Dodge City Town Company

      H. L. SITLER, FROM FORT DODGE, HAD LAID STRIPS OF SOD FOR his shanty, all above ground, on the highest point around, Boot Hill, of today and yesteryear. From this high perch a man could keep an eye on his cattle and one peeled out for Indians, knowing his cattle were safer here than around Fort Dodge where the Indians congregated. From the doorway of his sod house shelter, Sitler could scan the countryside, barren plains that stretched away in every direction, with no habitation in sight. Oftentimes, a wagon master chose the site at the foot of old Boot Hill's scraggy wall of rocks for a noonday rest. Perchance a buffalo hunter and his skinner made a brief stop for an exchange of news. Beyond this companionship and that of soldiers and the few business men at Fort Dodge abodes, there: was no habitation short of the Hardesty ranch near the state line.

      The situation changed, however, in June, 1872, when the Santa Fe railroad contractors moved their headquarters westward, setting up camp on the site of present Dodge City. Here they found an enterprising young man, George M. Hoover, lately from Hays City, with the able assistance of J. G. (John) McConnell, selling his brand of liquor at so much a finger to the thirsty workmen. He had set up a tent saloon, serving customers from a plank bar held up by stacked strips of prairie sod.

      Journeying along westward with the railroad workers, Smith and Edwards, quickly bolted their sectional grocery store building together and opened for business. One of the owners was J. B. Edwards of Abilene, Kansas, who lived to a ripe old age and served as clerk in the state house, swearing in new employees and giving a bit of western Kansas history free of charge.

      Perhaps talk of a town at this location had been going on for some time among the men at Fort Dodge and all this extra activity brought it to a head. All were agreed it should be located just off the military reservation. A. A. Robinson, chief engineer for the Santa Fe, with his assistants, came to survey the townsite in July, 1872. He was accompanied by the men from Fort


24 Early Ford County

Dodge who were interested in looking over the tract-Robert M. Wright, Major E. Kirk, A. J. Anthony, George M. Reighard, H. L. Sitler, and Major S. Tremaine. The name, "buffalo" was agreed upon for buffalo surrounded the site.

      The name given the interested men, "Occupants of the Townsite" was agreed upon because title to the land must pass to some organization. A complete list of the members points out many of the new town's future business men-Robert M. Wright, E. B. Kirk, W. S. Tremaine, A. J. Anthony, H. L. Sitler, A. J. Peacock, Charles Rath, Morris Collar, P. Ryan, George B. Cox, R. W. Evans, A. B. Webster, John Haney, Jacob Collar, F. C. Zimmerman, James H. Kelly, Herman J. Fringer, G. M. Hoover, and T. C. Tupper.

      The new town of Buffalo started its advent as the first town in Ford County with quite a boost, population-wise. Santa Fe employees numbered around a thousand and for a period of several months were working out of Buffalo. They were going ahead with all speed, rushing the grade through to the Colorado line so they would not lose the Kansas Land Grant. Freighters brought in food and other necessities for them. O. A. (Brick) Bond had the contract to furnish beef at 6%2 cents a pound for the gang and sometimes the cook accepted a buffalo. Plainsmen began drifting into the new settlement.

      All this excitement just naturally got several business buildings going up. The first one finished was occupied by the Fringer Drug store, facing Front Street. In a nook at the rear of the building, young Dr. T. L. McCarty had an office. Before long a lean-to was built at the north end of the building, partitioned into two one-room apartments. Dr. McCarty and his wife Sally moved into the west apartment and Charles Rath and his wife Carry, into the east one. The building also housed the postoffice.

      However, when application was made for the postoffice, the "Occupants of the Townsite" were informed that mail was already being delivered to a Buffalo, Kansas, and offered the suggestion that the new town be re-named, "Dodge City," quite possibly for Colonel I. Dodge, commander at Ford Dodge. Lloyd Shinn was the first postmaster.

      Kansas is a checkerboard of townships, each six miles square. Townships begin at the Nebraska line and are numbered South 1-34. Townships are numbered East and West from the 6th

Dodge City Town Company 25

Meridian, the dividing line. The Eastern townships extend from 1-25; the Western townships extend from 1-43. Dodge City is "26 South, 25 West." Thus Dodge City is 26 townships (squares) south of Nebraska and 25 townships west of the 6th Principal Meridian. Since title to the land for the settlement of Dodge City would pass to the "Occupants of the Townsite," the men of whom this group consisted, hunters, Indian traders, freighters, herdsmen, and army officers at Fort Dodge, agreed to form a corporation, to be known as "The Dodge City Town Company." A copy of its charter follows:

