Kingman County, KS.

 History  of  Belmont


Belmont
 
      Belmont, a little village named by A.B. Fell, a Philadelphia developer, is twelve miles southeast of Kingman in Eagle Township.
      Belmont post office, organized in 1879, was located in the homes of the various postmasters, Warren Whitney, John Brown, William Elliott and John Starr. In 1885, the post office was located in the Washburn Brothers General Store, with Abel Washburn, assistant postmaster. Before the railroad was built, mail reached Belmont biweekly via stage from Belle Plain.
      Belmont's organizational approval by the Secretary of State was September 14, 1885. Forty acres of William Starr's land was set aside for a townsite. $10,000.00 in stock was issued, divided into a hundred shares at $100.00 per share.
      Belmont grade school opened in 1881, north of the townsite and moved into Belmont in 1890. Later, a larger two-room school was built to accommodate the enrollment. In 1968, it closed, due to dwindling enrollment and consolidation of county schools.
      In the 1880's, Belmont had two general stores, a hotel, restaurant, cobbler, mason, plasterer, livery stable, three carpenters, milliner, dressmaker, blacksmith, physician, and railroad express and telegraph agent. The Denver, Memphis and Atlantic Railroad, later known as Missouri Pacific, was built through Belmont in 1886.
      The Washburn Brothers built the first house. Pioneer shanties were soon replaced with several one-story frame houses and two large two-story houses.
      Turner Hall, built in 1887, was one of the first community halls in the county. It was used by: GAR Post; Modern Woodman; Anti-Horse Thief Protection Association; Odd Fellows and Royal Neighbors.
      Prior to the erection of the Christian and Methodist churches, their congregations worshiped in Turner Hall and the schoolhouse. The Christian Church was closed in the early 1930's. The Methodist Church organized in 1888, and their sanctuary was occupied from Easter Sunday 1892 until May 1972, when it closed because of small membership.
      From the turn of the century until the "great depression", Belmont thrived with more businesses: another hotel, cream station, variety store, meat market, public library (438 books in 1920), lumber yard, two grain elevators, telephone exchange, two grocery stores, hardware, barber shop, filling station, garage, section house, blacksmith shop, bank, restaurants, post office, moving picture house, and skating rink.
      Eugene Wallace, M.D., practicing physician and surgeon, whose motto was "My Ford Is Always Ready", was a prominent citizen from 1909 to 1928, during which time he operated a drug store and hospital, before moving to Norwich.
      Belmont High School opened in 1919 as a subscription school. With Dr. Wallace's backing, the school and gymnasium were built. The 1928 and 1939 basketball teams were state champions. Senior classes were graduated from 1923 until 1949, when the doors closed. The school's south wing was converted into the grade school lunch room. Virginia Dunkelberger managed it eighteen years. The north wing was remodeled for a Community Room. The school building and gymnasium deteriorated, and were sold, to be torn down in 1984.
      Fire, bank robberies, bank failure, loss of Dr. Wallace and the depression led to the decrease of Belmont's population and businesses. After World War II, only a grocery store, filling station, elevator and post office remained. Now, a few people live in Belmont, but everything is gone, except Methodist Church building, some houses, elevator and the post office in the home of Edna Pugh, postmistress.
      Dwane Wallace, son of Dr. Eugene and Grace Cessna Wallace, followed in his uncle, Clyde Cessna's footsteps in the 1930's to design, develop, and produce Cessna monoplanes in Wichita, building Cessna Aircraft into the world's largest producer of light planes. Dwane was 1981 recipient or the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy. Clyde Cessna lived a few miles south of Belmont. He built his first plane and piloted it in 1911.
      Belmont residents found time for music and fun, including Saturday night dances, being entertained by music furnished by Billy and Merry Start, Grover and Clara Dunkelberger, and Pete and Zora Thiel.
      For forty years, Belmont's softball teams and tournaments were famous in Kansas and the midwest. Don Lock, son of John and Agnes Lock, played several years in professional leagues.
      Those of Belmont pioneers' children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who live in the area and those who live elsewhere but hold Belmont as "home" will have good memories of bygone days.

Adapted from:
Kingman County, Kansas, And Its People.
(Kingman: Kingman County Historical Society. 1984)
Used by permission
 
Explore Belmont & Kingman County
 
September 1, 2001 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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