Sunday, May 18, 2014

Providence, Kansas Ghost Town

For Sale, Providence Mineral Wells: 

In 1893, when A.A. Hyde, inventor and founder of Mentholatum of Wichita, advertized the sale of the Providence Mineral Wells in Providence, Kansas, one could have bought a hotel, 80 acres, and a mineral spring for $6,000. [Medical Brief: A Monthly Journal of Scientific Medicine, 1893, Volume 21, Issue 2]

Nothing remains of the ghost town of Providence, Kansas, a city once located near the intersection of 230th Street south and Southwest Meadowlark, a few miles south of Rose Hill.

Detail, Butler County Atlas of 1887, Richland Township

How to get there.

Directions using Richland Township, Butler County Atlas 1887

In 1881, a post office was established at the city of Providence, Kansas. John Dunnell was appointed postmaster. His son, C.F. Dunnell, sank a well on the south side of the road to a depth of 142 feet and found water. The taste was a bit salty and bubbly, but rather than be dissuaded, Dunnell brought the water to the attention of A.A. Hyde of Wichita, Kansas. Hyde found the mineral water to have curative properties and formed the Providence Mineral Well Company. [Providence Mineral Wells — Providence, Butler County. A. A. Hyde, Providence Mineral Well Company. Extra Census Bulletin of the United States, May 23, 1891; Mineral Resources of the United States, 1893.] Hyde soon built a general store on the north side of the road. It was a two story building and Norman Hagar was the proprietor who lived on the second floor with his family. Eventually, a hotel, livery and blacksmith shop, drug store, confectionary, and several residences were built. The street was named Providence Row or Mineral Street. The town had its heyday during the Wichita boom of 1885-1886 when Hyde and others advocated a stay of a few weeks at the mineral spa. Land speculation caused a collapse in the Wichita economy in 1887, the same year the railroad came to Rose Hill. The economic collapsed persisted throughout the last decade. In the 1890’s Wichita would lose one third of its population and one half of its valuation. 

Read more in the History of Providence, Genealogy Trails

Hyde apparently had no takers on his 1893 advertisement to sell the mineral springs as he was still advertising in 1905 the curative properties of the mineral waters in the Wichita Eagle newspaper. And the Butler County Atlas of 1905 still shows Providence, but the city is past its prime. Nearby Rose Hill was on the railroad line. And the Oklahoma oil boom at the turn of the century lured dreamers onto other projects, and many of the buildings were put on wheels and driven away.
Butler County, 1905
Detail, Richland Township, 1905 Butler County Atlas