Summerfield, Kansas

Summerfield, Kansas Main Street by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Summerfield, Kansas Main Street by Kathy Alexander.

Early day Summerfield, Kansas.

Early day Summerfield, Kansas.

Summerfield, Kansas, located in the northeast part of Marshall County along the Missouri Pacific Railroad, was named in honor of Elias Summerfield, who was, at that time, the railroad superintendent. The Summerfield Townsite company was formed in 1888 and purchased 240 acres of land in St. Bridget Township. Soon the original townsite was laid out. Construction on buildings began before the first train arrived in 1889. The building material was hauled from Beattie and Axtell, as were groceries and provisions. The first store building was erected by Heard & McGinty. E. J. Smiley and J. J. McClennan ran a grocery store in the basement of the old Smiley house. An auction sale of town lots was held in February 1889. The post office was established on February 11, 1889.

The town was incorporated in the spring of 1890, with R.G. Cunningham elected mayor. The population at that time was about 100.

Among the early businesses were several general mercantile stores, a dry goods store, a pharmacy, a grocery store, a department store, a lumber yard, a milliner, a photographer, two restaurants, a bakery, a hardware store, livery barns, barbers, a blacksmith, a physician, a lawyer, a hotel, and a billiard parlor.

Holy Family Catholic Church in Summerfield, Kansas by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Holy Family Catholic Church in Summerfield, Kansas, by Kathy Alexander.

The first elevator for grain was built for O’Neil Brothers, who also owned and operated a hardware and implement store. The second elevator was built in 1893 for the Brunswig Elevator Company. A third elevator was built in 1893, known as the Farmers Elevator. Among those who early located in Summerfield were Dr. J. H. Murphy and Dr. William Johnston. The first carpenters were David Wilson, George Van Allen, James Monroe, and the Webster Brothers. The first draymen were Charles Travelute, George Curtis, and John Nelson.

The first newspaper, the Summerfield Sun, was published by Edward and Harry Felt, sons of Honorable A. J. Felt of Seneca, former lieutenant governor of Kansas. The office was in the second story of the I. Jay Nichols building and the proprietors shared the floor with a hardware and implement dealer. The first story of the building was used as a livery barn and feed stable. It was destroyed by fire in 1892. A. A. Gearhart built a livery barn on the same site, and a few years later, it burned, and Mr. Gearhart lost several horses in the fire. Later another livery barn was built on the same site.

The Holy Family Catholic Church was established in Summerfield in 1892, and the beautiful building continues to service parishioners today.

Main Street, Summerfield, Kansas 1911.

Main Street, Summerfield, Kansas 1911.

A great fire occurred on June 29, 1894, when almost the entire business portion of the city was reduced to ashes. The fire started in the store building owned by H. H. Lowrey and destroyed every store building north, including two general merchandise stores, a variety and book store, a drug store, and a hardware store. The loss was nearly $100,000. The ruins had hardly quit smoking when preparations were begun for more significant and more substantial buildings.

In 1910 Summerfield was described as having banking facilities, a weekly newspaper called the Sun, telegraph and express offices, schools and churches, and an international money order post office with three rural mail routes. That year the population peaked at 554 people.

Main Street buildings in Summerfield, Kansas by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Main Street buildings in Summerfield, Kansas, by Kathy Alexander.

By 1916, the elevators handled about 200,000 bushels of grain, and the deposits in the State Bank of Summerfield amounted to $250,000, making the third in the line of deposits among the 27 banks of Marshall county. In 1917, there were 40 prosperous business houses, five miles of sidewalk, well-graded streets, a splendid park, many fine residences, and three churches with good congregations. Fifty automobiles were owned in the town, which was described as one of northern Kansas’s most prosperous and active business centers.

But, for Summerfield, it had already reached its peak. Over the following decades, its population would gradually decrease, and today is home to an estimated 150 people. It is located on Highway 99 at the Kansas Nebraska border.

By Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, updated February 2023.

Summerfield, Kansas business building by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Summerfield, Kansas, business building by Kathy Alexander.

Also See:

Kansas History

Marshall County, Kansas

Marshall County Photo Gallery

Places & Destinations


Blackmar, Frank W.; Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Vol I; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912.
Forter, Emma Elizabeth Calderhead; History of Marshall County, Kansas: Its People, Industries, and Institutions; B.F. Bowen, 1917.