Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Saxman, a town in Rice County

Former Saxman church. Local man Dale Hoover has been restoring it.

Abandoned house

Inside the church

Saxman tracks went through here

Dale walks down the church steps
I've been meaning to post these photos from my trip to Saxman, a small hamlet in Rice County. Phil Mathews of Hutchinson stopped by a while back to show me the historical documents his mother left him, which included many photos of Saxman, along with documents detailing the history.

A few of nuggets:

Saxman as born in 1888 when the Frisco Railroad pushed through the area. It was named after the man who owned the quarter section of ground where the town site was platted. The first store was built by George DeWeese - "a tiny one-room affair with limited stock, but drew trade for a good many miles," according to a 1922 issue of the Lyons Republican.

Joe Bleger was one of the early promoters. He served as a Frisco agent for 19 years and was the postmaster for nearly as long. As a merchant, he helped start the first lumberyard and kept the elevator in operation.

There were church services, however. According to the Lyons Republican, the first worship service in Saxman was in the driveway of the elevator. Seats were improvised by laying bricks across nail kegs. The sermon, however, was so disturbed by rats "that the feminine contingent in the congregation spent as much of the time shooing at the rodents as they did listening to the sermon." Parishioners finally began meeting in Woodman Hall, which was a dance hall on Fridays and a church on Sundays. "Saints and sinners frequented the building without any detrimental results to either," The News reported in 1952. The United Presbyterian Church was built in 1906, according to the Lyons newspaper.

In 1907, the town's 35-piece band was invited to Hutchinson to play a concert for a future president, William Howard Taft, who was then Secretary of War under President Teddy Roosevelt. The Lyons article reported the town had the best band in their section of Kansas, attributing its founding to a grain buyer who was an old bandleader. The man wanted to develop a brass band for the town but there was no place to practice. He was able to secure the depot baggage room.

One of the biggest demises of the town came on July 1, 1952, when Mrs. Paul Dinsmore, the postmistress, stamped 350 envelopes for stamp collectors who wanted the Saxman postmark, then closed the doors of the old state bank building, which was serving as the post office, according to The News.

She moved away, too.

Saxman's old school is a bunch of junk and weeds.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Midway, Kansas a little spot in Harper County and many others.

There were at least 10 Midways in Kansas, typically the midpoint between one place and another. Here's a sign erected in June 2011 of Harper County's Midway. Midway here was located halfway between Kiowa and Anthony. The sign was a project of the Harper County Preservation and Tourism Alliance, funded through the Harper County Community Foundation.

Other Midways:

By the way, there are 212 Midways in the United States, which makes it the most popular place name.

Old buildings near Jetmore

I received this from a reader who tells me the story of the old buildings near Jetmore.

Hi Amy, your assumption was correct in that the old buildings south of Jetmore were moved into the pasture.  The old depots were formerly located in Hanston and Jetmore and perhaps even one from Dighton, I think that for some reason--maybe that's the one sitting behind the larger one you couldn't see.  The old country school house used to sit on a corner of US 283 and was attended until about 1971 when the area country schools all finally closed down.  

Jack Warner moved the buildings onto the Warner Ranch and for a time he lived in one of the old depots.  He was the Libertarian congressional candidate from Ford County who threw his hat into the ring every few years but never was elected, he passed away in 2011.  He was rather eccentric and after the depot he was residing in caught fire, he kind of let everything go to disarray.  The country school has been kept up better than the old depots.  It was exciting to see the Warners utilize the old buildings at first and try to save them on their land, but the task must of been a bit daunting and whatever great ideas Mr. Warner had for the buildings never seemed to pan out.

One of Jack Warner's aunts, Kate Warner Krumrey, wrote two pretty interesting books years ago that were published and told the story of settling in Ford and Hodgeman County .  "Saga of Sawlog" and a sequel aptly titled "Sequel to Saga." They are scarce & sell for a pretty penny online, but we have copies in our library and I'm sure there are others around. 

The photo you took of Backtrail Road and the bridge running north and south on 283 goes over the  "Sawlog Creek." The Warner's Ranch is sometimes called the Black and White Ranch because they only raised Morgan horses and Black Angus cattle, and painted the farm buildings and fence white.The Warners often rode in parades and such and were quite a handsome presentation in their black jeans and white shirts on their black mounts. Up until a few years ago they hosted a successful bluegrass festival in the "Warner Grove," an heavily wooded and lush area down the road from the home place.  Down inside 'the grove' it was easy to forget you were in the flatlands surrounded by trees and shade and cool breezes along the creek.