Kismet (1908 - present day)


A History of Kismet, Kansas

Originally published in The Kismet Klipper, Thursday, March 7, 1918

      Kismet is located on the southwest quarter of section 4, township 33, range 31, Seward County, Kansas. It was first started by A.C. Olin, who purchased the above described tract of land from J.W. Baughman in 1907. In the year of 1908, Mr. Olin had 40 acres surveyed into town lots where the town of Kismet is now located. The first to start was a church. The United Brethren moved a small school house in from the country and located it in the north part of the survey calling it their United Brethren Church. In a short time a hotel was built, one store which handled a general stock of merchandise and hardware; one small lumber yard, a livery stable, blacksmith shop, a post office and about four dwelling houses. This was the size of the town in 1908. In 1909 a grain elevator was built by Collingwood Brothers which held 45,000 bushels of grain. Then a large building was built and called the Bible School. It ran about four months then quit and now it is used as a dwelling house. The town did not boom so much from 1910 until 1915, when the farmers organized a Farmers State Bank which capitalized at $10,000. A good cashier was sent to run it and the town began to push and boost again. At this time the town consists of three good stores, two large elevators, two good garages, one up-to-date depot, a good hardware store, one of the best lumber yards in the state, a blacksmith shop which is run by a good blacksmith as the P & O people had in Illinois, one livery barn and dray wagon, two good coal dealers, a pump station on the railroad, one good church, and one of the best schools in the county as it employs two of the best teachers that can be had, a good telephone exchange and about 30 residences. The population is about 150 live people who are all boosters. The town is located in the best farming district in the county, so come join us where people live long and never die.


Early Ordinances of Kismet, Kansas

(First published in the Southwest Tribune May 7, 1931)


Ordinance number 6, in part, is an ordinance to prohibit offenses against public order and providing a penalty for violation thereof.


Section I: No person shall be drunk in any highway, street, alley, public building, or in any other place In said city.

Section II: No person in said city shall willfully disturb the peace and quiet of the city, or any family, neighborhood, or person by rude or indecent behavior, offensive or disorderly conduct, obscene, profane, in- decent or offensive language, noisy, boisterous talk, disorderly conduct or other means. Fine not less than One Dollar or more than One Hundred Dollars and shall be imprisoned until said fine and the costs of prosecution be paid.


Signed by C.E. Cawley, City Clerk and R. Hinman, Mayor


Ordinance number 8, dated July 23 1931, is an ordinance relating to riding, driving, parking, traveling and traffic in and upon the public streets, avenues, alleys, and public places in the city of Kismet, Kansas.

Section I: The owner, operator, driver, or person in charge of the cart, dray wagon, automobile, carriage, buggy, motorcycle, bicycle or other vehicle, propelled or driven upon the streets, avenues and alleys of the City of Kismet, Kansas, shall conform to and observe the following rules and regulations of all such streets, avenues, alleys and public places in said city; A vehicle meeting another shall pass on the right. A vehicle overtaking another shall pass on the left and shall not pull over to the right until entirely clear of the overtaken vehicle. A vehicle shall, at all times, be operated or driven on the portion of the streets, avenues or alleys to the right of the center thereof, except where such portion is in an impassable condition.

Section II: Every person operating a motor vehicle on the streets of Kismet, Kansas, shall drive the same in a careful and prudent manner and at a rate of speed which shall not endanger the property or life or limb of another or at a rate of speed in excess of fifteen miles per hour on said street, avenue, or alley, or at a rate of speed in excess of eight miles per hour at intersections.

Section III: Any person violating any of the provisions of this ordinance shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in a sum not less than One Dollar nor more than One Hundred Dollars or be imprisoned in jail not less than one day nor more than sixty days or by both such fine and imprisonment, and in addition thereof any person on being convicted more than one time for the same violation of this ordinance may be prohibited from driving any motor vehicle in the city of Kismet for such period as the Police Judge may order.


