Between 1865 and 1900, the landscape of rural Kansas changed dramatically. Settlers rushed into the state and spread from border to border. Veterans of the Union Army and European emigrants started towns such as Belleville. A county agricultural society was organized in 1871 and the first county fair was held that fall but both ended in 1878 when a drought and recession forced county commissioners to withdraw their financial support.
Along the northern border of the state, corn was the dominant crop. By 1890, however, winter wheat became more profitable and a pattern of diversified farming was established in Republic County. Farmers produced corn and wheat, cattle and hogs, horses and mules, as well as alfalfa, sorghum, milk, butter, eggs, and produce. During this period, Republic County hosted a Corn Carnival that was held from 1879 to 1904.
Towns like Belleville became the local market for crops and livestock. Local tradesmen and manufacturers also provided implements, repairs, and services to area farmers. County offices and the court held in the Republic County Courthouse brought farmers to Belleville for
Reoganized in 1905, the county fair in Belleville began receiving a county tax levy after 1919. The North Central Kansas Free Fair became the third largest agricultural fair and livestock show in Kansas by 1930. Beginning in 1910, auto racing entertained fair-goers. In the 1930s, a high-banked clay oval was constructed and auto racing remains an important attraction for the Belleville community.
By 1964, local historian Louise Carstensen commented that "in less than a hundred years, a miracle has come about in the farm houses and on the homesteads of Republic County." Modern agriculture has made America a "Land of Plenty." With the decline of railroads, local businesses depended even more on the farmers' trade and that is reflected in the success of downtown Belleville throughout the community's history.
[Photo captions, from left to right, read]
· Rose Creek Township entry in the Corn Carnival in 1899 in Downtown Belleville. The floats were made entirely from grains, grasses or produce. It was estimated that 12,000-15,000 attended.
· Jorgensen Produce Company north of square ca. 1940's.
· Christie Hatchery east
· Fair postcard from 1909. The fair now known as the NCK Free Fair combined with the auto races that started in 1910 are both still very significant to Belleville.
· The Grandstand and race track located at the Fairgrounds started with horse races and has evolved to be the fastest half mile dirt track in the world.
· Delegation of Farmers and Businessmen in front of the International Harvester and Farmall dealer on North side of square in 1955.
Erected 2008 by Republic County Historical Society, Kansas State Historical Society, Republic County, City of Belleville, Belleville Main Street, & Kansas Humanities Council.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Agriculture • Settlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1865.
Location. 39° 49.427′ N, 97° 37.766′ W. Marker is in Belleville, Kansas, in Republic County. Marker is at the intersection of N Street and 18th Street, on the left when traveling south on N Street. Marker is at the NE corner of the courthouse square. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1327 19th Street, Belleville KS 66935, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 6 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Great Depression & The WPA (about 400 feet away,
Also see . . . History of Belleville, Kansas. (Submitted on December 26, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on December 26, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 335 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on December 26, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.