Kaw City

Kaw City, Oklahoma History


"This information was gathered from various sites throughout the Internet. The numbers behind the sentences correspond to the web page I got the information from during my research. It is a conglomeration of information that has it's resources on the corresponding webpages. Please visit those web pages as the people there have done hard work in making history more available to all of us.

Paul Reeves

At the bottom of the page are 'Places of Interest' where I have captured some of the history of the local area.

Located in Kay County, Kaw City is situated in the Ox Bow Bend of the Arkansas River twelve miles east of U.S. Highway 77 on State Highway 11.

The town was established by the Kaw City Townsite Company, which included William M. Jenkins, fifth governor of Oklahoma Territory, N. F. Frazier, C. W. Carey, and W. E. Brown. The sale of town lots began on July 4, 1902. Advertised as "the finest Townsite in Oklahoma, having as a place for business land as level as a floor with gently sloping upland for residences," it was bordered on the north by the Kaw (Kansa) Reservation and on the east by the Osage Reservation. Situated in a fertile and productive farming and cattle region, Kaw City was connected with outside markets when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway built their line through the town. Completed in 1903, the train depot served as a shipping point for thousands of bushels of corn and other farm produce. Hundreds of carloads of Texas cattle moved through Kaw City into the grazing lands of the Osage Reservation for fattening prior to being transported to market.[1]

Kaw City was named for the Kanza Indians, called the Kaw by locals. Old Kaw City was a busy place with a four-story hotel filled with one of the world's rarest art collections. "We had people from every state and many foreign countries come here to Kaw City," says Annette Pittman who runs the Kaw City Museum. One artist came just to live with the paintings because he wanted the feel of them. "He lived the rest of his life there," says Pittman.[3]

From the town's inception, building progressed rapidly. Kaw City soon had a bank, a newspaper, two lumberyards, and a mill. A wagon bridge built across the Arkansas River to the north increased trade from the area known as Kaw Country.                       A post office was established on September 12, 1902, and a one-room school opened with fifty-six children in November 1902. At 1907 statehood, population stood at 486.[1]

In 1919 a building boom started when oil was struck east of Kaw City. Roads were widened, gas was piped into town, Main Street was paved, old buildings were replaced with new ones, and bonds were passed for a city water and sewer system.                       The population almost doubled from 627 in 1920 to 1,001 in 1930. In the 1920s Kaw City became internationally known due to the art collection of Laura A. Clubb, wife of a rancher. An avid collector of paintings, she displayed them in her husband's three-story, brick hotel.[1]

Kaw City suffered several set backs. In 1923 a flood damaged the business district and destroyed two bridges, of which only one was reconstructed. During the Great   Depression numerous businesses closed. At the beginning of World War II many citizens left to join the armed forces and to gain higher-paying, defense industry jobs. The town never regained the status it had once enjoyed.[1]

The next blow came with the construction of the Kaw Dam. A new town site was selected two miles to the west. Surrounded on three sides by water, Kaw City continued to be located in the Ox Bow Bend of the Arkansas River. In 1966 the "old" and "new" pioneers began to build their new city. They moved the Santa Fe depot, which became the Kaw City Museum. The Kaw Nation built a facility for business and to house their historical artifacts. The school, city offices, library, post office, three churches, and several businesses served as the new community's core.[1]


Carl Laughran Shidler(Carroll), the first son of Adam Wise and Mary Ann Kelley was born in Washington County, Pa., September 28, 1843. Since his Father was an educated man, a college graduate and an educator, Carl had the advantages that many of that day did not have. We do not have a record of his schooling, but we do know that he had a very liberal education. He had some training as a civil engineer, was an expert carpenter, well read for his time, and possessed a great deal of general knowledge.

At the age of nine years, he moved with his family to Zanesville, Ohio, where the family lived until he was fourteen. The family then moved to Jasper County, Indiana, near the town of Rensalier. The home was probably in Pilot Grove, which   is now Mt. Ayr, Indiana. At the age of eighteen, he enlisted in the army and was a member of Company E, 99th Indiana Volunteers, where he remained almost four years. Before he was mustered out with his regiment in Washington DC, he had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. During the war he went home on a furlough and cast his first vote for General Mc Clellan for President.

