History of Beautiful Downtown Derby History of Beautiful Downtown Derby
I recently visited the Mulvane Historical Museum located at 300 W. Main St., Mulvane. (The Mulvane Depot)
I purchased the Mulvane City of the Valley 1879-1977 book and found the following excerpt. Another fun read! Enjoy…
From Mulvane City Of The Valley 1977 Mulvane Historical Society, Mulvane, Kansas
Chapter XVII – Surrounding Towns
DERBY: One thing, and one thing only, kept El Paso (Derby) from becoming the cattle center of the southwest. The cattle shippers, driving herds north from Texas, wouldn’t stop in El Paso; they insisted on going through to Wichita.
So El Paso, now Derby, sat quietly on the southern horizon twelve miles southeast of Wichita, with its 360 residents just passing the time of day, buying their pork and beans and baby diapers at George Sickler’s general store. And so it was until 1953 when Derby voted to put in sewers and water. Then the progress really began and made the old dreams come true.
Alexander Garrett and his family came from Ohio to the Derby area March 7, 1869, and pre-empted their claim on Spring Creek, south edge of old El Paso. Part of their original claim is now Derby. Their daughter, Anna Mary Garrett, was the first white child born in Rockford Township. Margaret Garret still owns part of the original ground.
Jim Woodward and A.A. Rucker journeyed with team and covered wagon from Salina to Sedgwick County the spring of 1870. The trip was Woodward’s second. He has been here, picked out his claim near Derby on Spring Creek, made some preparation for his family and brought them with him this trip.
Mr. A.A. Rucker and his brother, John H. Rucker, took a claim just south of John Hufbauer. The brothers lived in a dugout on the bank of the river. Some of the other neighbors were Perry eaton, Jim Goodacre, Billie Mock, Whaley, Harvey Pittman, Abner Board, Yankow, Stine, Dick Barnes, Hough, Alex Garrett and Alex McWilliams, who was one of the first county commissioners of Sedgwick County.
Mr. McWilliams appointed A.A. Rucker as trustee for the south half of the county for that year. The county had just been organized.
The settlers on Spring Creek built a school house out of cottonwood logs and hired A.A. Rucker to teach a four month term of school. When the first three months were up he went to Wichita to take the examination for certificate.
H.C. Sluss was chairman of that board and Thomas Weeks was another member. They gave Mr. Rucker a first class certificate on Dec. 24, 1870, good for one year. Mr. and Mrs. George Ruter who lived across the river were good friends of the Ruckers. All legal business had to be done in Augusta as it was then the County Seat. In 1872 the Ruckers sold their claim to John Hout Minnick and moved to the newly opened territory just south of present Mulvane.
In the winter of 1870, John Hufbauer, who had hauled freight through the area for some time, pre-empted eighty acres of land in Sec. 12, Twp. 29, Rg. 1 East. Hufbauer laid out and platted his eighty acres for a town site in the spring of 1871. He built a house and rented it to Schlicter and Smith for a general merchandise store; they failed to comply with the lease and the building was then leased to Neelee and Vance, who filled it with goods. The kitchen of the house was rented to McWilliams who started a post office and called it “Sandford.” This name didn’t last long and it was changed to El Paso.
After John H. Minnick had purchased Rucker’s claim. he and John Hufbauer agreed to Hufbauer withdrawing forty acres of the ground he had platted and Minnick platted forty acres of what he owned. Both Hufbauer and Minnick came from Tazewell County, Illinois, and entered this joint venture.
Hufbauer and Minnick realized that the location they were working on had a natural rocky ford and it was the only good crossing of the Arkansas River south of Wichita for many miles. They decided to put in a ferry to serve the people when the river was not at a low stage. They applied for a license to operate a ferry and this was granted March 4, 1871. They were required to file a $1,000.00 bond for the ferry privilege and a $10.00 license fee to the county.
At a meeting of the board of commissioners April 7, 1871, the following ferriage rates were established: For one span of horses and loaded wagon, 75¢; Each additional span, 15¢; one span of horses and empty wagon or other vehicle, 50¢; horse and rider, 25¢; each foot passenger, 25¢; two yoke of oxen and loaded wagon, $1.00; each additional yoke, 20¢.
There appears to have been very little water in the Arkansas channel during 1871, but this ferry operated up to 1873 when a toll bridge was built by the El Paso Bridge Co. The structure was ready by July 7 with the county commissioners approving the following schedule of toll rates: For wagon and two horses, or one yoke of oxen, 25¢; for additional horse or ox, 10¢; footman, 5¢; loose cattle or horses, per head, 5¢; loose cattle, hogs and sheep, .021/2¢ per head. This ferry was operated from the west side by Mr. Ruter.
