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People came to the area in the 1870's and 1880's because the railroad had land for sale. Hamilton County had over 1 million acres that were subject to homestead, preemption and timber claims. The railroads advertised these lands all over the East Coast as prime business and agricultural opportunities.
A group of people from Syracuse, New York, decided to come and check out the lands that were being advertised because they wanted to find a place to establish homes. E. P. Barber, D. C. Auckland and S. R. Jones arrived in Dodge City only to find that passenger service had not yet been established. They rode a railway work train from Dodge City to Hollidaysburg, the present site of Syracuse. It was only a whistle stop at that time and named after the President and builder of the rail line. It later became known as Syracuse.
E. P. Barber and his family were among the first inhabitants of the new colony who left New York on March 8, 1873, to travel to western Kansas. Over the next few months, dugouts and soddies were built as homes for the settlers. E. P. Barber's house was a frame house which was used as both a residence and a place of shelter for people to go to in case of an Indian attack. Although there were scares, there were not any attacks made on the townspeople.
The population reached its peak in 1888 with 1200 people, but over the next ten years, the population dropped to 343. However, probably due to the fact that the Santa Fe roundhouse was moved from Coolidge to Syracuse in 1902, the population had come back up to 1300 by the year 1910.
The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.
"Hamilton County, History". Syracuse, KS: Hamilton County Historical Society, 1979.
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