Norton is a city in Norton County, Kansas. The population was 3,012 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Norton County. Norton is located at the junction of highways 36 and 283, 150 miles North of Dodge City. Norton is the hometown of the late Keith Sebelius, a member of the United States House of Representatives from Kansas from 1969 through 1981. Keith Sebelius' daughter-in-law, Kathleen Sebelius, is the Governor of Kansas (as of 2007).


The Early History of Norton
by William G. Cutler (1883)
Norton, the largest town, and from the organization the county-seat of the county, is located within a mile or two of the geographical center of the county, near the bank of the Prairie Dog, on gently rolling ground. The town was projected in the summer of 1872, by D. C. Coleman, L. J. Crans, N. H. Billings and Samuel and Edward Newell. The design was to make it the county-seat, as the project for county organization was started about the same time. Coleman and the Newell Brothers began the erection of a frame store building. Logs were cut on the creek, sent to Kirwin, a distance of about fifty miles, by ox teams, where after a delay of ten days the logs were made into lumber. This was the first frame house built in the county. Newell Brothers put a stock of general merchandise in this building; the first store in the county.

The following December the house was sold to J. S. Briggs, who immediately moved it to the site of a new town which was started one mile up the river, leaving the stock of the Newell Brothers on the prairie without shelter. They made a temporary shelter with poles, hay ricks and buffalo hides. The object of the sudden removal was to leave the "claim" without a building, as required by law, but to remedy this defect a log house, located six miles away, was purchased the following day, and removed to the old site. The roof of the new house was made of buffalo hides. Within a week or two a violent wind storm destroyed the frail tenement. The relics were gathered up and again put together and the house was used for a church.

A clergyman named Wainright was the first to preach a sermon in the house -- the first public religious services in the county. Elder Gibbs afterwards held forth to the early settlers in the same place. This building was also noted as the place where Judge A. J. Banty held the first term of court in Norton County. As soon as the town was declared the county-seat the Newell brothers erected another building, and leased it to the county for court and other purposes. During the summer of 1873, other business houses were erected, among others a drug-store was started by John Cooper. The Fourth of July, 1872, was celebrated in Norton in old-fashioned style. Thirty men and three ladies, Mrs. James Hall, Mrs. John Price and Mrs. D. C. Coleman. The ladies prepared a bountiful dinner, in which buffalo meat was served among other delicacies.

Like nearly every Western Kansas village Norton had its Town Company. The charter was dated September 8, 1873. The charter was to run twenty years; capital stock, $2,000; shares $100 each. Of this corporation Richard Williams was President; George N. Kingsbury, Vice-President; J. H. Simmons, Secretary; W. E. Case, Treasurer; Alva Smith, John O'Brien and John De Mott acting with the President and Secretary as a Board of Directors. B. W. Rawlins, David C. Coleman, B. F. Williams, H. F. Brown, Phillip Bruner, David Close, John Diffenbach, E. Fisher, E. M. Newell, S. B. Newell, N. H. Billings and J. Stevenson were the original stockholders.

The first mails to Norton were brought by B. W. Rawlins from Republican City, and the post-office, kept by N. H. Billings, was about one and a half mile (sic) from its present location. The service was paid for by the people, the Government generously furnishing mail-sacks.

In the fall of 1872, a rival town was started one mile further up the creek, called Norton Center. Mills, stores, shops, etc., were established, and for a time the village had a boom and seemed like a formidable rival of Norton, but within two or three years it collapsed, the best buildings were removed to Norton, and the scheme of building a large town at Norton Center collapsed. Nothing remains there but cellar holes and a few relics of the old mill.

The first building erected in Norton, after the organization of the Town Company, was a residence for W. E. Case. In the spring of 1874, Van Trump & Hallowell bought a stock of goods from Belleville, and opened in a house on the square build by David Close. From the small beginnings of 1872 Norton has grown to be a bustling, thrifty trade center, with an intelligent, law-abiding population of five hundred persons. At present there are five general merchandise stores, two hotels, two milliner stores, two restaurants, five lawyers, two physicians, one harness shop, one furniture store, two livery stables, two blacksmiths, two newspapers, tow billiard halls, two meat markets, one feed store, two hardware and farm implements, one lumber-yard, one barber shop, four church organizations, three church edifices, one bank, two drug stores, two shoe shops, two elevators.

