Independence, one of the important cities of southeastern Kansas, and from a manufacturing standpoint, one of the most important in the state, is located in the central part of Montgomery county, of which it is the judicial seat. It is on the Verdigris river in the midst of the great natural gas and oil fields, and the gas, which is furnished for commercial purposes for 3 cents per 1,000 feet, has been a great factor in developing the local mineral deposits. Coal, limestone, cement stone, clay shale and sand for glass are found in considerable quantities in the immediate vicinity. The manufacturing establishments include a rubber factory, 3 glass factories, 2 ice factories, 2 iron plants, vitrified brick plant, paper mill, cracker factory, cotton twine factory, shirt factory, machine shops, foundries, candy factory, several oil refineries, extensive cement works and an electric light plant. The city is one of the best equipped in the state so far as public improvements are concerned. It has a good system of waterworks, a $50,000 opera house, more miles of paved streets than any other city in the gas belt, a fine sewerage and drainage system, a $25,000 Carnegie library, and an auditorium seating 3,000 people. It claims to have the best band and the finest high school building in the state. All the business houses are of brick and stone with plate glass fronts, and some of the finest lodge buildings in the state are located here. There are 4 banks, 2 daily and 2 weekly newspapers, flour mills and elevators. A hospital and nurses training school is maintained in a building erected for the purpose at an expense of $20,000. Independence is connected with Cherryvale and Coffeyville by interurban electric railway. It is supplied with telegraph and express offices, and has an international money order postoffice with seven rural routes. The population, according to the census of 1910, was 10,480.
The site of Independence was bought from the Indians by George A. Brown in Sept., 1869, before the land had been acquired by the government. The town was promoted by Oswego men, and a paper was started in Oswego called the "Independence Pioneer," through which the new town was extensively advertised. In October the first colony, consisting of 18 families from Indiana, settled on the town site. They built temporary huts of prairie hay, and it is said that no less than 40 hay huts stood on the Independence town site that winter. The next spring building began. The town company erected a hotel called the Judson House. The first store was opened in Oct., 1869, by E. E. Wilson and F. D. Irwin. In May, 1870, Independence became the county seat, and in July the postoffice was established. A government land office was established there in 1872. In January of that year the branch railway called "Bunker's Plug" was completed. At this time over 200 houses had been built, the population numbered 2,300, mills had been put up and other business enterprises established. Independence now became a city of the second class, having been first organized as a village in July, 1870, and made a city of the third class in November of that year. The trustees of the village were: J. H. Pugh, J. E. DonLavy, E. E. Wilson, R. F. Hall and O. P. Smart. The first officers elected after the incorporation as a city of the third class were: Mayor, J. B. Craig; clerk, C. M. Ralstine; treasurer, J. E. DonLavy; councilmen, Thomas Stevenson, A. Waldtschmidt, W. T. Bishop, G. H. Brodie and F. D. Irwin. Independence was made a city of the second class March 20, 1872.
The first school was taught by Miss Mary Walker in 1870. The first religious services were held in the hay-shed residence of Mrs. McClurg in 1869. The south Kansas Tribune, which is still published, was the first newspaper and was established in 1871 by L. U. Humphrey & W. T. Yoe. The first banking house, known as Hull's Banking company, was established in Dec., 1871. It was the only one that continued in business during the subsequent hard years. In 1881 a company was organized to mine coal. The discovery of gas and oil followed.Pages 898-899 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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