Charles Strong described the founding of Girard in his own words in the book "The Genesis of Girard" by William C. Cuthbertson. At the time he told the story he was 74 years of age and living in retirement in Girard. `While at Crawfordsville I applied to the town company for a lot, by purchase or otherwise, on which to put my drug store, which was then at Cato, but I was put off. Knowing the voice of the people of the county as to the county seat, I mounted my horse Bob on the 28th day of February 1868, my birthday, and shouldered my old carbine. I told John Voss and J. T. Bridgens I was going to hunt for a deer and the county seat. I got the deer and dressed him near the southwest corner where the courthouse now stands. I have his horns now. While the deer was struggling after being shot, I hunted a sprig about four feet long, pulled up some grass, tied it to the top, and wrote the name 'Girard' for my home in Pennsylvania. There was but one log house to be seen, there being no trees or anything else but tall grass and the raw prairie. I took a quarter of the venison and returned to Crawfordsville. W.W. Jones, postmaster, Henry Shoen, and H. Brown were in the post office at the time. I said to them I did not want a lot as I had named and started a town of my own.'
In 2003, Girard suffered the loss of belongings due to an F4 tornado. The tornado nearly flattened the town.
Another Early History of Girard
by Frank W. Blackmar (1912)
Girard, the county seat of Crawford county, is situated near the center of the county at the junction of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe and the St. Louis & San Francisco railroads. It is also connected by electric lines with Franklin and Dunkirk. The town was laid out in 1868, when the railroad survey was made, by a company of which A. Dauford was president and C. H. Strong was secretary. It was named Girard by Mr. Strong, after his old home town in Pennsylvania. The first dwelling was erected by C. H. Strong, who was appointed the first postmaster when the office was established in 1868. J. Alexander opened the first store. A second store was soon afterward opened by a man named Sinnet, and in Dec., 1868, James Hull erected a building which was used as the first court-house. Owing to the troubles over the building of the railroad the growth of Girard was slow for a time, but by Feb., 1870, there were 140 buildings in the place. The first town trustees, appointed on Nov. 10, 1869, were L. F. Crawford, N. Sinnet, D. W. Burnett, W. E. Blandon and James Hull.
The first school house was built in 1869, and Maggie T. Hill taught the first school in the new building. A high school was established in 1882. The first newspaper—the Girard Press—was started in Nov., 1869, but did not live long. In March, 1871, Girard was incorporated as a city of the third class, and at the election in April George Ryan was chosen mayor; A. J. Vickers, J. E. Raymond, F. Fanger, H. P. Grund and F. B. Andrus, councilmen. The first bank was started in June, 1871, by Frank Playter.
The Girard of the present day is a city of the second class, equipped with waterworks, electric lights, fire and police departments, a fine sewer system, good public schools, a number of churches, etc. It has 3 banks, 3 weekly newspapers (the Girard Press, the Independent News, and the Appeal to Reason), an international money order postoffice with seven rural routes, a telephone exchange, an opera house, telegraph and express offices, good hotels, and a number of fine stores and residences. Among the industries are flour mills, an oil refinery, a creamery, cereal coffee, condensed milk, vinegar and fence factories, a stove works, an ice and cold storage plant, etc. Being located in the coal fields, a large number of the inhabitants are interested in mining operations, and large quantities of coal are shipped from Girard every year. The population in 1910 was 2,446.
Girard is located at 37°30'37N, 94°50'39W (37.510204, -94.844157). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.9 km² (1.9 mi²). 4.9 km² (1.9 mi²) of it is land and 0.52% is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,773 people, 1,063 households, and 723 families residing in the city. The population density was 563.5/km² (1,461.4/mi²). There were 1,219 housing units at an average density of 247.7/km² (642.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.93% White, 1.05% African American, 0.54% Native American, 0.11% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.22% from other races, and 1.12% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.69% of the population.
There were 1,063 households out of which 32.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.2% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.9% were non-families. 28.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.8% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 20.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 92.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $32,847, and the median income for a family was $37,014. Males had a median income of $26,431 versus $20,682 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,668. About 8.1% of families and 13.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.4% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.
Dennis Franchione — college football coach
Ron Kramer — Green Bay Packers player