Kingman County, KS.

 History  of  Zenda

      Cattlemen were the chief inhabitants of the area around Zenda before 1882. Some ranchers were: Claudfelters, Achenbacks, Isenhardts, Holcombs, Nichols, Hartshorns, Smalleys and Moores. Other settlers arriving in the Fall and Winter of 1883 were: McAllisters, Moscripts, Chalks, Cox, Swingles, Peck, Harder, Niles, Davis, Ball, Jordons, Wells, Keimig, Cornelius, Kellys, Kayes, Hawley, Cole, Youngs, Sloans, Terrys, Snairs, Utts, Robbins, Ludwigs, Thompsons, Snyders, Prathers, Vails, Boswells, Cases, Williams, Rogers, Barrs, Taylors, Cobbs, Kingsolvers, Muellers, Wycoffs, Wetzlans, Wrights, Burdics, Browns, Hamiltons, Morris, Bells, McMurphys, Shaws, Chapples, Sheas, Dafforns, Blakesleys, Hunts, Knows, McFarlands, Phillips, Wheelers, Geenners, Hunters, Causeys, Weinshanks, Murphys, Stuarts, Foxes, Georges, Goetzes, Fuzells, Hienes, Morisses, Lockwoods, Pitzers, Marshalls, Harths, Carricks, Hosruters, Timmons, Pearsons, Voges, Edwards, Wests, Westfalls, Moulters, Bryants, Hayes, Osbournes, Warrens, Reeds, Fishers, Jacobs, Figges, Greens, Fords, Matthews, Prices, Osbornes, Coryells, Millers, Griems, Stoerners, Tatros, Pickerls, Grubbs, Simmons, Shewys, Leslies and McSpiritts.
      Pioneers in Kansas wanted an education for their children. A sod schoolhcuse was built, serving also for a place of worship, Sunday School and Literary Society.
      School District #82 was organized January 17, 1885, and bonds were voted the Fall of 1886 to build a schoolhouse.
      Zenda was originally named Rochester. Mail came from Bross by stage to the post office, a sod house. W.L. Chalk was postmaster.
      In 1884, a Trading Post was started by C. McMurphy. Will Jordon started a general store. A blacksmith shop was opened by Will Grubb. When New Rochester was platted, these early businesses were discontinued. Mecorney and Hunt applied for and received a charter from the State to buy and sell land which they had surveyed and platted in 1887. On September 6, under a large tent loaned by Will Cary, they sold town lots to people who came to share their barbecue dinner. This was called New Rochester. The Mulvane and Engelwood Railroad ran through New Rochester and the Old Rochester. To avoid confusion, the new town was called "Zenda."
      Some of the early businesses were: The Big Corn Crop, which included a general store and post office; Continental Creamery, that had a skimming station, which separated the cream to ship to Topeka, but returned the skim milk to the farmers; Weinshenk State Bank, organized in 1904 by Weinshenk and Callahan (of Calista); Callahan had a three acre cattle yard, which was also used by Mike Kerst, butcher; John Smith, blacksmith, built and operated a hotel that was later called the Twyman House. Other blacksmiths were: Bronson, Swope and Wohlford; Frank Weinschenk became Immigration Agent for Santa Fe Railroad to induce people to settle in the area; The Implement Business was started by Branson. Later dealers were Byrnes and Hunter, Hegler, Gillen and Klein, and Whitmer and Son. Need for a general store was supplied by the Keimig Brothers. Later owners were: Deardorf, Johnson, Strong, Borgelt and Figge. Barbering was started by Carr, who sold out to Turely. Telephone service, instituted by Dafforn, was sold to the Graber family, when Dafforn opened a Ford agency. A modern chicken hatchery was operated by Arthur Goenner, with a hatchery capable of incubating 110,000 eggs. George Ultch Lumber Company opened business in 1902. In 1913, the Zenda Grain Supply began with a new elevator.
      The first church was established by the Presbyterians in 1883 in a building near the Pleasant Hill school. The Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated in 1903. When the St. Peters Parish at Willowdale became too large, a church was built at Zenda.
      About 1915, Zenda had two hotels, but only one survived. It had several proprietors prior to the John Vierthaler ownership. It was an outstanding business until they retired. The hotel was later torn down for salvage lumber.
      In the late 1930s, Zenda actually had four thriving grocery stores, with meat departments, and two had dry goods sections. Whitmer Hardware Store sold all types of hardware and gifts. Farmers State Bank was operated by Frank Rall, until he retired and closed the bank. Once there were two drug stores and a furniture store. There were also two cafes. The Edd Nichols operated one, which closed when World War II started. Edd became manager of the Farmers' Co-op Elevator while Courtland Dixon served in the army. Edd's wife, Alma, returned to teaching, as there was a great demand for teachers. She taught until retirement in 1976. Edd later became manager of General Mills Elevator until his retirement. The Nichols still live in Zenda.
      The Zenda Headlight, the newspaper, cannot be forgotten. It was edited by Clyde and Rachel Walters until they retired. Rachel still lives in Zenda. Zenda's very capable blacksmith, Joe Jarmer, also has retired. He and wife, Bertha, live in Zenda. Bertha was an efficient nurse. Zenda had a Tailor and Cleaning Shop owned by Herman Geron.
      Today, Zenda has one elevator, the Zenda Grain W. Ultch Lumber Company is now the Farmers and Builders Lumber and Hardware Company, a locally owned business, managed by Bonnie Bailey. There is a post office, with Neil Fisher as postmaster. A very good telephone exchange is handled by Woody and Beulah Graber. They've rejuvenated the office with computerization. The Grabers also remodeled their home, making it an outstanding structure on Main Street. There's also Rose's Gift Shop; the Zenda Lounge operated by Eddie and Linda Vierthaler; the City Building, which in the past was the Opera House, also contains the 4-H room and the City library. Zenda still has two churches, St. John's Catholic and the United Methodist. Last but not least, there's an excellent grocery store with a meat department, owned by Leon and Helen Vierthaler, who tend it daily.
      Now, sad to say, this 1983-84 year is the last the Zenda High School. Students will go to schools of their choice. However, there are nearly seventy children in kindergarten through the eighth grade as well as several in pre-school. These will still go to school in Zenda.
      All in all, Zenda people, especially the Old Timers, have been proud of their town and school

Some information from the writings of W.G. Goenner and a present day citizen of Zenda

Adapted from:
Kingman County, Kansas, And Its People.
(Kingman: Kingman County Historical Society. 1984)
Used by permission
Explore Zenda & Kingman County
September 25, 2001 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas /

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