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HISTORY & MUSEUMS in CHASE COUNTY

February 11, 1859, might be the anniversary of Chase County, KS’s entrance into the Kansas Territory of the United States, but our roots run deeper. Dive into our great history and learn about prairie life, both then and now.

Chase County Courthouse

300 Pearl Street

Cottonwood Falls

620.273.6319

The Chase County Courthouse is the oldest in the Midwest and is still in daily use.

Grand Central Hotel & Grill

215 Broadway Street

Cottonwood Falls

620.273.6763

Check Facebook for daily specials!

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

2480b Kansas 177

Strong City

620.273.8494, 620.273.6034

Admission: Free! The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is one of the nation’s newest national preserves.

Matfield Station & PrairieArt Path

640 Kansas 177

Matfield Green

620.481.6074

The Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe railroad company built the bunkhouse structure in 1922 to provide shelter for the section hands who maintained the railroad.

Chase County Historical Museum & Library

303 Broadway Street

Cottonwood Falls

620-273-8500

Browse two buildings with two stories of exhibits, including a schoolroom, military room, dentist’s office, cowboy memorabilia, and Victorian artifacts.

Roniger Memorial Museum

315 Broadway Street

Cottonwood Falls

620-273-6423

Admission is free, and donations are appreciated!

Chase County Old School Development District

401 Maple Street

Cottonwood Falls

(620) 340-9634

We are a Kansas not-for-profit corporation formed to save the built history of the old school and maintain neighborhood integrity by cultivating community engagement, developing opportunities, and ensuring fiscal sustainability.

Pioneer Bluffs

695 Kansas 177

Matfield Green

620.753.3484

The Pioneer Bluffs Foundation features monthly events and group tours along the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway.

Clover Cliff Ranch Bed & Breakfast

825a U.S. 50

Elmdale

620-343-0621

A 19th-century later-Victorian, empire-style home set on a working ranch.

Strong City Depot & Railroad Park

204 West Topeka Street

Strong City

n/a

Strong City was named after William Barstow Strong, the Vice President and General Manager of the Santa Fe Railway System, in 1881.

Frontier Store House

104 South Reed Street

Matfield Green

620-953-2035

Built between Scenic By-way #177 and the BNSF tracks, the Frontier Store House in Matfield Green is as peaceful as possible.

Spring Street Retreat

371 Spring Street

Cottonwood Falls

316.393.3194

Spring Street Retreat is a bed and breakfast in the heart of the Flint Hills, Cottonwood Falls.

STONE HOUSES & BARNS

Because of the scarcity of lumber, the abundance of native limestone, and the great stone quarries operating in Chase County, there were a great many stone houses built in the early days of Chase County.

 

The building of the Chase County Courthouse from 1872 to 1873 attracted stone masons to this county, and many settled here. The stone houses of Chase County tell a unique story of the history, architecture, and people who settled here.

 

Andrew Drummond House (CCHS)

Year Built

1891

Original Owner

Andrew James Drummond

Builder

Jimmy Graham

Location

Elmdale

One mile north of Elmdale on a hill overlooking the Cottonwood Valley.

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Description 

Mr. Drummond drew his house plans, and they named the farm Farvue Farm. The stone was from the old grade school in Strong city.

Austin Glanville Stone House

Year Built

1874

Original Owner

James Austin

Builder

John Shofe

Location

Cottonwood Falls

Mulberry Hill

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Description 

In 1874, James Austin hired John Shofe, a stone mason, to build a two-story house on Mulberry Hill.  Mr. Shofe was a stonemason at the Chase County Courthouse.  This was the first home that Mr. Shofe built.  The native limestone used to build the house came from the quarry across the road.  It is said that some stones from this quarry were used to build portions of the State Capital building in Topeka.  The west and south sides of the house are cut limestone.  The north and east sides are uncut field stones.  This was done purposely so that the house, when approached from the town by visitors, would look more refined.  Mr. Shofe also built the stone house owned by Suzan Barnes southwest of Mulberry Hill and other stone homes in the area.

