The Early History of Carbondale
by Willliam G. Cutler (1883)
At this point the line of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, extends in a direction nearly north and south, down the center of a narrow but level valley. Here the town of Carbondale is located, with the business portion of the level land, while the residence part of the city extends far back over the gently sloping hills on both sides of the railroad.
The buildings are generally neat and substantial frame structures, though these are fast giving place to large edifices of brick and stone, of which there are already several. The town is an excellent point for business. All branches of trade are well represented, and in a prosperous condition, made so by the fact that the city is surrounded by a well developed agricultural country. Besides this there are a large number of coal mines in operation all around the town, which contribute particularly to its support.
In the spring of 1869, the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railroad was completed to this point, and a switch built out for about three-quarters of a mile from the main track, to the coal fields on the farm of J. F. Dodds. Here the railroad received its coal supplies. Coal has been discovered here some years, but only used by those in the immediate vicinity.
Preparations were soon made to open the coal mines on an extended scale, and to build up a town. Therefore a town company was formed, composed of T. J. Peter, then General Superintendent of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company, J. F. Dodds, C. P. Dodds, and L. R. Adams, and a town was laid out on the southeast quarter of Section 24, Township 14, Range 15 east. Soon afterward an addition was made on the northside by William Brown. Main Street passes between these divisions. Some time afterward an addition was made on the west side of the railroad by the Lawrence and Topeka Coal Company.
The first buildings were erected by the Carbon Coal Company. They consisted of houses for the miners, and a store was erected where groceries, meats and provisions were sold. A post-office was established, and C. P. Dodds appointed postmaster. He was also the railroad agent.
Early in 1870, C. P. Dodds, opened an opposition store, where he had a heavy trade. During the year the town progressed rapidly. E. H. Moore opened a drug store. Dr. C. C. Moore, and Dr. T. M. McClasky located about that time. The first lumber-yard was opened the same year by Klapp & Hilliard, who also built a large store with a hall above. Several other business houses were erected.
In the fall of 1870, bonds were voted to the Lawrence & Carbondale Railroad. Dr. C. C. Moore was the first president of the road, and was instrumental in securing bonds from the county, and from Ridgeway Township. The road was completed and put in operation in 1872. For about three years it did a good business, but the coal business decreasing, the road was abandoned, and preparations made to tear up the track. This was prevented by the citizens, who, under the lead of S. B. Bradford, secured an injunction. Some time afterward the road was again put in operation, and regular trains have since been run, though the line of road is hardly long enough to furnish a paying business.
For several years after the foundation of the town it grew rapidly, and was very prosperous, depending on the mining interest generally for support. This period of prosperity was followed by a few years of depression in business, in consequence of the Osage Carbon Company who operated most of the mines, transferring the heaviest of their mining operations to Osage City; yet during this dull period the town improved slowly, some of the mines being in continual operation.
After the dull season, the old mines were nearly all opened, with many new one, since which time the city has continued to improve, until the population, including those living at Carbon Hill, the base of operations for the Kansas Carbon Company, and adjoining the Carbondale town site, will number fully fifteen hundred.
The town is now one of the most prosperous ones of the county, and constant improvements are being made. The population is made up of all nationalities. The morals of the people are generally good, although there are occasional affrays among the rougher of the floating class of coal miners.
Other than the rapid development of the town there have been but few events of historical interest. The most startling occurrence was the burning of a shaft in W. L. Green's coal mines, in which nine men lost their lives. This occurred May 6, 1881. The mine was thirty-five feet deep, and the shaft built of planks. To one side of this was an air ventilator, at the base of which a fire was kept burning to create a draft. There being indications of damp, a boy was instructed to keep a good fire. The soot took fire in the flue, and soon the shaft was on fire. The boy saw it and called a man who tore off a board to get at the fire, but this created so much of a draft that the shaft was soon in flames, which prevented the escape of the men.
