Early History of Cottonwood Falls
by William G. Cutler (1883)
The first settlement in the area of Cottonwood Falls was in 1854, when an Indian trader named Seth Hayes founded a cattle ranch on the Cottonwood River close to the mouth of Diamond Spring Creek. The area around the town was organized as Chase County in 1859. In 1873 the city's French Renaissance style city hall was built; at roughly the same time, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway reached Cottonwood Falls. Through the late 19th and early 20th centuries the area around the city was mainly divided into farms and cattle ranches.
In 1931, Transcontinental & Western Air Flight 599 crashed near Cottonwood Falls, killing all eight on board, including Notre Dame University football coach Knute Rockne. A monument to the crash is located on private property ten miles south of the town.
Early History of Cottonwood Falls
Cottonwood Falls, at the organization of Chase County, was made the temporary county seat. At the general election held November, 1862, North Cottonwood Falls received 74 votes; Poland, 26; Bazaar, 21; Cottonwood Valley, one vote. North Cottonwood Falls was located on the northeast quarter of Section 29, Township 19, Range 8. Its plat was filed for record January 29, 1861; its proprietors were S. D. Hinkley, J. M. Pherson and J. B. Smith. Its public square, which is in the site of its new, beautiful and spacious school building, contains nearly five acres, and its valuable and attractive court house, stands on the west half of block 28 and on the east half of 29.
The business of the city is done in what is technically North Cottonwood Falls. In reaching this place by rail travelers stop at Strong City, where there is a conveyance in readiness to take them to the Union House, at the Falls, which is located but a little distance from the Cottonwood, on the west side of Broadway, the main street. This street runs directly south to its termination at the court house ground. At the right of the bridge, on the south side of the Cottonwood River, is an excellent watermill, and the music of the falling waters as they flow over the dam, added to the romantic appearance of the country and the attractions created by art, make the scene at once joyous, impressive and suggestive. D. C. Webb, the merchant prince of Strong City, has his business elaborately lettered by an advertisement on the roof of the mill.
The bridge is of the King pattern, 150 feet in length, and either way from the river margin, is heavily timbered, and the rich bottom lands contiguous thereto are quite expansive. Cottonwood Falls has two hotels, two bakeries, two billiard rooms, two confectioneries, tow meat markets, two livery stables, two coal yards, two blacksmiths shops, two millinery establishments, two furniture houses, two music and sewing machine stores, two hardware stores, two drug stores, two newspapers, the Leader, Republican; the Courant, Democrat; one lumber yard, one brick yard, one feed store, one barber shop, one shoe shop, one paint shop, one harness shop, one carpenter shop, and seven general stores.
The physicians are W. P. Pugh, J. W. Stone, and W. H. Castler, who is also a dealer in thoroughbred shorthorns and Berkshire hogs. The attorneys are F. P. Cochran, T. H. Grisham, S. P. Young, Thomas O. Kelley, C. H. Carswell, the Madden Brothers. C. C. Whitson is an insurance agent, W. H. Hosinger is a real estate and loan agent. J. W. McWilliams established the Chase County Land Agency in 1869, and he has the special agency for the sale of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad lands, of which there are nearly 100,000 acres in the county remaining unsold. A. S. Perrigo is the postmaster.
The Chase County National Bank was organized June, 1882, and began business August 28, 1882. Its capital is $50,000. The officers are President, A. S. Howard; Vice-President, J. D. Minick; Cashier, W. W. Sanders. Directors, Arch. Miller, C. W. Rogler, William Jeffrey, J. D. Minick, F. Bernard, Samuel Baker, J. R. Blackshire, A. J. Crocker, A. S. Howard. A new stone bank building was completed during 1882, at a cost of $9,000, and occupied by the bank January 1, 1883.
As of the census of 2000, there were 966 people, 375 households, and 227 families residing in the city. The population density was 643.1/km² (1,674.9/mi²). There were 427 housing units at an average density of 284.3/km² (740.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.93% White, 2.38% African American, 1.14% Native American, 0.21% Asian, 0.83% from other races, and 0.52% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.38% of the population.
There were 375 households out of which 28.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.2% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.2% were non-families. 34.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 23.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 91.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $28,947, and the median income for a family was $37,986. Males had a median income of $27,639 versus $19,167 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,166. About 8.8% of families and 11.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.0% of those under age 18 and 8.6% of those age 65 or over.