Signed: C.E. Cawley, city clerk and R. Hinman, Mayor




The Kismet Klipper


     The Kismet Klipper first published on January 18, 1917 with the motto “A Bigger and Better Kismet.” Following are excerpts from various issues of the newspaper which came and went in various forms into the early 21st Century when Lola McVey continued a version of the paper.


Thursday, January 18, 1917



 W.H. Ojile Prop.




Dry Goods and Groceries, Kismet, Kansas. You're losing money, and you don't know it, if you fail to visit our bargain counter when you come to market at Kismet.




                                                                                         Men's Overcoats $12.50 value for . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $7.50

                                                                                         Men's Overcoats $9.50 value for . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $6.50

                                                                                         Men's Rain Coats $4.50 value for . . . . . .  . .. . . . . . . $2.75

                                                                                         Good Shirts of all sizes for ............ . . . . . .  . . . . . . . .$ .50

                                                                                         Rockford Socks, three pair for ......... . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ .27

                                                                                         Blue Denim Overalls, all sizes $1.50 value for .  . . .$ 1.29

                                                                                         Goods by the yard at very low prices,

                                                                                        such as Gingham per yard .. . . . . . . . .....$ .07




                                                                                        3 large cans Hominy for ……………..........................$.30

                                                                                        3 large cans Sweet Spuds for ......................................$.36

                                                                                        15 cent pink salmon for ..............................................$.12

                                                                                        25 cent package K.C. Baking Powder . . . . . . . . . . . . $.18


January 18, 1917


     The Kismet school to which the first year of high school was added this year is getting along fine, under the tutorage of Rissie Louise Potter, as Principle, and Miss Nettie Niles as Primary teacher. The second year high school course will be added next year, so those who are in the first year this year will have a chance to go right ahead with their work. There are several out of town people attending this year on account of the facilities offered.

      At the regular annual meeting of the stock holders of the Kismet State Bank held on the 6th day of January the old board of directors were re-elected for another year. The board proceeded to organize and elect the same officers for the ensuing year, consisting of J.N. Kneeland, President, Henry C. Reiss, Vice Pres., G.A. Bayha, Secretary and H.R. Hess Cashier.

     The Kismet Telephone Company received a shipment of twenty telephones the other day, and they have their switch-board ordered. Those who want on the mutual telephone line, who have not already signed up for phone service will do well to drop into the Kismet State Bank, or the Kismet Equity Exchange, and sign up so we can get the lines mapped out, and order material to go ahead with construction work.


February 1, 1917


     The Kismet Telephone Company is now ready to issue stock and we would very much appreciate it if those who have signed for stock would come in to the Kismet State Bank and pay for their stock and get their certificates. We have a shipment of wire on the road which will have to be paid for on arrival and some of this stock will have to be paid for to provide money to meet the bills. The switch-board is ready for shipment and work will commence as soon as the poles and wire arrive.  H.R. Hess, Secretary


February 15, 1917


     Kismet is growing. Mr. N.G. Moody has bought the material from our enterprising lumber dealer, R.E. Benson for a new two story building to be built on the lot just north of his restaurant building. It has not yet been decided what will go into the lower floor, but the upper floor will be divided into 8 rooms and Mr. and Mrs. Moody expect to conduct an up-to-date rooming house in them. They will build a nice porch in front which will be used as a veranda upstairs where people who room there can sit and take their ease during the long summer evenings and enjoy the nice breezes which cool the air after the sun goes down. Also there are several more people talking about building residences in the near future.


March 1, 1917


     The Kismet Telephone Company received their car of telephone wire and unloaded it on Thursday of last week. The poles have been shipped and everything else is here so actual construction will commence as soon as the poles arrive, which should not be more than a week off.


March 15, 1917


     There will be a meeting of those who signed for stock in the Kismet Telephone Company, in Kismet on Friday afternoon at 2 o'clock. All stock holders requested to be present. Everything required to go to work on the line with is here, except the poles which are expected anytime.


