In 1881, the only thing that marked the location of Bushton was a hedge where main street is now located. People started to come to this site and built dug-outs or sod houses. The town was growing and in need of a name. After several suggestions it was finally named Bushton for its dense growth of bushes.
The sod houses took only a few days to build. A ridge pole was put in the center to hold the roof, which was made of logs laid across the rafters, on top. The sod houses were warm in the winter and cool in the summer but very miserable when it rained. This was also a good place for rattlesnakes to hide and they were plentiful.
People survived by eating buffalo, antelope, corn and wheat. Soon the buffalo disappeared but the coyotes, prairie chickens and antelope were plentiful. Everyone raised their own food and the extra produce was taken by team and wagon to Ellsworth, Lyons, or Great Bend to be sold.
Coal was mined one and one-half miles south of Wilson, but it was so dirty it would hardly burn and was very expensive, so most settlers gathered corn stalks and pulled corn stubs to burn. Rags were braided and put in a saucer of grease and then lit for a light. Few people had cows because they were so expensive, but the few in town were confined near the houses by tying ropes to their horns and staking the rope in the ground. A buggy was a sight for sore eyes. Horses were scarce. Grasshoppers were numerous at times and destroyed many crops.
The first settlers were Bill Earl, Ben Beans, and Al Weaver. The Burches, Schoonovers and Tom Haxton settled near Plum Creek. Jim Peterson was the first baby born in the Bushton community. Mount Pleasant was the first school and Wesley Chapel was the first church. The Mangledorf was the first store building in Bushton.
The first car in Bushton was called a Queen and was owned by Mitch Crow. Gasoline was hauled by team and wagon from Ellsworth and sold for 23¢ or 24¢ a gallon. The first frame house built in Bushton was in 1878.
The early settlers for the most part were whole hearted, kind and generous. Having little themselves, they were always ready to serve, assist, or share what little they had with a friend in need. There were no locked doors. The wayfarer was always welcome, even in the small two room houses. People were healthy, as there was little money for doctors. Neighbors would walk to neighbors for long winter evenings. Old and young would join in games such as Charades, Proverbs, and Forfeits. Later years when houses were being built there would be an occasional neighborhood dance. The settlers of the early years despite their hardships were more contented and happy than today's generation. They are a people to be admired.
The Town of Bushton
According to the records in the Rice County Clerk's Office, the town of Bushton was platted on January 31, 1887.
Mr. E. C. Modenwell, who was a right-of-way man for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, platted the town of Bushton. lie was originally from Ohio and had been raised in the same locality as the father of C. W. Swartz, who was one of the first settlers in the community of Bushton.
On January 31, 1887, the records state the E. C. Modenwell of Saline County was the legal owner and was duly authorized to plat the land covered by the map of the town of Bushton, County of Rice, and State of Kansas. The plat was filed for the purpose of sub-dividing the land into lots and blocks for sale. He noted that the lots and blocks were designated by numbers and the dimensions of the lots and widths of the streets and alleys were indicated on the plat.
The town of Bushton was located in the center of Section 2, in Township 18 and range 36, containing 50 acres more or less. Ten acres in the Northeast ¼, ten acres in the Southwest ¼ of said section. The transaction was recorded by E. H. Luitureler, Notary Public on February 1, 1887 at 3:45 p.m. at Salina, Kansas.
During the years, the
city has added three new additions to the original townsite. The
Fairview Addition was the first to be added followed by the
Hauser-Volkland Addition and the last to be added was the Elmhurst
The city of Bushton owes its very existence to those early settlers who had foresight and determination. The fight for the railroad with the town of Prosper and Cain City is now history, but those dedicated men who fought for the railroad realized it would be a good investment for Farmer Township. Some of these determined men went to Salina, Kansas and talked to the construction company, the McCracken Brothers. They told the men from Farmer Township that there was only one way the matter could be settled and how it should be settled. The men must give their notes for $12,000, then go home, canvass their township and get enough signers pledged to vote for the bonds. Then they should call an election and bring the bond for $12,000 and the notes would be returned. They did this at once and it was then the grading outfits moved between two days, the railroad moved south and came through the town of Bushton. It proved to be a most important investment for the town of Bushton. The bonds were paid and the railroad is still paying taxes. The fight between Bushton, Prosper and Cain City today is only a matter of history.
Adapted from the Bushton Centennial History