Avilla, 30 Dec 1886, Comanche County, Kansas Hosted by RootsWeb, the oldest & largest FREE genealogical site. Click here to visit RootsWeb.
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The Republican, December 30, 1886


A Pen. Picture and a Biographical Sketch of the Queen of the Salt Fork Valley.

Her Surrounding Country and Her Wide Awake Business Men.

To the weary traveler, hunting a location in the West, as he drops down over the brow of the hill into the Salt Fork bottom, the first thing that attracts his attention, is the beautiful little city that adorns the central portion of this broad rich valley, which extends its undulating surface for miles around. The stranger is at once captivated by the appearance of the rich alluvial soil, the sterling enterprise of the farmers, in improving and cultivating their farms, the luxuriant growth of vegetation that marks their success, and an examination of the soil and of the pure sparkling water to be found in the wells, at a depth of 20 to 30 feet, is all the evidence he wants, to know that it will be a rich and prosperous country. As he comes nearer, city grows larger and larger, until he finds himself enclosed in the suburbs of this magic little city of two year's growth, called Avilla. He wonders for a moment at the cause of all this commotion, the busy hum of trade and clatter of hammer and saw and the uprising of all these new buildings, but when he stops a moment and reflects on the surrounding country, he says to himself, it is prospective and the prospects are most flattering indeed, the founder of this city had an eye to prosperity in the future, when they founded this city, and there is no question as to it being one of the leading cities of the West; the country is large enough and rich enough to support a town of which its founders and supporters might well feel proud. "Here will I cast my lot and here shall be my home."

We might write pages on the picturesque appearance of Avilla and the surrounding country, but we must give some space to the business men that have made her what she is. Suffice it to say, that she is located in one of the garden spots of the west, and that she will always be queen of the valley, and the pride and comfort of her founders.


Geo. M. Sheldon was the first merchant to pitch his tent within her borders and when we first saw him there, he was actually in a tent, with not more than a load of groceries to supply the demand, of claim hunters. We bought a bottle of red ink from him to draw some plats, and by-the-way, we have the bottle in our office yet, as a relic, which we think is worth considerable. George soon moved out of his tent into a building and from that into a large two story building which he now occupies with a large stock of dry goods and groceries and enjoys a large and paying patronage. He was the first postmaster of Avilla, which office he still holds.

is another one of the energetic businessmen, engaged in the mercantile business carrying a large stock of dry goods and groceries and by his honorable and square dealing, he has built up a large and lucrative trade. He was elected county commissioner, in the fall of 1886, and reelected last fall for a second term.

Were among the early settler and the first to embark in the dry goods and grocery business. Their store is jam full of select goods and by their sterling ability and energy, they have built up their trade and increased their stock until they are obliged to rebuild, which they purpose to do early in the spring, and before the early spring trade is fairly open, they will be comfortably located in a large room 26 feet wide by 100 feet deep, when they hope to be able to supply the demand of their large and increasing trade. They also have a large store at Comanche City, at which place they are enjoying an immense trade.

M. D. RAYL & CO.,
may also be mentioned among the pioneers of Avilla, with his immense stock of dry goods and groceries, the latter a specialty in his line, and by his preserving efforts he has built up a trade so large that he too will have to build to get room to carry on his large business and to supply the demand. Mr. Rayl buys and sells a great many posts and in adjoining counties, on which he has made handsome profit.

Were the first to establish a hardware store in connection with which they carry a large line of dry goods. They too are enjoying a lively trade and have done much toward the upbuilding of Avilla, and the advancement of her every interest. They also have a lumber yard, carrying a select stock to supply the home demand. In the real estate business we find...

now the genial proprietor of the Colley hotel, was the founder of Avilla, and the organizer of the town company. He embarked in the real estate business, in which he is still engaged, was the founder of the Avilla Citizen, with which paper he was connected for over a year. He has ever worked for Avilla, with a zeal and determination that knows no such word as fail and to say that he has been successful in undertaking to build the town of Avilla, is feebly expressing it, for he now enjoys the fruits of his current endeavors.

elsewhere referred to, is doing a lively real estate business and has ever been ready to find whatever home seekers and real estate speculators desired, and in this way has done much for the advancement of Avilla.

is another of those live real estate agents, so necessary to the upbuilding and advancement of a new country. His efforts have been marked on every hand, and has been the means of inducing much capital to seek remuneration, in and around Avilla.


