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Homesteading In Rooks County

Zurich

In 1877 or 1878, a group of French Canadian settlers came to western Kansas and homesteaded in Logan Township of Rooks County. It was soon identified as "The French Settlement".

In 1880, President Rutherford Hayes granted this settlement its own post office. Mrs. Armenda Webb was appointed the first postmaster. Mrs. Webb was asked to submit a name for the community before the Proclamation would become official. Since she and her husband, John Webb, were born in Zurich, Switzerland, they submitted this namesake as the name for the settlement. The first post office was in the home of the Webb's located at the west edge of Zurich.

The Union Pacific Railroad came to Zurich in 1887 and, with four trains daily, became one of the most prosperous trading points in Rooks County. Zurich was formerly known as "The Gateway to the Northwest Wheat Belt of Kansas".

The town of Zurich once had three grocery stores, two grain elevators, a bank, telephone office, a medical doctor, drug store, implement dealer, two car dealerships, lumber yard, hardware store, hatchery, three gas stations, creamery, barber shop, real-estate office, blacksmith, auctioneer service, and a cafe. Fire destroyed several of the businesses and they were never rebuilt.

In 1882, a new Catholic Church was built in Zurich with Fr. M. B. Pujoz as pastor. At one time, a Catholic Convent was built in the northeast part of Zurich where classes were held by the nuns. This school was dissolved before 1892.

The present St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church was completed in 1950 on the site of the original church built in 1886. The parish hall that is adjacent to the church was originally intended to be the supporting foundation and basement of the new church. However, the basement, which came to be known as the "Catacombs", was found to be too weak to support the super-structure of the new church. Plans were then put in place to build the new church on its present site. The parish hall now serves as a reminder of the original plans.

The Zurich School was built in 1930 and has had several additions added to the original structure. School unification brought an end to the use of the school building for Zurich students who are now bused to nearby schools. The building continues to be used for meetings and various family activities.

The Zurich Township Hall was built in 1914 and is one of the oldest structures in town. No longer used as it once was, the building stands as a testament to the hard-working people who once made Zurich a bustling community along the Union Pacific Railroad.

Sources

Information from Roger Hrabe, Rooks County Economic Development Director.

 

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