Wilson County Kansas
Township Histories

Center Township

The township history material was taken from the Historical Atlas of Wilson County Kansas published in 1881, and submitted by Bill Bentley.

Center Township. - This township was organized Aug. 3, 1868, on petition of "E. Hadden and 55 others." It was then 9 x 12 miles, extending south to the county line. The first claim seekers on what is now the territory of Center tp. appeared in 1864. Jas. M. Dodson, John Baker, Jim Baker and Win. Berry took claims on the north Side of Fall river, near the western line of the township, in the fall of 1864, but it is not known whether they made actual settlement then. James A. Ross took the claim on the "Island," now the Chitwood place, in the summer or fall of 1864, built a cabin and had hay cut. Saml. Cline settled on what is the John Campbell farm in the fall of 1864. In 1865 quite a number took claims and built cabins. T. C. Craig, D. P. Nichols, Jasper Sharp, Pearl Sharp, Horace Cartwright, Matthias Troxel, John Lewellyn, Elisha Hadden and others came in 1865, and took claims or settled. In 1866 the new-comers were so numerous that no one not specially interested in "keeping count" and retaining names would remember a quarter of them, and in 1867 only upland claims remained untaken. Fredonia is in Center tp., and elsewhere the founding of the town and some facts in relation to the location of the county seat are given. The county officers began to hold their offices at Fredonia in 1869, but the last one, the Register of Deeds, did not get to the capital until the spring of 1871. In 1868, the year Fredonia was started, only five buildings were put up. During 1869 the number was increased to sixteen, but in 1870 the town began to expand. Jan. 20, 1870, the "Wilson Comity Courier" newspaper was started by J. R. Jennings. The Courier claimed, in Nov. 1870, that there were 153 buildings completed on the townsite and 12 new ones under way. The main part of the courthouse which has been used the past ten years was built in 1870-71 by the town and donated to the county. The first child born in the town was a daughter of A. J. Miller, in Jan. 1870, and the town company deeded the youngster a lot. Fredonia kept growing during 1871. It was incorporated as a city of the second-class and the first election for city officers held May 3, 1871. T. J. Hudson was chosen Mayor, and A. Johnson, W. W. Sholes, John Hammert, C. Christ and Robt. Morgan, Councilmen. Votes polled, 144. Vigorous efforts were put forth that year to obtain a railroad from Humboldt or New Chicago, but proved unsuccessful. Monday morning, Feb. 12, 1872, a fire occurred that was disastrous to the young city. Nine business houses on the west side of the Public Square, together with their stocks, were destroyed, entailing a total loss of about $30,000. In February, 1873, $70,000 in bonds were voted by Fredonia city and Center tp. to the Memphis & Northwestern R. R. Co. and $36,000 of said bonds issued. The road was graded from Thayer to Fredonia, but the project never finished. In 1877 bonds were voted to a narrow gauge railroad but it was not built. The St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad was built in 1879, the construction train reaching Fredonia on Nov. 25. In Jan., 1880, another fire visited the town, burning seven or eight frame business buildings on the south side of the Square. The population of Fredonia according to the U. S. census for 1880 was 923.

Additional histories included are:

Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

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Last updated 12/20/1998

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