The town of Satanta was born in 1912 when the Dodge City and Cimarron Valley Santa Fe Railroad was built through Haskell County, missing the town of Santa Fe. Satanta was laid out six miles east of the Cimarron River on the level, open prairie and was opened to settlement on October 12, 1912. The town is named after the Kiowa chief, Set'tain-te, meaning White Bear.
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An excerpt from...
"100 Years Beneath the Plow"
A Historical Anthology of Haskell County
Prior to the building of the railroad, this area was all a cattle range, known to the few that lived there at the time as "Uncle Jake" Davis' pasture
James S Patrick, a well-known real estate dealer and abstractor living in Santa Fe, bought the first Lot in the new town and moved a small building to it from Santa Fe. This became the site of his real estate office, the first business in Satanta. This building, which later became a newspaper office, was moved to the back of the lot when a brick building was built at that site to house with the Satanta State Bank.
The first house in town was a one-room house moved from the country into town by Emil Schnellbacher and Walt Smith. This house was owned by Mrs. Ellen Purcell of Toluca and was the location of a dance which was the first social event of the new town.
The second enterprise to open for business was the T.M. Deal Lumber Company. During the time the lumberyard was being constructed, the carpenters bunked on the floor Mr. Patrick's office.
The John C. Purcell family was among the first to locate in Satanta, opening a general store. The Herbert Stuggs family settled in the community following the Purcells. Mr. Stubbs, a young attorney, opened an office and prepared for business.
Building progressed rapidly in the new town with Mr. Patrick as agent for the town lots. The James A. Hill family moved into their home, and Mr. Hill opened a blacksmith shop in a building that still stand-in Satanta in 1984.
The Hutchison brothers, Frank and John, sold their extensive land and cattle holdings and placed their money in town improvements. These consisted of a large, modern garage, a moving picture theatre, a drugstore with hall above, a 30 room modern hotel and six dwellings. The names given to these buildings were Indian names - the Big Chief Garage, Pocahontas Theatre and Hotel Modoc.
The laying of steel for the railroad was completed in the fall of 1912, with the first train, a booster special, arriving on October 22. A large crowd was on hand for this big event.
Along with the growing town came the need for bank. In April 1913 the bank charter was granted and the bank opened for business in July. The first depositor was Paul Custer, a small boy who sold The Kansas City Daily Star and Times. He deposited his paper proceeds in the bank. In March 1915 the bank was purchased by the Collingwoods of Plains, Kansas. L.O. Stanley was transferred from the Plains bank and placed in charge of the Satanta State Bank. In 1937 the Satanta State Bank merged with the Santa Fe State Bank and the Copeland Bank form the Haskell County State Bank located in neighboring town of Sublette. Satanta, then, was without a bank until 1950. During this period the post office was located in the bank building.
Churches also played an important part of the community. In 1913 a frame building became the Harper Memorial Chapel. John Harper, a cattleman with extensive land holdings in the county, agreed to sponsor the chapel, providing it would carry his name. Ministers were supplied for that church by the Kansas Conference of the Methodist Church. This building, at the present time, is used for a barn on the Anton Farm just east of the high school. Other early-day congregations included the Church of Christ, Baptist, Christian and Catholic churches.
Another notable event was the establishment was the telephone system for community about 1915. Myrtie Jones is the first "central" operator, later followed by Mrs. Ray Staab.
The year 1921 was significant as the year that the town was incorporated as a city. A petition for incorporation was signed by 92 residents and was published April 29, 1921. On June 6, 1921, the county commissioners declared Satanta incorporated. On November 30, 1921, the motion carried in the city council to purchase two hand-drawn chemical fire trucks for $500.
In September 1922 the city purchased lots from the Santa Fe Land and Improvement Company to erect a waterworks system. By 1924 the waterworks system was installed. A 50,000 gallon capacity water tower was erected, the cost not take seen $30,000. In January '25 water meters were to be installed by the water department.
Fred Warner, who homesteaded land in Haskell County, was elected the first mayor 1921 and was elected to a second term in 1923. The first city clerk was Robert H. Lockwood.
Improvements in the city came steadily through the years. In December 1924 for the city council met in special session to approve the construction of sidewalks and crossings, at a cost of $1 per lineal foot. An ordnance relating to the construction and installation of electric facilities and buildings in the city was adopted in 1926. Street light allocation were also considered during this period.
Twenty acres of land was deeded by the Dudley Township trustees for a cemetery for the city in 1928. Due to a lack of funds the cemetery was deeded back to Dudley Township in 1937.
Bonds for a sewer system were issued March 1, 1931, and a motion was carried for the acceptance of plans for swimming pool on April 25, 1935. This pool is still being used at the present time. The first jail was built in 1934 and was located in the back to city hall.
In 1950 The State Bank of Satanta was chartered. A new addition in 1965 provided a drive-up window with the additional work area and office space. In July 1975 the bank moved into the new building at the south end of Satanta main street. This building also contains a community room with kitchen facilities.
Satanta is fortunate to have its own city gas well as result of a resolution and order by the city council and a special election held March 1949.
Satanta is especially proud of its hospital facilities nursing home which is steadily grown and improved since 1925.
Due to the growth of the city and the demand for more water, a new water well was drilled and extension of the city waterworks was completed in 1953. A new water tower was erected in 1976 with a capacity of 200,000 gallons, followed by the drilling of another city water well in 1983.
Oil and gas production in the area has made an impact on the economy of the city for many years. The United Carbon Company, located 7 miles northwest of Satanta, was, at one time, the world's largest carbon black production plant. Many families lived in the housing area located nearby, and the children attended Satanta schools. When the plant closed in 1960 many of the families bought the company-provided houses and moved them into Satanta, resulting in the first major addition to the city. This area this area is known as the Reno Addition, since the land was purchased by Satanta Development Inc. from Lulu Reno.
Other residential areas have been added to the city since that time. In 1966 the Ungles Addition was accepted into the city, followed by the Stanley Addition in 1973 and the Western Heights Addition in 1975. The most recent addition was made in 1979, the Sunset Heights Addition.
The many trees that have been planted through the years that one time resulted in Satanta being referred to as the "city of trees." Much credit for this phenomenon on the treeless plains should go to John Francis, who begin his tree-planting campaign in 1923. The seven parks located in the city help maintain this feature. A Memorial Tepee was constructed in one of the parks in 1960 and, for a time, served as a small museum for Indian and early day artifacts of the area. Tennis courts were built in another park in 1963, using funds provided by the Satanta Riding and Roping Club.
Our annual celebration, known as Satanta Day, has been held the second Saturday in May since it first began in 1941. A feature of the early celebrations was the rodeo which was held on Saturday and Sunday. Now the festivities includes a parade, barbecue, Old Timers' Breakfast, many contest and other activities during the afternoon, and dances in the evening. The alumni association holds its annual meeting on that day, and it is a popular time for classes and family reunions.
Satanta has seen many changes, and most of the old buildings are gone. Today it is located in the county with the highest agriculture production in the state. It is also a part of the Hugoton gas field, the greatest natural gas reserve known. Signs at the edge of town proclaim: "Satanta - Where Agriculture and Industry Meet." Satanta has proved throughout its history to be a very progressive community. - Delaine Stalker; Norma and Ellen Conover