McPherson is a city located near the center of the State of Kansas in McPherson County. The population was 13,770 at the 2000 census. The city is named after General James Birdseye McPherson, a Civil War general. The city of McPherson is the county seat of McPherson County and home to McPherson College and Central Christian College. McPherson is located on US Route 56, 2 miles west of Interstate 135 and is about 32 miles south of Salina.


The Early History of McPherson
by William G. Cutler (1883)
In June, 1872, L. G. Skancke was Chief Clerk in the Land Office at Salina. Being informed by T. J. Wickersham, an old settler of Salina County, that a colony of Kentuckians intended to settle upon what was then known as the 'McPherson Flats,' he conceived the idea that it would be a good plan to lay out a town in this vicinity. After examining the maps in his office Mr. Skancke selected the west half of Section 28 and the east half of Section 29, as the center of the 'Flats,' and decid (sic) to locate a town there. After having made a map of the different townships, including the plat designated, for a town site he sought a few friends in Salina and laid the proposition before them.

The scheme was thought plausible by them, and several of them decided to go down the following Sunday to examine the land. They hired an old stage, driven by one Mr. Huebner, and loading up with crackers, cheese and 'et ceteras,' they dashed out of Salina bright and early (4 a. m.) Sunday morning, June 4, 1872. Resting at Lindsborg, where they arrived at 8 a. m., they breakfasted, rested their horses, and proceeded to cross the Smoky Hill at its best ford. The party consisted of James Marlin, who sat outside with the driver, and Oscar Seitz, L. G. Skancke and R. H. Bishop, inside passengers.

Besides the 'eatables' and 'drinkables' they were loaded also with guns and ammunition. Well, while crossing the Smoky Hill River, about one mile and a half east of Lindsborg, just as the old stage left the bank over it tipped, and men, horses, crackers, cheese, etc., were in confusion. Mr. Marlin and driver, who were on top of the coach, were dumped into the river, and escaped by floundering around a little, up to their waists in the water. The inside passengers, however, were in considerable of a predicament, for the old vehicle filled with water and Mr. Bishop had fallen on top of Mr. Skancke.

Mr. Seitz crawled out of the back window of the coach, and after a serious struggle with the watery element the other two passengers effected an exit. This was the only accident that marred the harmony of the journey to McPherson. After shaking themselves and taking an inventory of their cargo to see that nothing was lost the party proceeded on to Point Creek, where their number was increased by J. R. Fisher and T. E. Simpson. Then journeying eastwardly across the hills They (sic) struck the section line, north and south, between sections 28 and 29. township 17, Range 3, west, about six miles north of the present site of McPherson.

Tying a handkerchief to the front wheel of the old coach, to mark its revolutions and compute the distance, they followed the line south and at noon found themselves in the center of the proposed town flat. They called the place McPherson Center and proceeded to organize the Town Company, with Mr. Marlin as president; Mr. Skancke, secretary; Mr. Bishop, treasurer. The next thing to be done was to make 'improvements.' So Mr. Skancke dug a hole where the four quarters of land met; Mr. Seitz broke ground where the McPherson House now stands (Smith's hotel); Mr. Bishop excavated his pit where Lintner & Wheeler's hardware store now is; Mr. Fisher made his 'improvement' where the new Farmers and Merchant's Bank is now building; and Mr. Simpson improved a bit of the land now composing the site of Mr. Barne's (sic) store.

The improvements having been completed and dinner finished J. U. Fellows, of King City, came riding up on horseback and asked the founders of McPherson what they were doing. They informed Mr. Fellows that they had just laid out a town, and that gentleman replied that he had selected one of the quarters in the plat but would take the one to the northeast, which he accordingly did. In behalf of the company and for the use and benefit of the inhabitants of the town the first filing on the site was made by James Marlin. In July learning that one Crum intended to lay out a town on Section 16, and that parties from King City also were bent upon establishing a town in the immediate vicinity, the original town company received Messrs. Woodside, Hendry, John W. Hill (president of the King City Company) and others as members of the consolidated organization. J. R. Fisher was chosen president, secretary and treasurer remaining the same as in the original company. The number of directors was increased from six to twelve. During this month (July) H. Bowker erected the first building on the town site for a store. In December the foundation of the Town Hall was laid. It was not until April, 1873, however, that a postoffice was established and C. L. Raff was appointed Postmaster.

