TWO CABINET CARD VIEWS OF THE MID-WESTERN TOWN OF EUSTIS IN SHERMAN COUNTY KANSAS CIRCA 1880’S

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Item Code: 1117-204

In the spring of 1885, P.S. Eustis and O.R Phillips organized the Lincoln Land Company and laid out the town. P.S., as an agent of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, had the distinction of having the town named in his honor. In July of 1886 a post office was opened.

After being named the temporary county seat in September, an election was held on November 8 to allow voters to decide which town, Sherman Center or Eustis, would be the permanent county seat. Eustis won and construction began on a courthouse. The following spring another election was held and Eustis came out victorious.

For reasons unclear, another election was called for in August of 1887 by a county committee to once and for all determine the county seat. Representatives of Voltaire and Sherman Center and someone named B. Taylor who owned land in the central part of the county made their pitches before the committee. Eustis declined to make a presentation. At the next meeting of the county committee, representatives of newly-established Goodland made a well-received presentation.

Of the almost fifteen hundred votes cast in the fall election, Goodland won 872 of those votes. The official vote tallies could not be completed, however, after injunctions were filed which prevented county commissioners from canvassing the vote. Therefore, between November 1887 and January 1888 the county seat issue remained unsettled with court battles and more commission meetings.

On January 13, 1888 the matter began to reach a boiling point when a group from Goodland marched to Eustis intending to seize the county records. A war of words ensued in newspapers throughout the county. The rivalry heated up to the extent that Governor John Martin sent the Kansas National Guard to monitor the situation. However, by early May, Eustis had withdrawn its objections after Goodland had hired a posse of sorts which captured one of the county commissioners and forced him to allow the county records to be removed – no shots fired, end of dispute.

Not long afterwards, the citizens of Eustis began to move to the new county seat, eventually leading to the town’s demise.

Both of these cabinet cards are horizontal views and both meas. approx. 6.50 x 4.25 inches.

The first is a view looking down the main street of Eustis. The camera is located far enough out to get the whole town within its view. The town is laid out on both sides of a wide dirt road and stretches for about a quarter mile and is only one building deep on each side. Many of the buildings are single story with the handful of exceptions being two stories but nothing taller than that. The sign of the first building on the right can be clearly seen and is a hardware store. Numerous horses and several wagons can be seen tied up to hitches along the main street. Several people are also visible as is a wagon heading down the street towards the camera. At distant center is something that looks like a monument or well shaft. This must be the town center and probably marks a cross street. Halfway down the left side of the street another sign is visible that reads “ESTATE LOANS.”

The second cabinet card in the group is of a single-story building with two men posed in front. The sign on the building reads “HOSTETTER & SHRADER LOAN AGENTS.” Along one side of the building is painted “MONEY” in large letters superimposed over “HOSTETTER & SHRADER FARM LOANS & (???). Extending from the building toward the street and over the sidewalk is the “ESTATE LOAN” sign mentioned in the photo above. The sign reads “HOSTETTER & SHRADER DEALERS IN ESTATE LOANS.” It is supposed that the two men posed in front of the building are A. W. Hostetter and W. W. Shrader. A third man can be seen sitting on the ground by the back corner of the building.

Both images are clear with passable contrast. Upper portion of the mounts have light surface dirt.

These are great images of an American Western town now gone. Very reminiscent of the typical Hollywood western scene.  [AD]

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