1904 History of Cherokee County Kansas


CHAPTER XV.


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THE HISTORY OF MINERAL CITY, WEIR CITY, SCAMMON AND LIST OF THE TOWNS OF THE COUNTY

MINERAL CITY.

The land on which Mineral City now stands was formerly owned by Leslie Patterson. He filed a claim on the southeast quarter of section 6, township 32 range 23, in 1866, being among the very first settlers of Cherokee County. His brother, Johnson Patterson, laid claim to the quarter section just south of the one above described. The brothers came to Kansas at the same time, from Mercer County, Illinois. There were times when they were much discouraged. Droughts, hot winds, floods, grasshoppers and chinch-bugs, with only an occasional good crop, were enough to drive out people of less courage. Even after living on his land nearly 30 years, and after having been led to believe that there was a good stratum of fine coal underlying it, Johnson Patterson sold his land for a mere trifle when compared with the natural riches which his title covered. He sold his quarter section to The Southwestern Development Company, for $4,000. The royalty on the coal underlying it, at seven cents a ton, would amount to $300 an acre, or $48,000 for the quarter section.

The beginning of the movement for the development of the coal land in the district now known as the Mineral City district, and which led, as a result to the building of a town or city, began about 10 years ago, when a branch of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway was built from Parsons, Kansas, to a point near the northeast corner of Johnson Patterson's farm. The road was built through and under the management of The Southwestern Development Company, the purpose being to secure shipping facilities for the coal which the company designed taking out. The company had bought 2,200 acres of coal land, and operations for the taking out of the coal began as soon as the road was finished. It was evident that something was going to be done, and that on a large scale. Workmen were employed in building houses for the miners on the company's land tradespeople established places of business and there was a tacit understanding that a town would be built.

The plat of the original town-site of Mineral City was filed April 16, 1895. The site contained 126 lots 25 feet by 140 feet, and 42 lots 50 feet by 140 feet, and it was laid off in the southeast corner of Leslie Patterson's farm. Another plat, additional to the original and containing 66 lots, has been laid off since then just west of the original plat. The growth of the place was at first slow, and there seemed an uncertainty as to whether there would ever be much of a town. The company which built the railroad, having no purpose other than the mining of coal, was not solicitous as to the building up of a trading place. The company had then, and yet has, a store of its own, from which the miners may get their supplies, of all kinds. It was not particularly to the interest of the company to have a town of any size spring up; but the tendency could not not[sic] be suppressed. At first there was a rivalry for first place, and there was a lively contention over the post office. The company's houses were grouped on a tract o f land one mile east of the surveyed land platted town of Mineral City, and the company, after the contention had gone on for some time, secured the establishment of the post office at the east settlement and the Post Office Department gave it the name of Mineral. Afterward an office was allowed at the west settlement, and the name "West Mineral" was given it. The company has never platted any of its land into lots for sale. Those who made up the inhabitants of the east settlement live on the company's land. This condition has made it favorable for the building up of the west settlement, as the people there may buy lots and build permanent homes and enjoy their ownership. Nearly every lot in the original plat is occupied, either by homes or by business houses. Besides this there are many houses in the first addition and a number in a second addition, which has been lately surveyed. The second addition is just north of the original plat. It will be occupied exclusively by residences, some of the best in the town being in course of construction at this time. There is a confidence in the minds of the people, that Mineral will become more than an ordinary trading center for the immediate country about it. The business which the extensive operations now going on have already brought about, with the belief that these operations will be vastly enlarged, as the demand for fuel increases inspires the hope that the place will become a city of the second class. It was organized as a city of the third class in 1901, and since that time much material progress has been made. J. E. Wheatley was the first mayor of the city. He has lived in the place since the first settlement, and he has been earnest and active, with others, in directing its course along safe and conservative lines. N. L. Raymond is the present mayor.

