Fort Hays State University > About FHSU > Academic Divisions > Forsyth Library > Kansas Heritage > Pierceville
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The Western Trail (a cattle trail) played a part in the founding of this town. The Barton Brothers drove a herd of 3,000 cattle over the trail, and the cattle were the first to feed on the government lands in Western Kansas. In the fall of 1872, they came to the area and established a ranch along the Arkansas River. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad was laying its tracks out to this part of Kansas, and they chose the Barton Ranch as headquarters for the town site. It was named Pierceville in honor of Chas. W. and Carlos Pierce, who were members of the original Atchison & Topeka Railroad company.
The post office was established on June 10, 1873, and the town began to grow with a store and dugouts. Then tragedy struck a little over a year later on July 3, 1874. Indians who had been defeated in a fight in Texas were heading north and were looking for settlements along the Santa Fe Railroad. Once they got to Pierceville, they set fire to the store and chased the train that came through the town firing their arrows at the train and into the windows. It was learned later that this was the same group of Indians who had attacked the German family and killed the parents, a son and a small child before kidnapping the four daughters. The girls were with the Indians during the attack on Pierceville. They were rescued later.
It wasn't until 1878 that a house and a store were built and the post office was reestablished on July 24. The town was platted in 1886 and the population was 400. There was a newspaper, hotel and a hardware store. By 1930, the population was 166.
The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.
Blanchard, Leola Howard. Conquest of Southwest Kansas: A History and Thrilling Stories of Frontier Life in the State of Kansas. Wichita, KS: Wichita Eagle Press, 1931.
Finney County Historical Society. History of Finney County. Garden City, KS: 1950.
Lindner, F. Claudine. History of Garfield County, Kansas. Masters Thesis, University of Wyoming, 1949.
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