History of 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
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
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
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.
Kingman County, Kansas, And Its People.
(Kingman: Kingman County Historical Society. 1984)
Used by permission
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