Origins and Name

George W. Scott and William H. Colbern purchased about 80 acres of land on August 13, 1869 from Manzey Q. Ashby of Kentucky who had received it a month earlier from the U.S. Government. Scott and Colbern filed a plat for the 80 acres in December 1871, and called the new town Belton. Belton was incorporated in 1872. It was named for a close friend of Scott’s, Capt. Marcus Lindsey Belt, who helped Scott survey the land. The two had served in the Civil War together. Belton and its environs were settled largely by families from Kentucky.

Indians

Shawnee Indians lived and owned land four miles west of Belton, just across the Missouri-Kansas border, on what was know as the Black Bob Reservation. Located in the southern part of Johnson County, Kansas, it was deeded to the Shawnees in the Treaty of May 10, 1844. Because of harassment from both sides at the beginning of the Civil War, the Shawnees abandoned their lands and settled in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. At the end of the war they found their lands in Kansas had been occupied by whites and most Indians had to return to Indian Territory empty-handed.

First Trading Center

High Blue, two miles west of Belton on 58 Highway, was the community’s first trading center. It is the highest point between Springfield and the Liberty Memorial hill in Kansas City, Missouri, about 1,200 feet above sea level. Belton is located on a ridge reaching to Lee’s Summit. All water north of Main Street flows into the Little Blue River east of Kansas City. All water flowing south of Main Street goes to the Grand River and then the Osage River, finally emptying into the Missouri River, 10 miles east of Jefferson City.

Order No. 11

Following the sacking of Lawrence, Kansas in 1863 by Quantrill’s Raiders during the Civil War, the Union Commander in Kansas City, Brig. Gen. Thomas Ewing, issued the infamous Order No. 11. It decreed the depopulation within 15 days of an area 30 miles wide and 100 miles long south of the Missouri River on the western border of Missouri. The order affected 20,000 persons who had to salvage what they could of clothing, personal belongings and livestock, to make a hasty move. Plundering and devastation followed. Union soldiers confiscated horses and wagons. Looting was rampant and torches were set to fields and homes. The area came to be known as the “Burnt District” and for 18 months was largely uninhabited.

Carry Nation

When Carry Nation started swinging her hatchet across Kansas, the anti-saloon movement was a mere weakling. She transformed it into a militant giant that eventually put the 18th Amendment into the Constitution. Born in Kentucky in November 1846, she and her family moved to a farm east of Peculiar, Missouri in 1855. The family moved to Texas during the Civil War. On their way back after the war they crossed the Pea Ridge battlefield in Arkansas shortly after that battle. All the bedding and pillows they could spare were given to the wounded.

In 1867, Nation married Dr. Charles Gloyd, who became an incurable drunkard and died within a couple of years. She married David Nation in 1877. He was a lawyer, editor and self-styled minister of the Christian Church. That marriage ended in divorce in 1901.

The “cyclone in petticoats” launched her campaign against tobacco and liquor from Medicine Lodge, Kansas. Kansas voters in 1880 outlawed saloons. Since they were illegal, Nation thought she could destroy the property and not be sued for damages. Her 10 year crusade was filled with fury and personal sacrifice. She was jailed at least 33 times, egged, stoned, beaten and on at least one occasion hit over the head with a chair. Nation died on June 9, 1911 in Leavenworth, Kansas. She was brought to Belton for burial in the family plot next to her parents. In 1991, the Belton Historical Society purchased an antique hearse reported to be the one which brought Nation to Belton. It is on display in a carriage house located next to the Old City Hall, 512 Main St.

The Dalton Gang

The Dalton farm southwest of Belton was purchased by the father in 1866, after coming here from Kentucky. Of 15 children born to the couple, 13 survived. It was the younger sons who became outlaws. The parents were devout people and the mother often gathered her brood about the piano to sing religious hymns.

After several financial setbacks, the Daltons moved to Coffeyville, Kansas, in 1882. It is claimed that because of the hard times, some of the boys first became lawmen, then turned to crime. Jesse James had been killed in 1882 and Cole Younger was in prison before the Daltons took up their lives as outlaws. It lasted just 18 months. After serving 14 years in prison, Emmett Dalton was paroled in 1907. He wrote a book and publicized it by traveling about the country. One of his stops was Belton in 1931.

Dale Carnegie

For some 45 years, Dale Carnegie was a frequent visitor to Belton and called it his hometown. Born in Maryville, Missouri, in November 1888, he got his start as a business manager for Lowell Thomas in 1919. He spent several years traveling in Europe, Africa and the Arctic.

Carnegie then started teaching public speaking and writing his own texts. He had a radio program and a syndicated column which appeared in 71 newspapers. His formulas for success were broadened to include all phases of human relations. His most famous book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” was published in 1936. Carnegie changed the spelling of his name because friends in the east constantly misspelled it and Carnegie said he wanted to spare them the embarrassment of repeated corrections.

His parents, Elizabeth and J.W. Carnagey, bought a farm on the outskirts of Belton in 1910. The house still stands today on Carnegie Street just west of the railroad tracks. Mrs. Carnagey was a member of the Methodist Church and active in its Missionary Society. She organized Belton’s first Sunday School class. Dale Carnegie married in 1940 and died in 1955. He and his parents are buried in the Belton Cemetery.