Marion (first known as Marion Center) is a city in Marion County, Kansas. As of the 2000 census, the city had a population of 2,110. It is the county seat of Marion County. Marion County Lake is just outside the city. Marion is located three miles West-southwest of the junction of Highways 56 and 77, and about 35 miles East of McPherson.


The Early History of Marion (Center)
by William G. Cutler (1883)
Marion Center is on the north bank of the Cottonwood River, at the point of confluence therewith of Mud Creek. Its first settlement was made in 1860. December 8, 1866, the laying-out of Marion Center, proper, was made, in accordance with the forms of law. It was the first town in the county. Billings and Bower's Addition, on part of the west half of the southwest quarter of Section 32, Town 19, Range 4, was made March 15, 1871. On March 27, another small addition was made. July 12, 1872, W. H. Billings and Atlantic A. Moore conveyed parts of Sections 5 and 6 of Town 20, Range 4. Freeborn's Addition was made January 2, 1873 and Beebe's July 10, 1873.

West Marion, located on the east side of the southwest quarter of Section 31, Town 19, Range 4, was laid out June 24, 1879, and a southern addition was made by Lawrence Weldon on the north half of the northeast quarter of Section 5, Town 20, Range 4, was made November 10, 1879. Billings and Case made a subdivided addition and July 16, 1872, there was filed an amended plat of Billings and Bowers' Addition.

The lay of the town is one of the most peculiar in Kansas. Entering it on the Marion & McPherson Railroad from Florence, which road passes along the valley of the Cottonwood on the east, the road crosses Mud Creek near the southeastern part of the town and running mainly in a northwesterly direction, it leaves the town a little north of its northwest corner, and for twelve miles has a due west course. The depot is located on the bottom south of the business portion of the town. At the left of it is an extensive switch, along which are capacious elevators, where there are immense quantities of grain handled. G. F. Roberts is the station agent and telegraph operator. Northwest from the depot, north of the track, stands the Marion City Mills, which is a roomy, substantial structure, fitted up at an admirable manner with all necessary modern mill machinery.

Coming northward from the depot, the court house, on the east side of First street is the main objective point, which is but a few steps from Main street. Nearly all the business is done on this street, and the beautiful stone structure standing thereon, with the best ones not yet finished, justly gives the town the appellation of "Stone City." for there are in public buildings, business houses and residences, nearly half of a hundred built of this material of beautiful colors, prized at home and used largely abroad. This material is used in the new court house at Abilene, Dickinson County.

Passing on the main street east on an iron bridge across Mud Creek, over on the hill to the right stands the pride of the city -- an elegant and convenient stone school building, which costs about $15,000. Its height is thirty-three feet; its dimensions 56 x 60. It has a hip roof, from the center of which arises a belfry, in which is hung a fine-toned bell of 500 pounds weight. There are two fine school rooms and two recitation rooms in the lower story; in the upper, there is a hall and two recitation rooms and a large, airy auditorium. There is no building in the county that can be seen so far and from so many directions. At the west of it, on the creek, is the beautiful school park, with its wealth of forest trees and grasses, assuming a magnificent verdure during the period of vegetation. May 11, 1872, terminated a long-standing contest on the location of this schoolhouse site; the vote for locating it on the hill was 84; in the bottom, 56. George A. Boyle is the present Principal of the school.

In the southwestern suburbs of the city, on the farm of W. H. Billings, is one of the most beautiful peninsular parks in the State of Kansas. It is entered on the north by a roadway of just enough ground at its neck to prevent a union of the waters of the Cottonwood on the east and on the west of it to form an island. Here are about twelve acres of ground, with a fine carpet of grass; growing on it are hundreds of the choicest hackberry trees, making it, with flowers, shrubbery and an entertainment hall on the grounds, a royal place for out-door meetings, being literally a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Swings, pleasure boats and croquet grounds are among it attractions.

Marion center became a city of the third class August 17, 1875. In 1882, its Mayor was Thomas W. Bowen; Clerk, Charles S. Triplett; Police Judge, C. W. Keller; City Attorney, L. F. Keller.

Linking the old to the civilization, in front of the substantial courthouse stands one of the first log dwellings of the town and northwest of the model grist mill stand a log house, 12 x 14 feet, erected by E. Lewis in June, 1865. He came from Macoupin County, Ill., and brought with him apple sprouts, which he set out around his cabin and to this day stand a dozen apple trees.

Local Matters
The Presbyterian Church has a prosperous organization here. Its handsome church edifice, build of stone, stands on the summit of the hill above the town. Rev. O. J. King has for a long time ministered to this church, and R. C. Coble is the Superintendent of its Sunday school.

The Methodist Episcopal Church has nearly 150 members here and in 1881 they completed a good brick edifice on the north of Main street, at a cost exceeding $2,000. Its Sunday school averages ninety members and its earnest Superintendent is E. W. Hoch, of the Marion Record The pastor of the church is Rev. Charles B. Mitchell, a son of the late Rev. D. P. Mitchell, who is his day and generation was a power in the Kansas churches.

The Church of the Disciples has about twenty members, and they have a neat white frame structure, erected in 1882. Dr. McQuiller Green is the Superintendent of the Sunday school.