Creamery. -- The Norton Creamery, located one mile from town, was established la the spring 1882 at a cost of nearly $2,000. There was at first a company, but it is now owned by three persons, Jesse Wright, J. B. Newell and John Graves. They manufacture 250 pounds of butter per day during the spring and summer months. The product of the creamery is mostly shipped to Denver. It is a good investment, and gives general satisfaction.

The first officers of Norton were: J. M. Price, Treasurer; W. H. Hopwood, Clerk; W. Louk, Trustee; Henry Oliver and S. Read, Justices, M. Wood and A. Wrager, Constables.

The Norton County Bee was established by Harmon & Baker, in Norton, January 1, 1877. In November, of the same year, the office was removed to Leota, where it remained a few months, was then returned to Norton, and after issuing a few numbers there the publication was discontinued.

The Free Press was started at Norton, October 7, 1878, and the Locomotive at Leota October 15, 1878; the first by Dr. A. A. Baker, and the last named by Nat. L. Baker. Both publications were short-lived.

The Norton County Advance was established at Norton, June, 1878. Pettigrew & Collins, publishers and proprietors. Their successors were Beckett, Beckett & Gowdy, and at present the paper is managed by J. H. Simmons and Hugh McCredie. The Advance has attained an excellent circulation, and is conducted with ability. The Advance is Republican in politics.

The Norton People, a seven column folio, Republican in politics, was established by its present editor and proprietor, Hugh T. Carlisle, July 15, 1880. The paper, has made its way, and enjoys a good circulation and fair advertising patronage; present publishers, Carlisle & McCredie; two papers have been consolidated under the name of the People.

Norton Lodge, No. 157, I. 0. 0. F., was organized April 12, 1879. Charter members: R. Rowley, David Reagan, John Wallace, Julian DeJean, A. G. Chambers, A. F. Harmer, W. E. Case, David Keagan. Present officers: W. E. Case, N. G.; J. H. Simmons, V. G.; A. Hepler, Treasurer; J. R. C. Stettler, Secretary. Norton Lodge has a membership of thirty, and holds its meetings in Odd Follows Hall every Saturday evening.

Norton Lodge, No. 199, A., F. & A. M.; organized in August, 1880. First W. M., Albert Graves. Present officers: Albert Graves, W. M.; W. R. Cannon, S. W.; John Randolph, J. W.; J. King, Treasurer; Samuel Means, Secretary; Frank Lockard, Senior Deacon; J. W. Vining, Junior Deacon; Samuel Will, Tiler. Regular meetings on the first Wednesday of each month, in Masonic Hall. There are thirty-five members attached to the lodge.

Norton Cornet Band was organized May, 1882, with the following members: E. M. Turner, Leader; Calvin Newell, Sol. Marsh, B. V. Wheeler; Charles Darling, A. Curry, Phillip Blue, Ed. F. Jones, Hall Harmason, A. N. Clawson, L. H. Thompson, Secretary.

Public School. -- Norton may not only be proud of her elegant school building, but of her efficient teachers. The schools of the town were started nearly ten years since by J. H. Simmons, an excellent educator and a gentleman of culture and refinement. The school building, built of magnesian limestone, is a large two-story edifice, located in a commanding, position in the south part of town. The cost of the structure was $3,500 and the building was finished in the winter of 1881. The teachers are at present employed, E. Borin, principal, and Annie Means, assistant.

Norton is located at 39°50'0N, 99°53'27W (39.833338, -99.890899). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.0 km² (1.9 mi²), all land.

As of the census of 2000, there were 3,012 people, 1,331 households, and 814 families residing in the city. The population density was 605.7/km² (1,566.5/mi²). There were 1,517 housing units at an average density of 305.1/km² (789.0/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.91% White, 0.03% African American, 0.40% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.63% from other races, and 0.66% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.03% of the population.

There were 1,331 households out of which 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.5% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.8% were non-families. 36.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.5% under the age of 18, 5.3% from 18 to 24, 23.5% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 24.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,339, and the median income for a family was $36,179. Males had a median income of $25,943 versus $20,559 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,438. About 5.5% of families and 9.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.4% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over.

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