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The colony of Victoria was established in 1873 by Scotch and English families under the leadership of George Grant. Mr. Grant purchased approximately 25,245 acres of land from the Kansas Pacific Railroad for $50,000, with a cash payment of $10,000 and the railroad holding the mortgage on the balance.
George Grant had anticipated turning Victoria Colony into cattle and sheep ranches for the sons of nobility. He brought to Victoria what is believed to be the first Polled Angus (Aberdeen Angus) cattle in America, but it is not known for sure that he actually brought these particular cattle over to America. The Junction City Tribune stated after Grant's death that there were Polled Galloway cattle on the Grant land, but no mention of Polled Black Angus
Most of the English colonists in Victoria were "remittance men" meaning that their families from Britain sent them monies. However, the Brits were not frugal with the money, plus they showed no interest in farming or raising sheep. A "Victoria Hunt Club" was organized, as well as a cricket club; a race track was built, and there were dances on a weekly basis. The young men socialized with the troops stationed at Fort Hays. Soon, their parents realized their sons were not spending their money wisely,and they began to reduce the remittances. The young men became disenchanted with the area. Some returned to Britain, while others went to South America.
George Grant moved into a villa that had been constructed for Walter A. Shields on property that he had acquired from the federal government south of Victoria. It resembled an English Manor house, and it had running water, bathrooms on each floor and a steam heating plant. Mr. Shields signed a agreement in July 1875 to turn over the property to Mr. Grant as security for an earlier agreement that had been made on his behalf by his mother. The earlier agreement was that Mary M. Shields signed a contract with Mr. Grant to purchase for her son one and one-quarter sections on adjoining land on May 11, 1874. Mr. Shields was not able to pay what was due by May 1, 1876, so the land and the villa became the property of Mr. Grant. The place still stands today and is the private residence of a family whose ancestors came to this area in 1876.
George Grant was almost penniless when he died on April 28, 1878, having lost most of his fortune.
George and Alex Philip, the Scotsmen, remained with their families. George Philip opened a general merchandise store in Victoria, then moved to Hays 13 years later, in 1886, to operate the U.S. Land Office. George Philip established a hardware business in Hays in 1895, which proved to be very successful. Alex Philip also became very successful in his ranching endeavors.
The Volga-German settlers from nearby Herzog moved into Victoria, combining the two communities.
“At Home in Ellis County, Kansas 1867-1992.” Hays, KS: Ellis County Historical Society, 1991.
Forsythe, James L. "George Grant of Victoria: Man and Myth". Kansas History. Autumn 1996: 102-114.
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