Alva, Oklahoma, February 18, 1921.
Editor Star: As to the details and actual life at Coldwater in its early days I can tell but little, but I can tell how it came that the town was started. In the early spring of 1884, Geo. W. Vickers and I lived at Anthony, and conceived the idea if buying some of the lands lying along the south line of Kansas, known I think as the Osage Strip, which then could be purchased from the U. S. government without "settlement" or residence , at one dollar per acre. The Government Land Office as I now remember for the Land District was at Larned, and Mr. Vickers went to that city to make selection of the lands for us, and complete the purchase, but found that others were ahead of us, and that but a few scattered 40 acre tracts remained unpurchased.
When we got back to Anthony and reported our failure to be able to make such a purchase as we had desired, he said that Comanche-co. was without settlement and practically all the land vacant, or at least Government land. It was at that time fenced in pastures by some cattle company, the Comanche Pool, as I now remember it.
We then concluded to assist in the settlement of the county by farmers, and start the building of a town, designed to become the county seat of the county. Vickers and a few others soon after that went from Anthony to Comanche-co. and by starting from the south line of the county, made a survey to the place where Coldwater now stands, and then located the town, and laid it out.
About the same time, unknown to us Charley Bickford, also of Harper-co., went or had gone, to Comanche-co. for the purpose of taking land, and also building a town. The parties got together after reaching Comanche-co. and later united on the place where Coldwater was started. As Charley Bickford had come to Kansas from Coldwater, Michigan, he wanted the new town given the name it has.
The news that a new town was being started west of Medicine Lodge traveled fast, and very soon the prairie was dotted with prairie schooners and as Coldwater is built on a rather high point, soon many men, and some women were camping on the town site. Many wanted farms, though some went there to engage in business in the town.
I think Sam S. Sisson, who was in with us from about the start, built the first frame building on the town site, for an office.
In the meantime parties from Medicine Lodge and vicinity had also made preparations to colonize Comanche-co. and a number of them, with perhaps others from other points, laid out the town of Nescatunga, now I think defunct.
About June 1884, in order to attempt a consolidation of the two interests, and avoid a county seat fight, some one or more called a meeting which was held at Coldwater, mostly on the prairie, as there was not enough room in Sisson's office to hold the crowd, to make a treaty of peace. Among those who were up from our rival town of Nescatunga was Scott Cummins, now of this county, and town, and wearing the nom de plume of "The Pilgrim Bard."
After our failure to consolidate the two towns, and the next morning after the meeting, Sam Sisson and I hired Kid Doak to drive us in a spring wagon to Kinsley the nearest railroad point, which we reached in the late evening. The next morning we bought all of the available lumber in Kinsley and hired teams to haul it to Coldwater, and started at least some of them on the way down that same day. At any rate we thus fixed it so that the Nescatunga crowd would have to wait for lumber until another supply could be shipped to Kinsley.
Tim Shields was the war horse and let few, if any intending settlers get away from Coldwater. Much credit is also due to Sam Sisson, for his energy used towards the upbuilding of the town. But the credit of "discovery" goes to Geo. W. Vickers. There were many others to whom also great credit is due, but it has been many years since the town was started and I do not at this moment remember their names.
J. P. GROVE.
Memoirs of Cash Cade of the founding of Coldwater, Kansas
Coldwater Centennial Notebook, 1884 - 1984 by Evelyn Reed
Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!
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