Kingman County, KS.

 History  of  Calista

      Calista was a thriving little town about the turn of the century. So the story goes, there was a young lady by the name of Calista Bennett who lived in the area, when Calista began to be a town, and so the town was named for her.
      Calista's first location was about one mile west of the present site on the Santa Fe Railroad. Several passenger trains and freight trains passed through every day bringing merchandise for the Calista Grain & Mercantile Co., the hardware store, lumber yard, blacksmith shop and mail for the local postoffice.
      The general store, which was a part of the Calista Grain and Mercantile Co., was a two story building. The top floor was the entertainment center for the little town. There were boxing matches, wrestling matches, dances and box suppers. In the summer, there was usually a rodeo complete with a carnival. Families brought their picnic baskets and made a day of it. Sunday afternoon was time for the baseball games, weather permitting. After the game, the general store opened, so that everyone could buy ice cream that had been brought in special on the train.
      John Arrington was the owner of the lumber yard, and J.R. Harper managed the yard for Arrington. B.F. DeWeese was one of the first postmasters. P.H. McKenna managed the grain elevator, which was a part of the Calista Grain and Mercantile Co. The Santa Fe Depot was on the main street of the town for many years. About 1910, it was moved 1/4 mile west of the town. The depot agent at the time was Harry C. Snyder, Sr.
      Calista was surrounded by some very large ranches, among them: Arrington's Ranch, Callahan's Ranch and the Seer's Ranch. The ranches fared very well for a good many years, and the railroad played a great part in their survival. The railroad built a stockyard to handle the cattle for shipping and receiving. Some of the more beautiful homes were built by the prosperous ranchers. The Arringtons built a very sturdy two story house. Sears home was a sprawling house, that was built for entertaining many Easterners.
      As transportation became more accessible, the little town began to lose its businesses and soon became a memory, as so many little towns have done. Calista had its happy times, its sad times and its mysteries. Who was the man that was shot by the sheriff, because he was thought to be a bootlegger? Who was the person who bandaged his wounds after he managed to escape from the sheriff? Why the murder of two of the town's citizens for $2.00? However, the guilty ones didn't know that tucked in the corner of one of the billfolds was a crisp new $20.00 bill!

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

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