Garden City History

The founders of Garden City and the first to make settlement on homesteads in Finney county, were the Fulton brothers. They had ranged over this region for several years, following the business of hunting buffalo and wild horses before they ever thought of starting a town. William D. Fulton was born 1826 in Ohio. He died at the age of eighty-four years in Garden City, Kansas. James R. Fulton was born in 1829 in Ohio, and died suddenly at his home in Garden City in 1885.

In February, 1878, James R. Fulton, William D. Fulton and his son, L. W. Fulton, arrived at the present site of Garden City, bringing with them Chas. Van Trump, the county surveyor from Dodge City. Mr. Van Trump had previously surveyed as far as the Point of Rocks, nine miles east of Garden City. From there he started to find the center of old Sequoyah county. They drove up in their wagons and pitched camp not far from where the city pumping plant is now located. They were anxious to locate in the exact center of the county, and were afraid they had gone too far west. But when the engineer found the county lines, they discovered their camp was not one hundred yards from the center, east and west.

After completing the survey they went to Larned, Kansas, where the United States Land Office was then located, and on March 16, 1878, William D. Fulton filed on the southeast quarter section 18-24-32, and James R. Fulton filed on the southwest quarter of the same section. The other two quarters in the section were to have been taken by Chas. Van Trump and John A. Stevens, but by mistake their filings were both put on the northeast quarter. Van Trump did not discover the mistake until in the summer, and by that time, Stevens had built a house on the northwest quarter, and held it. A young man at Larned, seeing that the northwest quarter was still vacant, placed a timber claim filing on it, and Van Trump lost out in the town site deal. Late in 1879, C. J. Jones found the young man who had filed on the northwest quarter and bought his relinquishment for $90 and a gold watch. In this way Mr. Jones became the owner of the northwest quarter of section 18, which is now Jones Addition of the town of Garden City.

The original town site of Garden City was laid out on the south half of section 18 by engineer Chas. Van Trump. The land was a loose, sandy loam, and covered with sage brush and soap weeds, but there were no trees. Main street ran directly north and south, dividing Wm. D. and James R. Fulton's claims. As soon as they could get building material, they erected two frame houses. Wm. D. Fulton building on his land, on the east side of Main street, a house one story and a half high, with two rooms on the ground and two rooms above. This was called the Occidental Hotel. Wm. D. Fulton was proprietor. He often joked that it should have been called the Accidental Hotel, because it was an accident if you got anything to eat. James R. Fulton built a house of two rooms on his land, which joined Main street on the west. This house was sold to D. R. Menke in August, 1878, for a cash consideration and a one-sixteenth interest in the original town site was given him to establish a store in the building. No other houses were built in Garden City until November, 1878, when James R. Fulton and Mr. L. T. Walker each put up a building. The Fultons tried to get others to settle here, but only a few came, and at the end of the first year there were only four buildings.

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