Osawatomie, one of the principal cities of Miami county, is located on the Marais des Cygnes river, about a mile above the mouth of Pottawatomie creek and is one of the most historic towns in Kansas. Agents of the Emigrant Aid society selected the town site, which was surveyed in Feb., 1855, by A. D. Searl. According to early historians the name was formed by combining the Osa of Osage with watomie of Pottawatomie, the stream of the latter name uniting with the Marais des Cygnes to form the Osage river. The original town company consisted of Orville C. Brown, president; S. C. Pomeroy, an agent of the emigrant company, and a Mr. Ward of New York. The first settlers were from the eastern states. Samuel Geer is supposed to have erected the first building, which was used for a residence and boarding house. The Emigrant Aid society sent out a sawmill, which was erected on the south bank of the Marais des Cygnes about half a mile below the town, and there much of the lumber was sawed for the first buildings. In the summer of 1855 a blacksmith shop was opened by a man named Holdridge and a drug store by Dr. Darr. The first store was also opened about this time by Mr. Geer, who was appointed postmaster on Dec. 21, 1855. C. H. Crane was the first lawyer to open an office in the pioneer settlement.
On June 7, 1856, the first battle of Osawatomie occurred. The village was plundered and some horses carried off, but no blood was shed. At this time there were about 30 buildings at Osawatomie and an actual population of about 500. The second battle of Osawatomie (q. v.) occurred on Aug. 30, when part of the town was plundered and burned, but notwithstanding this disaster the settlement grew and fast became the center of the free-state party in the eastern counties. By 1857 the early chroniclers say that it was a town "of considerable importance, having a population of about 800, of whom 200 were voters."
In 1863 the first state hospital for the insane was located about a mile northeast of Osawatomie. It has become one of the largest institutions in the state. The first newspaper in the town was the Southern Kansas Herald, established early in 1857. It changed hands several times, was removed to Paola in 1866, and soon discontinued. The Osawatomie Times was established in 1881, but was published only one year. The papers of the present time are the Graphic and Globe, both weeklies. The first school house grew too small and in 1906 a fine new building was erected with the most modern equipment.
Railroads were not built to Osawatomie until the early '70s, but at the present time it is a division point of the Missouri Pacific road, and the repair shops of that line are located there. Osawatomie is a supply town for a rich agricultural country and is also its shipping point. It is the first city in the county, having in 1910 a population of 4,046.Pages 400-401 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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