But within two years from the time of its organization as a town, McPherson had grown so rapidly that a municipal form of government was deemed necessary. It was incorporated as a city of the third-class, March 4, 1874, upon a petition, present by T. E. Simpson to Judge J. H. Prescott. The first election, at which about thirty ballots were cast, took place March 16, 1874, and resulted as follows: Mayor, Sol. Stephens; Councilmen, H. Bowker, C. E. Pierce, Wm. West, W. B. McCord and M. P. Simpson.

An event which created excitement throughout the county was the robbery of the County Treasury, on the night of March 1, 1875. The day before a committee had been busy in examining the books, at the office of the Deputy Treasurer, C. B. Bowker. David Stephens, the County Treasurer, was at his home on the Smoky, the county had no safe, and the funds were placed in charge of H. Bowker. The Examining Committee found that the books were not posted up to date and gave the deputy until the next morning to complete his work. The same night Mr. H. Bowker's house was entered and $3,300 in county funds taken. On March 9, H. and C. B. Bowker were examined, charged with robbery, but the prosecution was looked upon a malicious and no evidence of a damaging character could be produced.

Since the date of its incorporation as a city of the third-class, McPherson has had five Mayors - Sol. Stephens, C. E. Pierce, Wm. McClintick, W. F. Pitzer, M. D. Grimes and E. P. Williams, the present incumbent. Present officers (1882-'83): E. P. Williams, Mayor; O. Heggelund, W. W. Murphy, F. E. Barber, J. B. Darrah and J. C. Hamilton, Councilmen; C. F. Nichols, Police Judge; John Wright, City Treasurer; D. C. Welch, City Clerk and Attorney. The city has no fire department. McPherson is now a city of about 2,000 people, and is considered one of the most flourishing towns of Central Kansas.

It is the center of trade of an unrivalled (sic) agricultural country, settled by an industrious and intelligent class of people, many of whom are of foreign birth. It has railroad communication from the north over the Salina & Southwestern road, a branch of the Kansas Pacific. The Marion & McPherson branch of the A. T. & S. F. road gives it free communications east and west. And not only is McPherson growing in a business point of view, but its educational, social and religious advantages are yearly becoming more perfect.

A fair index of McPherson's prosperity is the fine school building which was completed in the winter of 1881 and 1882. It is a substantial brick edifice, two stories in height, and was erected at a cost of $12,000. The population is so rapidly increasing that it is proposed to erect another building in the southwestern part of the city. The attendance is now about 425, following being the corps of teachers: Principal, E. W. Hulse; Mr. C. W. Carter, Miss Millie Hodges, Mesdames S. L. Whitzel, H. L. Myers, D. D. Davison, and Miss Lyde Chatterton. The old frame schoolhouse was built in October, 1875, B. S. Bonney being the contractor.

The postoffice was established April 1, 1873, L. Raff being the first incumbent. He was succeeded by H. Bowker, (1874), Geo. W. McClintick, (1876), Noah C. Mathews, (1877), Charles C. West, (1878), John R. Wright, (1880) and the present postmaster. In July, 1877, a money order department was opened, and up to November 20, 1882, 12,508 orders had been issued and 3,997 paid. The office is now well conducted, and will shortly be placed in the list of second-class offices.

Section I, Chapter XIX of the Revised Statutes, provides that 'when any city, shall have obtained a population exceeding two thousand inhabitants, and such facts shall have been duly ascertained and certified by the proper authorities of such city to the Governor, he shall declare, by public proclamation such city subject to the provisions of this act.' Although the figures of population returned by the assessors in the spring of 1882, place the population of McPherson at only 1,561, it is claimed that the returns are defective, and consequently that an application will soon be made for its incorporation as a city of the second-class.

Churches and Societies
The Baptist Church was organized in 1873, and a frame building erected in 1874. Its size being 30X45 feet. The corner stone was laid September 30, 1874, by Elder Gunn, of Lawrence. A parsonage was built in 1878. The value of property, including parsonage and three lots, is $2,000. The pastors have been, Rev. D. McGregor, Rev. J. R. Prophet, Rev. G. W. Metton and Rev. William D. Shields. The latter is now settled over a growing organization of eighty-two members.

D. B. Holsington, one of the earliest settlers of the county, and its first blacksmith (located at King City), gives the following additional church history: 'In 1871, Mr. H. and his brother moved to McPherson County, Kan., then a frontier country. Two years afterwards (at Milton Williams' house, Lone Tree Township), they helped to organize a little society, with Elder McGregor as preacher, D. B. Holsington, deacon, and D. D. Carpenter, clerk. The members consisted of Byan Williams and wife, Hannah C. Holsington, Henry B. Wright and wife, Julia Holsington, Nathan S. Holsington and Charles Howard. Meetings were first held over a dry goods store in King City. Soon after the town of McPherson Center was located the society erected a little building, the first religious structure erected in the city.'

