In the race across Kiowa County two companies, later known as Santa Fe and Rock Island, arrived in Haviland on the same day in 1887. Town folk celebrated by furnishing large wooden tubs of lemonade for the work crew and onlookers. The first train brought the first ice cream to town. The Santa Fe, with rails laid just in advance of the engine, reached Haviland ahead of the Rock Island, whose track was a few feet north. However, some years later, the Santa Fe tore up its track and station.
The first Rock Island depot agent and telegrapher was Tom Cauthers. Ticket sales boomed for both short and long distance travel. Harvest hands arrived at the station and were hired by local farmers. Specially equipped "chicken cars" were set on the siding for anyone wanting to sell poultry. Crowds and a local band gathered to welcome returning soldiers in 1918. Eager sightseers assembled for a glimpse of President Hoover as he appeared on the passenger platform of a passing train. Carloads of miscellaneous provisions were unloaded on the dock and the City Dray delivered freight from the depot.
The depot was damaged by a tornado in 1958 and replaced by a small office building. This was removed after the local agency was terminated and billings were handled by the Greensburg agent.
VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT
The first fire-fighting equipment in Haviland consisted of two, two-wheeled carts, each carrying a 150 gallon tank and a considerable length of hose. The tanks were filled with water mixed with soda. Each tank had a bottle of acid supported under the filler cap. When water needed to be sprayed on a fire, a lever was operated to break the acid bottle. Mixing the acid with the soda produced pressure which forced the water out of the tank. The carts had a tongue with a cross piece at the front which two men took hold of to pull the tank to the fire. There was also a rope on a reel which could be unwound and as many as eight men could help pull. Sometimes the carts were pulled by men standing in the back of a truck. If a car without a top was available, two men would get on their knees in the back seat, facing backward and pull the cart.
In 1925, a water system was installed with fire hydrants strategically located around the city. A Model T one-ton Ford truck chassis was bought and equipped with a hose bed, which was made by a local carpenter. It carried 500 feet of hose. It was also equipped with two three-gallons soda-acid hand carried extinguishers. The truck had no cab or windshield but simply a wooden seat built over the gas tank. The truck also had an overhead ladder rack.
In 1947, the Kansas Inspection Bureau decreed that the equipment must be updated or the city would lose its rating for insurance purposes. A new 1947 one and a half ton Chevrolet truck was purchased and factory equipped with complete fire fighting equipment. This truck is kept on display in its own building and is brought out for parades or parked next to Highway 54 on special occasions.
WATER AND WINDMILLS
In the early days, water was hauled from Dowell (Wellsford), four miles distant. Soon a town well was dug in the center of the crossroads on Main Street, which later had to be filled when the Rock Island track was laid. Another well, 36" across, was then located a block north. Water was drawn with ropes and buckets and emptied into a trough. Jugs were filled and livestock watered for travelers. Local well service men began drilling and erecting windmills. In 1898 the Bryant Brothers, having located 500 wells between Pratt and Bucklin, continued their work locally. When its usefulness was completed, a circular bandstand was built around the well.
For many years Haviland was known as the "City of Windmills", because of having more windmills according to its population than any other town in Kansas. When the city water system was installed in 1925, the windmills began disappearing from the town's skyline.
Before a post office was secured, mail was picked up at Dowel (Wellsford). The first post office was sought by the Town Company and by Asher Williamson whose combination dwelling and store was a mile north of the town. With permission granted to the Town Company in June, 1886, the office opened and was located in the Kemp store south of the Cannonball Trail. Mail was received by stagecoach route running from Wichita to Dodge City until replaced by train delivery. Mail is now received by U.S. Mail Truck delivery from the Wichita Regional Center.
Haviland had the first rural free delivery route in Kiowa County. The decrease from five routes to two did not indicate postal decline . . . instead, in 1957, the office advanced from third to second class rating due to increased gross receipts and enlarged volume. Contributing factors were the extensive mailing area served by the Haviland Telephone Company and Friends Bible College (Barclay College) along with large volume mailings from other business offices.
STORES AND SERVICES - Haviland's first business ventures, responding to the needs of a new farming community in the late 1880's, consisted of grocery, general merchandise and dry goods, meat market, bakery, blacksmith shop, livery barn, feed store, lumber yard, hotel and restaurant. As growth accelerated so did the variety and number of business places. Many wooden buildings extended north and south of the railroad and along side streets of the main district. Versatility was the key to on-going success. Over a span of years, merchants offered diverse products or services according to demand and economy.
The first grocer was Asher Williamson, who moved his business from the country into town. Butcher shops and meat markets advertised "fresh meat and full weight". Ice was also available and delivery service stocked the home ice box. In time, cold storage lockers and butcher shops became a part of grocery stores.
