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Founded: 1887 Population: 91 (1990)
School District: USD 303  Elevation: 2505 feet
ZIP code: 67518 Latitude: 38° 26' 40" N
Area Code: 785 Longitude: 100° 11' 40" W

K96 Sign Sunflowers outside Beeler, Kansas- photo by Rex Borthwick, used by permission Beeler is located in Eden Township in Ness County, [NS], just west of the 100th meridian, and midway between Ness City and Dighton. It's just south of K-96 highway on county road 523.  The location in the valley of the south fork of Walnut Creek is beautiful when the prairies are green.

The original town was platted on October 18, 1886 on twenty acres of land belonging to Elmer Beeler, who had established a post office the previous July, after assurances the railroad would be coming up the Walnut Valley.  The name Beeler was changed to Beelerville, by the postal service, who thought the name too much like that of another town.

Historical marker about George Washington Carver near Beeler, KansasAlso in 1886, George Washington Carver homesteaded near Beeler and built himself a sod house.  Two years later he sold the farm for money to go to college with.  There's a historical marker beside K-96 and a stone monument on his homestead.

The Beeler family, in their efforts to second guess the railroad, had acted too quickly.  The thriving town, that had sprung up almost overnight, had to be moved.  When railroad surveyors came through, the company purchased eighty acres from Daniel Rineley and platted the town on April 22, 1887, approximately one-quarter mile to the southwest.  Thus, during that spring the entire town moved to its present location.  On April 19, 1888 the name was changed back again to Beeler, as the mail was constantly mixed with that for Belleville.

Today, there are four remaining mainstays in the community: The United Methodist Church, The Beeler Cooperative Exchange, U.S. Post Office, and the community building.  These enterprises have rich histories in their own right.

The United Methodist Church was built in 1907 on land donated by Lawrence Brocher with Guy Reeves, Sr. as the carpenter.  The church was officially dedicated on May 31, 1908.  Later, the church purchased the old grade school building, which was built in 1936, to fulfill a need for extra Sunday school rooms and a fellowship hall.  The church was moved from its original site, just west of the bank building and incorporated with the school in 1968.

The Beeler Cooperative Exchange has gone through many ups and downs, but has proved to be the major business, other than farming, for the community.  On April 18, 1925 a meeting was held and a motion made to organize permanently and take out a charter, under the name of The Farmers Cooperative Grain & Supply Company.  The motion carried and a set of bylaws were read and approved.  By the mid-forties the Coop was in financial trouble and had to re-organize.  The minutes read as follows: "Resolved the directors of the Farmers Coop Grain & Supply Company of Beeler, Kansas be empowered to dispose of the assets of the Company, by selling them to the newly organized Beeler Cooperative Exchange," the name it still goes by today.

The Post Office as previously stated can claim its anniversary date as 1886.  Having been shuffled over the years from general stores to homes, it finally came to rest in its present structure, a small, white frame building in 1925.  Despite threats of closure, it is the one community asset, which all residents of the area cling to fiercely.

The Community Building, a red brick structure was built in 1934 and 1935, and was Beeler's high school for many years.  It closed in 1966, with the unification of county schools.  Today, it plays host to the alumni dinner, family reunions, card parties, sports activities, as well as being the site for Beeler Fun Days.

The people of the community are as lasting and enduring as the physical structures.  Many of them can claim as part of their heritage, ties to some of the founding families of Beeler: the Rineleys, Shovers, Stewarts, Thompsons, Brochets, Starretts, Pearces, and others.  The Beeler family has long since moved on, but the spirit of the Beeler area, which encompasses surrounding communities such as Buda, remains intact.  For without the camaraderie, the community as a whole couldn't have remained so strong.

View of Beeler, Kansas- photo by Rex Borthwick, used by permission
Photo by Rex Borthwick, Beeler, KS

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September 19, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / towns@kslib.info

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