Junction City, the judicial seat of Geary county, is an incorporated city of the second class located near the geographical center of the United States, at the junction of the Republican and Smoky Hill rivers, from which fact it takes its name. It is on the Union Pacific and the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railroads, and is connected by electric railway with Fort Riley, one of the most important military posts in the United States. The city is lighted by electricity, has waterworks, fire department, sewer system, fine county and city buildings constructed from native materials, an opera house, a high school, a German Lutheran school, the St. Francis Xavier school (Roman Catholic), numerous churches, 3 newspapers (the Union, the Republic, and the Sentinel), 4 banks with a combined capitalization of $225,000, several grain elevators, 2 flour mills, an ice plant, a creamery, machine shops, carriage and wagon works, a large number of retail establishments, telegraph and express offices, and an international money order postoffice with seven rural routes. The population in 1910 was 5,598.
Junction City is one of the places designated by the government for the establishment of a postal savings bank. The city has a library and library building of which any place of ten times its size might be proud. It was founded by a legacy left by George Smith, and in 1911 had nearly 8,000 volumes. The Ladies' Reading club and the high school also have libraries.
This is one of the historic cities in the state. It is on the site of the Kaw Indian village which was occupied by that tribe as late as 1856, when they died in great numbers from cholera. The founders of the town, J. R. McClure, Robert Wilson, F. N. Blake, John T. Price and P. Z. Taylor organized themselves into a company in 1857 and selected the site, but the survey was not made until the spring of 1858. The first building was erected in May of that year and inside of a few months a village had grown up. The first city officers were elected in July, 1859, and were as follows: Mayor, R. C. Whitney; councilmen, Samuel Orr, Edward Cobb and W. H. Bartlett; clerk, V. K. Speer. On Oct. 6 of the same year the United States Land office was moved from Ogden to Junction City and remained here until 1871, when it was taken to Salina. In June, 1860, Junction City was made the county seat of Geary (then Davis) county. As an insight into the methods of conducting elections in those days it might be mentioned that the number of votes cast by Junction City was 224, while the total population of the town was but 217.
The first brick building in the city was completed early in 1862, and the first school district was organized in the same year. The building of the railroad in 1866 gave a new impetus to the town, many new buildings were erected and the population increased rapidly. In Feb., 1867, the railroad bridge across the Republican was carried away by high water. During that year a $17,500 bridge was built by the county across the Smoky Hill river and one by the state across the Republican. The city election of 1869 was one of the most interesting events in its history. The opposing factions did not limit themselves to verbal arguments. The matter was finally settled in the courts. A fire destroyed a number of the business buildings in 1871. The next year a $10,000 school house was erected. In addition to the grasshopper disaster in 1874, the city was visited by a second fire which destroyed ten of the best buildings. In 1870 the population was 3,100, but in 1875 there had been a decrease of several hundred caused by the removal of the shops of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas R. R. from this point to Denison, Tex., and by the removal of the division end of the Union Pacific from Junction City to Wamego. In 1880 the population was 2,977. A city hall, which was to cost $28,000, was begun that year. The outlay of so large an amount on the building gave rise to a bitter feeling on the part of the more economical people of the community and they attempted to stop work on the structure by an injunction suit but were unsuccessful. An accident which destroyed a part of the building brought the total cost to $30,000 at the time of completion. The population of the city in 1890 was 4,502, and in 1900 it was 4,695.Pages 42-44 from volume II 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 July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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