Parsons, the largest city of Labette county and one of the most important ones in southeastern Kansas, is located in the northern part of the county, at the junction of two lines of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas and the St. Louis & San Francisco railroads. It is a progressive city, having several miles of paved streets, a fine water system, good fire and police departments, modern hotel accommodations, electricity, natural gas for lighting; heating and commercial purposes, 4 banks, 2 daily and weekly newspapers, 2 weeklies, feed and flour mills, ice and cold storage plants, foundry, corset factory, creamery, planing mills, cider mills, and establishments for the manufacture of cigars, mattresses, cornices, skirts, brooms, etc. The offices and repair shops of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad company are located here, as is the state hospital for epileptics. Coal, building stone, natural gas and oil are found in the vicinity. There are telegraph and express offices and an international money order postoffice with 8 rural routes. The population in 1910 was 12,463.
The city was located in 1870 and named in honor of Levi Parsons, president of the Neosho division of the Missouri Pacific R. R. The following men were members of the town company: R. S. Stevens, president; O. B. Gunn, H. D. Minck, A. D. Jaynes, J. R. Barrett and N. S. Goss. The news that a town was to be established brought people to this point by hundreds. They came in wagons, slept in tents, and by the time the company's books were opened for the sale of lots the prospects were so good that the first lot was sold for $500. The town of Ladore, Neosho county, which had at that time about 1,000 inhabitants, was moved bodily to Parsons. The towns of Montana, also in Neosho county, and Labette contributed a portion of the population. The lots were placed on the market in March, 1871, and the next month Parsons was incorporated as a city of the third class. Willard Davis was the first mayor, and the first council consisted of J. I. Plato, Abraham Carey, W. W. Dana, J. W. Rhodus and Charles Watson. Two years later it became a city of the second class. The growth of the city was such that inside of ten years it had a population of 6,500 and over 100 business establishments.
The Parsons Sun, a newspaper which is still running under that name, was established in 1871. The first school was taught and the first church was established in that year. Henry F. Baker was the first hotel keeper, and Jacob McLoughlin put up the first building suitable for a hotel. Sipple Bros. & E. K. Currant opened the first grocery store. Dr. T. L. Warren was the first physician. The first marriage was between Thomas Deckery and Mary J. Kinnison, and the first birth was that of Parsons Dana, in 1871. The library association was organized in 1871. "The Banking House of Angell Mathewson" was started the same year and continued until succeeded in 1872 by the First National bank. The telephone system, the waterworks, and the gas mains were all added to the improvements of the town in 1882; the sewer system was put in during the year 1885, and electric lights were added two years later. Macadamizing the streets began in 1878. The railroad shops were located here in 1873. The business streets were paved in 1878, and a park laid off and improvements begun in 1881. In 1880 a military company, known as the Parsons Light Guard, was organized. Numerous literary and educational societies were organized in the '70s and '80s.Pages 445-446 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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