The area around Maize was first settled by J.K. Steele and his wife Anna in 1870. They, and the other pioneers of Maize, came despite the presence of the Osage Indians, who were the original occupants of the region and were not yet completely willing to give up the land. In the 1860s, only a few miles from what would be Maize, these Indians killed the first white settler to Sedgwick County, John Ross, and in 1867 the Osage had conducted a series of raids in Kansas reacting to the building of the Union Pacific railroad.
However, these pioneers remained, and on February 1st, 1886, William A. Williams became the first postmaster of the new Maize, Kansas. The town was located in Section 19, Range 1 of the Park Township in Sedgwick County. It was founded as the first stop out of Wichita on the Wichita & Colorado railway under the auspices of the Missouri Pacific railroad company. The original officers of the Maize Town Company included:
N.F. Neiderlander, President
Cornelious Oldfather, Vice President
M.W. Levy, Treasurer
Kos Harris, Secretary
Levy and Neiderlander, by the way, were part of a company that was instrumental in getting the railroad built between Wichita and Hutchinson.
Reverend J.M. Ashley opened the first church in the Maize area in 1876, the First Congregational Church. It moved to Maize in 1886 and in 1887, the First Congregational prompted Maize's first expansion by founding its first school, Maize Academy or the Western Seminary. It opened in 1894 originally as a two year preparatory school for Fairmount College, now Wichita State University. In a letter to the Editor of the Wichita Eagle in 1887 seeking new residents for Maize, Kos Harris said:
"While the building will not be so large as many of your costly colleges, it will be of sufficient capacity to accommodate 200 students and filled with all the necessary convenience for the benefit and comfort of the students."
The school was also noted for the quality of its baseball teams. Graduates Orville and Walter Frantz would later play professionally with the Kansas City Blues. The school burned in 1910, and was never rebuilt.
Thomas P. Hudson was the second doctor in Maize. Born in Leeds, Yorkshire, England as the son of a shoe merchant, he arrived in Maize in 1891 to take over the practice of his son-in-law, Dr. John Hunter. Hudson's advertisements pointed out his specialties of Gynecology and Obstetrics along with the fact that he "keeps a full line of drugs of all descriptions."
The 1895 survey of Maize shows two 80 foot wide avenues crossing to form the center of town. Albert Avenue went east-west, and Park Avenue was north-south. There were also six 60 foot wide streets, Sedgwick, Mikado, Kaiser, Khedive, King, and Queen. Cutting diagonally through the northeast portion of town was the railroad.
"Mr. Welsh's pony thought it would run away a little bit last Sunday. He didn't have life enough to run very hard or very far, so he took a jog-trot down one street around to Joe Reid's stable where he stopped on his own accord. No damage done except breaking the harness."
The Weekly Maize Critic, 1895
Also by 1895, Maize had its own newspaper, The Weekly Maize Critic. It was published every Friday evening by Orlie H. Reid and five yearly subscriptions cost $1. One could also buy a year's subscription with new potatoes.
"NOTICE – The recent winds will make the apple picking season shorter so those persons wishing apples for canning, jelly or storage should come at once. Plenty at prices quoted for the present."
–H.L. Gates The Weekly Maize Critic, September 1916
Maize gathered other businesses. In 1901, the Maize State Bank opened, the first financial institution of Maize. By 1908, there were 26 businesses operating in Maize.
However, in 1912, the First Congregational Church was destroyed by lightning. The church was rebuilt and reopened in 1914, however, in 1934, the new church burned to the ground. While the church might have regretted moving to Maize in 1886, another new church was built and opened in 1935.
In 1915, the Maize Town Company was dissolved and on the 31st of May Maize was incorporated as a City of the Third Class. Maize's first mayor was Lewis Loudenslager.
