Schermerhorn Park was donated 100 years ago to Galena in Cherokee County, Kan.
Edgar Schermerhorn was a wealthy businessman who owned many of the Tri-State Mining District lead and zinc mines.
CHEROKEE COUNTY, Kan. – It was on this date 100 years ago that Edgar Backus Schermerhorn donated 22 acres that would become Schermerhorn Park and the SEK Nature Center.
“June 21, 1922 – Edgar Schermerhorn deeded 22 scenic acres on Shoal Creek south of Galena, Kansas to the city for use as a park. During the Depression, the WPA built a stone structure known as the Scout Cabin as well as attractive terraces and walls. This footbridge spanned Shoal Creek at the park but was lost in the flood of 1943. Left to Right are Harry Wright, Ben Moody and city engineer W.L. Ricksecker.” – Joe Sonderman
WHO WAS EDGAR SCHERMERHORN
Schermerhorn was a wealthy businessman who owned many of the Tri-State Mining District lead and zinc mines. He died in 1923. He resided in nearby Galena, Kansas in a residence he had built just before 1900.
In December, 1875 Schermerhorn came to Baxter Springs, Cherokee County, Kansas from a failed mining venture in Colorado. He accepted a clerical position with John M. Cooper, the leading Baxter Springs merchant. In 1877, lead was discovered about ten miles northeast of Baxter Springs and the town of Galena was born. John M. Cooper and Company opened a store in Galena that year, with Schermerhorn as the managing partner. The store catered to the miners, supplying dry goods, groceries, hardware, and miners. Johnathan Letham described Galena in 1891, writing that, “Galena presents today the appearance of a wealthy mining: camp. Many men came here poor and today are rich. The main business of the merchants is supplying the miner’s and their families.” Schermerhorn prospered from the mining boom, investing in large tracts of land in Cherokee County which yielded profits in lead and zinc. Schermerhorn founded the Wyandotte Lead and Zinc Company, and along with seven other corporate owners, controlled all of the land that was mined in Galena. The June 1889 issue of the Topeka Daily Capital described Galena as, “a tough looking town . . . but they’ve got dollars where they’ve got dimes in some of your prairie towns . . .There are “diggings” or shafts on all the streets, right in the heart of town. ” Schermerhorn made a fortune from the mines. – Application to National Register of Historic Places, Schermerhorn Home, applied in 1989.
The Edgar Backus Schermerhorn House is a historic residence located at 803 E. 5th St. in Galena, Kansas. The house was built circa 1895 for Edgar Backus Schermerhorn. Architects Anderson & Strong designed the home in the Queen Anne style. The house’s design features a porch along the entire front side, a hipped roof with cross gables, and projecting bays and gables. The home’s interior features lead glass windows and imported English woodwork using six different types of wood. After his death in 1923 his sister, Minnie K. Lennon, inherited the property. Lennon, who had previously lived on a farm, continued to raise farm animals at the house, keeping a cow in the yard and chickens in the library. Lennon occupied the house until her 1939 death.
The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 21, 1989. It is currently privately held by the Steele Family.
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