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David Fisk (Lens of
White Cloud --
Not Quite Ghostly
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This beautiful little city was once a
thriving metropolis of over 2,000 residents. It's not quite yet a
ghost town, but long past it's heyday, now with less than 200 people
calling it home.
White Cloud in the 1800's, photo courtesy
Wichita State University
Located on the
bluffs of the Missouri
Cloud was one of the earliest and grandest towns in a new
Territory. The port town was a popular stop for the big steamboats
carrying supplies bound for the
west. Often the docks were crowded with wagons in the port community, which
boasted a population of over 2,000 in its heyday. The town
continued to thrive until after the Civil War, when in 1860, the first
"iron horse” touched
soil and supplies began to travel via the rails.
the area where
would one day lie served as a vantage point and resting place for
Clark. According to legend, their names are said to be carved in a stone
somewhere close to today's
before the white men came to the area, the land belonged to the
tribe. The tribe’s chief, Ma-Hush-Kah, or
lived near the
River at a place called Iowa Point in a double hewed log house. In 1854, Ma-Hush-Kah lost his life in a battle with the Pawnee
were mortal foes of the
Chief was buried near a large tree overlooking the
River, below Iowa Point. After his death Nan-cha-nin-ga, or No Heart,
succeeded as head chief of the tribe.
In 1856, just two years
opened the territories to white settlement, two enterprising men
named Enoch Spaulding and John H. Utt laid out plans for
A log cabin was the first structure erected, and frame buildings soon
followed including a drug store and a few frame houses, one of which
was used as a hotel. The town was named for Ma-Hush-Kah, the
noted chief of the Iowa.
In early 1857, the
Cloud Town Company was formed with $45,000 in capital, with officers James
Foster, Dr. H.W. Peter, and W.J. Gatling, who invented the Gatling
gun. Members of the Town Company included Utt and Spaulding, as
well as Cornelius Dorland, who would later become
Cloud's first mayor.
Initially, they faced
problems with property rights until a famous land sale was held on July 4,
1857. Two thousand people arrived for the big sale on four
steamboats and the bidding was spirited, with the final sale of lots
amounting to $23,794. Celebrating in grand style, a barbeque was
served, speeches were made, and the St. Joseph’s band played music in the
background. No sooner was the celebration over, when the stock
company began to build
the same year, the new community attracted a doctor and an attorney. A post office was opened in a building which adjoined the drug store. A mill owner named Mr. Orton drove a deep well in a stockyard near the
river where his fattened cattle were remarkable. Later it was found
that his well was fed by natural mineral springs. Mr. C. Dorland was made
the first mayor of
Cloud. The burgeoning community was quickly on its way to becoming a prominent
city upon the Missouri
A steam ferry, that was
said to be one of the best along the river, arrived from Wellsville, Ohio
on June 3, 1858. Operated by Captain John Lock, who lived on a
long-gone island in the middle of the river north of
the steamboat met with an accident in 1867. The riverboat was so
badly wrecked that it could no longer service customers, but in May 1868,
a new boat was built and service was continued.
School was first taught in a small frame
structure in the northwest part of the town. However, the building was
struck by lightning and teaching was discontinued for a time. A new
brick school was built and the children resumed going in February 1872.
Several churches were quickly formed
including the Methodist Episcopal Church, the First Congregational Church,
and a Catholic Church. Later, the Colored Baptist Church was
established in 1875.
Cloud City Mills were built in 1863 by John Utt milling 120 bushels of wheat and
175 bushels of corn daily. Later, a sawmill was constructed, which
was owned and operated by George Adams. In 1868, Noyes & Moore built
a grain warehouse near the river.
School today is on the National Register of Historic Places, Kathy Weiser,
The bank of Springer & Emerson began
business on March 18, 1881, where the proprietors of the bank left their
cashier, a woman by the name of Annie King, mostly in charge.
This old church in
White Cloud first
served as a school for black children, Kathy Weiser, November, 2003.
This church was formerly the Christian Church
and Foster Memorial Church. Closed today. Kathy Weiser, November, 2003.
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