Happy Kansas Day! Judge Muse Remembers

Today, January 29, the state of Kansas turns 158 years old!

In the History of Harvey County 1871-1881, Judge Muse  described his first visit to the area that would become Harvey County. The photos are the earliest Harvey County homes made of sod.

Judge Muse writes:

On the 25th day of August, 1870, we left the city of Topeka . . . and traveled westward via A.T. & S. F. R. R. to the city of Emporia.  . . . On the 26th procured teams and provisions  . . . and started westward.  On the night of the 26th, we stopped at Cottonwood Falls, with Mr. Doolittle, who kept a small hotel in that place. . . On the 27th we continued our journey through an almost uninhabited region, passing over the ground where Florence now stands, and encamped for the night at a ranch owned by Coble and Kelly, about 4 miles east of the present town of Peabody. 

On the 28th we passed over the ground now occupied by the town of Walton. . , We stopped for dinner at a point on Sand Creek just south of where the residence of D. Ainsworth is now situated , and upon the the present town site of Newton.

Here for the first time we struck the Chisholm, or the great Texas Cattle Trail and followed it down on the west side of Sand Creek as far as the mouth of the creek where we found the first settler we had seen in the county, Dr. T.S. Floyd, with who we staid all night.

During the day, and after travelling over thirty miles, we had seen no human habitation or sign of civilization, our way being through high prairie grass, often standing above the height of our wagon wheels and bed.  We varied the monotony of the journey by shooting at wolves, coyotes, antelope and prairie chickens.  After reaching the cattle trail, we were beset by swarms of buffalo gnats and mosquitoes, so ravenous that Mr. Lakin declared that they bit his head through is hat.

Identified as a sod home in Alta.

We found Dr. Floyd and family living in a log house covered with a sod roof, upon which corn was growing and situated on the west bank of Sand Creek a few rods due west from where his present residence stands. . . . After remaining over night with Dr. Floyd . . . we set out the following morning and drove through Park City, then considered a dangerous rival of Wichita and continued our journey as far as Wichita.

Judge R.W.P. Muse, History of Harvey County, 1871-1881 available at the Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives. Muse’s history was included in the 1882 Harvey County Atlas.

Harvey County Home

Harvey County Main Streets 4

During mid-1930s, this community enjoyed an oil boom.  Any ideas?

Burrton, Ks


The city of Burrton was laid off in the summer by Arkansas Valley Town Company along the mainline of the A.T. &S.F. Railroad. The first building was a blacksmith shop operated by A.W. Ballard. A Post Office was opened in July and by fall the new town had two general stores.


Burrton Mills, a three story frame structure with three runs of buhrs and a forty horse power engine, was opened.  The Mill burned in 1889.


September 3—Burrton incorporated as a third class city. W.H. Kinney was elected mayor.

November 2-The Burrton Telephone was established.


May 20-first issue of the Burrton Monitor, G. Vanderveer, editor.

Burrton Public Schools, 1915. The building with the tower was constructed in approximately 1885.


The Harvey House in Burrton was destroyed by fire.


November 11-Fire destroys the east side of Burrton’s Main Street.

Burrton Bank with the Opera House located on the second floor, 1910. Destroyed by fire in 1926.


Burrton Opera House was destroyed by fire.  The building also housed a furniture store, barber shop, telephone and real estate offices.

Burrton Bank & Opera House destroyed by fire, 1926.


Olsen Oil Co. drilled first oil well, M.B.Blake No. 1, west of the Burrton Grocery store.


Oil boom in Burrton with the peak year in 1934.  During this time over 1,000 people arrived in Burrton to take advantage of the  work and money to be made.

Aerial view of the Empire Oil & Refining Co., Burrton field, June 24, 1936

Phillips Service Station, Hwy 50, 1947.


March 13 – a F-5 tornado took the life of 6 year old Lucas Fisher before continuing through the center of Harvey County and on into Marion County.



Harvey County Main Streets 3

This Harvey County town started in a different location with a different name and is home to one of 2 colleges in Harvey County.

Hesston, Ks


The community of Elivon was abandoned in favor of a site 3 miles south when the Missouri  Pacific Railroad laid tracks. The new town of  Hesston was  named for an early settler A.L. Hess.

Green Gables, Hesston College Campus, 1940


The Mennonite Church choose Hesston as the site for their “school in the West.” Hesston Academy later  became Hesston College, a two year liberal arts college. In 2009, the school celebrated a century of educating young people.

Hesston, Ks. 1915. Looking southeast. Scan courtesy Jim Brower.


Hesston incorporated as a 3rd class city.

Hesston, Ks 1920.


Hesston Corporation was established by Adin Holdeman, Elmer Berner, and Lyle Yost. By 1955, “the Corp” was a leading manufacturer of hay implements. Bought by AGCO in the 1990s,  the company remains an important employer in Harvey County.


Showalter Villa Retirement Center opens.


Excel Industries began producing cabs for combines and later focused production efforts on the “Hustler Mower.”

Hesston Unified School District #460 established and a high school was constructed at 100 N. Ridge Road.  Today, this building is the Middle School. The current high school was constructed in 1970.


Dyck Arboretum of the Plains established.


March 13, 1990 a F-5 tornado tore through the center of town.