Charter of the Dodge City Town Company of Ford
County State of Kansas
County of Ford SS
Be it remembered that on this 15th day of August, 1872, we Henry L. Sitler, Robert M. Wright, A. J. Peacock, A. J. Anthony, Herman J. Fringer, and Lyman B. Shaw of said County, and Samuel Weichelsbaum,* of Riley County, Kansas, Edward Woale, of Maryland, Richard I. Dodge of New York, W. S. Tremaine, of New York, David Taylor of Leavenworth County, Kansas, and Alex S. Johnson, of Shawnee County, Kansas, do hereby associate ourselves together as a private Corporation to be known as the Dodge City Town Company, for the purpose of creating a town to be located in the County of Ford, State of Kansas, and to be designated and known as "Dodge City"-Kansas, the said town to be situated upon lands selected and entered under the act of Congress of March 24, 1869, entitled, "An act for the relief of the inhabitants of Cities and Towns upon the public land," which lands have been filed upon by our authorized agent under the provisions of the above recited Act of Congress, and for our own use in our corporate capacity, and are described as follows to-wit: The Southwest Quarter of Section Number Twenty-five (25) less that portion embraced in the Fort Dodge Military Reservation, and the Southeast Quarter Section of Twenty-six (26) less that portion embraced in the Fort Dodge Military Reservation, and lots numbered one (1) and two (2) of Section No. Thirty-five (35) with some exception as to military reservation of Fort Dodge, all in township (26) Twenty-five (25) west-lying and being in the County of Ford, State of Kansas, and containing in the aggregate, (320) Three Hundred and twenty acres, more or

26 Early Ford County

less, when the office of the Company shall be established. That The number of its directors shall be (7) seven, named as follows,

Robert M. WrightFort Dodge, Kansas
Herman D. FringerFort Dodge, Kansas
Henry L. SitlerFort Dodge, Kansas
Lyman B. ShawFort Dodge, Kansas
Richard I. DodgeNew York
W. S. TremaineNew York
Edward WoaleMaryland

That the Company shall be a joint Stock Company with capital stock of ($6000) Sixty hundred dollars divided into 600 shares at $10, Ten Dollars each which may be increased as the majority of the Stockholders may decide upon at a regular meeting. In testimony whereof we hereunto set our hands and affix our seals the day and year above written.

H. L. Sitler-Seal
R. M. Wright-Seal
A. J. Anthony-Seal
A. J. Peacock-Seal
W. S. Tremaine-Seal
David Taylor-Seal
Herman I. Fringer-Seal
Saml Weichelsbaum*-Seal
Edw. Woale-Seal
Richard I. Dodge-Seal
Lyman B. Shaw-Seal
A. S. Johnson-Seal

State of Kansas County of Ford SS
Be it remembered that on this day of July, 1872, personally appeared before me Herman I. Fringer, a Notary Public of Ford County, Kansas, Henry I. Sitler, R. M. Wright, A. J. Anthony, A. J. Peacock, Saml Wichslebaum,* Richard I. Dodge, W. S. Tremaine, Edward Woale, Lyman B. Shaw, David Taylor, Alex S. Johnson, personally known to me to be the identical persons named in the above writing and who have subscribed the same and acknowledged the signing and sealing of the above Charter to be their voluntary act and deed for the uses and purposes therein expressed.

Dodge City Town Company 27

In witness whereof I have hereunto affixed my hand and official seal the day and year above written.
Herman I. Fringer Notary Public

State of Kansas County of Ford SS
Be it Remembered that on this 8th day of July, 1872, personally appeared before me Lyman B. Shaw, a Justice of the Peace, in and for the County of Ford, State of Kansas, Herman I. Fringer, personally known to me to be the identical person named in the above writing and who has subscribed the same and acknowledges the signing and sealing of the above Charter to be his voluntary act and deed for the uses and purpose therein expressed.

      The corporation was selling stock as late as December 22, 1884. At that time, R. W. Evans purchased ten shares of the Capital Stock of The Dodge City Town Company. It was certificate No. 76 and was signed by the president, Alden Speare, and the secretary, Wm. G. Dickinson. Other copies of these ornate stock certificates may exist but this is the only one known about at this time. No one today knows how long they were still on sale.

      In the early seventies, the stock was advertised extensively. Two columns are noted from the Dodge City Messenger, June 25, 1874, which shows the pride The Dodge City Town Company had in the town, the hope they had for its future, and the lengths the boosters were willing to go to further its growth.

28 Early Ford County

Town Company's Adv.

Town Company

Ford County, Kansas
Enquire of
R. M. Wright
at Chas. Rath and Co.'s, Dodge City
Or E. B. Kirk
Secy. and Treas., Fort Dodge

Rath and Co.'s Column

Chas. Rath and Co.

dealers in all kinds of

Dodge City Town Company 29

      Title to the public land upon which the new town, Dodge City, was located was conveyed to the "Occupants of the Townsite." They raised funds to buy out homesteads by selling shares at $10 each in the company, thereby having an amount of $6,000. Presumably when a man could raise $100 he bought ten shares in the original townsite. The Original Townsite stretched northward from Water Street in South Dodge Division along 6th Avenue to Comanche, then east to Avenue L and again turned south.

