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Naming Names

January 28th, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Today’s Flyover People column as seen in The Emporia Gazette:

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NAMING NAMES

Once upon a time in Kansas, there were towns called Milo, Mimosa and Moonlight.

Those towns have faded into history now, but they are three of the 4,281 post offices established in Kansas between 1828 and 1961.

In a book called “Kansas Post Offices,” Robert W. Baughman listed every office opened (and closed) during those years. Baughman writes that 1879 was the year with the highest number of post offices established: 254. The year with the most discontinued offices was 1887 when 225 offices closed.

It is simply a book of lists. It has an alphabetical chart of every post office, a list by county, and a territorial list of post offices before statehood.

These towns came to life, many of them briefly, and most have now been returned to dust.

This week, Kansas claims 153 years of statehood. And to celebrate, I’ve been reading the names of towns in this book. I just love the sound of them. Kalvesta, Kanopolis, Kalamazoo.

We’ve had a Topsy, Tonovay, Tonganoxie, Thrall, and even a Taos.

Cairo, Jerusalem, Jericho.

Vera, Verdi, Vassar. Hope and Hopewell.

Peacock, Bird City, Bird Nest, Birdton. And near Cheyenne Bottoms is a place called Redwing.

Skidmore and Skiddy. Prosper and Progress. And once upon a time, people picked up mail in Cowboy and in Plowboy.

Peru still stands in Chautauqua County. In Republic County, New Scandanavia is now Scandia

Novelty once existed. As did Nonchalanta and Neutral. Plano and Plato. And Radical City.

We’ve had a Quarry and Quincy, Quenemo, Quindaro and Quivera. There’s been a Zephyr and Zenith, Zoro, Zulu and Zyba.

I would like to have visited Mystic, but this Sheridan County post office was only open from 1887-1889.

What’s the story, I wonder, behind the town named Troublesome? And the one called Discord?

Kansas has had places called Neighborville, Paradise and Mt. Pleasant. We’ve had Love Joy, Valentine and Harmony. And Friendship, Good Intent and Free Will.

There was a Netherland once. Norway and Egypt. Denmark.

Golden Belt, Golden Gate, Golden City. Globe.

I’ve been to Susank and Schoenchen, Speed and Spearville, but not to Scipio or Spivey.

Grasshopper Falls was renamed Sautrell Falls which later became Valley Falls.

Delano is now a neighborhood in Wichita. We’ve had Dillwyn in Stafford County, Delavan in Morris. There was once a Dixie, a Cleveland, Key West and Brooklyn. And a California.

Comet and Coyote are long gone. In Marion County, Antelope once had a post office; Bison remains in Rush County. In Butler County, a town called Cloud became Andover.

Riley County, naturally, once had a place named Wild Cat, while Jay Hawk made an appearance in Chautauqua County.

Kansans have lived in Assaria, Argyle and Appomattox. Arcola, Aroma, Achilles. Long ago, residents picked up mail in Alfalfa and Wheatland and Cactus.

Over the years, we’ve used up a lot of post offices and towns in this state. The hardiest ones have survived. No matter which post office delivers your mail today, I send you joyous Kansas Day greetings.

Copyright 2014 ~ Cheryl Unruh

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cities, columns, history, small towns

  1. Ri
    January 28th, 2014 at 23:06 | #1

    Wonderful article, Cheryl, as always. In the 1950s, I grew up on a farm in Butler County in the area of a ghost town named Chelsea. It hadn’t been gone that long, but there were only a few buildings left.

  2. Darryl Jones
    January 29th, 2014 at 12:45 | #2

    I kind of expect you know this, but Tonganoxie is not a ghost town. We “have” a Tonganoxie!

    I got some smiles once when I listed a reference’s address in Ozawkie.

  3. January 29th, 2014 at 12:49 | #3

    Thanks, Rita!

    Darryl – Yep, you’re right. I know Tonganoxie exists. 🙂 The column mentioned town names that I like. Most are long gone, but a number of them are still towns.

  4. Linda Allen
    January 30th, 2014 at 13:22 | #4

    I lived west of Kingman, Kansas until about 1956. We would go about a mile south of highway 54 and pick up our mail at Calista, Kansas. I was by there a few years ago and the old stone building still stands.It is south of 54 and the Quail Farm.

  5. January 31st, 2014 at 00:38 | #5

    Actually, now you mention it we do have “unfamiliar” names of places too.
    Some relative far away settlements from villages did get far away names, for example near Holwerd there is Elba (Napoleon), other settlements were named Turkije en Griekenland and near Grootegast there is a Bombay.
    Near Lioessens there is a pasture named Canada.

  6. Avis Foster
    February 5th, 2014 at 09:42 | #6

    There is one special town (in my mind that is) out in Western Kansas, right before Bird City on highway 36, named McDonald. (I’m sure it was there before the hamburgers were even thought of ☺ ) It is still a busy community with one bank and one grocery store. Had the 150 year celebration last May. I saw the post office go from a beautiful corner building, to a small office type building and as far as I know, it is still an operating office. I left McDonald after high school, so when we went back to visit, my friends children were always jealous of my children, because they got to go to McDonald and have all the hamburgers they wanted. I live in Texas now, but still love my Kansas heritage. Thanks Cheryl for all your wonderful articles.