The first school taught in Miami County was taught in this area in 1858 by Mrs. Cyrus Shaw. A post office was established in the settlement on February 17, 1859. The townsite was surveyed by Joseph Carpenter and George Downing in 1860 and named by Mr. Carpenter after a town in New York where he resided. It was surrounded by a rich agricultural section of the country and was a good business point.
In 1885 one-story, wood-frame Beulah Baptist Church was built near the southeast corner of the present-day intersection of New Lancaster Road and West 36th Street. Religious services were held there until 1901 when the New Lancaster Grange No. 223 purchased the property from the church.
Two years later, in 1903, members of the New Lancaster Grange No. 223 built the New Lancaster General Store. They operated the general store under New Lancaster Co-Operative Corporation for local produce and a commercial outlet for contemporary farming and rural life-related items. Over the years, it had several managers.
The cabinets and shelves in the general store reached from floor to ceiling and would have been filled with dry goods such as bolts of cloth, sewing items, dress and clothes patterns, and “store-bought” clothes from suppliers in Kansas City, Chicago, and New York. The store also sold groceries, medical supplies, dry goods, oil, gas, chewing and smoking tobacco, feed, and various household items. Farm implements, hardware and tools, and other agricultural items were also offered.
Toward the back, in the center of the room, stood the pot-bellied stove around which neighborhood men gathered on a cold winter day. A coal bucket nearby supplied the coal to keep the room warm. Here neighbors congregated to exchange crop news and learn of the latest happenings in the community. If they wanted to play a game or two, there was always a checkerboard, checkers, and dominoes. A gas pump located at the southeast corner of the porch was not automatic but had to be pumped by hand until it was later replaced with a more modern one.
When telephones became available, the store housed the telephone switchboard. The property also served at various times as the post office, a creamery, an ice house and livery stable, and a poultry house on the north side of the property. A wood-frame outhouse sits at the far northwest corner of the property.
Unfortunately, New Lancaster’s post office closed on May 31, 1906, and never reopened.
In 1910 New Lancaster had a population of 126 when it received its mail by rural delivery from Fontana, Kansas.
On August 1, 1928, H.T. and Frank Smith bought and operated the general store under Smith Brothers General Merchandise. Their partnership dissolved in 1937, but Frank retained ownership until he retired in 1968. Afterward, it was sold and operated as an antique museum. Later, it was used intermittently as commercial and storage space. Today it is privately owned and continues to operate as a general store. It is an excellent example of a small-town vernacular false-front general store built in the early years of the 20th century. It is located at 36688 New Lancaster Road. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The New Lancaster Grange Hall served as the meeting space for the Grange until 2005, when the declining membership no longer used the building. Located at 12655 W 36ih Street, Grange Hall is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The rest of what is left of this small town is a few Modest single-family homes and the still active Methodist Church.
Blackmar, Frank W.; Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Vol I; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912.
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Kansas Post Office History
National Register of Historic Places – Grange Hall
National Register of Historic Places – Store