Holton, the county seat of Jackson county, is located on a slight eminence to the northeast of the central part of the county. It is one of the substantial towns of northeastern Kansas having local manufacturing establishments and other institutions which insure a good income to the town. There is a large brick yard, soda and mineral water factories, cigar factory, planing mill, patent medicine factory, 4 banks, 3 grain elevators, telegraph and express offices and an international money order postoffice with six rural routes. The educational facilities of Holton are exceptionally good for a town of its size. Besides good graded and high schools there is a higher institution of learning known as Campbell College, which has 4 good buildings and 8 departments. The population of Holton in 1910 was 2,842.
Holton was founded in 1856 by a colony of free-state people from Milwaukee, Wis. The party left Milwaukee in May of that year with 6 wagons drawn by cattle. The expedition was financed by the Hon. E. D. Holton, for whom the town was afterward named. The members of the company included J. B. Coffin and family, Edmund G. Ross and family, J. B. Hutts and family, the Lathrop family, six unmarried men and eight other persons, making a total of 34 persons. At Janesville, Wis., they were joined by Andrew Smith's family of five, Mr. Lyme's family of five, and another Ross family consisting of five persons. When they reached Missouri they were robbed and warned to turn back. They altered their course and went to Nebraska City, the rendezvous of free-state men, where they met James H. Lane with 200 men who joined them taking the Lane road to Kansas. The train now included 82 wagons. The party received additions by Capt. Shombre of Indiana with 17 men, Doc Weed of Leavenworth with 20 men, Col. Harvey of Illinois with 60 men, and Capt. Stonewall with 75 men. The second day out they met S. C. Pomeroy with a small party. The next day they met John Brown with a few men who had come to inform Lane that a price had been set upon his head, and to urge him not to go to Topeka, which advice was not heeded and they continued on their way. When they came to Elk creek they cut timber and built a bridge upon which to cross, and located where the Holton central high school now stands. The town site was surveyed and a log cabin 20 feet square was built in such a manner that it could be used for defense and was called "Jim Lane's Fort." The depredations of the Kickapoo rangers in the fall caused the fort to be abandoned for a short time. A new company was organized in Dec., 1856, and a survey made.
In 1857 several buildings were erected, one being the Holton House by T. G. Walters, and another the Banner Hotel by E. M. Parks. A school house was built by contributions, Squires & Stafford put in a small stock of goods, and J. W. Gordon & Bro. started a general store. The next year Holton was made the county seat. The first child was born to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas G. Walters and named Holton Walters. He was presented with a town lot.
Factional differences were closely drawn in early times, the free-state men and Republicans doing business on the north side of the public square and the pro-slavery men and Democrats on the south side. There were two flag poles, one Republican and the other Democratic. Their differences often came to blows and sometimes to shots, Maj. Thomas J. Anderson being attacked at a convention at one time and injured by a blow on the head. He was also fired upon several times.
The town was incorporated in 1859 by Maj. T. J. Anderson, who was then probate judge. Dr. James Waters was the first mayor and George L. Hamm, city clerk. It became a city of the third class in 1871, and some years later was made a city of the second class.Pages 865-866 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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