The Early History of Garnett
by Frank W. Blackmar (1912)
Garnett, the county seat and largest town of Anderson county, is located northeast of the central part of the county, on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe and the Missouri Pacific railroads. It has an electric light plant which produces current for lighting and power, waterworks, a fire department, an opera house, 3 banks, 2 furniture factories, a flour and feed mill, planing mill, creamery, cigar factories, 11 churches, high school and graded schools, 2 daily papers (the News and the Review), 2 weeklies (the Eagle-Plaindealer and the Journal), and several blocks of substantially built business houses. The city is divided into four wards, and in 1910 had a population of 2,334. There are telegraph and express offices, and an international money order postoffice with seven rural routes.
Garnett was founded by Dr. George W. Cooper, who first selected the site in 1856. He then returned to Louisville, Ky., where he organized a town company consisting of W. A. Garnett, president; R. B. Hall, vice-president; Theodore Harris, secretary; George W. Cooper and George A. Dunn. In May, 1857, Dr. Cooper had the site platted and built a double log cabin. A colony from Louisville came later in the year, bringing with them machinery for a sawmill and a flour mill which was erected at once. Dwellings and business houses were put up, and a school house was erected in 1858. The postoffice was established in 1859, and in that year the county seat was removed from Shannon to Garnett.
In the fall the commissioner of the general land office made an order canceling the entry of the town site. This was a serious matter for the citizens. Some of then on the north side of the town formed a stock company and secured titles to their lands. The south half of town was preëmpted by Dr. John B. Chapman. Matters went on till 1861, when at the instance of the citizens an investigation was made which disclosed the fact that titles could be given to the lots by action of the probate judge. It was found that the probate judge then in office had not properly qualified and they succeeded in getting another man put in his place who would take the action necessary to secure them legal possession of their homes.
A great deal of red tape and trouble was occasioned before the matter was finally brought to a satisfactory close, during which time the town did not grow. The case was finally settled in the supreme court in 1862. The town was incorporated in Oct., 1861, and the following were its first trustees, G. W. Per, G. A. Cook, William McLougblin, B. F. Ridgeway and Thomas Lindsay. In 1870 the form of government was changed to that of a city of the third class. The first railroad reached Garnett that same year. In 1881 the town suffered a disastrous fire, which burned 11 business buildings out of the heart of the town. The first newspaper was the Garnett Plaindealer, established in 1865 by I. F. Olney.
Garnett is located at 38°16'58N, 95°14'27W (38.282652, -95.240906). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.0 km² (3.1 mi²). 7.7 km² (3.0 mi²) of it is land and 0.2 km² (0.1 mi²) of it (2.92%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,368 people, 1,439 households, and 886 families residing in the city. The population density was 434.9/km² (1,124.6/mi²). There were 1,597 housing units at an average density of 206.2/km² (533.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.97% White, 0.39% African American, 1.04% Native American, 0.27% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.53% from other races, and 0.74% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.45% of the population.
There were 1,439 households out of which 28.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.2% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.4% were non-families. 34.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 21.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.91.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.4% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 23.3% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 24.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 88.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $31,518, and the median income for a family was $38,095. Males had a median income of $31,175 versus $19,858 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,265. About 9.2% of families and 13.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.6% of those under age 18 and 9.9% of those age 65 or over.