The story of Welda begins in 1870 when the Leavenworth, Lawrence and Galveston Railroad was completed to the southern boundary of Anderson County. A station was located on the north boundary of Ozark Township and the railroad built a section house and called it Welda. It was probably named after a village in Germany in the federal state of North Rhine-Welda, Germany. There Welda was historically known as Wellede, Welde, and Kerkwellede. After building the section house the railroad laid out the southern part of the town.
In 1873 J.M. Kauble built the second house in town and laid out the northern part of Welda. The town was platted in 1873.The first post office was opened in 1874 and J.M. Kauble became the first post master. Up until 1880 the entire southern part of Anderson County was designated as Ozark Township. In January, 1880, Welda Township was established with the town of Welda on its northern edge.
The town became known as a station on the railroad and the first depot was built in August of 1880. Depots had a hard life in Welda and in 1899 or 1901 the first depot burned and a second depot was built and the new depot burned in 1923. A third depot was constructed and was used until the railroad closed in the 1990’s. It was moved to a local farm and then moved to the Great Overland Station Museum in Topeka, Kansas. Water was important for the steam engines and in 1903 the Santa Fe Railroad built the Welda Lake east of the town. The water was pumped to the water tower in town to supply the trains.
In 1883 Welda was a growing town and had two dry goods and grocery stores, a grocery store, a wagon repair shop, a hotel, a broom factory, a post office, three churches, and a school. They boasted a population of 200 residents.
At one time Welda had a business known as the Welda Steak House along Highway 59. The original building was a Valentine Diner in Thayer, Kansas. Joy Brownrigg operated it for several years. It may have possibly been a flea market after it was a diner. The building was probably torn down as it is no longer located along the highway.
The churches were the Methodist Episcopal Church, United Brethren Church, and a United Presbyterian Church and all the churches held their services in the school building. The Methodist Church built their own building in 1895 and church is still held in the building today. The United Presbyterian Church also built a facility, but disaster struck in July, 1913, when lightning struck and the building totally burned.
The first school house was built in 1879. They only had an elementary school until 1907-1908 when high school was started with a one-year program. Each year following they added a year of high school until they had a three year program. A new brick school was built in 1914 to house the combined Welda High School and Elementary School. It was used for thirteen years when it was condemned due to defective walls and foundation. The old building was demolished and a new school built. During the construction of the new school classes were held in the former blacksmith shop and in two church buildings.
Today Welda is still alive. It has a post office, a community building, a church and the old school has been converted into a flea market. Cities Service built a large gas pumping station for the gas storage field around Welda prior to the 1940’s. Today it remains the largest business in the area around Welda. It is now operated by Southern Star and is managed via the internet from Kentucky with a few employees locally.
Welda Plat Map, town platted in 1873.