The Old Mormon Trail, which lies just south of the stone house, was used from 1848 to 1852- no exact dates are known.  The Santa Fe Trail ran 15 to 25 miles on either side. Another such trail, The Freight Mail and Immigrant Trail, ran along the north side of the Cottonwood River just opposite the stone house.  This trail also joined with another famous trail, the Texas Cattle Trail.  Many of these trails are now farm paths, country roads, and even paved roads in various areas of Chase County.

In 1873 the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad Company purchased rights to portions of the Austin Farm to use as a railroad right-of-way.  These tracks ran east-west just north of the house.  A branch of the railroad ran south to the quarry so that the stone could be hauled out by railway cars.

James Austin married in 1878 and had offspring.  The daughter, Sarah, married William T. Glanville in 1903.  They lived in the stone house for many years.  James Austin’s son, William Clark Austin, purchased the Chase County Leader-News and a Strong City newspaper and was elected State Printer several times in his lifetime.

The Austin family burial plot is located in the Prairie Grove Cemetery.  The Glanville family has donated several personal family heirlooms to the Chase County Museum on Broadway in Cottonwood falls and can be seen there today. The house changed owners several times and stayed in the family until 1994 when it was acquired by the first owner outside the extended Austin-Glanville families.

Barrett House (CCHS)

Year Built

1917

Original Owner

John Barrett

Builder

Bill Teat and Axel Anderson

Location

Elmdale

Clover Cliff Ranch House (KSHS) 4 miles southwest of Elmdale

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Description 

The imposing two-story stone ranch house southwest of Elmdale on highway 50 was built in 1883 by Jacob Ramer Blackshere. Blackshere was born in 1834 in West Virginia. He came to Chase County after 1866. Regarded as a pioneer and experimenter in agricultural practices, he first introduced Galloway cattle into this part of the state. He also introduced grain sorghums as a dependable grain crop. He also brought about the planting of alfalfa and marketed alfalfa seeds.

The small original part of the ranch house was a one-room stone structure built from field stones found on the property. A large open fireplace heated the room. This room is at the north end of the house. It was reportedly built in the early 1860s, but the kitchen, dining room, and upstairs bedroom were added to the south of the original room in 1865-66. More second-story bedrooms and first-floor sittings rooms were added in 1883. A serpentine staircase of walnut and maple connected the floors. In 1917 the roof was resurfaced with an alloy of copper, lead, and tin. The metal cresting, original to the 1883 addition, was left undisturbed.

Charles McDowell House (CCHS)

Year Built

1881

Original Owner

Charles McDowell

Builder

Charles McDowell

Location

Cottonwood Falls

2 ½ miles NW of Cottonwood Falls.

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Description 

The rock was taken from an outcropping of stone on a hill northwest of the Prairie Grove Cemetery.

Cottonwood Falls House (CCHS)

Year Built

1879

Original Owner

Builder

Location

Cottonwood Falls

Oak Street

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Description 

Crofoot House (CCHS)

Year Built

Completed in 1979

Original Owner

E. C. Crofoot

Builder

Jimmy Graham

Location

Cottonwood Falls

Cottonwood Falls

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Description 

The rock was obtained from stone fences on Frank Frey’s land east of Strong City.

Cuthbert House (CCHS)

Year Built

1867

Original Owner

Robert Cuthbert

Builder

Robert Cuthbert

Location

Cottonwood Falls

Located on the west bank of Spring Creek just west of Cottonwood Falls at the foot of the hill.

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Description 

David Sauble House (CCHS)

Year Built

1871

Original Owner

David Sauble

Builder

David Sauble

Location

Cedar Point

3 miles south of Cedar Point.

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Description 

The west part of the house was built in 1871. The east room was originally a washhouse. The walls of this house are as firm and steadfast as when it was built.

Davis House (CCHS)

Year Built

1880

Original Owner

H.S.F. Davis

Builder

Location

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Description 

Davis was a prominent sheep rancher.

Ellis House (CCHS)

Year Built

Original Owner

Orville Ellis

Builder

Maggie William's father

Location

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Description 

Three stone quarries were located close by.