March 15, 1917


     The State Bank examiner was in Kismet Monday night and Tuesday checking up the business of the Kismet State Bank. He reports the books of the bank in excellent shape and complimented E.R. Hess, who as cashier on that date, very highly, on the correctness of his books and accounts. A Mr. Reynolds of Montezuma, who was clerk in the bank there, took Mr. Hess' place as cashier of the Kismet State Bank.


March 22, 1917


     F.R. Fellers asked us to please discontinue the ad he has been running in regard to having seed kaffir for sale. His supply is exhausted and he says as a result of the ad in the Klipper, he could sell a good deal more, if he could supply it. It sure pays to let your wants be known through the columns of the Kismet Klipper.


May 31, 1917


     The new telephone office is being erected in record breaking time with the basement dug and the cement foundation run since last Thursday, this being Saturday evening.


June 7, 1917


     The new telephone office is being rushed along and will be ready for occupancy by July 1st, when the service is to start. It is time for the country lines to start building so as to get here by the time the service is established.


     At the annual meeting of the Kismet equity Exchange held in Kismet on May 26th, the following directors were elected. to serve the Equity for the next year. H.C. Reiss, G.H. Wessler, A.E. Simonson, F.R. Fellers J.H. Light, E.A. Louthan, and D.K. Baty. G.H. Wessler was elected president and H.C. Reiss, vice-president. They are looking for a good man to take the position of manager vacated by the resignation of G.A. Bayha.


February 14 1918


      The Kismet mill is now grinding milo flour which at its name suggests, is made of milo maize. This flour is substitute for wheat and makes good gems, muffins, pancakes, biscuits, and other hot breads. We have not heard of its being tried for light bread, but have no doubt if mixed with rye or wheat flour it would make fairly good light bread.

      H.M. Forbes of Arkalon has recently completed a handsome new residence on his ranch on the Cimarron, and plumbers from the Southwestern Hardware Company have been connecting the water system up the last of the week. Mr. Forbes has in his new home a modern and beautifully equipped place which will be a delight to his family and friends for years to come.


May 2, 1918


     There is some talk of some of the other districts around Kismet annexing themselves to the Kismet school for the purpose of giving the children in these districts the benefit of graded school education. Kismet has added the second year of high school to their schools this year and the course will be accredited, there being two teachers employed on high school studies. They have already hired teachers for the primary and intermediate rooms and have several to pick from for the high school studies. The advantages of graded schools are recognized everywhere and a good many county schools over the eastern part of Kansas are consolidating in order to give the pupils this advantage. It is sure that a teacher specializing on just two or three grades can give them better attention than where she has to teach everything from the primer to the 8th grade as is the case with most country schools. Kismet will have a first-class school next year and anyone thinking of sending their children away for high school will do well to send them here.

     The proposition of consolidation is very simple according to the law and can easily be complied with. In case this consolidation took place this year it would be too late to build a large school building suitable to properly house the consolidated schools, but some of the school buildings now in use in the other districts could be moved into Kismet to be used the next year and plans could be made to build something adequate to house such a school properly during the time between now and the opening of school in 1919. Let's all boost for this thing and see if we cannot anyway come up with our neighbor east of us, namely Bloom, where they have a rural high school. There would have to be a way provided to get the children from a distance to school and back home again each day, but the law provides for this in allowing the school board to pay for such transportation.


September 20, 1917



     Last Monday evening while out hunting Professor B.W. Webber, who has just finished one week of teaching in the high school, had the misfortune to shoot himself in the right foot, making it necessary to amputate the great toe at thi second joint. Dr. Broady was called and Mr. Webber was taken to the hospital at Liberal where Dr. Morrow performed the operation. We hope to see the professor able to take up his work again soon.


