The Mitchell post office opened in 1882, according to the Kansas State Historical Society. At one time, there was a grocery store, a hardware store, a lumberyard, a coal bin and a depot. Houses dotted several blocks and Conner figures, at one time, 120 people lived in Mitchell during its heyday.
Early settlers included W.H. Rife, who first settled on Cow Creek in 1870. Even Conner's family homesteaded in the area, although Conner said he isn't sure how the town was named Mitchell. Mitchell had a doctor for a time, Flavius Smith, who started practicing there in 1889, according to the Standard History of Kansas and Kansans.
Mitchell also got noted in a Chicago newspaper in January 1898 when Adolph Campbell, of Mitchell, "attempted to drown himself at the foot of Dock Street yesterday."
Mitchell did have a famous daughter. Actress Shirley Knight grew up in Mitchell, graduating from the eighth grade in 1950 with Conner, he said. She has starred in movies like "Endless Love," "As Good as It Gets" and "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood."
Conner said he wasn't born yet when the bank was operating, although he had an uncle who worked as a teller there for a time. He doesn't recall the general store or the hardware store - they were all gone before he was born in 1936.
There was the elevator, however, he said. And, for a time, there was a train. He recalls his father riding the train doodlebug east to get a 1940s Farmall H tractor, then driving it home. The doodlebug also hauled cream and eggs to McPherson.
Farmer Delmer Conner took me on a tour on a January morning, pointing to a city block that is nothing but grass. The houses have burned, fallen down or were moved to a more prospering town, he said. A concrete bank vault still stands, the building around it having crumbled years ago. An old telephone building is hidden in the trees, just a shell of its former state.
The Methodist Church closed not long after the school, Conner said. He has the cornerstone, which says it was built in 1916. In the past year, a man had tried to renovate it, putting on a new roof, new doors and new windows. However, worked stopped a few months ago and Conner said he heard the building had been sold to someone else.
|Local farmer Delmer Conner sits at the school he once attended.|
|Mitchell School. It opened in 1926 and closed in the 1960s|
|Old elevator at Mitchell. It's now owned by a local farmer.|
|The old Methodist Church. It closed in the 1960s.|
|Someone started to renovate the old church as a home and stopped.|
|The old telephone building, hidden in the trees|
|A merry-go-round stills stands at the school, not far from the ball diamond.|
|The concrete vault is all that is left of the bank building.|
|Home where Hollywood Actress Shirley Knight once lived.|
|The church parsonage burned down, but the well still stands.|