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History of Cameron

The following history was taken from "The Harper County Story" by Gwendoline & Paul Sanders Copyright 1968, Library of Congress call number 68-54660, The Mennonite Press, Newton, KS

Cameron - Camchester

The date of earliest nucleus of the village of Cameron eludes us but a trading post probably cam into being around the late 1880's. The first authentic record that we have of the town is the establishment of the post office on June 2, 1893 with Milton S. Foster as postmaster.

Before the coming of the railroad (Hutchinson and Southern, later called the Missouri Pacific), mail was brought in by hack from Anthony and Harper.

Sometime in the history of the town there was supposed to have been a population of 300 with a saloon, gambling house, lumberyard, a drugstore operated by Dr. Lucas, three grocery stores and a blacksmith shop.

Cameron became a cattle shipping center with the coming of the railroads. In the 1902 atlas the city map of Cameron shows it as having been laid out in a 31 block area, in Spring Township. It=s location was the southwest 1/4 of section 13, township 35 south, range 7 west.

The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad came in about 1902.

Cameron had a reputation of being a wild rough town due to the fact that it bordered the AOutlet@ and was a mecca for cowboys.

From APioneer Story@ by L.N. Lydick

In 1893 the announcement was made by the government that the ACherokee Strip@ would be thrown open for settlement on Sept. 16, and that the little town of Cameron was made a place for registration. Within a few days Cameron=s population increased from a few dozen to 10,000. Men stood in line for days in order not to lose their turn to register for a chance to make a race for a free farm. Standing room in the long line was at a high premium. Various schemes were inaugurated in an effort to get into the booth, but so strict were the watchers that such attempts usually failed. A resourceful middle-aged lady, however, originated a unique plan that worked. Walking hurriedly to the door of the registration building, bare headed and wearing a white kitchen apron, she carried a tray containing several cups of hot coffee. She was immediately given the right of way, and when once inside the building her coffee became of secondary importance, and she received her registration certificate without delay.

It was at this time that Manchester, Oklahoma, was born. Manchester was a competitor to Cameron, Kansas, just across the state line. The contest between the tow towns was bitter in the extreme. In order to take a middle attitude the railway depot was moved to a location half-way between the two towns and its name changed to ACamchester,@ a combination of the two names, Cameron and Manchester. Cameron, composed of aggressive men was not to be so easily outwitted and Cameron=s name was officially changed to ACamchester@ to correspond with the railroad station. The post office name was automatically changed to Camchester. Thus Camchester had both the post office and the railroad in name even if it did not have the actual physical possession of the depot, which was on the Oklahoma side. As the long town fight continued several of the Camchester business houses and dwellings were burned, presumably from incendiary origin. However, as time passed, one by one the remaining Camchester buildings were moved across the state line and the fight was eventually over, much to the comfort of all concerned, including the aggressive editor of the community paper the AManchester Journal.@

The Cameron post office was discontinued February 2, 1900. Camchester was established February 2, 1900 with Thos. B. Smith as postmaster. The Camchester post office closed March 31, 1903.

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