F. C. Noller & Co.
McFarland is strictly a railroad town, and became so by the location of the junction of the Denver branch with the Herington line of the Rock Island, at that place. The location of the junction was fixed in 1887 when the Denver branch was built.
This junction was first intended to be at Paxico. The material for two railroad bridges were unloaded at that point and the Rock Island's civil engineer was on the ground. This engineer made a trip to McFarland, so the story goes, and on his return the location of the junction was changed to McFarland. At Paxico they have the story that the engineer was bribed. The other account is that the company found it impossible to reach the rich bottoms from Paxico and abandoned that point. The location of the junction was then fixed on the southwest quarter of section 31.
S. H. Fairfield, learning of the prospects, bought the southwest quarter of 31. A town company was formed, the members of which were S. H. Fairfield of Alma, C. W. Jewel, James Sury, George Bates, of Topeka, and Judge J. N. McFarland. Under this town company the land was surveyed, town lots laid out and sold, and a hotel, store, church, and four dwellings erected.
The hotel was sold to John Winkler, of Alma, who by the way is about as historic a character as lives in the county. The church which was built for a Congregational church was sold to the Lutherans.
Watson Aderhold & Co. put a stock of goods in the town company's store building the next year, and became the pioneer merchants of McFarland.
There is an amusing bit of history connected with the naming of the town. It was laid out by S. H. Fairfield on his own land. Mr. Fairfield was at a loss to know what name to give it. He had started a town about a mile west of this one on the M. A. & B. and had called it Fairfield. There was a postoffice in Russell County by that name. Senator Plumb said that Mr. Fairfield took a bag of beans and went up to Russell County to get the patrons of the Fairfield postoffice to change the name to Hawley, so that his own town could have a postoffice.
There is doubtless more or less truth in this bean story. Whoever doubts it can just look up Russell County on the map, and finds the postoffice of Hawley on a little creek tributary to Smoky Hill River. Any one who would not take Senator Plumb's word for it, after that, must be as skeptical as the man who wouldn't believe that Louis Palenske's pigs climbed thirty feet high into a tree the night of the flood on Mill Creek.
Disliking very much to spoil this story of Senator Plumb's, Mr. Fairfield named the new town on the Rock Island, McFarland after his prime friend, Judge McFarland, of Topeka, although after all these twenty years, he still says the town should have been called Fairfield and would have been, had it not been for that bag of beans.
After the town was started and the first half dozen buildings put up, the bottom fell out of everything and things were at a stand-still for a long time.
The Rock Island, finding their eating-house not well patronized in Topeka on account of there being so many cheaper places, moved it to McFarland. It is a very fine eating-house, but does not do the town much good as it spoils the restaurant trade. Mr. John Winkler, who conducted a restaurant by the depot, went out of business when the eating-house was built.
The growth was very slow until after 1901, when the railroad company built a sheep-rest and feeding-yards on the property. At that time the town began to come to the front and there has been plenty doing at McFarland ever since.
It has a population at present of 500 inhabitants and is the largest town for its age in the county. It is a very active, busy little town and there is not an unemployed man to be found. Its business places are among the best-patronized stores in the county. There are a number of fine residences already, and more being erected.
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, McFarland is strictly a railroad town. It has fifty trains daily, eighteen of which are passenger trains. It is located on the Mill Creek bottoms which extend toward the south, while a range of low hills rise on the north. The surrounding country is adapted to cattle- and sheep-feeding and general farming.
Mr. G. J. Comstock and wife, who live in the above beautiful home, are the oldest residents of McFarland. They located on the Pau-Pau Creek one mile from town in 1882 while the site of McFarland was still a wheat-field. The above residence on the old Springer place was built in 1905.
Dr. C. R. Silverthorne, one of the most active and public-spirited men of McFarland, is a self-made man in the strictest sense of the term. He was left an orphan at the age of seven and has taken care of himself and became educated. It is a pleasure to give a biography of such a man as an encouragement to young men without advantages.
Dr. Silverthorne was born at Grandview, Ind., August 17th, 1870. He went through common school and at the age of twenty entered the medical department of the United States Hospital as dispensarian. In 1894 he left for St. Louis to attend the Medical College at that place. Three years later he came to Kansas with the sum of $2.75 and plenty of grit, although he did not know a person in the State. He graduated from the University of the South at Sewanee, Tenn., in 1898. Coming back to Kansas he located at Mayday, Riley County, where he remained six years. In September, 1901, he went to St. Joseph, Mo., and took a postgraduate in Ensworth College, graduating in 1902. He was appointed Rock Island Surgeon at McFarland in December of the same year and has been in active practise in this town ever since. On April 1st, 1905, he was appointed Surgeon on Gov. Hoch's staff and reappointed on April 1st, 1907.
Dr. Silverthorne is a member of the following Medical societies: American Medical Association; American Association of Railroad Surgeons, Rock Island Surgeon's Association, Military Surgeons of the United States, and of both State and County Medical Associations.
H. B. ChannellAlma, Kans.
Mr. H. B. Channel, of Alma, Kansas, is the auctioneer upon whom we have decided to give credit as being the best in the county, for the following reasons: He is proficient on thoroughbred sales, as he makes it his business to keep posted on what stuff should bring, and because his terms are reasonable. He has been an auctioneer for the last twenty-five years, eighteen of which time he has been in Wabaunsee County. Mr. Channel has his headquarters with J. B. Fields at Alma.
Dealer in Dry Goods, Groceries, Footwear, Hats and Caps, Ladies' and Gents' Furnishing Goods. A complete stock of everything kept in a first-class general store. Produce wanted. Phone No. 20.
Transcribed from Business directory and history of Wabaunsee County pub. by The Kansas directory company of Topeka, Kansas, 1907. 104 p. illus. (incl. ports.) 21 cm. Advertising matter interspersed.
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