McPherson County History



McPherson Center Platted in 1872

  The town site of McPherson city before it was settled was generally known as “McPherson Flats” according to information in the McPherson souvenir, a booklet published in 1910 or 1911 by the Freeman publishing company about McPherson.

  L. G. Skancke, chief clerk in the land office in Salina, had been told by T. J. Wickersham that a large number of persons from Kentucky planned to settle on the flats, (King City) and from this information Skancke decided to plant a town there. He examined the maps available to him and decided on the West half of section 28 and the East half of section 29 as the site for his town.

  He presented his plan to a few friends in the Salina and on June 4, 1872, they came to what they called “McPherson Center” to search for the surveyor stone. Skancke was in the company of James Marlin, Oscar Seitz, R. H. Bishop and Wickersham for this venture.

  The group was tired and hungry from their half-day ride from Salina, but they decided to find the government surveyor stone before they rested or ate. The marker was found which has since become the north boundary of the original town. This is now the intersection of Main and 1st Street.

  Mr. Hubner, driver of the stage which brought the men from Salina, prepared a quick lunch according to McPherson Daily Republican diamond Jubilee edition of 1947, after which the group moved half a mile south. There Skancke dug a hole at what is now Main and Kansas to mark the spot where the four quarter sections of the proposed townsite met. Seitz broke ground where the Well is now, the northwest corner of Main and Kansas. Bishop excavated the spot marking the southwest corner of the same intersection.

  The town company was formed with Marlin president; Skancke, secretary; and Bishop, Treas. J. R. Fisher was chosen president the following month. Marlin made the first filing on the site.

 H. Bowker erected the first building, a store, on the townsite, according to the 1884 Edwards Atlas of McPherson County, Kansas. The foundation for the Town Hall was late in December. In April 1873, the post office was established with C. L. Raff as the first postmaster. In the meantime, buildings from King City were moved to McPherson Center and Main Street was starting to take shape.

  McPherson was incorporated as a city of the third class on March 4, 1874, upon a petition by T. E. Simpson presented to Judge J. H. Prescott.

  The first election was held 12 days later, March 16, 1874, and Solomon Stevens was elected the first mayor. Councilman elected included C. E. Pierce, William West, W. B. McCord and M. P. Simpson.

  10 years later, June 3, 1884, the city was reorganized as a city of the second class. In 1914 an election carried 506 to 309 in favor of a Mayor–commission form of government, the same type of government McPherson has today.

 The 1884 Atlas records McPherson as having a population of 2500. ” Being in the center of the best wheat growing country in the state surrounded entirely by good country, there being no wasteland for miles in any direction, having the advantage of railroad connections with the Union Pacific and the Santa Fe systems, McPherson’s prosperity is assured and he can look forward to a future even more progressive than it has been in the past.”

  The original square-mile that the men claimed began at first Street in the North to Avenue a in the South and from Hartup Street in the East to Hickory in the West.

  However, the original town was only 320 acres and plotted from the alley behind Oak Street in the East to the alley behind Chestnut in the West. All other streets were plotted later. The North-South streets in this area were all named after trees beginning with Oak on the east, then Elm, Ash, Maple, Walnut and Chestnut. Most of the East-West streets were named after the city founders, their wife’s or other early settlers.



Salina Journal 1872

  A new town, about 1 mile from the center of McPherson County, on the East half of section 29 and the West half of section 28, Township 19, has recently been laid out. Quite a number of our own townsmen have become interested in it and propose it shall be the town of that County. It is to be named McPherson. It is located on land beautifully sloping on three sides. Water is readily obtained at a depth of 25 feet. Two stores, a lumberyard and a blacksmith shop are to be started there immediately. A newspaper will also be started there within 90 days. The money realized by the sale of the shares is to be appropriated for the improvement of the town. Citizens living in the eastern, western and southern parts of McPherson County seem to agree generally in making the new town, one of the finest in the County, and it will work strongly for that purpose. It is said to possess a handsome location and is easily reached from all quarters. It is in contemplation also to float bonds for the construction of an iron bridge across the Smokey east of town. Flattering reports come to us of the fine prospects in store for McPherson.

Major Dates in McPherson County History

1969 – Swedal  named a post office  (1st county courthouse now in Old Mill Park Lindsborg)

1870 – March 1, McPherson County formally organized at Swedal.   March 24, Gypsum Creek, Smoky Hill, Turkey Creed, Sharps Creek (Marquette) townships organized.  Lindsborg Incorporated as third class city.

1872 – French Canadians settled.  Kentucky colony settled southeast of McPherson.  Illinois colony settled south of Galva.  McPherson City founded.

1873 – Marquette founded.  Feb. 24, McPherson Township organized.  June 14 New Gottland Township organized.  Oct. 6, Meridian Township organized.