In 1873, Salem and Rockford Townships built a fine bridge, which put the ferryboat out of business, but the flood of 1877 put the bridge out of business. Another bridge was soon built because the inconvenience of rowboats to cross the river was not put up with for long.
On the last of March, 1879, a portion of the town was consumed by fire but was quickly rebuilt. On reorganization of the town following the fire, the inhabitants talked of beating Wichita. The first Santa Fe train entered El Paso, July 18, 1879, and in November the town boasted a depot. El Paso was the second city in the county. The people talked of getting the cattle trade away from Wichita, and here was even talk of taking away the County Seat.
George Litzenberg, afterward known by his pen name “Farmer Doolittle,” started a general store and operated it successfully for several years. E.F. Osborn built a hotel; Joseph Mock’s blacksmith did a fine business. L.E. Vance opened a saloon which became notorious. But cattlemen still went on through to Wichita, although El Paso was a nights stopping place, both north and south bound. There were numerous shooting scrapes and the town reeked with scandal.
In 1880, the Santa Fe decided to change the name from El Paso. The railroad station was marked “Derby” and the post office was changed to Derby. The railroad gave its reason for the name change as confusion with El Paso, Texas, but the fact there were twelve other Derbys in the United States made no significance. Derby the town became, and Derby it is. For years afterward real estate titles were made out as El Paso and all land transfers were El Paso. Samuel Wade McCoy was the first lawyer.
The Derby Hotel was formerly known as the El Paso Roadhouse. Stage coaches stopped there before trains were extended into Texas.
In August, 1884, a widow known to the town as Mother Nachtrieb (Jane), arrived from Ohio with her daughters. A manager was needed and Mother Nachtrieb was offered the job. The hotel was a meeting place for stage coaches, as two from the south – Winfield and Belle Plaine areas – met the coach from the north.
Kansas weather was more pleasant than the cold winters of Ohio, and the Nachtrieb family decided to make this their home.
The cowboys would arrive, and in a most boisterous mood ride their horses across the porch and yell and shoot their firearms – a frightening event for the young daughters. When the cowboys would arrive, mother would shoo her daughters inside and hide them in the upstairs until the cowboys departed. Attractive girls were kept hidden from these invaders. Then at night there would be a good cry, with the girls trying to coax their mother to go back to their peaceful, former Ohio home. They did not want to remain part of the wild Kansas life.
Daughter Emma married James F (Jim) McCoy, a schoolmate, and moved to Wichita where he became Wichita’s postmaster. Elizabeth married Charles Waugh, Derby’s well known barber, and had one son, Maurice.
The farmers around Derby were of the first in the county to plant wheat in 1872. The adventure of hard winter wheat was heard about in Wichita, and the Eagle printed much about the wheat results of Rockford Township. The work of Rockford Township pioneers in establishing wheat as a staple prairie crop encouraged all of Sedgwick County to go into production of the grain. No doubt it helped stimulate Sumner County on its south side to become the wonderful wheat domain it is today.
Tom Wardell came to Derby in 1878 and established a hardware store in 1888, and he was still doing business in 1924. George Sickles operated the general store about the same length of time. Dr. Tucker was the town doctor and druggist until his death in the early 1900’s. In 1911, Derby had its own large lumber yard, Davidson and Case.
The first Derby (El Paso) bank was started by Dr. Tucker in 1884. It only lasted a few years. The present Farmers and Merchants State Bank was started in 1907 in the old bank building used by Dr. Tucker. It was remodeled and added on to in 1916, with large columns to decorate the front. Today it is used by the El Paso Water Company. J.J. Butterfield was the cashier for many years, with Philo Butterfield succeeding his father. The bank was sold to Elwood Jones in 1954. Mr. Jones has built a beautiful drive-in bank, just south of the old bank building, at 201 N. Baltimore and an outstanding new bank opened this year (1977) at the corner of Madison and Derby.
As noted before, Derby stood still for many years until they put sewers and water in in 1953. Now it is probably the fastest growing town in the State of Kansas!
Many new businesses are booming and housing is going up at an unbelievable rate. The city officials, planning commission, businesses and townspeople are to be congratulated upon their well organized city.
References: Town Crier – Wichita Beacon, 1924, Andreas History of Kansas, 1883; Wichita Eagle about 1941; newspaper clippings undated; The Mulvane News, Nov. 12, 1932; Margaret Garrett; Bentleys history of Sedgwick County, 1911; family histories and the Derby Chronicle, 1906.