
Recreation Commission. Recreation Director is
Dave Smith. The Farmers State Bank of Norwich
donated a wide screen TV and video recorder to the
Center. They show movies on Saturday night for the
high school students. Co-ed volleyball, weight training,
men's basketball, elementary basketball, and
women's aerobics are offered during the winter
months. There's a City Park with a ball diamond,
swimming pool and tennis courts. Various types of
softball are offered during the summer. The park is
usually busy with community activities. Senior
citizens meet once a month to enjoy covered dish
luncheons. Beginning May 1984, Friendship Meals
are to be served five days a week.
The Farrar Corporation was founded in the 30's
by E.C. Farrar. It began by installing furnaces and
eventually went into farm repair. In the 40's, it was
one of the biggest blacksmith shops in the area. By
1967 they had started a foundry which represented
half their business in 1972. In 1976 the new foundry
was completed. They're currently employing 80
persons to produce ductile iron castings for equipment
manufacturers throughout the United States.
The grocery store, owned by Cecil Eshnaur for 30
years, was sold to Kent Henson in 1971. Later it was
purchased by Jimmie Poe. Doug Eshnaur, Cecil's
son, purchased the store in 1983 and is currently
Harry Eshnaur started Eshnaur Hardware in
1946. His sons, Lester and Bob, helped operate it. It
was sold to Bob in the late 60's; and again sold to
Don Vavra and later sold to McBee Lumber. In
1979, Gary and Deanna Vavra purchased it and are
currently operating it.
Additional businesses in Norwich include: a
bank, appliance and general merchandise store,
honey shop, barber shop, beauty salon, two restaurants,
a truck stop, grain elevator, jewelry store,
repair shop, book store, and car lot. There's also a
City Hall, postoffice, library, Lodge hall, a solar
house (Methodist parsonage) and Wheatland Manor,
a Senior Citizen complex.
Kingman County, Kansas, And Its People.
(Kingman: Kingman County Historical Society. 1984)
Used by permission
Visit the Home Page for Kansas
A service of the Kansas State Library
© Copyright 2001
John & Susan Howell