The history of the City of Lake Quivira goes back to 1971 with the Johnson County Board of Commissioners approving the incorporation of Lake Quivira as a city and the first meeting in the recreation room of one of the lake’s residents.
But, of course, the history of Lake Quivira itself began many years earlier, forty-nine years earlier to be exact when Topeka, Kansas resident Charles E. Gault, along with partner Richard Hayden, bought the majority of the land that would become Lake Quivira in 1922 from the Quivira Town & Land Company. Gault was impressed with the property, particularly the numerous natural springs that were to be found in the valley of Tooley Creek and its tributaries. In 1923, fellow Topeka resident Victor Clark met Gault who explained to Clark his vision for creating “a lake of the finest water in this part of Kansas” as he put it and his enthusiasm was so contagious that he convinced Clark to go to work for him to look after his new land.
Clark and his wife moved to what would become Lake Quivira in 1924 and began the task of implementing the physical part of Gault’s plans. In 1927, the Quivira Development Company was formed and William I. Drummond was hired to carry out the financial vision. And Drummond and Gault carried out that financial vision, selling the last of 2,000 preferred shares of stock that sold for $100 dollars apiece and paid a $1.75 quarterly dividend. The final 12 shares passed to a lady from Atlanta in early 1929…shortly before the Wall Street crash and subsequent depression.
The depression did not deter Gault, Drummond and Clark as the dam was completed in June, 1929; a nine-hole golf course in early summer of 1930; Crescent Beach in July, 1930; and the Clubhouse in September, 1930. Lots had been sold at a rapid rate and a few houses were being built despite the economic downturn. Unfortunately, Gault never saw the completion of his dream as he died in 1931.
While the economic downturn did not stop the early founders from moving forward it did cause financial hardship and the Quvira Development Company eventually collapsed and an auction on the Clubhouse steps awarded the company to a new entity that became known as the Quivira Land Company. The company continued selling lots and operating the Clubhouse, golf course and beach but it took until 1940 before the company operated in the black, making $1,000 for the year.
Much more history unfolded during the years ahead until 1971 when the residents, facing possible annexation into the City of Shawnee, a 40-year-old damn needing significant repairs and the installation of a sewer system, recognized the wisdom of incorporating Lake Quivira into a city. On April 9, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners received a request for Lake Quivira to incorporate and the Board established a May 11th date for a hearing on the request. An overflow crowd of Quvirians attended the meeting with no one opposed. The County Commission approved the request on July 12, 1971 and it provided for a general election to elect the Mayor and city councilors for September 21, 1971.
Bud Heaven was the only nominee for Mayor and there were 14 candidates to fill the five council positions. Elected on that date were Heaven as Mayor and William Cleland, Paul “Hank” Enger, Howard Hansen, George Lobue and Ralph Schmidt as councilors. They were officially sworn in on September 27, 1971 in Heaven’s living room and the first official meeting of the council was held on October 4, 1971 in the recreation room of Walter Blevens’ home at 495 Hillcrest East.
The council operated on borrowed funds in 1971 and part of 1972 but immediately set out to annex the complete property that was part of Lake Quivira and put it under the new City’s control. A portion was de-annexed by the City of Shawnee into the City of Lake Quivira and Wyandotte County unanimously approved a request to annex the property located in that county on November 1, 1971. It is believed that was the first annexation by a third class city across a county line in the history of the State of Kansas.
In the months and years ahead, the City would create a main sewer district, acquire the water system from Quivira, Inc. that paved the way for rebuilding the system through municipal bonds and spending nearly a half a million dollars on rebuilding the dam in 1977.
On the first anniversary of the incorporation of the city, a celebration was held in which State of Kansas Secretary of State Elwill Shanahan attended, whereby he declared “the third class city of Lake Quivira is truly first class.” Those sentiments remain today.
Most of this material was taken from Col. John E. Olson’s historical document titled “In Quest of Quivira.”
Copyright City of Lake Quivira; Photos Courtesy of Ron Bower