Mineral City is surrounded by as fine a farming community as can be found anywhere in Cherokee County. From the top of a coal shaft building on Leslie Patterson's land, just outside the city, on the north, the view is grand in every direction. That toward the northwest is particularly magnificent. A slight depression scarcely so low as to be called a valley, stretches away as far as the eye can see, while toward the north and toward the west there are other views which can scarcely be surpassed. In fact, look where one may, the view is beautiful almost to the extent of being enchanting, and one's interest in the scene is deepened through the reflection that beneath the surface of the gently undulating country, which stretches away to the horizon in every direction, there lies the quiet stores of Nature's own provision, now just beginning to be disturbed after a rest of hundreds of thousands of years. This magnificent farming country, becoming the better as the years go on, and more reliable because failures come less frequently, is tributary to the town, and there is springing up a feeling of mutual dependence, as well as a spirit of cooperation. Mineral City is getting a large portion of the trade which formerly went elsewhere. The merchants are supplying the wants of the people, and there is a brisk, constant trade in the business streets of the young city. As a city, it is only three years old and yet there are mercantile houses in every line required for supplying the demands of the people. There are two immense stocks of lumber, large dry goods and clothing houses, a number of grocery houses, besides hardware and furniture houses. It has a bank, which is doing a good business, and there is every indication that the various lines of business there will soon be enlarged. There is one large school house, with four rooms, and there are two church houses, and more will be built, as the social and religious conditions may require. At present, the Catholic Church, which has a house of worship in East Mineral, and a resident priest, has, perhaps, the largest number of members. The Methodists and the United Brethren come next, in the order given. The Catholics have a parochial school in East Mineral . A large portion of the population of Mineral is made up of foreign-born people, and they are noted for industry and habits of economy. Many of them have gone into the lines of business usually found in cities of this class,--merchants in groceries, dry goods and so forth, while others are carpenters, masons and workmen in the various pursuits of life. Many of them have built good, comfortable homes, and they are helping along in the general effort to advance the material interests of the place.

Leslie Patterson and his family, having opened the way for the building of the city, naturally have an abiding interest in it, and they have never faltered in their effort to advance it in every just and profitable way. They encouraged the settlement of industrious, upright people; they have favored the building of homes, the beautifying of grounds and the gathering of the comforts and conveniences of life among the people; but in all they have done or suggested, they have not been disposed to dictate the course which others should take. Mr. and Mrs. Patterson are well and favorably known by nearly every person living in Mineral City. They have been strictly upright in all their dealings with every class, believing that the way to build up a community and make it a desirable place in which to live is to do justly in all things and to be oppressive and exacting in none.

Among those who have made permanent settlements in Mineral City, and have built good, comfortable homes, we may mention the following: J. P. Davidson, M. C. Perrine, B. Cross, J. D. Smith, Mr. DeChamp, Henry Dewey, Miss Belle Huntsinger, William Johnson, Orville Brenner, Wayne Sargent, J. V. McAnally, Charles Bramlet, J. S. Kenaston, Mrs. Rhea, Mrs. McLeod, N. M. Smith and Leslie Patterson.

As indicating the importance of Mineral City, in a commercial way, the immense amount of shipping done into and from the place may be mentioned. The coal mining industry is the big thing of the place. The beginning of this is what gave rise to the city. It has fostered its growth, and it will continue as the chief business of the community. For about four months of the year, since the coal operations have reached the present volume of production, the shipment of coal is about 2,500 car-loads a month, or nearly 100 car-loads a day. For the remaining eight months of the year the shipment is about 1,800 car-loads a month. The merchandise shipped into the place will aggregate 360 car-loads a year.

Mineral City, proper, has about 1,200 people living within its limits, and nearly every family owns the home in which it lives. The community, the building up of which has been brought about by the mining interest, probably includes a population of 3,000.

WEIR CITY

Is situate a little east of the north central part of Cherokee County, two miles south of the Crawford County line, and eight miles west of the east line of Cherokee County. The town was built upon land which belonged to T. M. Weir, and it took its name from him. Mr. Weir, who was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, March 2, 1841, came to Cherokee County, Kansas, in 1871, and immediately entered a quarter section of land, upon 40 acres of which the original plat of Weir City was laid out. He began at once to open coal mines. A. J. Weir and H. P. Weir, two of his sons, now live in the city, and they have done much toward building it up.

Besides the Weirs, the following may be mentioned as among the very first settlers: P. E. Brady, John Sullivan, John Hoffman and G. D. Sams. Afterward there came William Hamilton, Edward Baker, Nick Smith, E. E. Holt, Peter Smith, Joseph Bennett and Robert Hogg. Among the first to open coal mine's were Fred Blattner, the Oswego Coal Company and Bovard & Dixon. Then came Keith & Perry, and later The Kansas & Texas Coal Company.