October 4, 1917



     Charged with shooting himself in the foot in order to escape the draft, Berthold Webber, who was notified to report for service at EI Reno, September 20, was lodged in the county jail here today to be taken to Ft. Sill where court martial proceedings will be held. Webber, who is a school teacher and last winter was a student at the State University, according to his own statement received notification at his home in Kismet to report to the local exemption board last Monday. That afternoon he went hunting alone and when he returned the big toe on his right foot had been shot off and two other toes were slightly injured. Webber had asked for exemption claiming to have his parents and six brothers and sisters under sixteen dependent upon him. Failing to report last Thursday morning, the local board classed Webber as a deserter. Early this morning William Redder telephoned the Adjutant General, Ancel Earp, who ordered that Webber be sent at once to Fort Sill for court martial. Sheriff Carter made the arrest immediately.


July 25 1918



     Sunday Messrs. Hilyard, Sanford and Fleak of Liberal came to Kismet to try and get some of the boys to enlist in the Liberal Company of the Kansas National Guard. They were successful in getting enough signed up for two squads, which completes the Liberal company up to full strength. Had they needed the men, they could have gotten enough for the and squad, as almost everyone asked to enlist did so willingly. Those who enlisted from Kismet were: Sergeant D.R. Green, privates   C.G. Heitman, E.R. Hess, O.C. Kirk, L.E. Warden, R.E. Benson, L.R. Culley, M.C. Hicks, George E. Noland, H.D. Norris, Ralph Rinehart, Earl J. Rose, Berl Risley, Ben H. Smith, W.R. Ralston, Pearson Harris, H.D. Massoni and Beler Burr. D.R. Green, O.C. Kirk, Pearson Harris and Ben H. Smith went to Liberal Sunday afternoon and were examined and accepted, and L.R. Culley, H.R. Hess, Earl J. Rose and Berl Risley were examined in Liberal Monday afternoon and accepted. The balance will be examined during this week. The local squads are to drill in Kismet on Thursday nights of each week and are to go to Liberal to drill as often as possible. The United States Government furnishes complete equipment for these national guardsmen.



Kismet High School


     The very beginning of a high school at Kismet, Kansas, was in the fall of 1917 when a two-year accredited course was established. There was no high school building at this time so the classes were in a one-room building which was located a short distance southwest of the present grade school.

     In 1920, plans were made for a new high school building. This structure was a two-story building with two classrooms on the first floor and an auditorium on the second floor. There also was a full basement housing the furnace and other rooms for science and agriculture experiments. At this time the four-year accredited high school was established. Until the new building was completed, classes were held in what formerly was the Odd Fellows' and Rebekah's Lodge Hall which was on the second floor of a building that housed a grocery store on the ground floor and stood approximately where the Lewis grocery now stands.

    The new high school building was completed and put into use in the fall of 1921. At this time it became Kismet Rural High School. The first commencement exercise was held in the spring of 1922 with three graduates: Bertha Kiddoo, Nova Moody, and Alfred Shufelberger.

     In 1926, an auditorium was added to the east side of the high school building. The old auditorium on the second floor of the high school was then divided into two additional classrooms. In the 1950's, a gymnasium and new grade school were added to the west side of the high school building.

     Kismet Rural High School became Kismet High School in 1951. The last commencement of Kismet High School was held in the spring of 1965, as this was the year Kismet and Plains High Schools were merged into Unified School District #483 and was named Southwestern Heights High School. A total of 440 alumni passed through the halls of Kismet Rural High School and Kismet High School.

     The old Kismet High School building and auditorium stood vacant until May 1967 when they were razed to make way for new additions to the grade school building.



Kismet Cemetery

By Ernest McVey (1979)


     The Kismet Cemetery, which is located approximately 1/2 mile west of the city of Kismet, began with the gift of 1.8 acres of land from A.C. and E.E. Olin, husband and wife. On record in the Seward County Register of Deeds Office the first Quitclaim Deed was recorded and filed 7 December 1910 to Kismet Cemetery Company from the Olins.

