The MPL McPherson History Timeline

Historic events in and around McPherson, Kansas

This resource is made possible by;xNLx;The McPherson Public Library Endowment Fund

1872-05-28 01:55:48

McPherson Town Company established

Twelve men sign articles of incorporation: Bishop, Fisher, Haight, Hendry, Hill, Marlin, Raff, Seitz, Simpson, Skancke, Stephens, and Woodside.

1872-05-28 17:07:16

Town of McPherson founded

"McPherson Center" staked out on 480 acres by McPherson Town Company

1872-06-01 17:07:16

McPherson House Hotel opens

Moved from King City by William West to 101 N Main; addition built in 1878, sold in 1887 to W. J. Bell and moved to Ash Street; burned down before 1900.

1872-12-19 17:07:16

McPherson Messenger starts

First newspaper in McPherson started by the Yale brothers

1873-02-01 00:00:00

Town hall built

Located at northwest corner of Main & Marlin; building also served as city hall, schoolhouse, newspaper office, church meeting place, and courthouse.

1873-06-10 17:07:16

McPherson becomes county seat

Vote was held to move county seat from Lindsborg to McPherson. The first county seat was Sweadal (3 miles southwest of Lindsborg) and moved to Lindsborg in 1871. McPherson beat out New Gottland, King City, and Lindsborg as alternative locations, partly due to the city fathers' offer of the use of the McPherson Town Company free of charge for 10 years to the county and 2 city blocks of the county's choice as a location for a courthouse. The county offices remained at the Town Company building until it burned down in 1883. It was then housed in various downtown businesses until the courthouse was built in 1894.

1873-08-01 06:57:18

Baptist church built

Congregation organized Dec. 12, 1872, laid cornerstone for first church 1 August, 1873 and completed the building in 1875. It was the first church sanctuary building in McPherson.

1874-08-01 19:00:00

Grasshopper plague in McPherson & surrounding area

1874-12-21 17:07:16

Solomon Stephens elected as McPherson's first mayor

1875-06-01 17:57:54

County Poor Farm started

County purchased land in Jackson township. A brick 2 story building was erected in 1885 with 12 rooms for a cost $4,500. W. A. Hall was the first superintendent and Mrs. Belle Cludas served as matron for many years. The poor farm was sold in 1947 for $23,700.

1875-07-01 20:55:12

McPherson Fairgrounds opened

First fairground was located on North Main at the current location of Tractor Supply. The fairground was moved in 1890 to 46 acres on E. Ave A at the current location of the Light Capital Baseball Diamond.

1876-01-01 18:16:48

First city cemetery

An unofficial "graveyard" was established in the 700 block of North Chestnut.

1878-03-01 17:07:16

First bank built

McPherson & Citizen's Bank built at 123 N. Main by Eli P. Williams (current location of Sounds Great Music).

1879-09-01 00:00:00

Typhoid epidemic

1879-09-29 14:13:12

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad to McPherson

This line connected McPherson with Florence on the east and Ellinwood on the west. The first station was located on W. Simpson at Mulberry. Additional depots were added on N. Main in 1896 and on N. Chestnut in 1915. Nicknamed the "Doodlebug", the Florence to Ellinwood route cost 6c per trip, leaving McPherson in the morning and returning in the afternoon. The Galva to McPherson section was a popular route.

1879-12-29 14:13:12

Salina & Southwest Railroad to McPherson

With a depot at 421 W. Kansas, this line connected McPherson with Lindsborg and Salina to the north.

1880-04-01 21:18:54

McPherson Cemetery moved to Avenue A

10 acre property on east Ave A started as a cemetery association. Families purchased shares in exchange for spaces. 20 bodies were moved from the old cemetery in the 700 block of N. Chestnut to the new cemetery. All of block 16 was designated as a "potter's field" for the indigent. In 1915, the city took over the cemetery.

1880-09-01 17:07:16

First Opera House built

Located on the second floor of McPherson & Citizen's State Bank, 123 N Main, current site of Sounds Great Music. Built at a cost of $36,000.

1881-11-01 17:07:16

East Side School built

Located in 200 block of N Elm; Built at a cost of $12,000

1883-01-29 07:58:30

First smallpox epidemic in McPherson

1883-03-03 00:00:00

Fire destroys west side of Main Street from Marlin to Euclid

The fire started at 10 p.m. in the rear of the Davis & Kehoe Billliard Hall on Main between Marlin and Euclid streets from a discarded cigar; the pool tables were carried out before any attempts were made to put out the fire. The entire block burned down including adjacent buildings on Marlin and Euclid with a total loss of $55,000. The Town Company building was a total loss, but all records were saved.

1883-04-12 18:39:36

Volunteer fire department started

Equipment kept in a building at the southeast corner of Kansas and Maple. J. C. Hamilton is the first fire chief; uniforms purchased in August; fire engine and horse-drawn hose cart added September 1883

1883-05-01 23:19:12

First high school graduating class

Four senior graduates in the class of 1883

1885-01-16 23:10:59

Oil streetlamps installed on Main Street

1886-11-01 17:15:00

Missouri Pacific railroad completed to McPherson

First named the St. Louis, Ft. Scott & Wichita Railroad, this paralleled the Salina & Southwestern tracks with a connecting spur south of Kansas Avenue. It became a freight only line in 1958.

1887-01-01 01:43:12

Electricity comes to McPherson

The Thompson-Houston Electric Light Company, a private power company, provided electricity to McPherson. The company was sold to Western Water and Electric Company in 1891. The city purchased the company in 1908. The power plant burned down in 1910 and was rebuilt in 1911 with 2 Corliss compound engines delivering 400 H.P. of power.

