Location of Graham County, Kansas

Gradan, Kansas

        Weatherwise, 1894 started in a promising manner for the farmers. It was reported that two inches of snow fell, which drifted in some places almost two feet deep. By March, the wheat was making its' appearance, the snow had disappeared, the ground was in fine condition and Mr. G. C. Goddard was able to work in his orchard again. But as so often happens, it became dry and windy and by April most of the fall wheat was a failure. T. H. Smith and other farmers were breaking sod in April but thought it was getting very dry. John Moyer and Jim Kline had their breaking plows stolen from where they were working. "Samantha" the news correspondent said, "It seems like somebody is getting pretty low down and such work had best be stopped in time."
        Some of the farmers still had hopes for their rye crop and were plowing their corn when there was a freeze the latter part of April. It frosted again the first part of June and by this time, it was believed the small grain crop would also be a failure. The wind continued to blow and at harvest time, there was very little to do. It was so dry the farmers were advised that though it was time to kill their weeds, if left alone, they would die of their own accord. In August, Mr. Goddard reported the winds had blown off quite a number of his apples. Farmers were beginning to think of looking for other locations and in September, J. C. and Joe Hite, with their families started to the Oklahoma Strip with five teams. Lightning struck A. J. Mowry's pasture in September and burned 60 acres before the neighbors gathered to put it out. J. H. Best, who had been visiting in Republic County, stated people here were as well off as any place he had visited.
        Farmers were optimistic however and again were busy planting wheat and rye in October. They were going to Phillips County and to Trego County to buy loads of wheat for feed. In November stock was still doing well on buffalo grass although it was very dry. Mr. James Baird was preparing to go to Colorado to work in the mines. Mr. D. C. Stotts, ex-sheriff, had been putting up hay in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood and said he would stay with it another year. After building a new frame house on his claim, Mr. Swisher and family moved to Salina for the winter. Mr. Fitzgerald went east in December to solicit aid for the needy here but had little success as he found they were as needy other places as here.
        However other events were happening in the community despite the adverse weather conditions with poor economic results.
        Nelson Von Riper and Ida May Sturtevant of Allodium township were married in March. Mr. Irwin of Washington County moved on J. M. Donahoo's farm. A Sabbath School was organized in the Unity school in April. Joe Davisson of Missouri spent a few days in this area making proof on his tree claim. Andy Sullivan had 250 acres of small grain and 46 acres of rye which was making an excellent showing so was making plans to sell his railroad outfit in Illinois and settle down to farming exclusively.
        The report of the Pleasant Valley school house in May showed 32 pupils enrolled with an average attendance of 29.9. Those pupils on the roll of honor were Minnie Baird, Peter Baird, Lottie Toll, Grace Nicholson, Ola Emmons, Myrtle Emmons, and Ernie Emmons, Mary Wills, Teacher.
        There were deaths this year also. Minnie, eight your old daughter of James Baird, died May 29 and was buried in the Anderson Cemetery.
        James P. Braynard, who had come to Graham County before 1880, died June 11. He had been born in Middleburg, Vermont July 17, 1830 and served as a Volunteer in the Civil War. While in the service he contracted a disease in his lower limb which was pronounced incurable by the best physicians except by amputation which was performed in Hill City June 11, 1894 and from which he died the same day. The remains were buried June 12 in the family burying ground in the northwest part of Graham County. (This is now South Star cemetery, r.m.)
        The Fitzgerald family lost a baby in August.
        Circea Purcell Dawson, wife of John S. Dawson, died in September. She had been one of Graham County's most beloved teachers and was a thorough master of the profession. She left her husband and a baby daughter, two weeks of age, parents and other relatives in Oregon. She, too, was buried in the Anderson Cemetery.
        Among the teachers from Allodium township enrolled in Normal were Bertha Antrobus, Agnes Cooney, Mary Van Brunt, P. A. Moyers.
        Prices for farm commodities were not very high. L. S. Donahoo sold chickens in Lenora for $1.20 per dozen; A. B. Carver was fattening hogs on wheat which he purchased for 50 cents per bushel. A. C. Brandt and T. H. Smith purchased potatoes for 65 cents per bushel at Jennings and cabbage at 1 cent per pound.
        Among the births in the community were a boy for W. G. Andersons, a nine pound son for Mr. and Mrs. T. It. Smith and a baby girl for Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Brandt.
        Mr. G. C. Goddard had planned to go to Iowa but instead was selling books with good success.
        Township officers elected November 6, 1894 were: Trustee, W. A. Mc Cready; Clerk, C. Baer; Treasurer, H. Hansen; Justices of the Peace, Amos C. Brandt and James Donahoo; Constable, J. E. Noone and R. Anderson. H. Braynard and E. P. Edgington tied for Road Overseer, District No. 1 and the election was decided by lot in favor of Braynard. Road Overseer, District #2 M. Noone; Road Overseer District #3, J. H. Best and Road Overseer District #4 John Personett.
        Mr. E. E. Brandt had homesteaded on the SW¼ of 5-7-25. For several years he had worked in, and later managed, a store in Lucerne. In September after the land on which the store was located was sold, Mr.. Brandt prepared to move his store to his homestead, Mr. Joseph Siefke had built a new store building in New Almelo 20 x 49 feet and operated a grocery store until forced to discontinue because of ill health. This building was sold to Mr. Brandt and moved to his homestead where his new store was started. There was a partial basement under this building and the E. E. Brandts also lived here. Amos C. Brandt was appointed Postmaster October 5, 1894 and because a name was needed for the post office, the name "Gradan" was chosen using the first three letters of Graham and the last three letters of Sheridan. Amos Brandt was also apparently in charge of the store as evidenced by this news item in the Hill City Reveille of January 31, 1895. "Where is Gradan? some may ask. I will tell you. It is located on Section 5, town 7, south of range 25, in Graham County. There is a store there, Proprietor, A. C.Brandt. In that store is a post office, which has daily mails from the Rock Island R. R." The store began operation the last week of October, 1894. Mr. L. S. Donahoo carried the mail from Gradan to Lucerne.
        Mr. E. E. Brandt was purchasing rabbit scalps and in December brought 449 rabbit scalps to the county clerk's office for bounty.
        Amos Brandt continued as postmaster until December 20, 1896 when Ezra Brandt was appointed as postmaster.
        E. E. Brandt's daughter, Joy, has written that eggs purchased from the farmers were taken to Morland by the hired man, who made the trip by horses and wagon, and picked up supplies for the return trip. The eggs then went by train from Morland to Denver. They probably were not very fresh and in fact, Joy has stated if any of the eggs hatched while at the store, they were permitted to keep the chicks.
        Thus started the community center of Gradan.
This material is from pages 45-47 of the book
Gradan - a memory
By Ruth Gross McCalister
Used with the author's permission
July 29, 2001 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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