Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Empire, Kansas continued: Leora Flook's story

Note: Also provided by Linda Andersen with Galva's museum. 
Leora Foster Flook

The Colby homestead. Joseph Colby founded Empire in around 1871. His great, great grandson, Scott Colley, is a renowned jazz bassist who used this photo for the cover of his new album, Empire.

Michael Sauer was the first buried at the Empire Cemetery, one of the few remains of this ghost town. He died from complications of being caught in a blizzard.
            I was born 6 miles south of Blairstown, Benton County, Iowa, July 8, 1867.  We owned a farm in Iowa later, but I don't know just where.  Anyway, my father decided to come to Kansas, so he came first and looked things over, bought a half interest in a store with a Dr. Fry in what was known as Empire.  The doctor was to follow his profession and in idle time help in the store.  Father also took up a claim of 160 acres, the SW quarter in Section 1-20-2.  Then he came back to Iowa, sold his farm and we moved in with Grandpa Morse's for the summer.  The 27th of April, Jessie was born and the following September, 1873, we moved to Kansas.   

Empire, Kansas continued

Note: This is provided by the Linda Andersen, with the Galva Historical Museum.

Written by Leota Lowery Beard - 1952

The only structure that remains from the town of Empire, a house moved to Galva when Empire was abandoned.

            Old Empire was a wonderful place, over 80 years ago.  Everyone was so sorry when the railroad came through, and the town was moved, two miles north and one west, then one half north, to the railroad, and the name was changed to Galva.  The name Old Empire, though, still remains to that corner of Sections 35 and 34 of Empire Township and the opposite ones in Lone Tree Township.  The town was in each township and also on both sides of Turkey Creek, which was never known to run dry in this locality.  The school house was built on the west side of the section line running north and south and on the south side of the road going east and west.  The school district was over four miles square.  This building was also used as the church.  It was a Christian Church, although among the attendance there were Methodists and Presbyterians and one Catholic family, the McVays.  Some came from many miles away as it was the first church in the community.

Empire, Kansas

The story of Lilly's Escape and Unbelievable Ride

            It was a bright June morning in 1867 when a settler named Babb said goodbye to his wife and three children and a family friend. He was taking a small herd of cattle, perhaps a dozen, to market in central Texas.

Coal Mine. Residents never found much coal, however.

            The family friend was a pretty young widow of twenty-five years. Her husband had died a few months earlier, and she was spending the summer with the Babbs on their ranch near the headwaters of the Colorado River south of where Lubbock, Texas, stands today.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Amy, Kansas a Lane County dead town

Bentz Lewis, with Garden City Coop, looks around the Amy Baptist Church sanctuary.

The Amy Baptist Church is in the shadows of the Garden City Coop.

Amy Baptist Church before it is razed. It sits on K96 west of Dighton.

An old attendance chart is part of the remains littering the church basement. Below, the school closed around 1980.

The town located just west of Dighton on K-96 once had a lumberyard and a general store. The town even had a band - complete with uniforms - and a bandstand. "It had activity," said Pat Herndon, who owns The Old Bank Gallery in the nearby county seat town of Dighton. "But it never had a big population." Amy started back in the late 1800s as Ellen - a stop established by the railroad, said Joel Herndon, Pat's son, who also serves on the Lane County Historical Society board. However, it wasn't until 1906 that the town began to thrive, and the town was renamed Amy, Pat Herndon said. Nolan Yates, who started the post office that year, applied for a permit with the U.S. Postal Service, but his request was denied because Ellen was already a name of another town in eastern Kansas. Not knowing what to name his community, Yates picked names of local teenaged girls and submitted them to the postal service. An official there picked Amy, after 16-year-old Amy Bruner. Herndon said her husband's grandfather, John Herndon, started the lumberyard around that same time as well. A grocery also opened in 1906, according to an old advertisement sign salvaged from the store that now hangs in an area farmer's work shed. It was during this time the town prospered, Pat Herndon said. With nothing more than a horse-drawn buggy to get families from place to place, residents often traveled to the nearest town for social gatherings, such as playing baseball or attending a concert. There were children's games and even a small merry-go-round with an organ music box - the riders pumping the ride to move - similar to an old-style railroad handcar. Those are just a few of the stories that former residents have passed down generation to generation, Herndon said. She herself moved to Amy in 1961 after marrying her husband, Walter. The couple lived there until 2002, when they moved into Dighton. It is also where they attended church for a number of years, she and her husband serving as youth sponsors in the 1960s.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Carneiro, Kansas - an Ellsworth County Dead town

CARNEIRO - The bells of the steeple chime in parishioners every Sunday morning at the little white church in this rural Kansas town.