From the outside salt and water was poured down, but it was two hours before it was safe to go down. Superintendent Raby and others went down, and at last brought up all but three. All were nearly suffocated, and three were dead. Those remaining had been ascertained to be dead, and the damp had become so bad that it was decided to leave them, when three men from Scranton, hoping to save them went down with a guide, but only the latter returned. The names of the dead were Michael Mullen, Sr., Michael Mullen, Jr., J. P. Hungate, Charles Jones, A. Warner, J. McDonald, George Evans, A. Benedict, and N. McGonigal. The three last named were from Scranton.
Carbondale was incorporated as a city of the third class on October 15, 1872. C. C. Moore was the first Mayor; A. V. Sparhawk, Clerk; J. R. Cowen, Treasurer; J. S. Conwell, Police Judge, and E. Platt, Marshal. The Council was composed of M. T. Perrine, E. W. Teft, George Mullan, S. S. Stackhouse and G. W. Luman. The city is now in a prosperous condition, with surplus money in its treasury, and only low taxes are now levied. The present city officers are as follows: Mayor, R. H. Bartlett; Police Judge, J. G. Ellis; City Clerk, P. V. Griggs; Treasurer, O. J. Ganger; Marshal, George W. Arrel; Councilmen: R. B. McKee, R. H. McClair, Fred Roessler, William Irvin and Charles Davis.
The educational interest of the town have always been maintained, and kept up to a high standard. Before the town was established a school district has been formed, and for the first two years school was taught in the schoolhouse outside the limits of the town. In 1872 a large two-story stone schoolhouse was built at a cost of $6,000. A. V. Sparhawk was the first as well as the present Principal. An addition was built in 1882. When complete, the cost of the entire building will be $10,000. The number of departments in the school are five, each presided over by an efficient teacher.
The coal fields surround the town on all sides, and besides the numerous shafts, an extensive business is carried on in strippings, drifts and slopes. There are probably as many as fifty locations where coal is dug, without shafts having been sunk. Many of the leading merchants of the town own coal fields. During the winter a large number of men are employed in these fields, outside the regular mines.
The greater number of the mines are owned and operated by the Kansas Carbon Company, who own eight shafts on Carbon Hill, just east of the townsite. The first shaft was sunk in 1869. Here in the busiest season about 400 men are employed. The average shipments are thirty carloads per day. Besides the above shafts the company has two near Scranton. Besides the shafts belonging to the Kansas Carbon Company are others, owned by O'Donnell & Edgar, Richard Byrne, Thomas Trotter and George Robinson, each in continual operation.
From the earliest foundation of the town religious societies have had an organization, and are liberally supported. The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in the fall of 1870, with a membership of fifteen or twenty. Rev. Jesse Brockway was the first pastor. The present house of worship was built in the fall of 1874, at a cost of $1,000. The present membership is over fifty. Rev. H. A. L. King is the present pastor.
The Congregational Church was organized in 1877, and the church erected in 1879 at a cost of $1,200. Rev. J. M. Ashley was the first pastor, and the present membership is about thirty. The Baptist church was organized in 1880 by Rev. E. Brayman, and the church building erected in 1882, at a cost of $1,000. The present pastor is Rev. Levi Morse, and the membership is twenty-five.
The Carbondale Flouring Mill is owned and operated by Metzler & Co. It has a full grinding capacity of 900 bushels of wheat and 200 of corn per day, and when busiest ten men are employed. The building was once a grain elevator.
The Carbondale Bank was incorporated in May, 1881, with an authorized capital of $50,000, and the following officers: J. S. Danford, President; O. C. Smith, Cashier; J. S. Danford, S. B. Bradford, F. O'Donnell, S. Minchel, A. M. Sutherland, James Dickinshuts, James W. E______ (sic), J. Y. Urie and R. B. Mckee (sic), Directors. In November, 1881, James Dickinshuts succeeded J. S. Danford as President, J. D. Salmons having assumed charge of the bank in June, 1881, and being its acting President until it was re-organized. He is now Cashier, and also a Stockholder and Director.
The hotels of the city, exclusive of the many boarding houses and dining halls, are four in number, viz., The Sutherland Hotel, A. M. Sutherland, proprietor; Merchants Hotel, Mrs. M. A. Hunt, proprietor; the Cottage Hotel, C. A. Ellis, proprietor, and the Ohio House, Mrs. C. H. Green, proprietor.
