A postoffice was established six and one-half miles northwest of Osage Mission, April 6, 1866, with A. H. Roe as Postmaster. It was moved to Erie, August 20, 1867. On the first of January, 1868, Mr. Roe resigned and Charles Trenchard was appointed in his stead. On the first of July Isaac M. Fletcher was appointed, and on July 1, 1869 the postoffice was made a money order office. A flouring and saw mill was located on the town site by J. W. Stewart & Sons, in 1868. The machinery used in it was afterwards removed one mile south and became a part of the machinery of the present water mill, on the Neosho River. J. W. Stewart & Sons afterwards sold this mill to A. H. Bruner & Co., its present proprietors. It is a one and a half story building with three run of buhrs.
In the year 1867, a saw mill was located on-half mile southwest of town, by Barnhart Bros. & H. H. Roe. In 1869, this mill was improved to a two run flouring mill, and removed in 1873, by Barnhart Bros., to Thayer.
The town of Erie was organized by a decree of the probate Court December 25, 1869, with J. A. Wells, G. W. Dale, John McCullough, Isaac M. Fletcher and Douglas Putnam as trustees. On the 30th of the same month the trustees met, and declared the town a city of the third class. Thereupon J. A. Wells was elected Mayor of the city, and proceeded to appoint the officers necessary to put the city government into operation. At this time a census of the city was taken, and the population found to be, according to the returns, eight hundred and nine.
It is probable the city never contained a much larger number of inhabitants than this, but it has been estimated to have contained 1,200 within a year or two after this census was take. At all events, its progress was suddenly and effectually checked in 1872 by a fire, which swept away the best business blocks and business part of the town. The total loss by this conflagration was estimated at $15,000, and there was no insurance. In July, 1873, a destructive cyclone swept through the county. About fifteen houses were blown down in Erie, and a loss inflicted of $5,000. Eleven persons were severely wounded, but no one killed in Erie. One woman and two children were killed by this same cyclone in Shiloh Township, and two other persons were killed in the southeast part of the county near Trotter's Ford.
Besides having suffered from these two visitations of Providence, Erie has so far labored under the great disadvantage of having no railroad. An east and west railroad through the county, passing through Erie, would enhance her prosperity and her prospects very largely. Then it may be said that her success in the struggle for the county seat has militated very materially against her. School district No. 5, of which Erie forms a part, in the year 1870, bonded itself to the amount of $12,000 in order to build a fine, large schoolhouse, with the view of establishing there a school of highgrade.
The schoolhouse, a three-story stone structure, with mansard roof, was erected, and during the contest for the county seat, the whole school district partaking of the enthusiasm of the town, donated the building to the county for a courthouse, and now has to pay principal and interest on the bonds, a sum which will amount to upwards of $40,000 in the aggregate before the debt is fully extinguished. The main consolations are that the debt was self-imposed, the consciousness of victory and the prestige of being the county seat; while the disadvantages are the debt itself, and the want of the high school, the establishment of which was prevented by the giving away of the building designed for its use.
The city contains two general stores, two blacksmith shops, one drug store, two hotels, one newspaper office, two churches, and a population of about 300.
Societies, Churches and The Press
Erie Lodge No. 76, A., F. & A. M. - Was instituted, January 1, 1869, with fourteen members. The first officers were: James L. Denison, W. M.; J. W. Stewart, S. W.; E. H. Marsh, J. W.; L. Stillwell, Sec.; John C. Carpenter, Treas.; and J. A. Wells, S. D. The present membership of the lodge is thirty.
Erie Lodge No. 44, I. O. O. F. - Was instituted, April 9, 1869, with nine members. Each member was an officer, as follows: John Smith, N. G.; Wm. H. Stewart, V. G.; S. M. French, Rec. S.; Irwin Smith, Treas.; J. W. Stewart, warden; A. P. McDonald, O. G.; W. T. Weeks, R. S. N. G.; M. A. Patterson, L. S. N. G.; J. W. Pittsford, R. S. V. G. The present membership of the order is twenty-two.