1874 – Superior, Spring Valley and Canton Townships organized.  Feb. 16 Lone Tree, Empire, Jackson, Mound and Delmore townships organized.  Oct. 5 Castle Township organized.

1876 – Jan. 11 Bonaville Township organized.   Oct .  3 Hays Township organized.

1879 – Feb. 28, South Sharps Creek Township organized.  April 7, Harper Township organized.  Towns of canton, Galva, Conway and Windom founded with completion of Union Pacific Railroad.

1886 – Moundridge and Elyria founded with completion of Missouri Pacific Railroad.

1887 – Groveland and Inman founded with completion of Rock Island Railroad.


McPherson County Townships

    According to Edna Nyquist in her book about McPherson County, Bonneville Township was named for a rebel general, and while it was once suggested to change the name, it has never been done. It is said that Kentucky Creek in the northern part of the county was named for a trapper who live near the creek before the area was settled. He was from Kentucky and that was what people called him. He apparently left Kansas to serve in the Civil War and was never heard of again.

   Smoky Hill Township was so named because "the hills in this Township have a smoky blue haze hanging over them, and the river was called the Smoky Hill River". Lindsborg received its name by taking the “Lind” from the first syllable of many of the first settlers such as Lindelll, Lindh, Lindgren, Lindey, and Lindberg according to Dr. Emery K Lindkquist in his Smoky Valley people. Borg is Swedish for city or fortified place.

   Sharps Creek town ship now called Marquette was named after Isaac Sharp, one of the earliest settlers in the Smoky Valley, often called the first white settler, according to the Nyquist book. The Creek also bears his name and the next Township South is called South Sharps Creek township. Marquette received its name from the hometown of one of its founders, H. S. Bacon from Marquette, Michigan. Harper Township was named in 1879 for Jeff and Milt Harper, two of the first permanent settlers there. The name New Gottland, came from an island in Sweden and it means good land in Swedish.   A.S. Aelmore really didn't like having a Township named after him, but after much persuasion modestly suggested “Delmore” to satisfy his fans.

   Battle Hill Township was named for a hill where many arrowheads and other war weapons were found by early white settlers. Township and city were named for Canton, Ohio.

    Empire Township was named to get ahead of the neighbors in King City Township as an Emperor was above a King. McPherson Township and city were named in honor of Gen. James Birdseye McPherson, highest-ranking union officer to die on a Civil War battlefield.

  Jackson Township was named for Gen. Stonewall Jackson according to the Nyquist book. The town of Conway, located by the Santa Fe railroad company, is believed to be name for an official of that company.

   A doctor Hungerford it is said to have named Castle Township. He was a very old man who lived south of Windom. A Mr. McClain named the station Laura after his wife. One account indicated it was changed to Windom in honor of Sen. Windom from Minnesota. Another account said the mail was confused with Larned, so it was changed to Windom for a Mrs. Cage who was from Windham County, Connecticut but when her husband set in the name, he misspelled it Windom.

  Hayes Township was named for Pres. Rutherford B Hayes. Groveland was derived as a Township name because of a grove of trees which grew on the town site, according to Lowell Sawyer.

  King City Township was named for Dr. E.L. King who organized the Ashtabula colony which settled that portion of McPherson County. Elyria was named for Elyria, Ohio. Lone tree was one of the more obvious names to occur to the pioneers. There was one lonely cottonwood tree on Turkey Creek which was visible for miles on the prairie and the township was thus named.

Meridian Township was probably name for it's location closest to the six principal Meridian, the eastern edge of McPherson county. Mound Township was named because of its site on a ridge visible from the West, according to J.W. Krehbiel in the Nyquist book. The city took its name from the township name.

   Inman formerly was called Aiken which was located about a mile north of the present site or where the farm supply is now. It is believed that Aiken was a political politician or Commissioner of some sort from that area. For one reason or another, the name of Inman was preferred by the railroad when it came through in 1887, and that was the name of the largest lake in the area.  Maj. Inman is generally given credit for the derivation of the name of the lake and town, but this has not been verified, according to Herb Friesen, Inman historian. Legend has it that the lake was known as Lake Inman to the war Department, but apparently there is no record of this in the Army Library at the Pentagon.

  Wolf Creek and Little Valley Township was named in 1872 when four men from Iowa in covered wagons saw three prairie wolves jumped out of the cover. They jokingly said "We are to call this Wolf Creek!"

McPherson Sentinel  May 12, 1970

McPherson County Courthouse  -   A History

  The history of McPherson County Courthouse could be pretty much the history of the County, which this year is celebrating its centennial anniversary.

  The life and times of the County of centered around the courthouse, whether it be in a small shack on a riverbank, and the home of a county official or a roving group of offices that move from one town to another.

  The history of the courthouse is filled with the drama of fires, elections, setbacks, depressions and events of great ceremony and pageantry.