The Carbondale Journal was established in April 1878, by A. A. Bantv, who was succeeded in July, 1878, by William Baxter. The paper was discontinued in September, 1878. The Carbondale Independent was established July 7, 1880, by McClure and McMonigal. In January, 1881, H. C. McMonigal bought McClure's interest, and continued the publication of the paper, until February 15, 1882, when Bush Bros. purchased the paper. As its name indicates it is independent in politics, and an eight column folio.
The lodges and secret societies of the city are in a prosperous condition, and number among their members the greater number of the leading men of the town and its vicinity.
The Carbondale Lodge, No. 70, A., F. & A. M., was organized October 22, 1874, with the following officers: Jesse Brockway, W. M.; Edward E. Thomas, S. W.; H. W. Jenness, J. W. The charter members were: E. E. Thomas, H. W. Jenness, C. C. Moore, P. B. Griggs, John R. Cowen, Alexander Thomas, E. J. Baker, J. V. Reed, George Doel and Jonas Stafford. Present membership is about thirty, and the condition of the lodge is flourishing.
Col. Hayes Post, No. 94, G. A. R., was organized August, 1882, with S. B. Bradford as Post Commander, and J. G. Ellis, Adjutant. The membership has been increased from twenty-nine to sixty.
Carbondale Lodge, No. 72, A. O. U. W., was instituted March 4, 1881, with the following officers: L. K. Eakin, P. W. M.; J. Y. Urie, M. W.; John Prescott, F.; William Stover, O; J. G. Ellis, F.; C. A. Ellis, Rec., and J. W. Wright, Recorder. The names of the other charter members were: J. A. DeLong, C. V. Bradley, Alexander Montgomery, Martin Hiesel, Thomas Leachman, R. B. McKee, F. Degroodt and William Stover. The present membership is twenty-one, and the lodge is in a flourishing condition.
Carbondale Lodge, No. 102, I. O. O. F., was instituted October 15, 1873, with the following officers: Joseph Prescott, N. G.; John Prescott, V. G.; George Milner, R. S.; Alexander Thomas, P. S.; and Ira Philbrick, Treasurer. The names of the other charter members were: George Doel, J. D. Wood and Martin Hanson.
Friendship Lodge, No. 2,340, K. of H., was instituted November 27, 1880, by T. B. Kingsley, Dep. G. D., of the State. The organization numbered thirty-five members. The first officers were: S. B. Bradford, P. D.; R. J. Coane, D.; J. W. Edgar, V. D.; J. A. Robinson, A. D.; Alonzo Stone, Y.; F. M. McClure, Rep.; F. D. Stevens, F. Rep.; S. J. Irvin, G.; E. M. Campbell, S. The lodge now numbers thirty-one members, and is in a prosperous condition.
St. Andrew's Lodge, No. 40, K. of P., was instituted June 23, 1881, with thirty-six members. The first officers were: Patrick Ward, C. C., S. Winchell, K. of R & S; O. Sutherland, V. C.; Frank O'Donnell, P. C.; Y. G. Muir, P.; C. V. Bradley, M. of E.; Isaiah Jones, M. of A. The lodge is prosperous, and has thirty-five members.
Carbondale is located at 38°49'6N, 95°41'30W (38.818411, -95.691533). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.0 km² (0.8 mi²). 1.9 km² (0.7 mi²) of it is land and 0.1 km² (0.04 mi²) of it (5.19%) is water.
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 1,478 people, 581 households, and 393 families residing in the city. The population density was 781.7/km² (2,020.0/mi²). There were 617 housing units at an average density of 326.3/km² (843.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.75% White, 0.27% African American, 0.54% Native American, 0.07% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.54% from other races, and 1.76% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.79% of the population.
There were 581 households out of which 41.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.1% were married couples living together, 13.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.2% were non-families. 28.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.16.
In the city the population was spread out with 32.0% under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 9.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 89.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.7 males. The median income for a household in the city was $31,550, and the median income for a family was $39,226. Males had a median income of $29,226 versus $21,300 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,729. About 9.8% of families and 11.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.4% of those under age 18 and 11.5% of those age 65 or over.