Oswego, the county seat of Labette county, is located on the Neosho river, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas and the St. Louis & San Francisco railroads, 12 miles north of the Oklahoma state line and about 30 miles west of the Missouri line. It is a city of the second class; is lighted by electricity; has natural gas for domestic and manufacturing purposes, a good waterworks system, a fire department, an opera house, 2 banks, 3 flour mills, 2 grain elevators, a creamery, an ice plant, machine shops, 2 colleges, 3 weekly newspapers, and other lines of business enterprise. There is fire clay, shale, coal and building stone to be found in the vicinity. There are telegraph and express offices and an international money order postoffice with 5 rural routes. The population in 1910 was 2,317. It is the second largest city in the county.
Oswego was the outgrowth of a trading post established in the early '40s by John Matthews. Up to 1865 there were no other white persons in the community and the place was called "White Hair's Village" because an Indian chief of that name made his home there. In 1865 a number of settlers located at this point and the name was changed to "Little Town." Two years later the Oswego town company was organized and so named for Oswego, N. Y., whence many of the settlers had come. The members of the corporation were: President, Dr. John F. Newlon; secretary, D. W. Clover; J. Q. Cowell, C. C. Clover, T. J. Flournoy, Thomas J. Buntain and D. M. Clover. They gave away lots to every person who would erect a building, with the result that the town grew very rapidly. The first frame house was put up by Dr. William S. Newlon in September of that year. The first frame store building was erected by Thomas J. Buntain, though the first store was opened in a log building in 1865 by Rexford & Elsbee. The postoffice was established in 1867 with Nelson Carr postmaster. At that time Carr & Bridgeman, Waskey & Sons, J. Q. Cowell and R. W. Wright were all conducting stores, and besides there were two provision stores, Oswego being on the military road. M. George had opened a blacksmith shop and D. W. Clover a hotel, which was not only an inn for the public, but the county headquarters, a political rendezvous and a news center. This was the second hotel, the first having been built in 1866 by William A. Hogaboom. The first bank was opened in 1868 by W. M. Johnson, who was forced two years later to make an assignment of all that he had to satisfy his creditors. The second bank was started in July, 1870, by B. F. Hibart and H. L. Taylor, which was a success. The State Bank of Oswego started to (10 business a few weeks later, but discontinued after a short time, as there was not business enough for two banks. In Sept., 1870, a steam sawmill was erected by Macon, Krell & Cowell.
The organization of Oswego as a city of the third class took place in Feb., 1870, it being found to have over 1,000 inhabitants. An election was held in April, which resulted in the choice of the following officers: Mayor, J. F. Newlon, councilmen, D. W. Clover, R. W. Wright, William Wells, J. F. Pierson and E. R. Trask. The next year an ordinance was passed declaring Oswego a city of the second class, but the supreme court later declared this action unconstitutional. The town was made a city of the second class by proclamation of the governor in 1880.
The first newspaper was the "Oswego Register," established in 1868 by E. R. Trask. The first church was the Congregational, which was organized in May, 1868, and the Presbyterian church was founded in July of the same year. The first school was taught in 1867. The public library association was organized in 1877; the telephone system was put in operation in 1882; the waterworks in 1887; and the first electric lights were turned on July 12, 1888, but were turned off a few months later. In 1868 Mr. Shanks operated the first pottery and made several kilns of stoneware. A cotton-gin was set up in 1868.Pages 420-422 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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