Among the first settlers in this part of the county, if not the first, was Josiah Allen, who came here in about 1843. Others who came later were Jacob Clanner, Elias Stoker, and A. G. Shoemaker.
A log schoolhouse was built on the town site in 1858, and John Tracy taught the first students. Josiah Allen opened the first store in a log building in 1859, making this settlement one of the oldest in the county. The Methodist Church was organized the same year, with Reverend Thomas preaching the first sermon in the schoolhouse. The original membership was 25.
A post office called Rockwell was established in 1859, with Dr. Rockwell, as the first postmaster. With its proximity to the Missouri border, a local militia loyal to the southern cause in Kansas established a military post here the same year. However, Free-Staters soon gained control of the town, and it was loyal to the Union when the Civil War broke out in 1861. On August 7, 1862, the town changed its name to Rockville because Dr. Rockwell, the first postmaster, was a pro-slavery man.
During the Civil War, Union soldiers took over the military post formerly run by the southern militia. Rockville was located on the top of a hill surrounded by rolling plains. The area was almost bare of trees, allowing troops to see anyone coming from some distance away. Rockville’s post was one of the many posts to help guard the Kansas-Missouri border area. In August 1863, fewer than 50 men were garrisoned at the post. Nothing more was mentioned until February 1864, when 25 men were at Rockville.
At that time, about 60 families were living in Sugar Township. All able-bodied men were called into the service during the struggle, and even the men too old for service were ushered into the State Militia.
Around this time, a stockade was constructed around the town’s stone church, and a lookout tower was built at the top. For a time, all the residents of Rockville lived inside the stockade.
On October 25, 1864, Price’s troops were spotted from the tower; some headed toward Rockville. The residents carried everything they could into the surrounding countryside and hid it. When Confederates reached the town, they raided it and stockade, but Union troops were close behind. This prevented them from taking the time they needed to search the countryside.
After Price’s raid, a company of troops returned to Rockville, but they probably soon left as no further entries in the official records of the Civil War exist. The town probably used the stockade, especially the tower, until the end of the War.
However, the town did not grow, and its post office closed on July 31, 1902, when the mail was delivered by rural carrier from Fontana.
Nothing is left of Rockville today except for its cemetery on 375th Street, 5.2 miles southwest of Drexel, Missouri.
Blackmar, Frank W.; Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Vol I; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912.
Cutler, William G; History of Kansas; A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL, 1883.
Kansas Post Office History