by Kelly Young
Raymond has the distinction of being the oldest town in the history of Rice County not to have changed its name or location. It was established in 1871 in the southwest comer of the county with the completion of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. The town was named after Emmus Raymond, a railroad official.
Believe it or not, at one time, the population of Raymond rose to four to five hundred people. This happened when it became the inspection point for cattle on the Chisholm Trail heading to the Union Pacific Railroad at Ellsworth. This famous route is said by local historians to cross the Santa Fe Trail not once but twice before reaching Ellsworth.
From a Prairie of Indians and Buffalo,
Sprang a Town with hope and gusto.
Along the Trails came many covered wagon,
Men sincere and hopeful, others just a braggin.
In the 1870's a wild, wicked town really booms,
Filled with many trade and Saloons.
With wild rough, Cowmen, Cowboys and Gals,
Rendezvous for all, at end of Santa Fe rails.
Now Factories, Jets, Highways hover the Plain,
Yet, an old railroad still runs, Santa Fe Train.
With hope, sincereness and gusto many a Guy,
In a town that refuses to Die.
Raymond became a cowtown at this point and was known as one of the wickedest towns in the country. The Cowtown had become a rendezvous for cowboys, gamblers, and the restless types with its thirteen saloons. At the height of prosperity, the only three story structure in town was built.
This hotel, the American House, soon became the center of social activity. On more than one occasion, a group of rowdy cowboys would shoot out the bright lights on the chandeliers and many mirrors. Bullets could be found in building walls years after the fights were finished
The end of this period came when homesteaders forced the cowboys, by law and barbed wire fence, to go farther west. Then in 1922, the American House was tom down.
Raymond fell victim to a series of fires on the west side of the main street between 1904 and 1905. The buildings were burned one by one with an uncanny regularity. Out of these fires, a brick business section was constructed.
Over the years businesses came and went. Following are a few examples. George Gill began a drag and grocery store in 1907 which also held the Raymond post office until 1946. At this time, it was moved to the building next door.
In 1909, the F.H. Brown Store was bought out by Brace Sledd and became known as the Sledd Store. This building was tom down in 1970 and the Brown House Cafe was built and named after the pioneer owners.
The Raymond State Bank started in the spring of 1906. It was one of the first banks in the county to take advantage of the state's legislature guaranteeing bank deposits.
Only a few businesses remain, but Raymond still survives as the oldest town in Rice County.
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