  The history of the courthouse started on March 1, 1870, when Gov. James M. Harvey answered a petition submitted by the 600 citizens of the area for the establishment of a county. On that date permission was given to organize, and the first county seat was established in section 13-17-3W, and was called sweadal.

  Sweadal was the dream of I. N. Holmberg, a former Civil War major, who had built a house and general store on land 2 miles southwest of Lindsborg. Homberg had obtained permission to open the first post office in the territory and it was his ambition to establish a town on the site.

  Samuel D. Shields was elected chairman of the board of county commissioners with John W. Johnson as the other member. John Rundstrum was the first County Clerk.

  The citizens of the new County did not have the faith in Sweadal’s growth which Homburg had, and on May 2, 1870, and election was held for new County seat. The winner was section 17-17-3W, with 97 votes. This Township is the present site of Lindsborg and the young County moved its home there.

  T. E. Simpson headed the new board of commissioners, assisted by James Weir and John Ferm. On June 11, 1870, these men decided to conduct the counties business in their respective homes until a courthouse could be built.

  George W. Shields of Lindsborg came to the rescue and on July 6, 1870, rented the County the second floor of his general merchandise store for four dollars per month for the County offices. The first meeting was held there on September 5, 1870, the last meeting in Homberg’s ill-fated Sweadal having been held on July 30.

  The next three years Lindsborg continue to be the County seat, but on April 20, 1873, a petition carrying 483 names were submitted to the county commissioners for an election to change the county  seat. The election was scheduled for June 10 that year.

  At this point a young town in the center of the County, known as McPherson Center, made it's move in the forthcoming battle for the County seat. The city leaders offered the County the use of the newly built McPherson town company building free of charge, for 10 years, and also offered the County any two squares (city blocks) in McPherson which the County officials might select. This was on May 15.

  The bait was too much to refuse and on June 10 the voters went to the polls and selected McPherson by an overwhelming majority. In the voting McPherson received 606 votes, new Gottland 325, King city three and Lindsborg one. On June 14 it became official, for on that date the last County business was transacted in Lindsborg.

  The County commissioners then picked up squares 56 and 65 in the city of McPherson as its gift, and on this site the present courthouse and jail were built. (Now courthouse and library)

  C. T. Hilton, for a fee of $10 moved the counties furniture from Lindsborg to McPherson and on July 7, 1873, the new County set up offices in the new courthouse on the second floor of the rent-free property, which was on the northwest corner of Main and Marlin Street. At this time the County was divided into three Commissioner districts.

  The courthouse remained on the second floor for three years but on April 4, 1876, the county took over the first floor of the building and the second floor was rented as offices, principally to lawyers.

  The town hall was built in the winter of 1872 – 73 but it too was ill-fated. The County installed its first fireproof vault on February 4, 1882, at the cost of $1500 plus the old vault.

  Perhaps the County commissioners had a sixth sense or were just lucky, but on February 27, 1883, they decided it was time to move to larger offices. It was just as well, for on the night of March 3, 1883 McPherson’s first big fire wiped out the entire West side of Main Street, from Marlin to Euclid, taking the courthouse with it. All the County records and papers, however, were saved.

  On March 17, 1883 the commissioners signed a contract with E. G. Clark to rent offices in the new Clark building which was nearing completion. This building was located at 108 S. Main. The County offices were on the first floor and the courtroom on the second. Later the courthouse spread out to include the second floor at adjoining 106 S. Main. In the meantime, however, the County offices were located in whatever available office space could be found, on a catch-as-catch-can basis. During the week of August 6, 1883, the Clark building was completed and accounting moved in.

  The County was growing in population and the activities of the County departments were expanding and still more room was needed. The boiling point was reached on January 12, 1886 when J. M. Van Norstrand and 260 others presented a petition for an election to subscribe $75,000 in bonds for a new courthouse and jail.

  This was a little too rich for the young County’s blood for on February 23, 1886, the proposal was defeated by a vote of 2147 to 1556.

  The courthouse soon outgrew the Clark building. Special offices were rented for the probate judge and County supervisor in 1888 and the County attorney in 1889.

  By April 24, 1889, the situation had become so bad, with County also scattered all over Main Street,  that the county contracted to take over the Opera house at Main and Southerland. All three floors were rented the exception of the Main Hall, which was a theater at an annual rent of $1400. The jail was in the basement. The owner of the building was the opera house company of which E. G. Clark was president.

  A new and larger courthouse was not to be denied the County. On March 9, 1893 N. W. Bridgens and 57 others presented a petition calling for another bond election. This time they sought $40,000 for new courthouse and $10,000 for a new jail.

  The bones squeaked by on May 23, 1893 with 1152 voting for the courthouse and 1013 against, and 1112 for the jail and 981 against.