The only law firms now in Avilla is Gregory & West. S. J. Osborn, having been selected County Attorney, has moved to Coldwater. Gregory & West are enjoying a lucrative practice. They also conduct a real estate business and the time and earnest efforts they have put forth toward the advancement of Avilla's interests and the interests of the valley are highly appreciated by the citizens of Avilla.

are a new firm in the real estate line and are making preparations to do a large and profitable business with the opening of spring. They are energetic men, and we predict for them a thriving business.

one of the old settlers is enjoying a lively real estate business, and in his deals Avilla is never the loser.

carry a fine line of drugs, toilets articles etc., and by a will to succeed they have merited their success and are ever ready to further and aid each and every public enterprise.

the gentlemanly proprietor of the Pioneer drug store, by his prudent management and accommodating proclivities has won the respect of all citizens and is doing a paying business.

Avilla has two livery stables under the management of live, energetic men; and are doing a good business. There is not a more accommodating firm in the west than COX & TODD of the Red Front livery barn, and L. W. CLENDENING, of the Star livery and feed stables, will always make you feel at home when you go there.

is the genial proprietor of the harness shop. He carries a good line of goods and is having a good trade.

and lady of the Colley hotel, are having a large run and take special pains to accommodate their guests.

is the proprietor of the bakery and restaurant and takes a delight in making hungry mortals happy at all hours in the day.

Take it all. Avilla is a live town, and has a live wide awake and enterprising class of citizens, and every kind of business is represented; but her business men are clever gentlemen and they extend to each and all an invitation to come. Come now while the country is new and the town is in its infancy. If you desire a location in the liveliest and most prosperous town in the southwest; located in as rich a valley as the sun ever shown upon, come to Avilla. If you want to buy a farm or go into business, come now, before the railroad comes, and property reaches such an enormous worth that only those with large means can invest. Now is the golden opportunity to invest and enjoy the rise and make yourself rich.

Avilla, July 29, 1884

"The town on the head of the Salt Fork first named Buffalo has changed its name to Avilla. Avilla is a pretty name and should give general satisfaction. It is located far enough from the towns of Coldwater and Nescatunga to make a good town, and those located in that locality are wide awake in their interests there is nothing to hinder a good healthy town from being located at that point. Its inhabitants think their railroad prospects are first class and are now starting a young boom by giving the contract for the erection of 3 more buildings."
--"20 Years Ago", The Western Star, July 29, 1904.   (S.B.)

Clara Briggs Gaar and Ethelbert Gilmer CARTHRAE were the first couple to be married at Avilla. They were wed 19 November 1885.

Charles H. Darrow: A Few Early-Day Events in and Near Avilla
The Western Star, July 3, 1925.

James W. Dappert: Reminiscences of Early Days in Comanche-co.
The Western Star, January 15, 1926. A pioneer surveyor in 1885 and 1886, his account lists many early residents of Avilla.

Mr. & Mrs. E.T. Dodson "He pre-empted a quarter-section of land near Avilla and built a home, where they lived until the town faded away."

Frank Dodson "For a time they lived on a claim from the government and then moved to the town of Avilla, where he attended a private school."

Thomas S. Moffett   "Tom Moffett, as he was familiarly known here, was among the early settlers of Comanche county, having been located here prior to going to Kansas City. He lived in the Avilla neighborhood and was interested in a real estate and abstract business in the town of Avilla, when that was a thriving little city." -- The Wilmore News, January 2, 1931.

John Edward & Emma Sophia (Herren) Todd, a family history by Bernice (Todd) Hough, 1959: "The homestead was sold in the spring of 1887 and Granddad bought a livery stable in the little town of Avilla. Here the family resided for the next eight years. Ralph was born August 22, 1888. The children attended school at Avilla. Granddad was looking for the opportunity to establish himself firmly in this new land. Land was cheap but money was scarce. The land and climate was best fitted for the raising of cattle."

Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news articles to this web site!

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