Skiddy post office was established November 16th 1869, with the coming of the M K & T railroad. Jacob C. Rolls was the first postmaster. According to Daniel C. Fitzgerald, in his book Faded Dreams, Francis Skiddy was an investor from New York who provided the railroad with money. He desired the town be named after him and volunteered to build a proper town hall if the citizens would grant his wish. Thinking it a favorable prospect, they named the town Skiddy and promptly thereafter a town hall was never built.
Supposedly this was a point of embarrassment for those living at Skiddy and they desired the name be changed. So, from March 11th of 1879 until August 3rd of 1883, it was called Camden. Apparently there were too many other Camdens in the Nation so the name reverted to Skiddy as there is none other.
George P. Morehouse, early Council Grove citizen/historian/poet etc. etc., writes of an unknown time and location; “In excavating for the abutments for a bridge on Clark’s Creek, near Skiddy, Morris County, at the depth of about sixteen feet a sort of oven, fireplace or hearth of matched stones fitted together was uncovered some years ago. It rested upon a solid ledge or strata of rock, far below the present channel of the stream. On and around it were ashes, charcoal, bones, some flint artifacts and a small coin-shaped disk of metal like brass. Some seven or eight feet above the fireplace and about the same depth below the surface of the earth an oak-tree stump was found, where the tree had grown. It was a find that indicated great age.”
Another source tells of saber hilts and Spanish coin being uncovered during excavation for a bridge at Doyle’s Crossing sometime in the 1880s. If true, these artifacts may have been left behind by Coronado. James J. Doyle owned land east and south of Skiddy and I can only guess that the crossing was on his land. These discoveries may be one and the same, but I have not confirmed that yet.
In Cutler’s History of the State of Kansas published in 1883, we read that Skiddy was “started in 1870 by a mixed colony from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which was organized by one W.E. Tomlinson. It has only one store, general in character, which was built in 1870 by J.R. College. The Baptists, who are quite numerous in Skiddy and the surrounding area are now,1882, finishing a frame church building for the purpose of worship. The inhabitants of the village number about 120.” The Baptists organized their body in 1872, with the first pastor being Reverend Phillips. By 1882 a Reverend Howard was officiating at both Skiddy and White City.
By 1910 the population had dropped to 90. The Kansas Cyclopedia of 1912 states that Skiddy had a hotel (probably the one built by J.D. Shore boasting 17 rooms), general stores, express and telegraph offices and a money order post office. The post office remained in operation until October 31st 1953.
Skiddy has captured the interest of ghost hunters as of late. In February of this year (2012), a couple of hunters ventured out to Skiddy one night to scare up some spooks. It was reported that many luminous ‘orbs’ were sighted and even some eerie mist rising from the ground wafting through the trees.
In 1851 a side wheel steamboat with four smoke stacks was built and finished and christened the Francis Skiddy. It was originally to be named the General Jackson but the name was changed with ownership. In the New York Times of June 21st 1852, James McCullough, an agent of the Skiddy, stated that the boat “was named the Francis Skiddy on account not only of the personal friendship of the owners, but because the name of Mr. Skiddy is eminently identified with the history and the successful progress of steam boat navigation.” This same Francis Skiddy also contracted with the U.S. Government to ship mail via steamship to China.
The Skiddy was the largest, fastest, and finest steamboat ever on the Hudson River. The dining hall served 500 people at one long table. It once made a 146 mile run with six landings in seven and a half hours. The fine river pilot knowing that all good things must come to an end accordingly ran the boat aground on November 5th 1864, and sunk it. There was suspicion that the wreck was due to a race between the Skiddy and another boat. Fortunately, the engine was salvaged and put to work on another boat. I do not know for sure if this steamboat was named after the same Francis of Skiddy Kansas, but if someone can prove it, we can claim a unique little piece of steamboat history at a considerable distance from any navigable stream of water.
1894 roster for GAR as compiled by Sheryl McClure.
S.J. Willis Post #347, Skiddy
H.G. Hooten, Comd’r.; S.T. Pember, Adj’t
Hooten, H.G.-OH Inf. Pvt. C, 47;H, 98
Meuzenmayer, J.J.-KS Inf. Pvt. I, 1
Pember, S.T.-WI Inf. Corp. K, 21
Pember, J.W.-KS Inf. Corp. K, 21
Spencer, D.M.-WI Inf. Pvt. F, 42
Shore, J.T.-PA Cav. Pvt. M, 9
Spenner, Alvis-KS Cav. Sgt. F, 6
Sneed, C.F.-OH Inf. Pvt. I, 72
Tower, J.G.- IL Cav. Pvt. A, 92
Yarner, Denny-U.S. Col. Inf. F, 5