Before Nekoma became an “official” town, it was first settled by John W. Felch, who homesteaded on Walnut Creek in 1871. Other settlers soon followed and the town was platted by the Santa Fe Railroad Town Site Company in 1884 for use as depot and stockyard.
However, it would be several more years before the railroad would reach Nekoma on September 1, 1887. In the meantime a new depot was constructed and was ready for its arrival.
In 1893, a man named Elmer Miller built the first general store and in 1900, a larger general store, that included a large soda fountain and creamery, was built by Mike Moran. At the turn of the century, the village boasted just about 25 people, but would grow over the next several years. Soon, it boasted three grain elevators, a hardware store, lumber yard, implement dealer, barber shop, and restaurant, in addition to its two general merchandise stores. By 1910, the community had grown to 75 people and before long more businesses were built including a service station, feed mill, and the Nekoma State Bank in 1916. The community also had a school, opera house, two churches, and a local chapter of the Independent Order of Oddfellows.
The community's population peaked at just over 100 residents, but the town was never incorporated.
A two room school house continued to be used until the mid 1950's and the Nekoma State Bank survived the depression and decline of population, operating out of a simple wood frame building until 1986. At that time, the assets of the 70 year-old bank were purchased by investors who moved its operations to La Crosse, reopening in March, 1987.
The former wood frame Nekoma State Bank then stood abandoned for the next 15 years. However, in 2003, with the help of the Rush County Historical Society, the building was moved to Grass Park in La Crosse, restored and is now a part of the La Crosse Museum Complex, developed into a museum of rural banking.
Otis was founded in 1886 by Major E. C. Moderwell, an investor in the Missouri-Pacific Railroad, from Salina, Kansas. The town was named for his son, Otis. It had already been determined by by the Missouri-Pacific Railroad, that as it headed westward it would go right through what was to become Otis.
As the streets were laid out, some were named for children of the original founders. A new train depot and section house were built by the Missouri-Pacific Railroad and a post office opened on August 12, 1887. Moderwell donated a plot of ground where the first grade school was built and the present school still stands. Before long, there were a number of new businesses opening up in the flourishing city.
The Methodists first held their services in the school house until they built a new church in 1895. The Trinity Lutheran Church was founded by settlers who had immigrated from Russia.
By 1910, Otis had several businesses including a bank, telegraph and express office, and boasted a population of about 400.
The following year, a cigar factory was built that was in production for a number of years. When natural gas was discovered in 1928, Otis soon had 50 producing oil and gas wells that brought prosperity and more people to the town.
In 1943 the Otis Helium Plant was constructed to extract helium from natural gas. One of the largest of it's kind, it was originally constructed in 1943 by the United States government and an entire community was developed south of town to house the plant workers.
The world's second largest helium production facility is in Otis, producing nearly one-sixth of the global supply of the gas. The Otis facility supplies helium to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, sending nearly 400,000 cubic feet (11,000 m3) in 2008 alone.
Rush Center, KS
The first claim to be filed in the area was made by P.C. Dixon who settled on the the banks of the Walnut Creek near what would become Walnut City (later Rush Center) in 1870. He was soon followed by the family of J. S. Templeton in August, 1871. He and his wife soon had a son that they named Samuel Alpha, who was the first child born in Rush County.
With the promise of bountiful crops on the rich bottom lands of Walnut Valley, more and more settlers came to the area and the settlement that formed was first called Walnut City. The first post office was established on February 13, 1874.
At that time, the area between Walnut City and Alexander was bustling with young settlers under the protection of the cavalry units of Fort Larned, Fort Hays, Fort Dodge, and Fort Scott. Rush County was officially organized on December 5, 1874 and named in honor of Captain Alexander Rush, of the 2nd Kansas Colored Infantry, who was killed at Jenkins' Ferry, Arkansas.
Shaffer, a village in Rush county, is located in Garfield township on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe R. R. 15 miles southeast of La Crosse, the county seat. It has 3 mills, 2 grain elevators, a hotel, a creamery, general stores, telegraph and express offices and a money order post office. The population in 1910 was 45.
Page 674 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
Named after a land speculator, Henry Timken, who purchased land in which he believed that the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad would be building. When Henry Timken sold the land to the railroad, one of the conditions was that the town was named after him. During the year to follow a lumber mill, railroad depot, grocery store, and even a bowling alley would be established in the town. The town was settled mainly by immigrants from Czechoslovakia, Bohemia and Moravia.