Alton celebrated its 100 year anniversary twice, once in 1970 and again in 1985. Wonder why?
In 1870, General Hiram C. Bull and Lyman Earl met at Cawker city and headed west. Coming to a wide valley at a bend in the South fork of the Solomon River, with bluffs to the south, they thought it would be a beautiful setting for a town. They staked out a townsite and built a 12' x 24' general store, with a flip of a coin determining the town would be called Bull City. The general became the first postmaster with pay at $12 a month. Unfortunately, on October 12, 1879, General Bull and two of his friends were killed by his pet elk. After his death, there was talk of changing the name of the town.
A Mrs. Clark, who came from Alton, Illinois, allowed no one would consider coming to a town having such a vulgar name as Bull City and succeeded in having it changed to Alton. Alton was incorporated October 1, 1885.
ALTON is also the birthplace of Russell Stover.
Russell Stover, born south of Alton, founded two American institutions - the Eskimo Pie and Russell Stover Candies. His life was not all sweetness; actually, his tombstone is inscribed with the Kansas motto, "To the stars through difficulties," an apt description of his life.
Stover's wife, Clara, authored, "The Life of Russell Stover, an American Success Story". It tells of their struggle from a penniless beginning to the building of the famous chocolate-coated empire.
Starting in Canada, their wheat farming venture proved to be a failure as did several other business ventures. In the roaring 20s, Stover entered into a partnership to develop the Eskimo Pie. In a very short time he made and lost $5.5 million. Going to Denver, they started over, making and selling candy, survived the depression, and eventually built the present candy company.
Stover wasn't quite two years old when his mother died. He always blamed her death on the rigors of pioneering in Kansas. Because of this, he avoided coming to Kansas, or pulled the train curtains when crossing the plains.
Points of Interest in Alton
Russell Stover Birthsite Marker - Located approximately 10 1/2 miles south of Alton, this marker stands next to the field that was the site of the home where Russell Stover, candy company founder, was born in 1888. The sign was erected shortly after a dedication ceremony on August 24, 1996, and was provided by the Alton PRIDE organization and the Russell Stover Candy Company based in Kansas City, Missouri.
General Bull's Store - A replica of General Bull's store is located in Alton City Park.
General Bull's Store Marker - Located on Mill Street in front of the post office, this marker indicates the position of his original general store, 74 feet east.
General Bull's Monument - The monument is located in Sumner Cemetary, 1 mile east and 1/2 mile north of Alton. It was unveiled May 30, 1930, after a campaign by the editor of the Osborne County Farmer and the generous contributions of Stambach Monument Works, still a business in the Osborne Area, and others. Previously, General Bull's grave had been marked with a government marker.
Hartzler's Store - Located on Mill Street in Alton, the store is located in one of the oldest buildings in town. Probably built in the late 1800s, local resident Ray Boland remembers the south part being a furniture store and the north part being a drug store. It is like stepping back in time just to visit this store.
Advent Cemetary - Located one mile west of Alton on a hill just north of highway 24, it includes the grave of Lyman T. Earl, co-founder of Bull City.
Hart Bridge - Built in 1927, and named for Joe Hart (born on the Atlantic Ocean) the third man to take a homestead in the community. The bridge is 3 miles east and one mile south of Alton, being used daily.
Wildcat Canyon - Located one mile south of the Hart Bridge, this was the location for a local scout cabin in the early 1900s. The canyon received its name after Jasper Doak captured a large wildcat there with the help of his dog, until two other men came in 1877.
To: Osborne County