History of Willowdale
Willowdale was first located between the present
site of the Henry Pohl's and the William Miller's
homes. At that time it was called Peters. It had three
businesses, a hardware store, a Post Office and a
Grocery Store, which was located in a portion of the
Henry Phol home.
About 1900, Mr. Nick Myers built a combined
grocery and hardware store which burned in 1906
and was re-built by C.R. Kurt. The Willowdale
store was bought in 1919 by the Laggart family,
which ran it until it closed in 1982.
A.M. Weinschenk was the first postmaster. The
mail was carried once a week from Kingman in a
one-horse drawn cart. First families establishing
homes on claims or !and purchased were: Weinschenk, Conrardy, Sterneker, Harbert, Rohlman,
Goetz, Leclercq, Hiebsch, Leslie, Cross, Smith,
Swope, Grime, Mueller, Hayes, Shea, Hartshorn,
Grieving and Hanlon.
The first church was located just west of the
present church and was built in 1885. It was
replaced by the present structure in 1902. When the
interior of the church was re-done in 1957, the cost,
kept low by the men of the parish doing most of the
work, was $8000.00. Restrooms were added in 1965
and siding in 1968. In 1975, the church was again
re-decorated, this time at a cost of $23,929. In 1957
a church dinner was was held to honor Father Baston the
fiftieth anniversary of his ordination.
In May 1959, Father George Mueller was
ordained a priest. He was the son of John and Sibylia
Mue!ler of Willowdale. He was the second priest
ordained from Willowdale. Father George Smith,
son of Will Smith being the first.
An addition to Willowdale in 1963 was a new
brick sister convent built by the men of the parish.
Other additions have been homes built for Anna
Detmer, Agnes Pohl, Pete Bohrer, William Molitor
and Mike Gillen.
The first school house was made of sod; boxes
were used for seats and the pupil's knees served as
desks. After two years a frame building was built
and about 1904 a parish school was built which
burned in 1924 after being struck by lightning. The
Order of St. Joseph Sisters taught the first school
and later the Dominican Sisters of Great Bend have
taught. In 1970 the last class graduated from the
Willowdale school and the school was closed in
A ball association was formed and a field, lights
and speakers stand were installed in 1964. They are
in use every summer. Th!s year, 1984, Father
Donald Thissen, another Kingman county native,
became our pastor. We are celebrating the Centennial
of our church and expect to have a new
community building done by fall.
Our village is small enough that we all know each
other, help each other and make everyone welcome.
__Submitted by George Goetz, Mary Gillen and
Kingman County, Kansas, And Its People.
(Kingman: Kingman County Historical Society. 1984)
Used by permission
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