Argentine, the second largest town of Wyandotte county, is located in the extreme southeastern portion on the south bank of the Kansas river and on the Atchison, Topeka Santa Fe railroad, about 4 miles west of Kansas City, Mo. Late in the '70s the railroad located their transfer depot, side tracks, round house, coal chutes and sheds near the present town site, and within a short time a considerable settlement had sprung up. The land was surveyed and platted in 1880 and originally consisted of 60 acres of land owned by James M. Coburn. The Kansas Town company obtained a charter on April 9, 1881, and immediately organized with a capital of $100,000. The incorporators were William B. Strong, George O. Manchester, Joab Mulvane, J. R. Mulvane and E. Wilder and the same body of men were the directors for the first year. Joab Mulvane was elected president and manager of the company; and E. Wilder, secretary and treasurer. This new company purchased 415 acres of land adjoining the first town site, and after giving the Kansas City, Topeka & Western railroad what it desired for railroad purposes, the remaining 360 acres was laid out as Mulvane's addition to Argentine and placed upon the market. In 1882 Argentine was incorporated as a city of the third class, having acquired by that time the required number of inhabitants for a city government. The first Tuesday in August an election was held for city officials, at which time G. W. Gully was elected mayor; John Steffins, W. C. Blue, Patrick O'Brien, A. Borgstede and George Simmons, councilmen; J. H. Halderman, city clerk; A. J. Dolley, police judge; and Charles Duvall, marshal.
In the winter of 1881 a public school was opened and the citizens saw the necessity for a public school building. On Aug. 28, 1882, an election was held to vote on the question of issuing bonds to the amount of $7,000 for such a purpose, and the proposition was carried by a large majority. Work was at once started on the first school building. A postoffice was established in 1881 and has been enlarged several times in proportion to the growth of the city. The Congregational church was the pioneer religious organization, as services were held in the summer of 1881 and the following year a church building was erected.
One of the first commercial enterprises in the town was the Kansas City Refining and Smelting company which located there in 1880. This was for many years the largest plant in the country. The capital stock of the original company was $200,000 and over 250 men were employed from the start. It was built for the purpose of refining gold and silver bullion, shipped from the other smelters, but the company also carries on lead smelting and the manufacture of various commercial products from the other metals that are recovered in the refining process, chief of which are blue and white vitriol. Copper is made from the vitriol and in 1896 more than a million and a half pounds of this metal were put on the market from the Argentine plant. At the present time the company has a paid up stock of more than $3,000,000 and is the leading manufactory of the town.
Many other commercial enterprises have located in Argentine because of the excellent transportation facilities. It has extensive railroad repair shops, large factories for the manufacture of iron products, and many retail stores. Today Argentine is a well paved city with excellent water and lighting systems, street railway, good public school system, many churches, good hotels and is an extensive banking town. The population in 1910 was 6,500.Pages 95-97 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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