Basketball, specifically women's basketball was very strong in Wichita and Maize during the 30s. In 1931, the great Babe Didrickson of the Dallas Cyclones defeated the Wichita area Thurston team with a last minute shot to win the national championship. In 1932, the Thurstons finished third in the nation. On this team were Maize players Corene Jaax Donahue and Myrtle Brockert Schreiver, who were All-Americans. Donahue was enshrined in the National Athletic Hall of Fame in Los Angeles. In 1935-36, the Maize High School girls basketball team was in the State A.A.U. Championship.
The Great Depression caused the Maize State Bank to close in 1933. During the mid-1940s, the bank building was a Snow White Soap factory, but this only lasted two years because there was not enough of the grease used to make soap available. The bank building was torn down in 1953 and the land became a parking lot.
Grasshoppers plagued Maize in 1936, merely one of a long line of natural catastrophes of the 30s and 40s. 1934 and 1935 were dry years, part of the Dust Bowl. In 1944, however, Maize was hit with a flood.
Despite the troubles of the Depression, the Maize High School graduating class of 1937 under the leadership of Superintendent Floyd Moore decided to take a Senior trip to Colorado. Various fund-raisers, including a carnival, provided the money for the first ever Senior trip, an event that would take place many more times later on. These 17 intrepid travelers packed belongings and food and spent a week traveling in a bus. High points included visits to the Colorado Capitol building and City Hall in Denver.
Missouri Pacific R.R. Time Table
No. 412.......................7:00 a. m.
No. 414.....................11:37 a. m.
No. 420.......................5:23 p. m.
No. 411.....................12:05 a. m.
No. 419.......................8:19 a. m.
No. 413.......................3:03 a. m.
Schedule from 1931
1941 saw the end of Oldfather Hardware. Opened 30 years earlier by Roy Oldfather, it was a fixture of Maize selling all sorts of hardware along with Allis Chalmers and International farm equipment. Also, prior to the school expansion of 1925 that built the school gymnasium, the Maize basketball team practiced in the back of the store. Oldfather was also known for being the shortstop for the Maize team of 1906 which won 21 straight games.
World War II saw many men from Maize enter the armed services. Three men, Claude Rhodes, Carl Nicks, and Ernest Smith, all spent time in German prison camps. Pilot Irvin Rink did not return from an escort mission to his carrier, the USS Suwanee. Marvin Wadsworth and Bill Gegen also died in World War II.
There were also some temporary immigrants to Maize during the war. The Woodard Elevator burned, and German prisoners of war were brought in to help clean up the area. Vera Blake owned the Maize Cafe and was ordered by the U.S. government to feed the POWs three times a day. The people of Maize would also watch as the prisoners would occasionally sing in front of the building in which they were housed.
1948 saw the success of the Delano Anti-Horse Thief Association, Branch No. 64's A.A.U. basketball team. It came in third place in the Kansas A.A.U. Basketball Tournament held at the old Wichita Forum. This was also the same year that the Maize Girl Scouts were founded. There is probably no connection to these events. There was however, a connection between the Girl Scouts and the Community building opened in 1957. The Maize Community Building movement was started in 1949 to give the Scouts a place to go. Many other organizations, including the Lions Club, the Knights of Pythias, and Boy Scout Troop 408 also are in Maize.
Maize started to really grow in 1950. A 1928 census had listed Maize's population at 222, and it was only at 266 in 1950. By 1956, however, there 660 people in Maize.
In 1964, an Air Force F-105 fighter crashed into a field. Fortunately, the pilot parachuted out and was unhurt. However, Dennis Jones, the operator of Maize Mills, had a heart attack while watching this and passed away.
In 1986 Maize celebrated its centennial year of existence. Also in 1986, the first Pizza Hut was opened in Maize.
Adapted by Robert E. Howell from the 1986 Maize Centennial Book
2009 Estimate: 3,346
2000 Census: 1,868
Year Established: 1870
Year Incorporated: 1886
Zip Code: 67101
Area Code: 316
Sales Tax: 7.3%
School District: 266
2010 Total Mill Levi: 152.070
Census 2000 Demographic Profile Highlights