Old Runneymede, Kansas
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member YoSam.
N 37° 21.378 W 097° 55.893
14S E 594622 N 4134934
Quick Description: An English experiment that did not go so well
Location: Kansas, United States
Date Posted: 3/8/2015 4:35:32 AM
Waymark Code: WMNFTZ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member TheBeanTeam
Views: 3

Long Description:

County of site: Harper County
Location of site: K-2, roadside turnout, 7 miles NE of Harper
Marker Erected by: Kansas Historical Society and State Highway Commission

Marker text: "Two miles northeast of here , in 1890, stood a typical English village. Curving driveways led to English-style houses set among rows of clipped hedges. Nearby were polo grounds, a steeplechase course, a race track, tennis courts, and a football field. Red-coated hunters rode to hounds across the buffalo grass prairie. Farms and orchards were modeled after English estates and on the townsite a three story hotel and other businesses were established. The promoter of all this British activity was an Irishman who persuaded wealthy families to send sons to the colony to learn American farming methods. In practice, Runnymede strongly resembled a modern dude ranch. Although at one time, a hundred young Englishmen lived in the settlement, a number of whom owned estates, it was a failure as a colony. When hard times came old Runnymede collapsed and most of its remittance men returned to England. Today wheat fields cover the townsite."

"In late 1885 or early 1886, Francis J.S. "Ned" Turnly of Drumnasole, county Antrim, Ireland, arrived in Kansas and purchased land for farming. It was his intention to establish a town and provide farm and ranch training to English immigrants. He made trips back and forth from Kansas to England to promote his idea and eventually more than 100 British, Scottish, and Irish immigrants settled in a town called Runnymede.

"Turnly located his ranch in Canton Township, Kingman County, between Harper and Norwich. In 1888 he along with several more recent arrivals located Runnymede near the Kingman/Harper County Line. The first business was a general store and a post office. In subsequent months several other businesses were established including a hotel, livery stables, drygoods store, grocery store, lumber yard, creamery, and soda pop factory. Runnymede items appeared in local newspapers beginning in 1886 (Harper Sentinel, Norwich News, and Wichita Eagle), documenting town activities.

"Despite the respectable business ventures of Runnymede citizens, they were often regarded as frivilous [sic] and irresponsible. Those who had recently come from England were in fact quite wealthy and could afford to have a good time. They constructed courses for steeplechasing, a polo field, billiard parlor, and tennis courts.

"On November 28, 1889, the cornerstone was laid for the Runnymede Episcopal Church. It was a small wood-frame structure with minimal Gothic Revival detailing. It was erected in a little more than a month and dedicated in May 1890. The pride of the English colony was the Runnymede Arms, which opened as a hotel in December 1889.

"As popular as the town was to English immigrants, it was not enough to attract a rail line. Turnly was part of a group that was in negotiations with the Wichita & El Paso for several years. However it became clear in 1892 that the railroad would not be coming, and Turnly realized that the town would not be able to survive. Turnly left Kansas in July 1892 never to return.

"Shortly thereafter, buildings that had been part of the town were removed to other locations, including the hotel, which was relocated to Alva, Oklahoma, and the church, which was taken to Harper. Today the church is listed in the National Register of Historic Places in remembrance of the historic town of Runnymede." ~ Kansapedia: Kansas Historical Society

Reason for Abandonment: Economic

Date Abandoned: 7/1/1892

Related Web Page: [Web Link]

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