Kansas 105

1881-1890 Timeline


Telephones arrive in Wichita.


March 28 — The "Messiah" is performed for the first time at Lindsborg.

Aug. 6 — The Wichita city marshal does not collect fines from Ida May Oppenheimer, also known as Dixie Lee, a popular madam of Wichita. The marshal writes to the city treasurer that fines were not collected because the prostitutes have been sick.

A Jewish community is founded a few miles north of Cimarron. Named for the ancient city of Beersheba in Israel, the colony stretches over several sections of land, with each family homesteading 160 acres.


Feb. 18 — Frederic Remington's land in Butler County is sold to David Green of New York. Remington goes on to become a nationally recognized artist of the Old West.


In the spring of 1885, Willis Proudfoot, then 25, arrives in Wichita from Des Moines. He establishes an architectural practice and is joined by George Washington Bird, 33. During their six-year partnership in Wichita, they design 29 projects. Their massive structures feature arches, turrets, curved porches and stone-faced masonry.


Two early January blizzards strike back to back, killing dozens of people and thousands of cattle and leaving drifts as high as railroad cars.

March 11 — At the height of the McPherson County seat war, a man is found in a graveyard copying names from tombstones to add to a petition calling for a special election to move the county seat to Galva.

March 22 — Abilene turns on its first electric lights.

July 11 — Kansas Sen. James Henry Lane dies 10 days after shooting himself in the head with a pistol.


The Windsor Hotel, nicknamed the "Waldorf of the Prairies," opens in Garden City.

Feb. 15 — Boston Corbett, who claims to have killed Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth, goes berserk in the Kansas House of Representatives while serving as assistant doorkeeper.

Feb. 27 — Three Leoti people are killed and others wounded during a county seat fight between Leoti and Coronado in Wichita County.

March 24 — Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, famous silent-movie actor, is born in Smith Center.

April 4 _ Susanna Madora Salter is elected mayor of Argonia, becoming the first woman to be elected mayor in the United States.

Sept. 27 — A vein of pure salt is discovered in south Hutchinson by Ben Blanchard, who was drilling for oil or gas.


In Greensburg, the ATSF Railroad digs what is later known as the world's largest hand-dug well. The Big Well is dug using shovels, picks, pulley and rope, and mules. It is 109 feet deep and 32 feet across.

The Wichita Carey Hotel opens in Wichita and is billed as the most exclusive hotel between St. Louis and Denver.

Oct. 24 — White Chief becomes first American Indian to enroll at University of Kansas.

Late 1880s

One of the fastest-growing organizations in Kansas is the Farmer's Alliance, which gives rise to the Populist movement.


Wichitan A.A. Hyde experiments making a menthol-based salve on his kitchen stove. Hyde's Mentholatum is soon marketed as the "Little Nurse for Little Ills."


Medicine Lodge farmer Jerry Simpson, The Eagle reports, is so poor he doesn't have socks. Kansans love him and he is nominated for Congress in 1890 at a Populist Party convention in McPherson. The post office is flooded with socks for Simpson.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle