Ashtabula Colony and King City
by William G. Cutler (1883)

In January, 1871, E. L. King, president, John W. Hill, vice-president, J. U. Fellows, secretary, and J. R. Williams, treasurer, organized a colony in Ashtabula, Ohio, for the purpose of locating a town in Kansas. Messrs. E. L. King, John W. Hill and Smith Edwards, were appointed a locating committee. They traveled a thousand miles over the State, and were returning homeward without having made a location, when they came into McPherson County, and decided upon the site of King City. The locating committee returned to Ohio, and about the last of May, the president of the company and about twenty-five others, started for Kansas.


By June, 1872, the town contained twenty-five houses, and it is probable that if the tier of townships had not been struck off from the southern part of the county, King City would have obtained the county seat. When this was accomplished, however, in the winter of that year, its fate was a foregone conclusion. King City was surveyed by County Surveyor J. D. Chamberlain, in February 1875, it being located upon the west half of the northwest quarter, and the west half of the southwest quarter of Section 26, Township 20 south, of Range 3 west of the sixth principal meridian. The city is now virtually defunct.

On June 22, 1871, says N. S. Hoisington,

'I came to what is now known as King City. When I arrived at the woods on Turkey Creek, where the Ashtabula colony had stopped, I found tents, covered wagon boxes, and shanties in which were also a few people who were not natives of Ohio. During the night of my arrival I experienced one of the most violent storms of wind, rain and hail I ever witnessed. The shanty in which I was sheltered, with its inmates, was nearly blown down the bank. Every man during that night was busy holding on to his tent poles. H. D. Fellows were (sic) the proprietor of the shanty in which I was housed, his boarders furnishing the provisions.

Himself, N. S. and D. B. Hoisington, and D. D. Carpenter were all camped together. In Norman Allen's tent to the south were Mr. Allen, Mrs. Mertz (cook), Miss Mary Allen, Charles Allen, and N. D. Allen. In William Morgan's tent to the northwest were the proprietor, Jeff Beales, and William Firkey (?). West of Norman Allen's tent was that owned by John Sample, which was occupied by himself and wife, Nellie Sample, and John Drake.

L. B. Carr and R. B. Holbrook lived together in a covered wagon box, just on the southwest. Near the old road which led to King City were Albert G. Smith and ______ Gilotte, who used to run a breaking outfit, and they turned over a good many acres of sod in and around King City. Jack Thomas, who married Norman Allen's daughter, was also one of these early pioneer's - and a jolly fellow who kept us all good natured. Our camp was just fifteen miles from the Little Arkansas River.

A mile and a half north was the 'Brickyard Boarding House', where lived the proprietor of the yard, William Nelson, and his family and 'hands', of which I was one. The brick, however, proved to be of no use outside a building, since the first rain that come would wash them all to pieces. A spot one-half a mile from the camp was selected as the site of King City. George Crissy built the first store and did a flourishing business in groceries, provisions, etc. The building was afterwards moved to McPherson Centre.

Across the street (just 150 feet) R. O'Dell built a hotel, and across the way from the hotel D. B. Hoisington had his blacksmith shop. South of Crissy's store Norman Allen, of Michigan, built the first residence, and north of the hotel Charles Anderson built another house. D. D. Carpenter, John Carpenter, Mr. Bonnell and others afterwards built residences, and Dr. S. S. Gregg held forth as a physician in a little office between the blacksmith shop and Mr. Carpenter's house.

These were all the buildings on Main street. On the street east of Main Charles Zang built a house and storeroom, and George Galvin and Harry Morris also made some improvements. South was another hotel built by William West and Fred. Albright. South of this was another residence belonging to Mr. Camp, and south of Norman Allen's place was a house which had been moved into town by Barney Reichard. L. N. Holmberg also moved a building into King City. He, with S. E. Granger, soon started a good general store. Charles Anderson followed with a few groceries and agricultural implements.

After a time John W. Hill and H. A. Hendry built a large store and put in a stock of drugs and medicines. Overhead was the public hall in which Harvey Williams organized the first Sunday school, and in which the village school was also taught. Old Father Shelly used to preach in William West's hotel once every two weeks. After the two tiers of townships were taken from the south of McPherson County, however, and the county seat moved to McPherson Centre, King City fell to pieces.'


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