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History of "Bull City"

In the fall of 1870 two men met at Cawker City and headed west together.  At this time, the Bullock's Ranch at Bloomington was the furthest west settlement.  General Hiram C. Bull and Lyman T. Earl came to a wide valley, at a big bend in the river, with bluffs to the south, and thought this would make a beautiful setting for a town.
 
On September 12, 1870, they staked out the townsite and General Bull built a 12 x 24-foot general store.  A flip of a coin to decide the city's name resulted in the name of Bull City.  The first post office was established May 31, 1871.  General Bull was the first postmaster.  His pay was $12 a month.
 
At the close of 1872 there were five log buildings, a stone hotel, one frame building and the Bush Sawmill south of Alton.  The first term of school was held in the upstairs of the Austin Hotel.  In 1873 $1500 in bonds were voted for a stone school house.  The town of Bull City was growing and developing.
 
Unfortunately, tragedy struck.  On October 12, 1879, General Bull and two of his friends were killed by a pet elk.  After his death, there was talk of changing the name of the town.  A Mrs. Clark from Alton, Ill., allowed no one would consider coming to a town having such a vulgar name.  Much publicity followed.  At some point names from a road petition were cut off and pasted on the change-of-name petition and mailed to Washington.  Alton was incorporated October 1, 1885.

The 100 year anniversary of Bull City was celebrated in 1970, after area student Jan Dugan recognized the anniversary was approaching.  Again in 1985 we celebrated a 100 year anniversary for the town of Alton.  A 125 year celebration was held in 1995 including publishing of a new history of Bull City/Alton.
 
Today the local PRIDE organization keeps the city of Alton moving into the future while helping it maintain a sense of pride in its background.  We invite you to take a drive through the town of Alton and visit with our friendly residents.

Explore Alton & Osborne County, or visit other Kansas Cities & Towns

Oct. 18 2005 / Curtis Gregory / Alton, Kansas / curtbob@ruraltel.net

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