There is quite a number of Roman Catholics in and about Marion Center and they expect to have a good house of worship during the year 1883. There are a few protestant Episcopalians in the city. C. R. Roberts, an early settler, a native of Rutland, Vt., is prominent among them.

Masonic orders, Odd Fellows societies, temperance and martial organizations, here abound. The Odd fellows are building an excellent hall, on the northeast corner of First and Main streets, and they are very prosperous.

Center Lodge, No. 147, A. F. & A. M. was organized in 1875, and it now has about fifty members. Samuel R. Peters was its first W. M. In 1882, E. N. Ebey is W. M., W. H. Dudley, Secretary.

Delta Chapter, R. A. M. holds its regular convocations each alternate Wednesday evening in its chapter room over the Cottonwood Valley Bank. W. H. Dudley is Secretary; Charles B. Mitchell, H. P.

Marion Lodge, No. 104, I. O. O. F. was organized in 1870, with thirty members. Its membership January 1883, was about forty-five. F. Lewis is secretary, R. H. Baker, N. G. Pioneer Lodge, No. 264,I. O. G. T. was organized in the autumn of 1872. Its membership is nearly fifty. Its officers are; George E. Howe, W. C. T.; M. O. Billings, P. W. C. T.; P. C. Mitchell, P. R. T.

Pollock Post, No. 42, G. A. R. was organized March 27, 1872 with eighty charter members, J. C. Walkinshaw, Deputy Commander, organizer. Its membership January, 1883, nearly 100. Its officers are: F. Doster, P. C.; F. Lewis, Adjutant.

The Press
In July, 1869, an organization composed of W. H. Billings, A. E. Case, Levi Billings, J. H. Costello, A. A. Moore and J. N. Rodgers, was formed for the purpose of securing a paper at the county seat, and these gentlemen effected an arrangement with A. W. Robinson, of Detroit, Dickinson County, whereby he came to Marion Center in September, 1869, and started a paper, calling it the Western News. It was small enough to be designated a "Handkerchief Sheet." It was printed a page at a time on an inferior jobber. In April, 1871, Mr. Robinson sold the office to John E. Murphy, who changed the name to the Western Giant. In September, 1871, C. S. Triplett, a newspaper man of experience, bought the interests of Mr. Murphy and changed the name to the Marion County Record. Mr. Triplett continued as publisher until October 10, 1874, enlarging and improving the paper, when he sold it to the Hock brothers. It is now the official paper of the county and has the benefit of a good subscription list, and an excellent advertising patronage. E. W. Hock is editor; W. F. Hoch, business manager. It is Republican in politics.

The Marion Banner, E. D. Hunt, editor and proprietor, was published at Marion center about two years. His paper was issued in the interest of the National Labor party. He removed it to London, Osage county, and from there went to Scranton. October 9, 1872, his wife, two boys and one girl were killed by falling in of the dirt roof of their cabin upon them while asleep. Mr. Hunt narrowly escaped the same fate. The dwelling was about one and a half miles from Marion Center.

Societies and Business
Marion Choral Club -- Music and literature have their votaries at Marion Center. A choral club was organized at the residence of Mr. A. W. Brewerton November 11, 1882, by the vocalists of the city. The officers elected are as follows:
President, A. W. Brewerton; Vice president, R. Calhoun; Secretary, Miss Mary Smith; Assistant Secretary Miss Nellie Turner; Treasurer, William Brockett; Leader, Edward Coles; Assistant Leader, W. H. Dudley; Organist, Miss Bell Coble. The club meetings are Tuesday evening each week.

Marion Center has three banks, three hotels, three real estate agents, three druggists, three physicians, three milliners, three boot and shoe dealers, three lumber dealers, three livery stables, three butchers, three harness and saddle makers and dealers, nine general merchants, two insurance agents, two billiard halls, two bakers and confectioners, two hardware dealers, two barbers, two painters, two blacksmiths, three carpenters and contractors, three stone cutters and contractors, two dentists, one book seller, one jeweler, one gunsmith, one furniture dealer, one brick-maker, one photographer, one tailor, one plasterer, one mantua-maker.

The Marion City Flouring Mills, thirty-four feet high, 34 x 65 feet, went into operation May 1, 1882, Strowig and Weber, proprietors. A. Comstock, living one mile east of Marion Center, is an extensive lime burner, using the Osage shaft coal. His market is extensive at home and abroad. E. M. Rugg & Co, erected in 1881, on Block 38, a sugar factory at a cost of $3,000. Sugar making did not succeed with them.

Marion is located at 38°20'56N, 97°0'58W (38.348952, -97.016037). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.7 km² (2.2 mi²), all land.

As of the census of 2000, there were 2,110 people, 859 households, and 556 families residing in the city. The population density was 367.0/km² (948.6/mi²). There were 968 housing units at an average density of 168.4/km² (435.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.58% White, 0.05% African American, 0.81% Native American, 0.09% Asian, 0.24% from other races, and 1.23% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.37% of the population.

There were 859 households out of which 29.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.8% were married couples living together, 5.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.2% were non-families. 31.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.5% under the age of 18, 5.5% from 18 to 24, 22.8% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 26.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 86.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,125, and the median income for a family was $42,202. Males had a median income of $30,907 versus $23,929 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,464. About 5.3% of families and 6.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.5% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over.

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