When the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad, which later became the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad, was built through Cherokee County, from north to south, no account was taken of the rich coal deposits as far away from the line as the site where Weir City now stands, although it was only four miles from the track of the road. Bovard & Dixon first opened mines near the present town of Scammon, on the line of the road. Afterward Keith & Perry operated mines there, before opening mines at Weir City. Even as late as 1880. Weir City was a mere mining camp containing only about 350 people. This was nine years after the railroad had been built through the county. The progress of development in those days was much slower than at the present. At that time long, dreary years dragged by, and even men of means, who were said to possess a lively perception of advantage, and could see well into the future, were slow to seize upon opportunities which offered sure and largely remunerative returns. The whole State of Kansas was then new. It had been only a few years since the first coal mines had been opened in the State, at Leavenworth; and these were worked but lightly, for the demand for coal was slight. The attention of the settlers of the State, up to as late as 1875, was directed almost wholly to agriculture, and to the classes of business which agricultural interests would support in the new towns which were springing up. It is true that the railroad companies had an eye to the coal fields, for they knew what the value of such wealth would ultimately be; but the people, as a rule, had not awakened to their importance, beyond the light demands which they would supply at easy effort. Such were the conditions in Cherokee County; and the conditions as they then existed held back the Weir City coal district from early, rapid development. The first settlers and the first mine operators did not get the best returns from their labor. Coal was produced at merely nominal prices, so low that the operators secured but a narrow margin of profit. But as the population of the eastern part of the State increased, and the enlargement of railroad systems went on, the demand for fuel was proportionately greater; and with the greater demand there came an opportunity for greater profit. In the chapter on mines and mining I have given the output of the mines of this particular district, along with that of the other mining sections of the county.

Weir City is a city of the second class, and has been such for many years. The following have been the mayors, in the order of their serving: J. Knox Barney, P. E. Brady, B. S. Abbott, D. W. King, H. M. Grandle, Thad Hargiss and W. J. Allen. The postmasters have been: J. Knox Barney, Jack Morgan, Wilson Liff, W. P. Kent, J. W. Kirk and S. W. Gould. The salary of the office is $1,700. There are two rural routes, and the office supplies a vast amount of mail matter through its immediate delivery.

The first physicians in Weir City were Dr. J. Knox Barney, Dr. Bailey and Dr. C. W. Hoag. Later there were Dr. J. A. Wallace, Drs. Doan and Pritchard, Dr. I. E. Striker, Dr. D. W. King and Dr. G. B. McClelland. Dr. Hoag is the oldest in residence now, having lived here since 1881. The physicians now located in the city are Drs. Hoag, McClelland and J. H. Boss. Dr. Boss is the county coroner.

The water works and the electric light plant of Weir City are owned and operated by a private company, and from each of them the city gets prompt and efficient service. A fire department is maintained, and the streets of the city are well lighted. A large ice plant is also in successful operation which, besides supplying the local demand, ships large quantities to other towns and cities.

Weir City, like all other Kansas communities, takes a pride in its public schools. There are three fine buildings, in different parts of the city, and there are 17 teachers employed. George B. Deem was the superintendent last year, and for many years preceding. R. Rankin will be super intendent for the year 1904-05.

The Baptist, Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian churches have church organizations and buildings. Of these the Catholic Church is the strongest in number, with the Methodist following.

The population of Weir City in 1880 was about 350. It has had a steady growth, and at the last census, in 1900, its population was 3,091. The building of the Weir City branch of the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis road, which leaves the main line at Scammon, runs through Weir City and Pittsburg and returns to the main line at Girard, gave an impetus to the growth of the place and very largely increased its commercial importance. The city also has railroad connections west with Parsons, Kansas, and on to the gas and oil fields west and southwest of the latter place.

Weir city has its share of what are called secret orders,--Masons, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Sons and Daughters of Justice, Knights and Ladies of Security, Rebekahs, Order of the Eastern Star, and the Degree of Honor. Black Diamond Lodge, No. 274, A. F. & A. M., was organized and chartered February 16, 1887. David B. White is the master; Robert Hogg is the secretary.

Among those who have built commodious comfortable homes in Weir City, the following may be mentioned: A. J. Weir, A. B. Cockrill, David Crow, Edward Baker, William Hamilton, Harvey Smith, B. S. Abbott, Horace Hayden. Rome Allen, Joseph Bennett, Dr. Hoag, Fred Grant and W. M. Pye.


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