The Congregational Church of McPherson was organized in June, 1873, by Rev. Henry Hoddle. Among its first members were H. Bowker and wife, J. Richey and wife, George Summerville and wife, C. B. Bowker and wife, Mrs. George Shepard, D. C. Hawn and wife, J. W. Hill and wife, H. A. Hendry and wife, Lucy N. Scofield, Mrs. A. Allen (deceased), Samuel Allcock and wife, Mrs. Mary E. Miller and Mrs. Alex. Petrie. Rev. Mr. Hoddle served until the spring of 1877, being succeeded by Rev. George C. Claflin, who remained until the fall of 1879. During his ministry (1878) a church building was commenced, and was completed in 1879, at a cost of $3,500. Rev. G. S. Bradley, the last settled pastor of the church, served from the fall of 1879 until the spring of 1882. At present, November, 1882, the society has no settled pastor. The membership is about sixty-five.

The Methodist Church was organized in 1874, Rev. J. A. Simpson being its first pastor. In the spring of 1875, Rev. Mr. Clark took charge of the society and remained one year. He was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Rose, who remained as pastor until 1879. Next came Rev. Mr. Martindale, who assumed the pastorate during that year, and remained until 1880. Rev. Mr. Buckner, his successor, remained six months, or until the fall of 1880, when he was succeeded by the present incumbent, Rev. D. D. Akins. The society has a membership of about 150. The church building was erected in 1880, at a cost of about $5,000. The society is one of the most flourishing in the county.

The Presbyterian Church was organized in June, 1879, by Dr. Timothy Hill, of Kansas City, with the following members: John A. Myers, Mrs. Hattie L. Myers, Joseph McDermid, John Connell, Mrs. Lorena Connell, Stella E. Myers, J. A. Flesher, James Connell, G. B. McGranahan, S. M. Boehn, F. E. Barber, Mrs. Victoria McMillan, Mrs. H. A. Barber, William Snedden, J. L. Allen, Mrs. Martha Allen and Mrs. Mary Bradbury. John A. Myers, was elected the first elder, and Rev. W. H. Honnell, served as the first pastor. He was succeeded in October, 1880, by Rev. H. M. Shockley, who remained until September, 1882, when he was followed by the present Pastor, Rev. J. C. Burt. The society have no building, but expect to build during the coming spring. Membership of the society is about seventy.

Christian Church (Disciples) - The society in McPherson was organized in the winter of 1880-81, by the Rev. Mr. Sevy. The present pastor is Rev. David Witzell, and the membership about fifty. The organization own no church buildings, but have a neat parsonage in the eastern part of the county. In the county there are about 600 members of the denomination, and but one church building, which is owned by the Groveland congregation. During the coming year, however (1883), three church buildings will probably be erected. In the county are five regularly organized congregations, and as many more places where monthly or semi-monthly meetings are held. Elders Levi McCash, J. C. Sevy and David Witzell are preaching in different portions of the county. Present officers of the McPherson City organization: Elders - Geo. H. Harvey, Levi McCash, Theo. Boggs; Deacons - J. W. Stable, Ely Barnes, Jerome Bennett and L. H. Thompson.

The United Brethren Church of McPherson was organized May 14, 1882. The church building was completed in the fall of 1882, the day of the dedication being fixed for December 17, 1882, The value of the church property, including three lots, is $2,000. Rev. W. H. Myers is pastor; membership about twenty.

In December, 1881, the Society in Conway was organized, and a building erected during the fall of 1882. Mr. Myers also has charge of this society, which has a membership of seventeen. Eighteen miles southwest of McPherson is the Liberty Church, organized in July, 1879; Rev. Mr. Myers, pastor; membership fifteen. Six miles southwest is an organization - the Mount Zion Church - organized in January, 1879, presided over by Rev. R. W. Parks and having a membership of twenty-seven. Victory Church was organized in March, 1882, and has seventeen members. Emma Valley Church formed in January, 1879, with twenty-seven members. Both are in charge of Mr. Parks.

The McPherson County Agricultural Society was formed in August, 1875, the first fair being held October 11-12 of that year. Since 1880 no fair has been held. On account of some disagreement between different sections of the county, the society is not in the most flourishing condition, although the books show a membership of 250. The grounds are located about one mile north of McPherson, and are forty acres in extent, with but few improvements. As McPherson is one of the banner agricultural counties of Kansas, however, there is little doubt of t he society ultimately growing into a strong organization. Present officers: President, John Richey; secretary, J. B. Darrah; Treasurer, J. F. Hughes.