      One abstract carried through to other hands was the Patent, Date, May 1, 1874, Consideration Full Payment, Certificate No. 5145, Osage Trust Land, Rec. Vol. 10, page 508, L. E. Lippincott, Recorder, General Land Office, Filed September 29, 1874, at 1 P. M. and recorded in Vol. "A" patents, page 62, granted by United States of America, by U. S. Grant, President, to H. J. McGaffigan. This tract of land, 302.78 Acres, was bought in by Mr. McGaffigan, Probate Judge of Ellis County, Kansas, and Ex-Officio Probate Judge of Ford County, Kansas, in trust for the Occupants of the Townsite of Dodge City, Kansas.

      The transaction is further carried on by the judge's transfer of the land to the Occupants of the Townsite, Dodge City, Ford County, Kansas, by Warranty Deed, date August 21, 1873, consideration $1.00, date of acknowledgement, August 7, 1873, before D. Witt C. Smith, Clerk District Court, Ellis County, State of Kansas, and filed February 23, 1878, at 3 P.M. and recorded in Vol. "A" page 491. The members of Occupants of the Townsite are listed as: R. M. Wright, W. S. Tremain, P. Ryan, John Haney, James H. Kelley, E. B. Kirk, G. M. Hoover, A. J. Peacock, A. J. Anthony, Geo. B. Cox, Jacob Collar, Herman J. Fringer, F. C. Tupper, Charles Rath, Morris Collar, R. W. Evans, F. C. Zimmerman, H. L. Sitler, and A. B. Webster.

      Again there was transaction No. 3, when the Occupants of the Townsite of Dodge City, Ford County, Kansas, gave a warranty deed date August 30, 1873, consideration $100 to the Dodge City Town Company. The acknowledgement was August 30, 1873, before Herman J. Fringer, Notary Public, Ford County, State of Kansas, Filed November 12, 1873, and Recorded in Vol. "A" page 13. This instrument further lists the wives of the married men: Alice J. Wright, Emma Peacock, Carrie Rath, S. G. Tremain, Bridget Haney, Calvina Anthony, Mary Collar,

30 Early Ford County

L. Ryan, A. H. Cox, Sarah A. Evans, A. J. Webster, and Anna H. Tupper. Quite possibly the husbands listed the wives' names, hence the many initials instead of names.

      Then there was the affidavit in which S. Gallagher Jr. states, "That he was well acquainted with G. M. Hoover, H. L. Sitler, Herman J. Fringer, and James Kelley, who with others conveyed to the Dodge City Town Company, by warranty Deed, dated the 30th day of August, A. D. 1873, lands in Sections 25, 26, and 35, Township 26, Range 25, in Ford County, Kansas, and knows at the time said conveyance was made, said G. M. Hoover, H. L. Sitler, Herman J. Fringer, and James Kelley, were unmarried." This was notarized by W. G. Lee, December 9, 1886, while J. G. Jernigan was Register of Deeds.

      According to the public records at the court house, the "Occupants of the Townsite," on August 20, 1873, conveyed title to the land to The Dodge City Town Company.

      On abstracts citing the original townsite, the "Dissolution of The Dodge City Town Company" will be found. The following is copied from the abstract for a deed which includes other lots in Dodge City, Kansas.

2nd acknowledgement for J. G. Egan, as trustee, as aforesaid, March 28th, 1906, before Chas. A. Cheney, Notary Public, City of St. Louis, Missouri.
"3rd acknowledgement for W. A. Coats as Trustee, as aforesaid, March 23rd, 1906, before Grant J. Aiken, Notary Public County of Hillsboro, Florida.
"This deed recites as follows:
"And Whereas, on or about the 21st day of August, A. D. 1892, said Dodge City Town Company, became dissolved by reason of the expiration of the time for which it was chartered, according to the statutes in such case made and provided, the said real property hereinbefore described not having been previously conveyed by the said company; and whereas, at the date of dissolution of said Company, as aforesaid, the persons constituting its membership of the Board of Directors, were as follows to-wit: Alden Speare, A. S. Johnson, G. M. Hoover, J. G. Egan, and W. A. Coats; The officers of said Company then being as follows: to-wit:
"President, Alden Speare; Vice-president, G. M. Hoover; Secretary and Treasurer, W. A. Coats: And, whereas, the said Alden Speare and A. S. Johnson are now deceased; And

Dodge City Town Company 31

whereas, no receiver, was appointed for said Dodge City Town Company; Now therefore the said G. M. Hoover, J. G. Egan and W. A. Coats being the sole surviving members of said Board of Directors and Officers and managers of the affairs of said Corporation, at the time of its dissolution and being by virtue of the statutes in such case made and provided; the trustees, for Creditors and Stockholders of said dissolved Corporation, have executed this Deed for the uses and purposes herein expressed.

      So ended the existence of The Dodge City Town Company, excepting as the name is noted on abstracts and other legal papers.

Ref.: Santa Fe, Marshall; Cowboy Capital, Wright; Author Interview with H. B. Bell. *Correct spelling-Weichselbaum

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Dodge City History