A Brief History of Selden, Kansas

From the Beginning

Selden, Kansas came into being in 1888, just after the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railroad was built through the county. The location chosen was the R. J. McCroskie homestead, SW 9-6019.

Families and buildings were moved here from old Sheridan, Shibboleth and Jackson to be at the railroad. The town company platted a town which was named in honor of Selden G. Hopkins who, with I. B. Gray, I. N. Pence, M. F. Vandiver, Charles Chandler and Joe Jenkins made up the town company. Bonds of $12,000 were voted for a townsite and on June 6, 1888, the McCroskie homestead was purchased for this purpose.

A post office was granted with I. N. Pence, postmaster. E. C. Motz, who had been postmaster at Old Sheridan, carried mail on the star routes.

School Established

The first schoolhouse was a one-room building with Mr. Aerhart as the first teacher,- Mr. Jackson was the second teacher. Grace McCarty was an early-day teacher. Soon a two-story schoolhouse was built with two rooms on the ground floor, the second story was used for church and town hall. This building burned in 1893. Mrs. C. H. Matthew, was the principal at that time and Clara Weist was the primary teacher.

While a new schoolhouse was being built school was held in the back of the Pence and Gray store. The new building consisted of two rooms and served until 1907 when a two-story brick school building was erected. This building was struck by lightning but was used until a larger school was needed, about 1922 or '23. The brick from the old one was used by Barney Person to build his home which is now owned by Richard Pauls.

Businessmen Named

The first depot agent was Mr. Latta; Pump station, coal chute and restaurant, Ike Herron; Postmaster, 1. N. Pence; Assistant postmaster, Mattie Barnes; Mail carrier, hotel and livery stable, E. C. Motz; Banker, J. C. Gillen; Dry goods and groceries, I. N. Pence and I. B. Gray; Lawyer, Selden G. Hopkins; Hardware, Milton Vale; Blacksmith, C. H. Matthews; Shoemaker, Chris Holmes; Doctor and druggist, S. B. Miller; Feed store, Reece Long and Joe Jenkins; Grain and stock buyer and farm machinery, C. F. Monteith; Editor of "The Selden Gimblet" (printed out of town) J. F. Thompson; Barbers, M. Farling, later G. H. Banes; Sunday School Superintendent, A. L. Douglas; Circuit Rider, Rev. Jack Langley; Music teacher, Mrs. C. F. Monteith; Milliner, Mrs. J. G. Rouse. James A. Sprague was a banker and grocer in the early 1890's. The first justice of the Peace was Jacob Weist. The first bride was Sarilla Vandiver. She was married to Joe Jenkins by Mr. Weist.

Literaries, singing. schools and spelling bees were early forms of entertainment. The Weist quartet, taught by Mrs. Monteith, helped with vocal music. The first band was organized in the late 1800's and the Selden Bank Shell was a popular meeting place. It was located where the old Farmers State Bank now stands. Conductor of the first and later bands and singing schools was T. E. Menefee.

In 1890, crops failed completely and several bad years had left the county scarce of supplies. C. Geisenhener, county commissioner of the third district, was delegated to go to eastern Kansas and Missouri to solicit aid of food, clothing and seed grain. The response was generous and highly appreciated. He traveled on a Rock island pass.

Selden was incorporated in the spring of 1905. J. H. Bardwell was first mayor; councilmen were J. A. Anderson, Charles Holston, Bert Reed, R. A. Rogers and Luke Miller. The Selden Fair was organized and was very successful for many years.


The Methodist church was chartered in November 1897, built its first church in 1902. The present brick church building was dedicated in 1952. The Baptist church was built in 1906. Prior to the building of these churches, services were held in the schoolhouse. The Methodists met in the morning, the Baptists in the afternoon. Many people attended both services. The Catholic church was built in 1906, enlarged and remodeled in the 1930s.


The first schoolhouse was a one-room building with Mr Aerhart as the first teacher, then Mr. Jackson, Mr Peffley, Mr. W. W. Walkey, Mr. Drapes, Mr His, Misses McCleary, Messmore, Mosier and Grace McCarty, about 1890 or 1891.

A two-story schoolhouse was built with two rooms on the ground floor. The second story was used for a church and a town hall. This building burned in 1893. Mrs. C. H. Matthews was principal at that time. Clara Weist was a primary and intermediate teacher. While the new school building was being constructed, school was held in the back of the Pence and Gray store. The new building consisted of two rooms. This building served until 1907 when a two-story four-room brick building was erected. The next building was built in 1921. it was a two-story brick building with a full basement. In 1954 a multiple purpose building, which includes a gymnasium, was attached to the building. in 1965 the high school mysteriously burned and the students finished out the six weeks remaining in buildings around town. In 1966 they went to Oberlin, Hoxie and Rexford. By the time school started in the fall a new building had been built as an addition to the grade school and was used for a high school for the 1966-1967 and 1967-1968 school year. That year the high school was put in with Rexford. Selden grade school now has kindergarten through 5th grades including pupils from Selden, Rexford, Gem and Menlo districts. The grades from sixth through high school are taught in Rexford, so the year of 1968 is the last senior class to graduate from Selden. The old part of the grade school has been torn down, leaving just the part that was built after the fire at the high school. There is no sign of the old high school left except the walk and a couple of evergreen trees that stood on either side of the steps.


The Sheridan Times was published in Old Sheridan and was brought to Selden by its publisher, J.F. Thompson, and published as the Selden Times. The next Selden newspaper of record was the Selden Courant published by H. M. Worley, an early day teacher in Sheridan County. The Selden Independent, 1901 to 1912 was published first by W. M. Miller and later by W. T. and E. H. Logan.

The Selden Observer was published from 1912 to 1932. Among its editors were William Landau, Fred E. Bear, R. A. Rogers, Miss Iva Millen, J. F. McKelvy, B. A. Darrow, and Waldo Warren. In 1928 Jean and Jo began their interesting Short Grass Talks. The Selden Independent began publication in 1931. It was published by Glenn Yearout, Harold Pryer and Lowell Smith. The Selden Advocate was started in 1937, the publisher was Bob Comstock. Other changes were made with time, and now there is no longer a Selden paper. However, copies of the old newspapers dated 1889-1962 are available at the Selden Public Library along with a copy of the Selden Centennial book.

From Selden Centennial 1888 - 1988

A Century of Living in Selden, Kansas

Sheridan County