In February 1878, James R. Fulton, William D. Fulton and W.D.’s son, L. W. Fulton, arrived at the present site of Garden City.
The land was a loose, sandy loam, and covered with sagebrush and soap weeds and but there were no trees. Main Street ran directly north and south, dividing William D. and James R. Fulton’s claims. As soon as they could get building material, they erected two frame houses. William D. Fulton building on his land, on the east side of Main Street, a house one story and a half high, with two rooms on the ground and two rooms above. This was called the Occidental Hotel. William D. Fulton was proprietor. No other houses were built in Garden City until November 1878, when James R. Fulton and L. T. Walker each put up a building. Now you can take a walking tour of some of the original founder’s family homes, still standing in Garden City. A fitting tribute to their hard work and dedication in establishing town.
Charles Jesse Jones, later known as “Buffalo” Jones, came to Garden City for an antelope hunt in January 1879. Before Jones returned home, the Fulton brothers procured his services to promote Garden City, and especially in trying to influence the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad to put in a switch station. The railroad agreed to place its station at Garden City. In the spring of 1879, more people began coming to homestead in the area. During the years of 1885-1887, you can still see the the building on the corner of Main and Grant street that he erected of white stone quarried in Kendal,Ks. you may also see his homestead still in its original location at 515 N. 9th St. The United States Land Office also located at Garden City, and people came there to make filings on their land. Lawyers also arrived in Garden City. I. R. Holmes, the agent for the sale of lands of the ATSF, and Holmes’s partner, A. C. McKeever, in 1885 sold thousands of acres of railroad and private land.
The streets of Garden City were crowded with horses, wagons, buggies, and ox teams. Long lines of people stood out in the weather awaiting mail at the post office, and there was always a crowd in front of the land office. During the height of the boom the town had nine lumber yards. Lumber was hauled in all directions to build up inland towns, and to improve the nearby homesteads. Thirteen drug stores were in operation. The town had two daily newspapers. Nearly everyone used kerosene lamps, and a few were placed on posts on Main Street. There was no city water works; so all depended on shallow wells, which were strong of alkali. Passenger trains of two and three sections arrived daily, loaded with people, most of who got off at Garden City.
The first issue of “The Garden City Newspaper” appeared April 3, 1879. Three months after the paper was established, the editor stated, “There are now forty buildings in town.” When the first telephone line was built, trees were growing on both sides of Main Street. These interfered with the wires, but local residents knew the value of trees in Western Kansas would not allow them to be cut, and the telephone poles were set down the center of the street. The first long distance telephone service from Garden City was a line nine miles (14 km) long built in 1902.
A small, quiet, community with a population of 2,200, historic Holcomb is the place to call home. Once a flag station for the Santa Fe Railroad, this small town was founded upon and continues to value family life and quality education. Historic Holcomb features two city parks, a community walking path and is the spot for delicious Mexican food prepared in the “family” operated restaurant, El Rancho Café. Holcomb Recreation offers the community a variety of recreational and leisure activities and is host to the following family events; Christmas Festival, Summer Fest, and Fall Family Roundup.
The Holcomb Police Department and Fire Department supports school students by providing Fire Safety and Safe Trick or Treating learning activities and promotes the values of creating safer neighborhoods through annual National Night Out events. Schools have been the cornerstone of the Holcomb community dating back to 1884. Today, schools remain an integral part of the community providing educational and extracurricular opportunities for Holcomb’s youth. If small town living is what you’re looking for, make Holcomb your final destination.
The Sunflower Electric Holcomb Station is a 325-megawatt coal-fired generating plant, which burns low-sulfur coal mined in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. The plant uses more than one million tons of coal each year. The method of creating electricity is a complicated but fascinating one. To learn more about the process, tours are available on a limited basis with advance notice. For information, call 620-277-2590.
Herbert Clutter, son of James and May Clutter, was born May 24, 1911, in Grey County, Kansas. He grew up on a farm near Larned and graduated from Kansas State College with a Bachelor of Agriculture degree in 1933. He worked as an Assistant County Agent in Montgomery County following graduation. He moved to Garden city after his marriage to Bonnie Fox in 1934. He was employed as the Finney County Agriculture Extension Agent for 5 years until he became engaged in farming in 1939. The family lived 2 miles west of Holcomb where Herb raised sheep and cattle as well as feed grains and wheat. They moved to a farm on the south side of the Santa Fe Railroad just west of Holcomb in 1948 where he continued the farming operation, which included raising grass seed crops. He also managed a dry land farm 23 miles NE of Garden City. Bonnie Mae Fox, daughter of Arthur B. and Mae Fox was born January 7, 1914, in Rozel, Kansas. She grew up on a farm there and attended the St. Rose School of Nursing in Great Bend. She was married to Herb on December 2, 1934, and moved to Garden City. She raised four children and was involved in many community and church activities.
The children were all born in Garden City. They were Eveanna Marie Clutter Mosier, born June 26, 1936, Beverly Jean Clutter English, born October 11, 1939, Nancy Mae Clutter, born January 2, 1943, and Kenyon Neal Clutter, born August 28, 1944. Herb and Bonnie were community and project leaders for Sherlock Strivers 4-H Club for many years. The family belonged to the First Methodist Church in Garden City where Herb taught an adult Sunday school class many years and Bonnie taught in the children’s division. The children were active in the youth department and the adult choir. Herb served as chairman of the building committee. Eveanna, Beverly, Nancy, and Kenyon all attended Holcomb Consolidated Schools. They rode the school bus to and from school. Most of the school activities occurred during school hours, which made it possible for young people to participate in many different activities. The family’s leisure activities included entertaining friends, enjoying picnics in the summer and participating in school and church events. They used the Garden City Public Library a great deal and enjoyed the community music events and band concerts at the park in Garden City. Herbert, Bonnie, Nancy, and Kenyon were killed November 15, 1959, by intruders who entered their home with the intent of robbery. The family was buried in the Valley View Cemetery in Garden City, Kansas.
For More history about Finney County please contact:
Finney County Historical Museum
403 S. Fourth St.