Garfield Commandery No. 18 (K. T.), was organized in November, 1822, with ten charter members, the commandery being named in honor of the late Sir James A. Garfield. Officers chosen, under dispensation: M. L. Grimes, E. C.; J. W. Charles, Gen.; W. W. Gamble, C. G.; W. W. Murphy, P.; A. A. Irvin, S. W.; W. Scott Bukey, J. W.; W. S. Keyte, S. B.; E. Annabil, St. B. ; I. O. Day, treasurer; S. G. Mead, recorder. Present membership, thirty-one.

McPherson Chapter, No. 48 (R. A. M.), was organized in the fall of 1879, with twelve charter members. Officers chosen under dispensation: W. W. Gamble, M. E. H. P.; I. O. Day, E. K.; J. B. Bennett, E. S.; W. W. Murphy, C. of H.; S. G. Mead, P. S.; A. L. McWh(??)k, R. A. C.; H. W. Murdock, G. M. 3d V.; C. G. Muller, G. M. 2d V.; O. Heggelund, G. M. 1st V.; W. Scott Bukey, secretary. Present Officers: W. W. Gamble, M. E. H. P.; W. W. Murphy, E. K.; O. Heggelund, E. S.,; A. L. McWhirk, C. of H.; S. G. Mead, P. S.; C. Aug. Heggelund, R. A. C.; A. A. Irvin, G. M. 3d V.; H. H. Bixby, G. M. 2d V.; N. H. Morrison, G. M. 1st V.; W. H. Annis, secretary; I. O. Day, treasurer. Present membership, fifty-four.

McPherson Lodge, No. 172 A. F. & A. M., was organized December 27, 1876, with twenty-eight charter members. Officers chosen under dispensation: W. W. Murphy, W. M.; George J. Beach, S. W.; C. E. Pierce, J. W.; Joseph Von Atchen, S. D.; H. W. Murdock, J. D. ; E,. C. Minton, Sec.; I. O. Day, Treas. Present officers: D. C. Welch, W. M.; W. A. Annis, S. W.; Joseph Von Atchen, J. W.; C. Aug. Heggelund, S. D.; H. H. Bixby, J. D.; W. W. Russell, Sec.; I. O. Day, Treas.; Rev. W. D. Shields, chaplain. Present membership, 160.

James B. McPherson, Post No. 87, G. A. R., was organized July 17, 1882, with 100 members. Present officers: M. P. Simpson, post commander; Fred Jackson, S. B. C.; D. B. Jeffers, J V. C.; J. Q. Barnes, Q. M.; D. D. Akins, chaplain; George E. Harvey, surgeon; A. F. Waugh, officer of day; George W. Freelove, officer of guard, John R. Wright, adjutant; John F. Hughes, sergeant major; J. A. Flesher, Q. M. sergeant.

Red Cross Lodge, No. 26, K. of P., was organized in May, 1880. Present officers (November, 1882): James B. Darrah, P. C.; R. Whitmer, C. C.; C. A. Waller, V. C.; William C. Rathbun, prelate; Joseph R. Fisher, M. of F.; Gust. Carlander, M. of E.,; John F. Hughes, M. at A.; R. A. Allison, K. of R. and S.; Wallace Gleason, I. G.; J. W. Stabler, O. G. Number of members twenty-three.

Centennial Lodge, I. O. O. F., was organized July 4, 1876. The first officers were installed in August. Present officers: Isaac Creek, N. G.; D. L. Burgauer, V. G.; W. J. Iliff, Sec.; John F. Hughes, Treas. The lodge has a membership of about seventy.

Knight of Honor, Hesperian Lodge No. 1722, was organized in August 1880. Present officers: J. B. Darrah, dictator; C. E. Dunn, V. D.; H. E. Pyle, A. D.; F. E. Barber, P. D.; Frank Vandeventer, reporter; J. A. Myers, Fin. Rep.; Joshua Leonard, Treas.; J. R. Wright, chaplain; D. B. Jeffers, guide. Membership about 150.

The Press and Other Business Interests
The first paper in McPherson and the county was started by Yale Brothers, in November, 1872. It was called the McPherson Messenger, and was Republican in politics. In December, 1873, the paper was purchased by Clark and McClintick, and in May, 1874, George W. McClintick became sole editor and proprietor. He changed the name of the paper to the McPherson Independent, which remained a Republican journal.

