History of South Hutchinson

Ben Blanchard
Ben Blanchard organized a town company, which was known as the Inter-State Investment Co., on May 28, 1886. The company purchased 280 acres of land south of the river. On June 1, 1886, the town company obtained a state charter for South Hutchinson, Kansas.

During the first six months of the town's existence, the company sold over $160,000 worth of lots and it became necessary to plat several additions. Learn more about Ben Blanchard by reading the article entitled Bold Ben Blanchard from the Reno County Historical Society, written by Linda Schmitt.

Early Settling
Soon there was a large population boom in the new town and South Hutchinson was incorporated by the Board of County Commissioners on January 4, 1887, into a city of the third class.The first city election was held on January 18, 1887, resulting in the election of R.H. Chitten, mayor; J.A. Quick, police judge; and five councilmen: J.N. Conley, W.R. Williams, J. McFarland, C. Holloway, and L.T. Williams.

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Blanchard wanted a new attraction for South Hutchinson and became interested in finding oil, and in his mind, he was convinced that a vast oil supply lay under South Hutchinson soil. He hired a firm to drill for oil. As the days went by and no oil was found, Blanchard became worried. To ensure a discovery, he dumped a few barrels into the hole when the drilling reached the appropriate depth. In the meantime, his well produced a vein of salt. He had no interest in salt and was disappointed.

Salt Discovery
The Pennsylvania Salt Works was the first salt plant.Blanchard's only interest in salt was the publicity. Everything was going great until a severe wind and rain storm struck the town. Many of the buildings were heavily damaged or destroyed. He had spent his investors' money and did not have the capital to rebuild.

Blanchard's boom town had crumbled, the glitter of the new town was gone. The town founder vanished, many of the houses and businesses were moved or torn down, or sold by the early 1890s to pay creditors. The people of South Hutchinson did not want their town to become a ghost town. They worked hard to keep the town alive. Improvements came slowly, but the people didn't give up, and their perseverance led to today's prosperous community.

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