On November 11, 1867, he was united in marriage to Elizabeth Anderson in Rensselaer, Indiana. Elizabeth was born July 22,'1849, in Jasper County, Indiana. Her Mother's maiden name was Elizabeth Sargent, she was of French descent and her family was considered one of the first families of Virginia, She was born in Virginia, January, 1804. The date of her death is not recorded in any of my records, but she was buried in the cemetery, three miles west of Mount Ayr, Indiana. Grandmother Shidler's Father was Richard D. Anderson, who was also born in Virginia, on September 21, 1803. His family were slave owners in Virginia. Soon after his wife's death, he lived with my grandparents for s few years, then went back to Indiana, where he died, October 28,1888~

The C. L. Shidler home after they were married was near Culver Station, Indiana. It is interesting to note that their home was near "The Brook", George Ade's place.   Grandma and Grandpa were neighbors and George Ade was Just a little older than their oldest child, Nina, who was my Mother. This is where all of their children were born with the exception of William, Frank and Clara, who were born near Leon, Kansas. In 1876, Grandfather came to Butler County, Kansas, where he filed a claim on one hundred and sixty acres of land, about nine miles southeast of Leon. He began work on building a home and since the nearest lumber yard was at Emporia, he had to haul the lumber by wagon to his farm, the round trip was almost two hundred miles. In 1877, after the home was finished, the Shidler Family came to Kansas, and was met in Wichita, which was the nearest railroad station at that time. Grandfather improved the farm, set out fruit trees and built barns, including a large wool barn. He was engaged in the sheep business and at times had as many as ten thousand sheep. In a report of an eighty year ago item in the Wichita Eagle in 1966, it reported about a severe blizzard of 1886, and it stated that C.L. Shidler lost only four sheep out of three thousand head.

In the spring of 1902, Grandfather who had been handling sheep on a large scale, decided he would quit fighting scab, foot rot, low prices and several other things that "get a sheep herder's goat", so he wrote to his son-in-law, Guy Rohr, who was in the lumber business in Kildare, Oklahoma, and asked him if he knew of a good location for a lumber yard. Uncle Guy replied that he did, and mentioned a town that had been located on a Santa Fe short cut, down on the Arkansas River. Grandfather went down to investigate and found a lot of stakes, marking streets and alleys in an oat field. There was no town less than eighteen miles away and it looked like everybody was going to need a lot of lumber, so he and his son-in-law decided on a location, bought some lots, and began to haul lumber to the new Rohr Lumber Company, which was preparing to build Kaw City.

(note-Rensalier and Rensselaer are the same town-two different spellings)

The following article is from the Kaw City paper at the time of Grandfathers death, written by F.B.H. "We started out to write a little story about C. L. Shidler, but find that C. L. Shidler and Kaw City are a sort of Siamese twins story--that one cannot be mentioned without the other. The townsite company got their office opened, lots were sold daily and buildings commenced as soon as lumber could be procured. Lumber starting from Kildare was sold before it arrived. As soon as possible, Mr. Shidler purchased lots and started the erection of a home which he occupied continuously until his death. On the completion of his residence, his wife came and their's was one of the first homes established on the new townsite, Mr. Shidler was soon recognized as a leader of men. He was elected chairman of his ward committee that built a fine bridge across the river that lasted until the flood of 1923. For many years he had charge of the county charities and listened to hundreds of tales of woe and poverty. He was superintendent of the cemetery, which he laid out and planned. It was located up in the hills overlooking the valley and river. He looked after selling of lots, the collection of money and keeping the premises in good order, all this without money or sometimes thanks.

He looked after his farms to the smallest detail, was President of the National Bank of Kaw City--an institution that grew from a small beginning to its present greatness. "Who is going to take the place of Daddy Shidler?" is a question that has been often asked the past week. The answer is no one, or possibly a better answer, would be several men. One man will be chosen to take his desk in the bank, one to look after his farms, another will take charge of the cemetery and still another to look after the poor. Finally, his position in the Masonic Lodge will be the hardest to fill. It is said that he could fill any chair in any degree and do it well. No, Daddy's place will be hard to fill and all the more so, because what he did was done so quietly and unostentatiously, that only those close to him understood his wonderful capacity for work. We will miss his pleasant smile, his warm hand-clasp end wise counsel."

Also from the Kaw City paper. "Carl Laughran Shidler died at his home in Kaw City, Oklahoma on Saturday, February 15, 1930. Mr. Shidler who was the President of the National Bank of Kaw City took an active part in his business affairs up to the time of his final illness and was as regular in his appearance at the bank as any of the employees. His death, although not unexpected, came as a shock to the entire community. All business institutions of the city were closed from. l:30 until 3 o'clock, Monday afternoon during the period of his funeral services. The services were conducted at the Methodist church by the Rev. R. R. Ellis, assisted by Rev. Geo. H. Jones, pastor of the Christian church. The church was packed to the doors with neighbors and friends who wished to do him honor.

The altar rail, windows and all available space was banked with beautiful floral offerings. At the conclusion of the services, the remains were taken in charge by the Masonic order, of which he was an honored member, and escorted to Grand View cemetery, where the Masonic ceremony was conducted. Mrs. C. L. Shidler died at her home in Kaw City on June 3, 1928, at the age of 78 years, 10 months and 11 days. They were the parents of eight children, seven of whom were at her bedside when she passed away. One daughter, Clara Barton Shidler, died September 29, 1897. There were 35 children and grandchildren at her funeral."


Places of Interest:


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