Upon this was founded the McPherson Republican, the first number of which was issued by Mead & Presbrey, December 4, 1879. It was thus published until June of that year, when H. E. Watkins bought a half interest in the establishment. In June, 1881, H. M. Conklin purchased Mr. Watkin's interest, and the Republican has since been published under the firm name, Mead & Conklin - S. G. Mead, editor; H. M. Conklin, business manager. The Republican is an 8-column folio, 26X40, home print, its name implying its politics. S. G. Mead is a veteran editor. He began the publication of the McPherson Republican in 1879. He is an enterprising, able editor, and ranks among the most successful journalists of the State.

H. M. Conklin, business manager of the McPherson Republican, came from Washington Co., Pa., about four years ago. He is a practical newspaper man, industrious and promising. The McPherson Leader (Greenback), was published in the spring of 1880. Its first number being issued in March by G. W. McClintick. It was discontinued in July, 1881.

The Comet, Independent Republican in politics, was started in July, 1881, by Clark & Hall. In January, 1882, its name was changed to the Industrial Liberator (Greenback). This was published by Sheldon & Hall until August 30. On the first of September, 1882, the journal became known as the McPherson Independent G. W. McClintick, editor and proprietor. It is independent in politics, and has a good local and county circulation.

The McPherson Freeman was established in McPherson as a Republican paper, August 1, 1878. Messrs. Clark & McCray, proprietors. On the first of February, 1879, D. O. McCray sold his interest to H. B. Kelly. Messrs. Clark & Kelly published the paper until January 1, 1881, when A. L. Clark sold his interest to Mr. Kelly, who became, as he is now, sole editor and proprietor.

The Farmers' and Merchant's Bank was chartered March 21, 1882, and commenced business on the 27th. Capital stock, $30,000; deposits, $50,000. Officers, W. J. Bell, Pres.; A. L. McWhirk, cashier.

The Central Bank of McPherson, C. G. Clarke, proprietor, was organized April 22, 1879. It remained under the management of Clarke & McWhirk until January, 1880, when Mr. Clarke became sole proprietor.

The McPherson Bank was organized in March, 1878, by Messrs. Williams & Cottingham, its present proprietors. Capital, $30,000. The firm own their bank building and are prosperous.

McPherson Mills were built in the spring of 1880. They are three stories in height, 36X40 feet, and the capacity of the manufactory is 100 barrels of flour per day. The proprietors are Colburn & Hamilton. They operate an elevator in connection with the mills. Value of property, $18,000.

The McPherson Elevator was erected in 1879 at a cost of $13,000. H. Hinckson & Co., proprietors. The size of the building is 30X62 feet, and has a storage capacity of 30,000 bushels.

The 'Little Giant' Elevator was erected in the fall of 1879. Ed. Berg & Co., Proprietors. Capacity 10,00 bushel (sic) value of property, $4,000.

D. W. Heath & Co., also operate an elevator - the 'People's' - which was built in September, 1881. Capacity, 20,000 bushels; value of property, $9,000.

The fourth elevator is operated by W. C. Putt.

McPherson has several good hotels and boarding houses. The Merchant's and the Commercial hotels lead the list. Benjamin Robinson took charge of the Merchant's Hotel in May 1881. It contains thirty-two rooms is well patronized by the travelling (sic) public. The Commercial House was opened in July, 1882, by J. S. Keller, its present manager and proprietor. It contains twenty-two rooms; size of building, 50X125 feet, and is owned by the estate of H. F. Graper.

McPherson is located at 38°22'19N, 97°39'44W (38.371923, -97.662177). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.1 km² (6.2 mi²). 15.9 km² (6.1 mi²) of it is land and 0.2 km² (0.1 mi²) of it (0.97%) is water.

As of the census of 2000, there were 13,770 people, 5,378 households, and 3,651 families residing in the city. The population density was 865.9/km² (2,241.6/mi²). There were 5,658 housing units at an average density of 355.8/km² (921.0/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.11% White, 1.31% African American, 0.36% Native American, 0.41% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 1.21% from other races, and 1.50% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.92% of the population.

There were 5,378 households out of which 32.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.7% were married couples living together, 7.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.1% were non-families. 27.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 11.6% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 94.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $40,469, and the median income for a family was $48,882. Males had a median income of $33,831 versus $20,633 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,716. About 5.1% of families and 7.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.8% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.

McPherson College
Central Christian College
The McPherson Museum

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