ALL ABOUT TOWANDA
This page is dedicated to the city of towandA, kansas
Towanda gained wide fame in 1919, when giant oil gushers were drilled on rockey Shumway land at the town's eastern doorstep by Gypsy Oil Company and the Trapshooters group.
Towanda was all ready a notable town for its time before the turn of the century, but one local family worked hard to put our name on the map!
James W Robison was born March 19, 1831 Near Banff, Scotland to James and Isabella Robertson. He was the fifth child our of eleven born to the couple. The Robertson Family came to America first locating in Pensylvania, only to relocate to Tasewell County, Illinois when JW Was given a large plot of land. He moved his family there to start establish a farm, and by clerical error on an 1835 land deed, they gave the land to "James Robison", and so the family adopted the new spelling of their name.
JW later visited Kansas and purchases 3,840 acres of land in Butler County. Over time this would grow to over 17,000+ acres. It was here in the beautiful lands of eastern Kansas, that he would settle in Towanda, Kansas and establish the Whitewater Falls Stock Farm in 1887. Here the family would beginning breeding Shorthorn Cattle, Duroc Hogs, and were responsible for bringing Percheron Horses into the United States.
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The town and township lie tucked in the pleasant valley of the Whitewater River, and take their name from the Osage Indian term "many waters." Many tribes camped out along the river beds of the Whitewater River, popular due to the abundance of water that filled the spring at the foot of the hill. Most notably the Osage Indians, but documented to include Comanche and Kiowa.
It was documented that a band of white Pioneers had spent a short time in the area, as a town company was formed in 1857. They discovered pearls on the Whitewater River. The men sent samples to New York City, which were returned as nearly worthless. Unfortunately, the group became stricken by Malaria and the remaining few fled back to their homes. C. L. Chandler, a returning '49er from the California gold fields who built his cabin in 1858, is considered our first settler. Soon after, Daniel H. Cupp and Samuel Fulton arrived and settled.
James R. Mead was a well known pioneer of the early days of Kansas. He first arrived to our great state back in the mid 1800s, landing in Towanda in 1863 and purchasing Chandlers cabin. Due to his honest dealings, Mead had already become successful in trading goods with not only the white settlers, but also with certain Indian tribes. After establishing a trading post in Towanda, he setup another branch at the mouth of the Little Arkansas River in 1864, the first building of which is now known as the city of Wichita. The log cabin built inside the museum is meant to depict Meads Ranch, or the trading post he established in Towanda.
Throughout his life, James R. Mead was involved in many business ventures and Kansas politics. In 1864, Mead was elected to the state legislature representing Butler county and in 1868 was elected to the state senate for the district comprised of the counties of Morris, Chase, Marion and Butler, as well as the unorganized territory west of the Kansas state line. Although he only lived in Towanda for roughly seven years, he made a huge impact on the first developments of our small town and the State of Kansas.
In 1870, Rev. Isaac Mooney, frontier preacher and community builder, purchased land from J.R. Mead and platted ten acres for a townsite. Samual Fulton purchased the expanded trading post, and his wife started the first school there. The village quickly became a trade center on the Emporia-Wichita wagon road and a division point for two stage lines.
The Masonic Lodge #30 was also a big influencer on the beginning development of Towanda, and over time had a huge impact on our community.
The Towanda township was one of the first four in the make up of Butler County--the largest in Kansas.