     Cemetery records and monuments list three persons having been buried sometime during the year of 1909; infant Beulah Weaver, Hiram G. King, and M. McAdams. Mr. A.M. (Arva) Handy, whose parents homesteaded south of Kismet in 1909, recalls the infant Weaver girl was the first grave in the cemetery. The Weaver family were homesteaders south and west of Kismet.

     Another Quitclaim Deed recorded and filed 14 April 1932 was issued to the City of Kismet where guardian- ship remained for 24 years. On 29 August 1956 a Quitclaim Deed was issued to Fargo Township from the city of Kismet. During the ''Dirty Thirties'' many of us remember our parents and neighbors answering the call to clean the cemetery before Memorial Day each year. Teams of horses, wagons, and hand tools moved yards of blow sand from stones and grave sites which had collected during the year. It was these same neighbors and interested people who at a time of a burial would bring tools to open and close graves of their departed friends and neighbors.

     When Fargo Township held ownership of the cemetery no lots were sold and only a few records kept as it was in essence an ''abandoned cemetery." The only funds available for cemetery purpose was to clean it just prior to Memorial Day each year. This arrangement proved to be a source of irritation to many of our friends and neighbors in the community that had a interest in the cemetery and had friends or family buried in the cemetery. Upon advisement the Fargo Township Board agreed to the circulation of a petition to form a cemetery district.

     In 1957 the petition was circulated in the community by Arva Handy with sufficient amount of signatures to form a cemetery taxing district. On June 6, 1957 the patrons of Fargo Township met at the Kismet High School to organize the district as we know it today.

     Dean Headrick was elected as chairman for the meeting and Mrs. Brice Sherer acted as secretary. The Five Man Board of Directors was elected and the name of Kismet Cemetery District was approved and adopted. Those serving on the first Board of Directors were: Jack Massoni, Arva Handy, Brice Sherer, Earl Prater, and Lawrence Thompson.

     Many improvements have been made since its organization into the Kismet Cemetery District. Water lines have been providing water during the dry seasons, trees were planted, grass sown, fence built, and in 1967 a Memorial set to honor the service men who gave their life for our country. Lots are being sold and a sexton is employed 6 months out of each year.

     Because of the limited number of lots available it was deemed necessary by the Kismet Cemetery Board to increase the size which was done by adding 2.2 acres just immediately north of the original cemetery site. This plot of land was purchased from Vernon and Doris D. Miller in December 1971. The legal description is SW ¼ of NW ¼ of Section 4 Township 33 Range 31.


The Little World's Fair


     Kismet's "Little World's Fair" started in 1915 with the celebration of the opening of the Kismet State Bank. Everyone enjoyed it so much it was decided to have a picnic each year on Labor Day. From 1916 until it was discontinued during World War II, the celebration was known as the "Labor Day Picnic."

     In 1946 after the war the picnic resumed as a celebration of the returning servicemen. The celebration was named the "Little World's Fair" by Charles Lindsay as a joke but the name stuck.

     Many people worked on the fair in the early years including Raleigh Hinman, Joe Benson, Miller Brown, George Rose, Harry Massoni, E.R. Hess, Roy Headrick and George Daley.




About Seward County Historical Society

The Seward County Historical Society provides historic and entertainment opportunities for the local, regional and international visitors to Southwest Kansas. From Dorothy's House to traveling exhibits and a repository of local history from the Spanish exploration of Coronado to current events, SCHS provides a venue and a committed group of staff and volunteers to insure local history is preserved and to reinforce the belief that Kansas truly is a place over the rainbow.

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The Seward County Historical Society provides historic and entertainment opportunities for the local, regional and international visitors to Southwest Kansas. From Dorothy's House to traveling exhibits and a repository of local history from the Spanish exploration of Coronado to current events, SCHS provides a venue and a committed group of staff and volunteers to insure local history is preserved and to reinforce the belief that Kansas truly is a place over the rainbow.

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