Fontana Kansas History
Excerpts taken from William G. Cutler’s History of the State of Kansas was first published in 1883 by A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL.
This town is on the line of the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad, ten miles south of Paola. It was surveyed September 7th, 1869, by J. B. Grinnell, who, in selling any of the land, introduced into each deed a contract that no alcoholic drinks should ever be sold on the property by the purchaser.
This town took its name from “Old Fontana” which was laid out one half mile west of new town, at the cross roads, in 1858. Four farms cornered there, owned respectively by J. Ruble, Shipley, Bales and McCulloch, ten acres being taken from each farm for the town Ruble, Shipley, Bales and McCulloch, ten acres being taken from each farm for the town A postoffice was established some distance away, with Dr. Connery for Postmaster. When site; at the height of its prosperity ” Old Fontana” contained one store and three dwellings. the railroad was projected and its construction assured, the new town was laid out, and the old town site abandoned, except for farming purposes. The first to build on the new town site was Joseph Johnson, who erected a residence. The second was Mr. Fields who built a trading house, the third was Peter Yoho, who put up a grocery. Thomas, John and Edward Toms erected a grist mill here in 1871, at the time one of the finest in the State.
The Methodists had an organization in the old town, effected in 1860, with eight members. In 1870, they erected a church building in the new town, at a cost of $1,200. The Baptists during the same year dedicated their new church edifice which had been erected at a cost of $1,500 and in 1872, the Christians, organized themselves into a society with seven members, erecting a house of worship in 1878, at a cost of $1,000. Their membership is at present 120. The United Brethern and Presbyterians also each has an organization, the latter with thirty-six members, but neither has as yet erected a church.
The first birth in Fontana was that of John Yoho, son of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Yoho, in 1871; the first marriage that of Mr. Henderson to Miss Lucinda Landers, in 1869, the first natural death, that of an infant child of B. Bashear; but the first burial in the cemetery was that of a man who had taken up and secreted, preparatory to running off, another man’s horse. Being informed upon, he loaded his gun to shoot the informer and upon going out, slipped and fell upon the frozen ground, and received the lead designed for the informer, in his own body, dying therefrom a few days thereafter.
At the present time Fontana contains two general stores, one grocery, one drug store, one hardware store, one agricultural implement dealer, two grain dealers, one lumber yard, one grist mill, one two story stone schoolhouse erected in 1871, at a cost of $3,500 and about 350 inhabitants.
On December 23, 1872, a fire broke out in the town, which destroyed nine buildings. This was a severe blow to the embryo city and for two or three years afterward, it progressed backwards instead of forwards, but for the last four or five years, the town has made a steady and sure growth.