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Penalosa is located in a fine farming and livestock raising area sixteen miles northwest of Kingman. Sam Sallee told that the name came from a Spaniard named Penaloza who had a land grant in Santa Fe, New Mexico who had come through here with the railroad. The town was first plotted in 1886, same year the first train came through but the town did not expand until a few years later.
The Penalosa State Bank opened for business November 17, 1904, with outsiders owning 80% of the stock. In January 1908, local residents bought that 80% making it a home institution. Officers elected were: A.J. Plush, President, N.B. Bryant, Vice-President, J.P. Russell, Cashier. and Directors J.J. Sallee, Mrs. Belle Knappenburger, John Miller and N.H. Beerman. A handsome new brick building was built in 1908.
By 1912 there were several businesses operating in town, two department stores, grocery, hardware, lumber yard, drug store, jewelry store, bank, hotel, meat market, newspaper, pool hall, barber shop, blacksmith shop, shoe shop, two elevators, dressmaking establishment and three real estate offices.
Two churches, the Church of Christ and United Brethren were organized in the early days, and remain active. The United Brethren is now the United Methodist due to a denominational merger.
Various wood frame buildings served for the Penalosa school before the two-story brick building was built in 1910. Enrollment that year was 83 students, and teachers were Miss Delia Glaze, Miss Bessie Benefiel, and Mr. Ray Wait. In 1911, the freshman year of high school was offered, and soon afterwards two years were offered. Four years of high school were offered from 1925 through 1946. A gymnasium was added to the school about 1936 with R.P. Van Riper, builder. Most of the graduates of this school became successful in their life's work, whether business, professional or farm-related. Many went on through college.
Penalosa is served by the Missouri Pacific Railroad, and is an important grain shipping point, having two grain elevators several years. Penalosa Co-operative Exchange was organized in 1951, and has grown to serve customers in several surrounding communities. A new facility was built in 1981, and includes a service station and hardware in addition to the grain business.
The school, Co-op storage, and bank are the only remaining of several brick buildings that once lined both sides of Main Street. The bank closed in September 1932, during the Great Depression.
The post office was moved from a corner of the Sallee Grocery to the former bank building, when Anna Oak-Tarrant was postmaster. Most of this building remains as it was originally. Sometime during the years the canvas awnings were replaced by tin. The golden oak bank cage is still in use, as is the marble counter top at the post office service window.
By Ethel M. Geesling
Adapted from Kingman County, Kansas, And Its People
(Kingman: Kingman County Historical Society, 1984).
- Penalosa Elevator · (620) 532-5106
- Church Of Christ · (620) 532-2684 · 112 Spruce, Penalosa, KS
- Penalosa United Methodist Church · (620) 644-7811 · NW 50th St. & NW 110 Ave., Penalosa, KS