Kismet, Kansas

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In 1887, one century ago, records in the Seward County Register of Deeds office show that on 14 July 1887, 100 feet of right of way in Section 4-33-31 Seward County was transferred to C.K.&N.RY CO. from Theodore Johnson by warranty deed. When this railroad was built, the railroad siding was required to have a name. This name was apparently "Kismet" since other records including the beginning of the post office on 14 November 1888 show that the location was named Kismet, and maps dated 1891 showed Kismet in its present location on the railroad. According to Jim Johnson, of Kansas City, Kansas, manager of Public Relations for the Cotton Belt Railway, successor to the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific (generally known as the Rock Island) a work train operated from that siding as the line was built on into Liberal where the first "paying" train arrived on February 26, 1888. By 1890 the railroad had reached Dalhart, Texas.

In the book Kansas in Maps, by Robert Baughman copyright 1961, published by The Kansas State Historical Society a map dated 1891 shows Kismet on the railroad line in Seward County. The siding here was important because of the need for a full boiler of water to make enough steam for power to get up the west side of the Cimarron River valley between here and Liberal. The reverse was true when the trains were heading east after pulling up the east side of the valley. The engines took on a full load of water in Liberal, but it was necessary to take on more water after the long haul up out of the valley.

Although no records have been located as to the origin of the name "Kismet" for the town, it has been surmised that the "fate or "the end" (which are dictionary meanings of "Kismet") of the railroad as it traveled west hinged on its successful crossing of the Cimarron River just to the west of Kismet. The railroad made that crossing at Arkalon where several years later a train went into the river. At that time the track was built in a more direct route with the mighty "Samson of the Cimarron" bridge across the river. The river appears in recent years to be a sleepy stream of water, but old-timers have seen it spread out over the entire bottom land under that long bridge and they feel much safer for the size and structure of the high bridge. Jim Johnson reports that the road is 3.5 miles shorter between Kismet and Liberal now than when it went through Arkalon.  However the mile markers, starting at St. Joseph, Missouri still carry the old markings, so engineers must always take this into account as their trains use the local track.

After several owners from the 1880’s through the turn of the century, A. C. Olin obtained title to the southwest quarter 4-33-31. This is the quarter from which the town site of Kismet is platted.

Know all men by these presents that A. C. Olin and his wife Emeline E. Olin being the owners of the following described piece of land situated in the SW 1/4 Sec. 4 in Tow, 33 & Range 31. Bounded as follows beginning in the north east corner of said quarter section, which point is one half the distance on a straight line drawn from the one half section pts on the east and west sides of said section such line measuring 79c & 78 links. Also showing a measurement of 40c & 4 links from the one half section rock or gov. corner on south side of said section.

From this point running west on the north side of said quarter sec 1520 feet. Thence south 1557 feet thence east parallel with the one half sec. line 1520 feet to the half sec. line. Thence north along one half sec. line 1534 feet to place of beginning except that part of record owned and belonging to the Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Rail Road. Here caused the same to be platted under the name of Kismet, that the above is a correct plat of the Town of Kismet, that the streets and alleys shown thereon are dedicated to the public use and the lots and blocks are reserved for sale.

In Testimony whereof A. C. Olin and Emeline E. Olin have signed this plat and dedicated this 1st day of January, A.D. 1908.

A. C. Olin

E. E. Olin

State of Kansas, Seward County SS

Be it remembered that on this 20th day of July A.D. 1908 before me the undersigned a Notary Public in and for the County and State aforesaid came A. C. Olin & E. E. Olin (husband & wife) who are personally known to me to be the same persons who executed the within instrument of writing and such persons have duly acknowledged the execution of the same.

In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my Notarial seal this day and year last above written.

Chas. W. Ellsaesser

Notary Public

Term expires Oct. 11, 1911

The within plat and description is a true copy of the survey made by me to the best of my ability.

H. C. Evans, Sur.

A. C. Olin owned the ground which was platted for the town site of Kismet in the fall and winter of 1907. The plat was signed and dedicated on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1908, by A. C. and E. E. Olin, with filing of the notarized copy at the courthouse on July 28, 1908. The notary who placed his seal on the filed copy was Chas. W. Ellsaesser who was a brother of Emeline (E. E.)Olin. Another brother was Frank Ellsaesser, who with his wife, Mary and family lived in the Kismet community for many years. Frank’s sons; Carl, Ralph and Merle live in Colorado now. Another son (Floyd 27 June 1922 - 14 Feb. 1937) and their only daughter (Frances 26 May 1920 - 15 Feb.1937) were killed in a car-train collision in Kismet following a high school Valentine party at the school.


