We Cordially Welcome You . . .

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

A booklet published by the Newton Chamber of Commerce in 1949 entitled The Newton Guide:Published for the Out-of-Town Visitor was recently donated.

What was there to see and do in Newton in 1949?

 S.E. McCall, President of the Newton Chamber of Commerce, wrote in the introduction;

“We cordially welcome you who are visiting Newton for the first time and to those who have visited here before, we extend a sincere ‘glad to have you back.'”

He noted recent improvements including the “organization of the Industrial Development Corporation, . . . new sewage disposal plant.. . . new fire station.  [and] at least 100 new homes and new residential developments.”  

The purpose of the 33 page document was to highlight the selling points of Newton and surrounding area. Today, the pamphlet gives us a peak at the community at a specific point in time. We also get an idea of what was deemed most important.

Enjoy this trip back to 1949.

Newton Guide

History of Newton

The early beginnings of Newton were briefly mentioned. The focus was on presenting Newton as “a modern city” with schools and churches “rated among the finest in our state.”

“Important Shopping Center”

City Government

 Homes and Education

Churches, Clubs and Lodges

Shuffleboard, Bowling and Skating

Geography and Climate


If you must leave . . .

The Bentley Block: 600 Block of Main

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator


Did you recognize the scrolls on the building at 601 Main?

Prairie Harvest, 601 Main, 2015.

This weekend Prairie Harvest is celebrating their 17th Anniversary of business.  Enjoy this history of the building at 601 Main, Newton through photos. Which one do you remember?

The Bentley Block, 1880s

Bentley Block, 601 Main, Newton, Ks, 1883.

1885 Newton City directory lists the following businesses at the location: German National Bank (601 Main); Bentley & Perde Real Estate Brokers (601 1/2); Bowman & Bucher, Attorneys (601 1/2); J.W. Murphy, Real Estate (106 W. 6th); Gross, Boyd & McConnell, Barbers (104 W 6th); E.E. Sellers, Cigars (104 W 6th).

Hanlins Department Store: “The largest Cash Department Store in the State” ca. 1905.

Postcard, 600 Block of Main, west side, 1905. (The Opera House tower is visible at far right.)

Hanlins Department Store, 601 Main, ca. 1905.

West side of the 600 & 700 Blocks on Main Photo by Stovall Studio for booklet, “Newton, Kansas: Past & Present,Progress & Prosperity Souvenir,” 1911.

Hanlins Mercantile Gets a New Look  in 1911.

The front of the building was significantly altered, changing the main entrance and adding an imposing front facade in 1911.

Booster Day Parade, October 42, 1911.

Hanlin Lewis Mercantile, 601 Main, ca. 1911.

The Era of J.C. Penney & Co and more Changes, 1957

J.C. Penney Co., 601 Main. 1957.

500 & 600 Block of west Main, Newton, 1957.

More changes for the front facade when the cornice was removed sometime in 1957.

Harvey County Fair Parade in front of J. C. Penney Co, 601 Main, 1957. (can you find the graffiti left by the NHS class of 1957?)

More drastic changes  in the 1960s/early 1970s when metal siding was installed over the front facade of the building at 601 Main.

Chisholm Trail Parade in front of J.C. Penney Co, 601 Main, 1991.

Businesses since J.C. Penney & Co closed.

Stage, 601 Main, 1997.

Dollar Super Store, 601 Main, 2002.

A Revitalized Building and a Return to the older facade.

Prairie Harvest, 601 Main, 2015.

Texas Longhorns Come to Newton

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

146 years ago . . .

In May 1871, a cow boy traveling through the area took note of the new town on the prairie.

“We crossed Bluff Creek into Kansas and passed Newton during the latter part of May.  A blacksmith shop, a store, and a dozen dwelling places made up this town at that time, but when we came back through the place on our return home thirty days later, it had grown to be quite a large town due to the building of the railroad.  It did not seem possible that a town could make such a quick growth in such a short time, but Newton, Kansas sprang up almost over night.”

Newton, Ks summer 1871. HCHM Photo Collection.

The Atchinson, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad reached Newton in July. The first passenger train went through on July 17, 1871. Newton’s summer as a cow town began.

The stockyards were located a mile and half west of the town. Built under the supervision of Joseph McCoy, the Newton yards measured 300 x 400 feet, with the capacity to hold up to 4000 head. During that summer, 40,000 head were shipped to markets in the east from Newton, Ks.

Reporters from around the region were at the new cow town throughout the summer of 1871. They describe for their readers in the east the sights and sounds of a rowdy cow town.

A correspondent for the Topeka Commonwealth in Newton wrote on May 30, 1871.

Several thousand head of Texas cattle are now grazing in this vicinity waiting the completion of the road for shipment, and thousands more are coming in everyday: even this minute looking out my west door I can see two large herds entering the town, all waiting to ship from this point.”

A correspondent for the Saline County Journal described the scene on the prairie on July 20, 1871

“The entire country east, west, and south of Salina and down to the Arkansas River is filled with Texas cattle . . . The bottoms are overflowing with them, and the water courses with this great article of traffic . . .  And the cry is, “still, they come!”

A reporter for the Dallas Herald noted on July 22, that

“The stream of cattle still pours in.  Its line is now continuous from the Rio Grande.  If the flow continues, the prairies will be inundated with Texas Longhorns before the close of the season.”

The local homesteaders were less enthusiastic with the influx of Texas longhorns.

Mary Hildreth (Mrs. C. B.)

Mary Hildreth (Mrs. C.B.) lived on a hill over looking the cattle crossing of Sand Creek. She later shared a story of a day she caused a stampede.

Throughout the summer, she had difficulty with roving cattle that would devour her garden.  In frustration, one day she went out on her porch and yelled as loud as she could waving a red table cloth —her actions caused the whole herd to stampede . . . all the way to Abilene.

Cornie R. Reese

Cornie R. Royston Reese (Mrs. John C.) also later shared her memory of those early years.

“The cow boys used to drive the cattle to Newton and let them browse along Sand Creek. They would go to the gambling houses and the saloons”  in Newton.

F. A. Prouty arrived in Harvey County in late August 1871 at the close of the cattle drive season. The homesteaders worked quickly in preparation for the next summer.

“We worked as fast as possible, stopping our building long enough to put up hay to carry us through the winter, which did not  take a large amount as we lost all our cattle with  Texas fever shortly after our arrival here.  In the spring of 1872, we bought quite a number of wild steers out of a Texas herd.  The cow boys would rope the steers and neck them together in pairs, a few days later we would have a yoke on them and have them with our broke cattle helping pull a plow.  The sight of a snake or unusual noise would often excite them and they would make an effort to stampeded.”

By 1873, the cattle trade had moved to Wichita and with it many of the problems associated with a cow town.