The Superior Express -

Harrison - Post Office and Town


Early in Jewell County history, there was discussion on the matter of what to name Town 1 South Range 8 West in Jewell County. Two suggestions were Kleveland and Norway as K. O. Kleveland, from Norway, was an early settler. But another suggestion was Harrison, after one of the two earliest setters in the township, George Harrison. The name Harrison prevailed.

The readers of the August 27, 1877, Jewell County Monitor learned about a "new" post office. That post office was Harrison and it was to be located in the "southeast quarter of section 14" of Harrison Township. The first postmaster was Charles Semke. He began his duties on opening day, July 30, 1877. Those duties ended with his retirement on July 8,1898, when he was 75-years old.

Semke and his wife, Wilhelmina Burcher Semke, were both born and then married in Germany. They brought their oldest child, Johanna, with them to the United States in 1859. Five sons were added to the family in Illinois. All but Joannah, who was already married, came with them when they moved to Jewell County in the early 1870s.

The Semke homestead was to the NW 1⁄4 of Section 14 of Harrison Township. Two sons, William and Henry, had their homesteads on either side of him. All three are mentioned in Harrison section of the 1880 Kansas Business Gazetteer. Charles was both a blacksmith and the postmaster, Henry a painter and William a wagon maker.

Harrison was more than just a post office. The community had a population of 140, according to the 1880 Kansas Gazetteer. There was a weekly stage that ran south to Holmwood and with it came weekly mail service. Others noted as living in the community were J. F. Adams and G. W. Hart.

J. F. Adams had an unusual job. He was a court stenographer. His ads appeared in local papers. He was noted in a May 1880 Monitor to be in Smith County working at a trial. G. W. Hart was a stonemason. His homestead was nearby in the SW 1⁄4 of Section 13.

The community educator was H. H. Smith. He received top scores on the yearly teacher exam and was cited as the "best penman in the county" in a May 1879 Monitor. The Gazetteer referred to him as "Principal." He was later to be the Jewell County Superintendent of Schools.

Charles Semke was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States in 1859. He and his wife, Wilhelmina, homesteaded in Harrison Township in the early 1870s.  Charles was the first postmaster of the Harrison Post Office. He served nearly 21 years. He and his wife are buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Superior.

The post office was used as a point from which directions were given. People were noted as living so many miles in some direction from the post office or a sale was to be held this or that way from the office. It was also used as a meeting room. A. O. Bacon had a meeting in the Harrison Post Office to consider organizing a Christian Church. It was used for other meetings also.

There was only one more postmaster after Semke. Flora V. Aldrich served from July 8, 1898, until Harrison Post Office was discontinued on Aug. 31, 1901. Ziba Spencer and Flora Egbert Aldrich came to Jewell County in the mid 1890s. They did not stay in the area long after the post office was discontinued.

In the early 1900s, the couple moved to Farmville, Va. Interestingly enough, both chose to be buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Superior. Flora in 1909 and Ziba in 1923.

The community of Harrison simply faded away. Today, nothing remains to show that 140 people used to live in the area.


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