Lecompton, a town of Douglas county, is located on the Kansas river and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe R. R. 11 miles west of Lawrence, the county seat. The first settlement on or near the town site was made in 1854 by A. W. and A. G. Glenn, father and son. They were followed by David Martin, G. W. Zinn and others that year, and a considerable number of settlers came in 1855 and 1856. The Lecompton town company was organized at the Pottawatomie Indian agency with Samuel P. Lecompte, president; John A. Halderman, secretary; Daniel Woodson, treasurer; and George W. Clark, Chauncey B. Donaldson and William R. Simmons members. The company held its meetings at Westport, Mo., and on May 14, 1855, the officers reported that the town site, which consisted of 600 acres, had been surveyed by D. H. Harting with the design and intention of making Lecompton not only a large city but also the capital of the state. In 1855 the territorial legislature authorized the erection of a capitol building in the eastern part of the town on an eminence overlooking the Kansas valley on a tract of 10 acres donated by the town company. Had the building been completed according to the original design it would have cost $500,000, provided Congress could have been induced to continue the appropriations. (See Capitol.)
A frame hotel called the American was built in the spring of 1856; the National hotel was built the next fall; the Rowena hotel, a large three-story stone structure, was erected by the town company in 1856 and is the only one that withstood the years of strife. The postoffice was established in the winter of 1855-56, with Dr. Aristides Roderigue, the first physician, as postmaster. Lecompton was incorporated by the first territorial legislature with the following limits: "Commencing in the middle of the Kansas river, at a point which shall be designated by the surveyor now engaged in laying out and platting said town site; thence running in such manner as shall be designated by said surveyor throughout the entire limits of the town or city." Lecompton was made the county seat of Douglas county by the same legislature. The second and third sessions of the legislature met at Lecompton. During this period the town was at the height of its prosperity and gave promise of being one of the largest and most prosperous settlements in the territory. It was the seat of government, had a number of large hotels that were usually full; four church organizations; the United States land office; and was the headquarters for the stage line to Kansas City, Leavenworth and St. Joseph, Mo. It had a population of nearly 1,000 inhabitants and lots in the heart of the town sold at $500 or more, but with the downfall of the slave power in the territory progress was arrested and within a short time her glory began to wane. When Topeka was made the capital it was a death blow to Lecompton and all her interests took a downward tendency. Dwelling houses were removed, some to the nearby towns, some to farms in the vicinity, others fell to pieces, weeds grew in the once busy streets; work upon all public buildings ceased and the ruins were left to stand as ghastly reminders of the blasted hopes that had been so high. The population rapidly diminished to about 300 and remained at that figure for a number of years. In 1881 the town began to improve with the completion of the university building. Subsequently Lane University was removed to Holton. (See Campbell College.) Lecompton has a money order postoffice, telegraph and express facilities, and in 1910 reported a population of 386.Pages 128-130 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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