Early in 1855 several settlers arrived in north-central Anderson County in what is now Putman Township. Two years later on March 15, 1857, a large group, about fifty people, left Scipio, Jennings County, Indiana, and headed west to Kansas. The group included several families and arrived in northern Putnam Township.
They immediately began building log cabins, breaking prairie sod for fields, and creating farms. By September, ten cabins were built with families residing in them. The main settlement was on the corner of today’s Highway 59 and NW 2350 Road, west of what is now known as Scipio. The town site was known as Fairview. On the northwest corner of the crossroads they built a school and named it Fairview.
A post office, known as Scipio, was established in 1858 in the home of Leander Putnam north of the school and Mrs. Putnam was postmistress. Later in 1870 when the township was formed it was named Putnam after Leander Putnam. William Spriggs and Morgan Heflin opened a store on the northeast corner across the road from the school. They sold general merchandise to the local community. By 1869 J.M. Perrine had arrived in the area and built a store on the southeast corner of the crossroads. The post office was moved to Perrine’s Store and J.M. Perrine’s became the postmaster.
An interesting side light about the Perrine’s is their son, Van Dearing Perrine (1869-1955). Van Dearing Perrine was orphaned in childhood and as a young man became a vagabond, cowboy and plasterer, riding the rails of the west looking for a better life. He moved to New York in 1893 and studied art at the Cooper Institute and the National Academy of Design. He was known as an American Landscape Impressionist. His paintings hang in several famous art museums including the Smithsonian Museum of Art. In 1913 he gifted a small painting to the Garnett Library. His painting is now in the Dorothy Archer Room in the new library as part of the Walker Art Collection. He died in 1955, in New Canaan, Connecticut, in obscurity.
The plan was for the new Leavenworth, Lawrence and Galveston Railroad to run through Fairview/Scipio. South of the town site was a steep grade and the railroad had a Chinese Road Gang digging a cut up the grade to the south. However, it was discovered the steam engines were unable to pull the grade and they changed the route to the east to come through a small valley. Henry Roeckers, a local archeologist, did metal detecting at the railroad cut dug by Chinese Laborers and found a Chinese Coin.
With the change of the railroad east things moved quickly and a small station was built on the railway, known as Scipio. Harmon Wolken and Henry DeCanniere opened a store, built on Wolken’s land, in March, 1879, close to the railroad. In April, the post office was moved to the Wolken-DeCanniere Store and Harmon Wolken became the new postmaster. The store was operated by Wolken and DeCanniere for a year and then was sold to Peter Cammerbeck. He owned the store in Scipio a year and then moved his business to Greeley. The post office was at Scipio until 1905 when it was closed.
In 1907 there was a high demand for natural gas discovered south of Garnett in the oil fields. A pumping station to pump the gas to Kansas City was built just north of Scipio along the railroad. The station was built in 1907-08 for three fourths of a million of dollars. There are two stories about what happened to the pumping station. One story states the pumping station became unnecessary expense and the company removed the engines and tore the building down. The second story is about an explosion at the station and the building burning completely. It is said two men were working the night shift when the explosion occurred and they were blown out of the building with neither man being seriously injured.
Van Dearing Perrine's painting donated to the Garnett Library in 1913.