First Chase County Jail

Year Built

1870

Original Owner

Builder

Location

Cottonwood Falls

West Main Street

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Description 

Gregory House (CCL)

Year Built

1908

Original Owner

Charles M. Gregory

Builder

John Shofe

Location

Cottonwood Falls

371 Spring Street, Cottonwood Falls

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Description 

Foundation is 4’ high. The original house was two stories high and included an attic and a full basement. The first and second floors contained 13 rooms and three large hallways with 9 & 10’ high ceilings. A stairway was centered in the middle of the house. Four large stone columns were built to support the house's front porch. There were 28’ tall and 2’ in diameter. The columns were known as the first of their kind. Mr. Shofe was the creator. A carriage house stood behind the house.

Harshman House (CCHS)

Year Built

Completed in 1947

Original Owner

Willard Harshman

Builder

Completed in 1947

Location

Clements

Northeast of Clements

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Description 

The stones for the house were picked up in the Harshman pastures. The stones are veneered in cement in irregular shapes on the house's frame. They used one truckload of rock from Canyon City, Colorado.

Historic Cavalry Barn

Year Built

February 1927

Original Owner

Cottonwood Falls City Council

Builder

Location

Cottonwood Falls

Located east of Cottonwood Falls in Swope Park.

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Description 

This historic barn built of native limestone is all that remains of Chase County’s Cavalry Unit. In August of 1926, the 2nd Squadron Headquarters Detachment 114th Cavalry was organized in Cottonwood Falls by Frank Dunkley, who was to head the organization. Enlistment included 27 young men from the area. In October of 1926, the mustering by the federal government was made by Major Chandler of Topeka and by Col. Roy Perkins for the state of Kansas. That same month the Cottonwood Falls City Council voted to spend $2000 to build a barn in Swope Park for the Cavalry to rent to the government for $15 a month. After completion in February 1927, the barn stabled ten horses and provided feed, supply storage, and living quarters for a caretaker. But the barn’s life as a cavalry barn was short-lived. Less than three years later, in May of 1929, it would become an armory used for headquarters for the Headquarters Company First Battalion of the 137th Infantry. Restoration of the Cavalry barn and armory is ongoing by the Cavalry Barn Committee, including descendants of the original unit. Their goal is to restore the barn to its original condition with cavalry and infantry equipment displays.

Irwin House (CCHS)

Year Built

1953

Original Owner

Ralph Irwin

Builder

Ralph Irwin

Location

Cottonwood Falls

Cottonwood Falls, First Street, in the southwest part of town.

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Description 

James Drummond House (CCHS)

Year Built

1891

Original Owner

James & Jean Drummond

Builder

John McDowell

Location

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Description 

The foundation was 4 feet wide at the base and tapered to 18” for the walls. No address. Drummond’s lived there until 1966.

John H. Scribner House (CCHS)

Year Built

1870’s

Original Owner

John H. Scribner

Builder

John H. Scribner

Location

Strong City

East between Strong city and Cottonwood

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Description 

John Sauble House (CCHS)

Year Built

1881

Original Owner

John Sauble

Builder

Lawrence Drinkwater

Location

Cedar Point

3 ¾ miles south of Cedar Point.

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Description 

McNee House (Emporia Gazette, Nov. 27, 2004)

Year Built

1890s

Original Owner

George McNee, an immigrant from Scotland

Builder

George McNee

Location

Elmdale

Middle Creek Road near Elmdale

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Description 

Stones were taken out of a quarry near Middle Creek. The house faces south because McNee thought a road would eventually be built on the south. The road was built on the north, so the back of the house faces the road. The smokehouse was built in 1893. The Miller family owned the house for four generations.

Moore House (CCHS)

Year Built

1879

Original Owner

Mr. Moore

Builder

Builder laid up stone in payment for a horse.

Location

Strong City

3 ½ miles east of Strong City. Two-story house high on the hill.

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Description 

Formerly the C.A. Read Farm.

