The young man on the tractor dreams of the crop he will harvest, not remembering, not knowing that once a railroad whistled its way over iron tracks. Babies were born, grew into children, who attended school and were married in the white frame church next door that was once the nucleus of a town.
After the railroad tracks were laid in 1887, a town was platted six miles south of Summerfield, where J. R. Sittler had built a warehouse in 1888 and bought grain.
A year later W. G. Wooley and Newman Erb laid out a town and named it
Mina, for the wife of Sittler.
The ghosts of the trading post, return now only in memory to those who remember Saturday night in a small town, worship services on Sunday morning and baseball games in summer.
No longer can be heard the shrill whistle of the Kansas City Northwestern steam engine, before it chugged to a rumbling stop in front of Sittler's Siding to load grain cars with corn, wheat or millet.
Lost forever are the tolling of bells, calling the faithful to worship Sunday morning in the Christian church or the children of the school district to classes in the white, frame school next door to the box-like church home.
The whinny of horses tied to the hitching rack in front of the Rouse store, the clank of cream cans against the wagon boards, being unloaded in front of the cream station, or the ring of the anvil in the blacksmith shop, are sounds lost on the soft winds that blow forever in Kansas.
In the level rich farm community of Marshall county, where millet was king of the fields, Mina served the nearby farm families with the necessities of life, plus worship, education, culture and recreation.
Removed from the town site are the names of Mr. and Mrs. L. D. Rouse and son, the first residents, who built the first house on the town site. Rouse, who had charge of the elevator and was appointed the first passenger agent for the K.C. & N., quit his job to start in the general merchandise business in the new store.
Removed from the town site are names of residents, remembered by few - William McAtee, McKibben sisters, James Stirrat, Frank Kabriel, D. C. and Orval Chandler, B. C. Graham, George Brown, Stella Larkin, Nan Kooser - all names in Mina news - which reported the newsworthy incidents in the life of the town.
However there is one couple, Mr. and Mrs. Loyal McAtee, who now live on a farm two miles from the town site, to whom the lifestyle of the town in its bloom before World War I, is a vivid memory.
Pieces of memory in the patchwork quilt of Mina are the pranks of Halloweeners, who stood a telephone pole in the chimney of the K.C. & N depot before World War I, the frenzied competition of horse racing and baseball games in summer and turkey shoots and horseshoe pitching.
They remember the dedicated Sunday school teacher, Stella Larkin Stirrat, and the baptizing on Sunday afternoon in Larkin's creek, as wagons and buggies wound their way to the creek bank. When the horses were tied to the trees in the woods, the people alighted and gathered at the creek.
After the scripture and prayer, they remember how the evangelist waded waist-deep in the creek and with proper words, the preacher gently but firmly dunked the candidates under the water successfully 68 times as the congregation's number grew during the pre-motor car age.
Sentiment for the ghost town runs deep for McAtee, who was born in the village where his father, William H. McAtee, operated a grain elevator for 15 years, owned by the Connell Grain company of Axtell.
Prized souvenirs of McAtee are the Post office boxes of the fourth class Post office opened in 1889 with L. D. Rouse the first postmaster, which closed with the demise of the railroad in 1925.
In 1894, farmers built a blacksmith shop and the horses were shod and wagons repaired by Albert Craig, the blacksmith.
Women's Lib was instituted early in the life of Mina where Miss Maggie lbert was the telegraph operator, and then postmaster following Rouse.
Other postmasters were Peter Olston, Gustave Siegenhagen, D. G. Davis, A. R. Walker, William H. McAtee and Miss Mabel McKibben.
The McAtee home was second door to the general store, which was erected in 1890 by A. C. Axtell, after the construction of the passenger station, built in 1889.
During the heyday of farmer's cooperatives in the early half of the century, the Farmers Union operated the store with James Stirrat as store manager and B. C. Graham, overseer.
When cream separators were in vogue, a lean-to was added to the store for the operation of a cream station to serve the dairy farmers of the vicinity.
But the store was a victim of the Depression and Wes Packard was the last to operate it, McAtee remembers and it was razed in the 1930's.
A wheel spoke design over the front door of the Christian Church, dedicated June 16, 1895, was the symbol that drew attention from a similar white boxlike structure, the Mina school that stood next door.
A church fund started by Miss Emma Detweiler in 1894 gave the church home a start and on the day of dedication pledges and cash paid the debt of $700 on the building.
First pastor was the evangelist I. F. Cook, followed by Reverend Beach. For many years Reverend Charles Shepherd alternated Sundays with the congregation of North Elm Christian Church east of Marietta. Finally services were conducted only on the second and fourth Sundays and Reverend Allen served in 1923.
The school was built three years later and opened in 1898 with May Stevenson the first teacher. The World War II years brought a decrease in population and the school closed in 1945 when there were only two pupils enrolled, Bill McAtee, Jr. and Gerald Detweiler. Lela Burton was the last teacher.
Handwriting was on the wall 50 years ago when the community gave a farewell party for the McKibben sisters - Mabel, the postmaster and Minnie, telephone operator and news reporter, who moved to Axtell.
At the same time, L. S. Cass, president of the Kansas Northwestern railroad returned to Washington, D.C. to negotiate with the government for funds to relieve the financial strain of indebtedness of approximately $1 million.
Petitions were circulated in Mina and Summerfield and a benefit zone laid out for the purpose of voting bonds from individual townships and municipalities to rekindle the failing life of the railroad.
But as the railroad failed to survive, the town died and the brick depot was sold to Joe Holsan, Summerfield, who razed it, according to Mr. and Mrs. McAtee.
As one who was born in the village and attended school and Sunday school there, the sentimental ties were bound to the memories of the building and McAtee purchased the schoolhouse and moved it to a farm one-half mile south of the site.
The town site returned to the land and Pat Reilly, Topeka, became the owner until 1972 when he sold it to Clarence and David Brown.
For 12 years Loyal McAtee farmed the land. As he plowed the town site, his memory returned to childhood days when he watched the arrival of the Kansas City and Northwestern train - the railroad which birthed the town and aborted it.
This article was originally
written in the 1970's and revised in 1998
We are grateful to Loyal McAtee who graciously allowed us to use his pictures of Mina for this Web Site