Erie Lodge No. 2017 K. of H. - Was instituted, January 31, 1880, with twelve members. The principal officers were the following: Henry Lodge, P. D.; M. Wallace, D.; John Berry, V. D.; W. P. Oliver, A. D., and J. W. Alfred, Medical Examiner. The present membership of the lodge is thirty-eight.
The Methodist Church - Was organized in the spring of 1868, with fifteen members, by Rev. T. Palmer, who was the first regular preacher. Previous to that time there had been occasional preaching by Revs. Jacob Davis ---, and J. W. Stewart. The first presiding elder of this circuit was Rev. J. D. Knox, appointed in the spring of 1868. The society held religious services in different private houses, until sometime during the summer, when, the schoolhouse being by this time completed, they occupied it until 1872, when they purchased the church building which was at that time in process of erection and nearly completed by the "Christians." The church property is now worth about $1,200, and the society has a membership of fifty. The present pastor is Rev. S. P. Cullison. A Sunday school was organized in 1869, which until 1878, held sessions during only about six months each year. Since that time the sessions have been held the year round.
The Christian Church - Was organized by C. F. Stauber at his house, in the spring of 1869. Occasional religious services had been conducted previously by George Booth, a farmer, and Dr. Jones, at first in the log house of the widow Spivey. At the time the regular organization was effected, it was upon the request of the widow Spivey and eight other women, who personally urged the matter upon Mr. Stauber, and prevailed upon him not only to organize the society, but also to preach for them. Thus Mr. Stauber was the first regular preacher, conducting the services in his own house until the fall, when the society, becoming stronger, engaged Elder M. J. Jenkins, and held services in the school house.
Elder Jenkins continued with the church regularly about three years, when he moved to Missouri, preaching occasionally for the church at Erie, until 1875. The society commenced the erection of a church in the year 1872, but on account of the building of the railroads in the eastern and western parts of the county, the members mostly moved away to railroad towns, leaving Mr. Stauber practically alone, and to save the building from going to ruin, he sold it to the Methodists in 1874. They completed, seated and painted it, and now have a small, but very neat church. The Christian society was organized with fourteen members, increased to thirty, and finally decreased to none.
The Baptist Church - Was organized in 1869, with seven members, by Elder A. C. Bateman, who was chosen pastor. Previous to organization, a few sermons had been preached by Elder Bateman, at the house of E. F. Williams, who was made deacon at the time of organization. Elder Bateman has been succeeded by Elders Hitchcock, John Post, J. A. Trenchard, Reed and I. N. Niman. After organization the services were held at the Erie Schoolhouse, until the erection, in 1871, of the present frame church building, which cost $1,500.
The Neosho county Record - Was established in Erie, by George W. McMillin, April 21, 1876. The material used had formerly been a part of the office of the Thayer Headlight, the name Headlight being continued at Erie until May 5, 1876 when the name Record was substituted. At the time the paper was removed to Erie, it was a five column folio, but it was changed to a seven column folio, November 24, 1876, which size it still retains. Mr. McMillin sold it to its present proprietor, February 8, 1879. The paper is Republican in politics, and is devoted mainly to local news.
Erie is located at 37°347N, 95°1433W (37.568548, -95.242562). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.3 km² (0.9 mi²), all land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,211 people, 492 households, and 318 families residing in the city. The population density was 525.4/km² (1,361.2/mi²). There were 545 housing units at an average density of 236.4/km² (612.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.11% White, 0.17% African American, 0.91% Native American, 0.08% Asian, 0.74% from other races, and 0.99% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.82% of the population.
There were 492 households out of which 27.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.3% were married couples living together, 6.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.2% were non-families. 31.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.96.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 23.5% from 25 to 44, 24.0% from 45 to 64, and 19.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 89.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,568, and the median income for a family was $39,048. Males had a median income of $27,137 versus $18,672 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,019. About 9.1% of families and 14.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.5% of those under age 18 and 18.7% of those age 65 or over.