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Homesteading in Trego County

Collyer

Collyer’s history began in January of 1878 when New York’s Reverend Robert Collyer placed an advertisement in a Chicago newspaper to start a Civil War veterans’ colony. Collyer, the colony’s president, enlisted the help of a Colonel Pratt, who along with John W. Burns, R. G. Kessler, and L. Lebron, traveled west to find suitable land. On March 17, 1878, this committee stepped off the train at Coyote, a small railroad settlement in what became Trego County. Soon, this committee began filing claims for the colony and constructing a colony house where the settlers could live until they moved onto their homesteads and where they could find safety during Indian scares. In all, almost eighty families found shelter and safety under the roof of the colony house.

Because of his substantial support for the colony, including shipping the lumber for the colony house, sending books for a lending library, and sending a wagon and a team of horses for the colonists’ use, the colony was named in honor of Reverend Collyer.

Although the railroad brought settlers to Collyer, it soon moved the settlement. Unfortunately, the colony house was in the railroad’s line. A better water supply was found only one-half mile east so Collyer was moved. Later, a man named Keeney influenced the settlers to move the town again, this time on his land, three-fourths of a mile further east.

The years of 1878 to 1880 brought many settlers to Collyer. Although most came from Illinois, some came from overseas. For example, in 1879 Victor Zadowsky came from Czechoslovakia while Edward, Ned, Pat, and Thomas O’Toole came from Ireland. Unfortunately, as many came to Trego County for better opportunities, they were welcomed by dry weather and other poor growing conditions for their crops. Desperate, some turned back, but others remained and were soon joined by German, Bukovina German, and Volga German settlers. The Volga Germans came to the Collyer area between 1900 and 1915.

Booming, Collyer had a dance hall, a blacksmith shop, a creamery, two mercantile stores, and at least three churches. Its post office was established in May of 1878, several months before the town was officially founded in February of 1879.

Sources

Baker, Mrs. Walter. “History of WaKeeney & Trego County and the Coming of the
William George Baker Family from Aurora, Illinois to WaKeeney, Kansas in 1878.”
Chap. in Local History as Presented to the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

Beason, Mildred Cass. “Pioneer Reminiscences of Emery Cass.” Chap in. Local History
as Presented to the Trego County Historical Society. 4th ed. n.p. 1976.

 Carman, Justice Neal. Account of Settlements in Kansas. Vol. 2. Foreign Language Units
of Kansas. Forsyth Library; Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1962. Text-fiche.

Harvey, Ethel M. “The Churches of Collyer.” Chap. in History of Collyer, Kansas. n.p. n.d.

 Facts about Some Collyer Citizens.” Chap. in History of Collyer, Kansas.  n.p. n.d.

 “Facts Concerning Collyer, Trego County, Kansas.” Chap. in History of Collyer, Kansas. n.p. n.d.

“Postal Service in Collyer.” Chap. in History of Collyer, Kansas. n.p. n.d.

Purinton, Mrs. Ray. “History of Collyer, Kansas.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. n.p. 1973.

 Shearer, Ruth. “Ghost Towns in Trego County.” Chap. in Local History as Presented to
the Trego County Historical Society. 2d ed. n.p. 1974.

 

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