Oldsberry House (CCHS)

Year Built

1870

Original Owner

Ed Oldsberry

Builder

Ed Oldsberry

Location

Cottonwood Falls

2 m. east of Cottonwood

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Description 

Riley House (CCHS)

Year Built

1908

Original Owner

John Newton Riley

Builder

Will Beach

Location

Cottonwood Falls

One mile southwest of Cottonwood Falls on Spring Creek Road.

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Description 

Roniger House (CCHS)

Year Built

Original Owner

unknown

Builder

Sol Heskett

Location

Bazaar

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Description 

Built into the side of the hills near Bazaar. Contains three levels—one of the oldest stone houses built in the county.

Shaft, William C. & Jane, House (KSHS)

Year Built

1857-1868

Original Owner

William and Jane Shaft

Builder

Shaft Family Sons

Location

Clements

2 miles N.E. of Clements.

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Description 

Listed in National Register 7/08/2010


Shortly after the Kansas territory was opened to settlement in 1854, William and Jane Shaft moved their family from Michigan to a 160-acre farmstead northeast of present-day Clements. In 1857, Shaft and his sons erected a small stone house using locally quarried stone. Less than six months after arriving, William died while attempting to cross Diamond Creek at Harris Crossing. The family persuaded a reluctant Jane to remain in Kansas. Her sons erected a sizeable two-story limestone addition on the south side of the house in 1868, and her name was inscribed in the dressed stone within the east-facing gable. As with other mid-19th century vernacular stone houses, the Shaft house was built in phases with the addition of a wing sited perpendicular to the pre-existing side-gabled building. Differences in the stonework clearly delineate a phased construction, reflecting the work of the builders who responded to the locally available building materials.

The roof was originally covered with wood shingles and contained a gutter system that deposited rainwater into an underground cistern at the back of the house. Today, the roof is covered with standing-seam metal, and the gutter system is no longer extant, but the cistern remains.

The original homestead included another stone building used as a smokehouse. This building was demolished in the 1960s. Some stone was used to build the retaining wall for the modern-day elevated driveway. There was also a family cemetery south of the house, but this plot was cleared after the 1951 flood. What could be salvaged was moved to the Clements Cemetery.

The Shaft House is located northeast of Clements. The house is accessed by a gravel county road and is situated along Silver Creek in the middle of the original 160-acre homestead. Two creeks merge along the northern edge of the homestead. The road divides the farm and separates the house and barn.

Spring Hill Ranch (Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve) (KSHS)

Year Built

1881

Original Owner

Stephen Jones

Builder

David Rettiger

Location

Strong City

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

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Description 

Listed in National Register, 4/16/1971 ... National Historic Landmark, 2/18/1997

The Spring Hill Farm and Stock Ranch is a late 19th century enclosed cattle ranch and headquarters that outstandingly represents the transition from the open range to the held holdings of the large cattle companies in the 1880s. The enclosure and consolidation of ranches during the late 19th century was accompanied by the improvement of range cattle through purebred breeding programs and, in the Flint Hills region, a distinctive practice of fattening southwestern cattle on the bluestem pastures during the summer before shipping them to market in the fall. The period of significance extends from the first purchases of ranch land by Stephen Jones in 1878 and extends through 1904 when the ranch lands began to be sold off by Bernard “Barney” Lantry’s sons.

The Spring Hill Ranch house is a striking three-story structure built on a bluff overlooking Fox Creek valley three miles north of Strong City on Highway 177. A native of Tennessee, Jones had ranched cattle in Texas and Colorado before moving to chase County in 1876. He purchased several farms and ranches and became one of the area's largest and most important ranchers. Although he was primarily a cattleman and stock-raiser, he had substantial lumber and banking interests in nearby Strong city.

His giant stone house was built in 1881 by men who had also worked on the Chase County Courthouse eight years earlier. With its mansard roof and dormer windows, the house reflected some of the same Renaissance influence as the Courthouse. The house is significant because it represents a blending of Renaissance influence and Plains Vernacular architecture. The house and outbuildings present a composite grouping of rural buildings, using a single building material and functioning as a unit.

