McPherson, the judicial seat and largest town of McPherson county, is located in the central part of the county, about 25 miles northeast of Hutchinson and about 50 miles northwest of Wichita. Four of the most important railroads converge at this point, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Missouri Pacific and the Union Pacific, making this one of the important shipping points of this section of Kansas. It has 5 banks and there are a number of manufacturing establishments which work up various raw materials produced in the vicinity. The broom and sorghum factories are supplied by the broom-corn and cane raised by McPherson county farmers and each turns out a high grade finished product. The cement works gets the raw material from the northern part of the county. There is also a smoke consumer works, and a stove drum factory. The McPherson Republican is published daily and weekly, and the Freeman, the Democrat, the Opinion and Der Deutsche Western (German) are published weekly. Rays of Light is a college publication issued monthly.
McPherson is the seat of two colleges of standing in the state, McPherson College, which was established some years ago by the German Baptist church, and Walden College, established in 1908 by the Swedish Evangelical church. Both are equipped with large, substantial buildings. In addition to these things McPherson has two good hotels, an opera house, 3 flour mills, which are among the largest in the state, 4 grain elevators, ice and cold storage plant, electric plant, fire department, waterworks and sewer system. The streets are wide and well kept and the business blocks are of brick or stone. Main street is lined for several blocks with well appointed retail stores. The town is supplied with telegraphic communications and express offices and has an international money order postoffice with seven rural routes. A board of trade has recently been organized and a retail dealers' association has been in operation among the merchants for some years. The population of McPherson, according to the census of 1910, was 3,546.
The town was founded by L. G. Skancke in 1872. Mr. Skancke was chief clerk of the government land office at Salina at the time, and being informed that a colony of Kentuckians were about to settle on "McPherson Flats" he conceived the idea of starting a town in that location. He interested several friends, and the party which composed the town company drove from Salina on Sunday, June 4, and located the town site, which they called McPherson Center, and made "improvements," which consisted in turning over a little of the sod, enabling them to hold the ground until it could be properly entered. The next month H. Bowker erected the first building and opened a store. In December the foundation of the town hall was laid. Although the town grew quite rapidly, the postoffice was not established until 1873. In the spring of that year the detachment of a tier of townships from the southern part of the county made McPherson the center of the county and at an election held on June 10, 1873, it was made the county seat. It was incorporated as a city of the third class on March 4, 1874. The first election, at which 30 ballots were cast, was held the 16th of the same month, when the following officers were chosen: Mayor, Sol Stephens; councilmen, H. Bowker, C. E. Pierce, William West, W. B. McCord and M. P. Simpson. In July, 1877, a money order department was added to the postoffice. The first school building of any size was erected in 1882 at a cost of $12,000. The first newspaper was the McPherson Messenger, established by the Yale brothers in 1872. It still continues under the name of the Republican. The first bank was the Farmers' and Merchants', founded in 1882. A mill and two large elevators were built in 1879 and 1880. A colony of German Baptists (sometimes called Dunkards) located at McPherson in 1887, and later founded McPherson college. The first railroads did not reach Mc Pherson until 1870 and 1880. McPherson is now a city of the second class.Pages 204-205 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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