And it seems it doesn't matter that the school closed years ago or that fewer than a half-dozen residents live here. Pastor Steve Holmes continues to bring a message to his 20-some-member Carneiro United Methodist Church congregation each Sunday - just as other ministers did for 125 years.

"Kansas, like the commercials say, gives you a sense of wide-open spaces," he said, noting that this ghost town of sorts "doesn't have the hustle and bustle of the city.

"I just think it's closer to God that way," he said.

Take a drive through the Smoky Hills past Kanopolis Reservoir and the Ellsworth County town of Carneiro suddenly appears amid the sloping terrain along K-140. These days, all that's left of the once-prosperous sheep shipping point are a few homes, the boarded-up school, a dilapidated general store and the well-manicured church.

Yet, the little town still has a pulse thanks, in part, to the weekly church services, as well as a monthly community potluck in the church's small addition. The town is also a tourist stop for those visiting Kanopolis Reservoir, and recent local lore suggests the area might have buried treasure connected to the notorious outlaw Jesse James.

Residents built the school in 1916 - the same year that Wellington decided to get out of the sheep business. Wellington, who also had interests in Ellsworth, including the development of an entire city block, reported to an Ellsworth newspaper that he was selling his herd due to low tariff on wool. The article said he was contemplating turning the 19,000-acre ranch into an immense sugar plantation.
The old school, however, remains, perched atop a small knoll - cracked and weedy concrete steps leading up to brick structure. The high school closed in the early 1940s, with the building staying open as a grade school for at least another 20 years.

Early founders had lofty dreams for this little waypoint along this westward path.
Before its official naming, Carneiro started as a site where the Smoky Hill Trail crossed Alum Creek, according to the U.S. Corps of Engineers. It was called the Alum Creek Station. In 1866, the Kansas City and Santa Fe Stage and Mail Line began to travel the military trail from Kansas City to Denver.
Local historian and Kansas Cowboy newspaper founder Jim Gray of Geneseo tells the story of how five soldiers were escorting a stage from Salina to Ellsworth. Though told to save their ammo, the men took "pot shots" at buffalo along the way.
"They were attacked by Indians," Gray said. "The soldiers stopped by the (Alum) Creek bank to hold off the Indians and they started running out of ammunition. Only one made it to Ellsworth alive."
The stage stop, however, didn't really prosper until E.W. Wellington came to Kansas in the 1870s. Massachusetts-born Wellington, a Harvard graduate, brought his new wife, Clara, as well as his Harvard friends and associates from Boston to Kansas, where he eventually began an extensive sheep operation in Ellsworth County.
He called his ranch Monte Carneiro, Carneiro meaning sheepfold in Portuguese. He built many houses and ranches to accommodate himself, friends and workers, Gray said.
With the large amount of sheep, Wellington, whose ranch was a few miles north of present-day Carneiro, and his group decided to develop a shipping point for the livestock in 1882, which is how the town sprang up. Businesses included a hotel, stockyards, a school and three general stores, Sneath said. According to the Kansas State Historical Society, the post office was started in June 1882.

Carneiro Cemetery is about a mile west of town

This is one of E.W. Wellington's homes, a prom. Ellsworth County rancher, biz man

Holmes said his little church began in 1885 in a school building, which was eventually razed to make way for the "new" school, built in 1916. The Methodists used the basement for services, while the Christian Church used the upstairs.In the mid-1890s, producer Henry McManes said he'd help build the new church, providing two lots and the services of his hired hands. The white church's first service was in March 1895.

One of the general stores still stands, complete with old display cases, collections and junk filling the inside, but Sneath wasn't sure if it was the one his ancestor ran.