T.C. Sauble House (CCHS)

Year Built

1878

Original Owner

T. C. Sauble

Builder

Ed Allen

Location

Cedar Point

4 m. south of Cedar Point

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Description 

Whitney Ranch Historic District (KSHS)

Year Built

1883-85

Original Owner

Edward Whitney moved this house from Hymer in 1946

Builder

H.R. Hilton, Architect

Location

Elmdale

On a hill southeast of Hymer near Elmdale in Chase County.

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Description 

Listed in National Register 5/11/1995

The Whitney Ranch is located on a hill southeast of Hymer near Elmdale in Chase County. This square limestone house was first built in 1883-85, followed by the outbuildings standing north of the house. This house was part of the original 101 Ranch that, at its height in 1887, had reported holdings of 95,000 acres. Hymer was located in the middle of the 101 Ranch, where stockyards and an elevator were conveniently located for ranching activities. The house and outbuildings are situated on top of a hill overlooking Diamond Creek.

Running water was apparently a feature of the house from the time of its construction or shortly after that. Water was supplied from a well on Shafer Creek, approximately one-half mile north of the house. A windmill and an engine were used to lift the water to a stone and concrete reservoir built into a hilltop that rose east of the well. Gravity then carried the water into the house. An upstairs bathroom was part of the original house but did not contain a toilet.

In 1900 the 101 Cattle Company began liquidating its holdings. Whitney, the ranch foreman, purchased the headquarters with buildings and adjacent pasture land. Between the carriage house and the reservoir, but closer to the former, is a stone foundation 30’x40’ that once was the base of a bunkhouse for the cowboys working on the 101.

A substantial two-story barn burned after the turn of the century, and a much smaller barn replaced it. Another ranch house is located at the base of the hill south of the stone ranch house..

A limestone wall runs from the north elevation of the house to the wash house. The wall creates a private courtyard that cannot be seen from the east. A limestone walkway leads from the house to the washroom. North of the washroom is the privy. The chicken coop stands northeast of the privy, while the carriage house stands northwest.

Wood, Samuel N., House (KSHS)

Year Built

Original Owner

Samuel Newitt Wood

Builder

Samuel Newitt Wood

Location

Cottonwood Falls

1 mile east of Cottonwood Falls

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Description 

Listed in National Register 3/16/1972.

Samuel Newitt Wood, a peripatetic politician of 19th century Kansas, built a large stone house on his farm just east of Cottonwood Falls in the 1860s. Born in Ohio in 1825, Wood came to Lawrence, Kansas, in 1854 to work for the free-state cause. He helped establish Chase County in 1858 and settled near Cottonwood Falls in 1859, where on May 30, 1859, he published the first issue of The Kansas Press, the first newspaper in the county. Dissatisfied with the slow growth of the town, he moved the paper and his family to nearby Council Grove in August 1859 and lived there for three years. Sam Wood was elected in 1859 as the representative for Chase, Morris, and Madison counties in the territorial legislature. He was a member of the first state senate from 1861-62 and again in the state senate in 1867. He also served in the state house of representatives in 1864, 1866, 1876, and 1877, acting as speaker of the house in 1877. Wood had several terms as Chase County attorney and campaigned for various other positions over the years.

After several years in council Grove, Wood returned to Cottonwood Falls and built the west part of the large stone house. The exact date of the construction is not known. A letter to Wood written in January 1864 by H. L. Scribner, apparently an employee of Wood who looked after the farm, mentioned a stable being completed. In May, Scribner wrote that he was ready for the builder “to push the house as fast as possible.”

The sizable rambling ranch house is significant because of its connection with Sam Wood, one of Kansas’ most flamboyant 19th-century politicians. Regarded by many contemporaries as one of the founders of statehood, Wood was a key spokesman and prominent participant in territorial politics from 1854 to 1861 and in the formative years of statehood.

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We’re proud of our artistic and musical culture.  Opportunities abound in Chase County to view and hear the arts in unique and unexpected ways. From galleries and shops to our Symphony in the Flint Hills, our artists and craftsmen have many surprises up their sleeves.