White man claims to have discovered the waters of Diamond Springs on August 11th of 1825. No doubt the American Indians were drinking from it centuries before that. Ben Jones is given credit for finding the spring, and in fact, it was first named Jones’ Spring by George Sibley when the company made their survey of the Trail in 1825.
Passing by the spring two years later, Sibley writes in his diary on June 10th, 1827, “This spring gushes out from the head of a hollow in the prairie, and runs off boldly among clean stones into Otter creek, a short distance it is very large, perfectly accessible, and furnishes the greatest abundance of most excellent, clear, cold water, enough to supply an army. There is a fountain, inferior to this in the Arabian Desert, known as ‘The Diamond of the Desert.’ This magnificent spring may, with at least equal propriety, be called ‘The Diamond of the Plain.” And so, accordingly, Sibley had the name marked on an elm tree near the spring. The Above mentioned Otter Creek would later be known as Diamond Creek.
It is important to know that the spring and the town site were in two different locations. The spring is located about three miles southeast of Delevan in township 16 S range 6 E section 34. The town site is about five miles south of the spring. I do not know for sure when the town proper was established. It is not shown on the 1887 plat, but we do know from the following historical accounts that there were buildings and activity there very early on.
Diamond Springs was the next camping spot after Council Grove, and some say it even superseded the Grove as a rendezvous for the preparing wagon trains. In 1849-50 Waldo Hall & Co. established a mail station at Diamond Springs. This company had contracted for several stations along the Santa Fe Trail and they also had one in Council Grove which I have covered elsewhere. In 1858 a new voting precinct was established at Conn’s ranch on Diamond Creek. This shows us that there was enough population in that area to justify another precinct. Prior to that, all elections were held in Council Grove.
July 21st of 1859 a post office was established and George Newberry was the first postmaster. February 9th of 1863 the post office was moved to Six Mile Creek, named for its distance from the spring, and remained there until October 3rd 1866. By August 21st, 1868 the post office was opened again at Diamond Springs and operated until February 15th, 1930.
In 1906 Colonel Percival Green Lowe published a book of his experiences entitled ‘Five Years a Dragoon ’49 to ‘54.’ He tells of an encounter his company had in the fall of 1852. “Nothing of special interest occurred until we reached Diamond Springs, now in Morris County. The weather had been frosty at night and days sunny-a continuous Indian summer all the way-grass dry as powder. We had barely a quart of corn per day for each horse, and they were poor. All day we had seen little bands of Indians a mile or two off the road traveling the same direction that we were and apparently watching us… Of course the Kaws knew our troop by the horses, and we knew they had no love for it, but were slow to believe they would attempt to do us any harm. We camped on high ground a little east of Diamond Springs, on the south side of the road… We had finished dinner, about two hours before sunset when, as if by one act, fire broke out in a circle all around us not more than a mile from camp. A stiff gale was blowing from the south, and when we noticed it the fire in the tall grass was roaring furiously and the flames leaping twenty feet high. Quickly we commenced firing outside our camp, whipping out the fire next to it, thereby burning a circle around it. Every man used a gunnysack or saddle blanket and worked with desperate energy.”
After a fifteen minute firefight the men were able to save their camp. They then soaked their blistered hands and scorched faces in the creek and collapsed with exhaustion.
May 4th of 1863 Dick Yeager and his band of Missouri guerillas camped south of Council Grove approximately where Sample town is. Yeager had a toothache and paid a visit to Dr. J.H. Bradford to have it pulled. Meanwhile, about a dozen of his thugs road to Diamond Springs the following day and around ten that evening three of them road up to the store of Augustus Howell. They politely shot Howell dead and shot his wife as well. She however, recovered and remarried.
In 1865 Samuel Kingman, Chief Justice of Kansas and namesake of Kingman County, passed through Diamond Springs. He remarked, “The remains of three buildings of stone two stories high tell their story of violence. A good monument for the builder. A small room used as a dramshop is all that’s left fit for use save a large stone corral surrounding 5 or 6 acres with a small supply of hay.”
By 1910 Diamond Springs had a population of 27. Now, it doesn’t appear that the Springs was ever highly populated, but there were numerous large families that lived in the area, including Delevan and Burdick. It did have a church, a general store and, according to the 1901 plat, two schools. One of these schools is shown as a store on the 1923 plat. It was a station on the Strong City & Superior division of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe by this time. Originally it started as the Chicago, Kansas & Western in 1886 which then merged with the AT&SF February 15th, 1899.
I have a copy of Colton’s Kansas and Nebraska map that has no date on it. Someone had penciled in a guess of ‘1863?’ but I believe the map was more likely made between 1857 and ’59. It shows ‘Diamond City’ on the Santa Fe Road. Today there are only a few remains of what was ‘Diamond City’ but the spring is still there and still flows. It has been piped into a concrete trough to water the beef critters.
Addenda: Samuel H. Shaft was the post master of Six Mile Creek.