The town of Kismet was laid out in the fall and winter of 1907. H. D. Massoni bought land one and one half miles west of town and his brother-in-law, Beler Burr, bought on what is now known as the Lake Road, south of town. D. R. Snyder already lived north on what became the Roy Headrick farm (and is now owned by Dean and Marilyn Ryan). J. H. Light, grandfather of Owen Light lived one half mile east of town, Mr. Snyder was the father of Ethel Prater.

Burr and Massoni bought land from A. C. Olin who owned the quarter of ground where Kismet is now located. When Mr. Olin found out that both men had families, he said, "All right, I own this land and I will have it surveyed and start a town and we will build a school for the children." Mr. Olin then opened the first General Store the winter of 1907-1908. It was just south of where the old brick bank building now stands, but the bank was not yet built at that time.

The first Post Office was located in the north east room in the house on Main Street now occupied by the Eric Greenwood family. It was earlier the Lindsay home. John McAdams, an uncle of Mrs. Prater, was the first rural mail carrier. He used a horse and buggy.

The first church was organized one half mile west of the town site in a farm home. The denomination was the United Brethren. The first minister was Rufus Whitaker. Later an old school building was moved in to be used as a church and was located where the Dorothy Strait home is at present. It was earlier that Frank and Leah Laird owned the property. The second church was built on Main Street southeast across from the present Post Office. It is the building where J. L. Handy formerly lived but the south wing was removed when it was made into an apartment building.  (The house is nonda Winter.) The house just south was the parsonage.

A Bible School was built by A. C. Olin on the location of the basement house west of the Rod Lewis mobile home. Children came and went to school on a live-in basis. This building burned in the early 1920’s. (A new roof was built and the dwelling is now a partially underground house.)

The house where Pauline Spaulding lives and the one just south of the Spaulding home were among the first two homes built in Kismet. The home where Dick and Vesta Pinkerton now live was also an early day home and was lived in by Mr. and Mrs. Kinsinger. She was a sister of Mrs. Olin

There is some controversy over which was the first grave in the Kismet Cemetery. Some say it was a small girl whose parents’ name was Weaver and the flat marker is not dated and some say it was Ruth Olin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Olin who was born in July 1908 and passed away in July 1909. The stone is a small one and stands almost under a bush just north of the main gate at the cemetery.

The "Labor Day Picnic" was started in 1915 and continued until the Second World War when it was discontinued until 1946 when it was started again in honor of the boys who were returning from service. At this time it was renamed and has been called the "Little World’s Fair" ever since.

Mrs. Prater was one of the oldest pioneers living in the community (at the time this article was compiled). She was raised on a farm southeast of Kismet and now farmed by Dean Headrick. At the time, she lived with an aunt and uncle. Her family moved here from Barber County a short time before the Massoni family settled west of town and Ethel attended grade school in the present Spaulding home before the school was built.

Both Mrs. Earl Prater (Ethel Synder-Thompson-Prater) and Floyd Massoni came here by covered wagon. Floyd came from a farm near Mullinville, Kansas where he was born.

Compiled by Ethel Prater and Floyd Massoni.


A. C. Olin and John Baughman had bought up most of the old Tarbox Ranch, and Mr. Baughman was selling for Mr. Olin who was in the mercantile business. Mr. Olin was the father of our town, Kismet. Mrs. Olin was a sister of Frank and Charles Ellsaesser.

Mr. Olin ran the first store and hotel. The first postmaster was Roady Hostetter. Mr. Brice Gilstrap operated the first hardware store. George Rose was the first barber and Ed Elliott was the first real estate man. The first doctor was H. C. Bandy of Kentucky. He stayed at Massoni’s home for six weeks waiting on his Kansas license. He later practiced in Bucklin.

Mr. and Mrs. Olin were great Christian workers. Mr. Olin with a little help from the farmers built a three story Bible School.

From an undated newspaper clipping quoting Harry Massoni, the main speaker of the morning on Homecoming Day. He devoted his entire speech to giving some of the early history of Kismet.

The city of Kismet was incorporated December 2, 1929. The first city election was held December 17, 1929. Raleigh Hinman was the first elected mayor. The city was incorporated so bonds could be sold to put in a water system. The first water tower and tank came from Perryton, Texas. Perryton had purchased the tower and tank from the Kansas City Star Building in Kansas City, Missouri. The water tank and tower was replaced in 1975 with the present unit on the north side of Kismet.

Taken from the Book Kismet Kansas Centennial, 1987 Permission granted to copy by Mrs. Lola McVey, Editor.


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Clarence A. Olin
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