General merchandise stores included clothing and dry goods, footwear and miscellaneous assortment in addition to groceries. In 1929, Bull-Dog brand overalls were $1.60 and work shirts ranged from 60¢ to $1.00. The grocery section priced bulk coffee at 40¢ per pound, oranges 15¢ per dozen, bananas four pounds for 25¢, four boxes of jello for 25¢. There were clothing stores. Millinery stores offered a wide choice of ladies' and children's hats and often the basic hat forms and material for the lady who chose to fashion her own headwear. Made-to-fit clothes could be ordered through H. F. Gifford at the City Pantitorium, which was located over Brinkley's Jewelry. Dry cleaning stores were operated.
The buy-and-sell produce stores handled farm commodities of cream, butter, eggs, poultry and hides and often sold feed and general merchandise. Feed mills handled grain, hay, coal and ice. Haviland Mercantile Exchange dealt in grain and coal. Crews and Tucker advertised grain handling and threshing. The Dunbar Grain and Farmers Elevator were marketing companies, with Farmers Co-operative Company later purchasing Dunbar Grain facilities. In early years, carloads of potatoes and fruit were shipped from this agricultural area. Additional storage units replaced old wooden elevators and the number of tall concrete silos, necessary for handling increasing varieties and volume of grain, were referred to as "Prairie Giants".
The blacksmith shop, a distinct necessity, required skilled workers. The first "smithy" was Gus King. General repair on wagons, buggies and implements was provided. As years progressed, shop work consisted mostly of welding, sharpening plow shares, making machinery replacement parts and forming the often intricate branding irons for cattlemen. Horseshoeing became an infrequent skill, practiced by few. In 1916, Dave Meisenheimer opened a blacksmith shop and conducted a widespread successful business for 54 years. In 1924, he was joined by his 15-year-old son, Jim. Together, with pride in their business, they maintained a well-organized, clean, uncluttered shop containing much old-time equipment and a display of relics of early day trade. The shop, located in the second block west of the old bank corner, displayed the sign "Iron Butcher" and was in business until late 1977. Both father and son each gave over a half century of high quality service to the farming community.
Harness and saddlery stores, wagon, buggy and implement agencies thrived in Haviland's beginning years. As motor vehicles affected the sale of horse drawn equipment, other merchandise was added to shops such as carpets, matting, linoleum and household furnishings. Walt Fankhouser set up a shoe repair service in his harness shop. Bryant Brothers displayed new automobiles. Hardware stores were also multi-combination with furniture, heating and cooking stoves, tinware and sundry supplies. Bryant Brothers Hardware, housed first in a frame structure but later occupied Haviland's first brick building in 1909, was equipped with an elevator for the three floor levels. During its 50 years of service in the community, the business reflected the transition in tools of agriculture, implements and vehicles.
Doctors were so essential in a pioneer community. Dr. Moon, Haviland's first physician, was extremely busy during the early typhoid epidemic. The much-loved Dr. Mary Bennett covered a large part of south central Kansas and was Kiowa County's "Horse and Buggy" doctor. After the death of her husband, she lived in Haviland with her doctor son and family. Nat G. Bennett doctored in the community for 42 years.
The practical use of home remedies was a necessity among early settlers, but the need of pharmaceutical supplies was recognized. Drug stores, also containing sundry items and the popular soda fountain, were also town meeting centers.
Mortician services were available and some type of business usually accompanied the profession, such as furniture merchandising or dry cleaning service.
Livestock remedies were of special importance when farm animals were a valuable means of income, food supply, transportation and farming. Much of the early soil preparation was with implements drawn by oxen since many horses died from loco weed. A veterinary hospital was located two doors south of the undertaking parlor.
The building trade gained momentum as local lumber yards began to supply materials. Kemp expanded his grocery business to include lumber, posts, brick, cement, plaster materials and coal. One of the early carpenters, Joe Gause, was given lots for a homesite as incentive for location in Haviland. Masonry supplies and services were available for foundations and sidewalks. Skills of interior and exterior decorating were much in demand.
The need for adequate lodging and eating places prompted building of hotels on both sides of the Cannonball Trail and "uptown". The first hotel proprietors were John and Margaret Compton followed by L. Y. Bryant, the William Garner Hotel, Charley Taylor Hotel, Cora Byrd Hotel, George and Fannie Cooke Hotel and The Country Club by Newt Elledge. The weary traveler must have welcomed the sign of the "One Dollar Per Day Hotel" by W. K. Maret which advertised "Meals All Hours, Nice Clean Beds". There have been many cafes through the years. Ice cream parlors, bakery and confectionery were advertised.