Paola, the county seat of Miami county, is situated near the geographical center of the county on elevated ground between Bull and Wea creeks. The town was laid out in the spring of 1855 and incorporated by the legislative session of that year. It was named in honor of Baptiste Peoria, one of the first settlers, the Indian pronunciation of his name being Paola. The town company was composed of Baptiste Peoria, Isaac Jacobs, A. M. Coffey and David Lykins, and others, and was authorized to acquire any amount of land "not exceeding 600 acres." The first board of trustees consisted of B. P. Campbell, Peter Potts, William A. Heiskell, Isaac Jacobs, William H. Lebow and Baptiste Peoria. The company acquired title to about 400 acres of land and divided it into 72 shares, In June, 1857, Baptiste Peoria was elected president of the town company, and A. J. Shannon agent and secretary. After 1858, until the expiration by limitation of the charter, which had been granted for ten years, no other meeting of the town company was held. W. R. Wagstaff was appointed trustee and had control until all the property was sold. S. P. Boone built the first house, a Mr. White the second, and Cyrus Shaw opened a store in Dec., 1855, in the third building, which was erected by the town company. Subsequently the company built a hotel on the site of their first building. The first school in the town was opened in the fall of 1856, with May Williams as teacher.
At the close of 1855 Paola contained about 30 inhabitants, but the border troubles retarded the growth of the town. By 1859 peace was again established and the prospects of Paola looked brighter, when the whole territory suffered from the drought of 1860 (See Droughts), and the next year the Civil war broke out, which kept things practically at a standstill four years. During this time neither person nor property was considered safe in the border counties, because of the threatened invasions of the Confederates and the raids of the bushwhackers from Missouri. Few people were added to the population and it was not until the close of hosilities[sic] and the prospect of a railroad that the town began to improve.
In 1860, under special charter from the legislature, Paola was organized as a city of the third class. This form of government was continued until 1862, when it was organized as a city of the second class. In 1872 a fine school building was erected at a cost of $65,000, but with the growth of population it grew too small, and a fine new one was erected with as excellent equipment as any high school in the eastern part of the state.
Paola has always been the county seat, made such by the act creating the county, and only one vote was ever taken upon changing the location. That was in 1858, when Osawatomie was the principal competitor. In the election Indianapolis cast its vote for Paola, and there the seat of justice has remained.
No railroads were built into Paola until the early '70s, although roads were proposed in 1869. At the present time it has excellent shipping and transportation facilities, provided by the Missouri, Kansas & Texas, the St. Louis & San Francisco, and the Missouri Pacific railroads, and it is an important shipping center for the rich agricultural district by which it is surrounded. Religion came hand in hand with education, the Methodist Episcopal church having been placed upon the Stanton circuit in 1858 and remained there until 1864, when a local church organization was perfected. The Baptist church was establishcd in 1860; the Catholic church may be regarded as the continuation of the Catholic mission established among the New York Indians in 1845, but no church was erected until 1860. These were followed by other denominations. The first newspaper in Paola was the Miami Republican, which first appeared on Aug. 18, 1866. The Western Spirit made its initial appearance on June 14, 1871, and is the leading paper of the town and county at the present time. The population in 1910 was 3,207.Pages 441-442 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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