Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Isaac Werner Visits Cullison, Part I

James B. Cullison (1857-1936)
First, before linking the information taken from Isaac B Werner's journal about his visits to Cullison, I must give credit to Jeffrey R. Cullison for his "A Brief History of Cullison, Kansas" posted online and dated 1997.  The last activity I found on the web page is more than ten years old, but I am grateful his information remains available, and it makes the journal entries by Isaac in 1887 even more interesting.

Growing up, I was very familiar with Cullison, for its school was in the Skyline League, along with the Byers School that I attended.  There was an active 4-H Club in Cullison, so I knew kids my own age through 4-H activities.  

My husband and I left Kansas after college, and although I had passed Cullison by on the highway, I had not visited the town for many years.  In the "Brief History" written in 1997, author Jeffrey R. Cullison writes:  "Not much remains of the old Cullison of prosperity and boom times.  A few old buildings are all that is left of those years.  I visited Cullison in 1987 and could not help but think of part of it almost as a ghost town."  At the 1986 reunion, several thousand people had come to celebrate its Centenial Year, and an unpublished "History of a Prairie Town" was written by Clara B. Farnsworth, which author Jeffrey R. Cullison consulted.  Pratt author J. Rufus Gray added information in his 1977 "Pioneer Saints and Sinners."  Now, I can supplement their records with entries from the journal of Isaac B. Werner.  Like author Jeffrey R. Cullison, when my husband and I finally exited the highway to tour Cullison, little that I remembered remained.

Founder James B. Cullison, pictured above, was a young lawyer with a wife and baby when he staked a preemptive claim and built a little shack on the land that would become Cullison.  The town was platted on his homestead on March 17, 1885.

Like many communities on the prairie, success depended on the railroad, and those towns through which the railroad passed were more likely to prosper.  J.B. Cullison realized this, and attempted to profit from acquiring land through which a proposed railroad would pass.  A good idea--but when the railroad changed its mind, his investment dreams disappeared.  He participated in another site, but as for his family, his dreams had moved south.  He staked a claim in the Oklahoma Cherokee Strip, and made his dreams come true as a lawyer practicing in Enid.

Cullison did plat a town and get a railroad, and by 1887 was incorporated as a 3rd class town with about 2,000 residents.  It was during that very year that Isaac B. Werner paused in Cullison several times, which are recorded in his journal.  More about that in next week's blog post.    

Remember, you can click on the images to enlarge them.


1 comment:

The Blog Fodder said...

Fortunes won and lost gambling on where the railroad would go. Lots of Westerns written and filmed about nefarious plots in that regard. Saskatchewan's capital was supposed to have been Fort Qu'appelle but influential men owned property where Regina now stands.