1887-02-17 00:00:00

Failed bid for state capital

H. B. Kelly, (owner of the McPherson Freeman newspaper) and A. W. Smith spearheaded an effort to relocate the capitol from Topeka to McPherson - a more central location in the state. The city spent $300 to lavishly entertain state legislators at the Opera House and local hotels with banquets, receptions and Chinese lanterns illuminating Main Street. A convention was held in April, 1888 in Abilene to generate support for the initiative but the effort died due to limited influence. It never came to a vote at the state level.

1887-06-03 07:57:54

Electric arc streetlamps on Main Street

Lamps installed by Thompson-Houston Electric Light Company to replace oil lamps. The street lights were not left on all night until 1902 when passengers getting on and off the trains in the middle of the night complained that they could not find their way to the hotels in town.

1887-06-03 17:07:16

Horse-drawn street cars start running

Almost 5 miles of route that ran north and south on Main Street as well as east-west on Kansas Avenue from the Missouri Pacific depot to McPherson College. A branch route ran to the cemetery only when there was a funeral. Initially run by the McPherson Street Railway Company, it was later sold to William West. It boasted 3 cars (2 on Main and 1 on Kansas) and 25 horses moving at a speed of approximately 4 mph. A car barn was located at the corner of Kansas and Elm. It ceased operation in 1890.

1887-07-01 23:08:42

Rock Island railroad completed to McPherson

Depot located on Oak Street, just south of Kansas Avenue (site of the current fire station). This east-west line provided McPherson with its first truly transcontinental line when the Chicago to LA route became operational in 1902. A new depot was built in 1948 at 1610 E Kansas. The last passenger train ran in 1968 and this depot closed in 1981.

1887-07-28 23:08:42

City water system started

Included 42 water hydrants

1887-10-13 00:00:00

Diptheria epidemic in McPherson

1888-01-01 18:06:00

West Side School (high school) built

At location of later Wickersham School/Wickersham park for a cost of $20,000 from city bonds.

1888-02-21 01:19:12

Quarantine facility built for smallpox & diptheria epidemics

Quarantine ordinance adopted; Dr. Logan in charge of facility located at the McPherson County Poor Farm; at least 32 people infected with small pox in February and March, 1888; several deaths. Contagion was spread at Fremont and Metropolitan hotels. Pest house sold for $75 in 1890.

1888-03-09 17:38:06

Dr. Hall's Sanitarium (first hospital) opens

Located at 700 S Maple; relocated to new building on S. Main in 1909

1888-04-06 15:46:48

Hitching posts installed by city on Main Street

Earlier hitching posts had been provided by store and business owners. In 1910 and 1911, 100 cement hitching posts were placed around the Courthouse square in an effort to hitch horses off Main Street where the horses were startled by noise and traffic.

1888-09-05 08:41:11

McPherson College begins

First academic semester starts 5 September 1888

1889-01-28 05:58:48

Second Opera House built

Construction started in 1887, funded by the McPherson Opera House Company stockholders at a total cost of $42,000. Grand opening held on 28 January 1889. The opening show was "The Chimes of Normandy" with ticket prices ranging from 25c to $1.75. All 900 seats were filled; cost of $42,000

1891-06-01 15:46:48

Public watering trough installed on Main Street

Located at the corner of Main and Hill. Other watering places for horses were located at individual businesses on and near Main Street. This watering trough was removed when the streets were paved with brick in 1911.

1892-04-13 21:09:36

Mary Elizabeth Lease visits McPherson

Famous champion of women's suffrage and the Populist Party gave a speech in McPherson.

1894-05-01 17:02:06

McPherson County Courthouse built

Cornerstone laid 1 May, 1894; a 2-story jail was built at the same time located just north of the courthouse with matching limestone. The jail housed 20 prisoners and the sheriff's living quarters.

1896-08-29 12:11:37

First telephone in McPherson installed at Bixby-Lindsay Drug Store

McPherson business men raised the $1,000 needed by selling tickets. Each ticket was worth a free phone call on the new phone. The phone was a toll phone connected to Salina.

1896-10-17 02:39:00

Susan B. Anthony speaks in McPherson

Famous woman's suffragist gave an address at the old Opera House, charging 50c per person to hear her speech.

1898-07-03 17:02:06

Fire destroys First National Bank

Located at 101 N Main, current site of The Well coffee shop. Damage estimated at $75,000.

1900-07-04 03:19:25

Teddy Roosevelt visits McPherson

Roosevelt stepped onto a platform at the Union Pacific depot only long enough to give a short speech before climbing back aboard the train. He made another visit to McPherson again in 1912 during his re-election campaign.

1901-01-25 04:45:22

Carrie Nation visits McPherson

Stayed overnight at the Union Hotel on her way to Enterprise and Topeka.

1902-02-01 18:57:36

Second smallpox epidemic

Numerous cases throughout McPherson county. The southern part of the county around Inman most severely affected with over 20 cases.

1905-09-01 16:48:15

Walden College opens

Built at a cost of $35,000 as a Swedish Mission College; sold to the Free Methodists in 1914 to become Central Academy & College

1906-10-05 17:07:16

W R Mill opens

Started in Buhler in 1885 by John J Wall and Herman Rogalsky; operations moved to McPherson in 1906; producing 800 cwts in 24 hours. By 1990 the mill was processing 270,000 lbs of flour a day.

1907-08-02 16:48:15

Courthouse clock installed

Cost of $1,000; changed to an electric system in 1948.

The MPL McPherson History Timeline

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