  J. H. Haskell and J. F. Stanton, Topeka, prepared the plans for the new building and October 5, 1893, the sealed bids were opened. All the bids were too high and were refused and Stanton was asked to revise his plans. This was done and on November 22, 1893, the contract for work was awarded to James Jack of Hutchinson. Work was started on February 8, 1894, and A. G. Linn was appointed by the county to supervise the construction.

  The stone used in the construction of the courthouse came from quarries near strong city. The  interior was finished in native wood. Commissioners during the direction included G. F. Byers, E. C. Tyler, George S. Bishop and J. W. bean.

   The day for the great event of laying the cornerstone was described in the McPherson daily Republican. The big parade  to the new building was headed by 600 schoolchildren followed by 22 old settlers and members of every lodge and club in the city. Thousands of people gathered from all over the county and state for the event. G. F. Gratton, Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge, was the opening speaker. More speeches, prayers and songs followed, but the cornerstone was finally put in place.

   In the cornerstone were place such items as written reports of all Masonic lodges in the County, by the Red Cross, the Knights of Pythias, the I00F and AOUW. A copy of the petition for the organization of the County and the Governors proclamation establishing McPherson County was included. A list of old settlers, the history of the County, its schools and churches, a copy of the first newspaper published in the County and copies of 10 County newspapers being published plus copies from outstanding newspapers in the nation, and the badges of all the lodges and organizations taking part as well as five 1894 coins.

    The courthouse was completed on December 1, 1894 and five days later the County offices were moved in. Although a clock was added to the tower in 1907 and telephones in 1910, the courthouse stands today almost exactly as it did on that perfect Kansas day back in 1894 when it was completed.


Smoky Hill River Swedish Settlement

Marked characteristics of the first Swedish people who came to settle in McPherson County wastheir deep religious sense, their friendliness, and their neighborliness. There were two Swedish companies that sponsor settlements or colonies in McPherson County, and most of the Swedish settlers who came under the auspices of the two organizations settled in a northern part of the County, along with banks of the Smoky River.


First of the Swedes to take Homestead claims new the Smoky River were A. B. Carlgren, A. G. Lind, B. Johnson, F. Lundstrom, and A. Klingberg. . These young men had come to the eastern part of Kansas during 1864 and 1865 with several other Swedish tradesmen and laborers, seeking employment in Kansas. After a time, several of them drifted on Westward to the Smoky River region, among them the men whose names have been mentioned, and took Homestead claims along the banks of the river.


About that same time, the Kansas Pacific Railroad was completed to Salina, and a group of Swedish men were organized in the first Swedish agricultural company in Chicago, Illinois. John Fern was president of the organization that proposed to establish a colony of Swedish Lutherans somewhere farther on West. Accordingly they made inquiries through newspapers as to where the best location for the settlement might be found. The men who held claims here, seeking a newspaper advertisements inserted in the papers by the Chicago company, answer promptly, pointing out the desirable characteristics of the land in this county. As a result of the information received in this manner, and upon the recommendations made by Rev. Larson who had visited the Smoky Hill River Valley in 1867, the company at last decided to send out a committee of three men to investigate the quality of the land in the valley. The men set out by the company were D. Lindahl, S. P Lindgren, and Rev. Larson. As a result of the favorable report of their investigation, the company purchased land worth $37,000 from the National Land company. The purchase included all the railroad land in an area six miles wide, and nine miles in length, in range 3, extending three miles in Township 16, and six miles an Township 17. Claims were also filed for government lands within these same limits. At the time these claims were filed, the members of the Swedish agricultural company did not know that claims could not be held on government lands unless they were actually settled. For that reason the claims filed on the land by the company were never validated.


In the fall of 1868, the real work of getting ready for the future settlers began. In October of that year, the company erected a building known as the company house on section 32, Township 16. Further preparation was made by way of breaking the prairie sod. The men were joined by C. Carlson, M. Carlson and John Frain, and they became the first settlers to occupy the land owned by the Swedish agricultural company.


Many of them had relatives and friends in Sweden, who may persuaded to come across the Atlantic to the little Swedish settlement in Kansas. The number of Swedish Kansas Pioneers was swelled in the spring of 1869 when John Nelson, with about 100 emigrants from Wermland, Sweden arrived in April of that year.


It was the intention of John Nelson and the settlers who came with him to build houses and make other preparations for the larger colony that was to come later, the Rev. O. Olson.


Rev. Olson was a great favorite among his people, and more than 400 of them left Sweden and came with him across the Atlantic to settle in the Swedish colony in the Kansas Smoky Hill River Valley. However, because of the reports of the extremely low wages being received by laborers in Kansas at that time, several of the original group settled in Missouri, and in other places, so that by the time Rev. Olson reached Salina, during early July in 1869, the original party of 400 had been reduced to a group comprised of only a few families. Most of them settled only government lands that had been claimed by the company, and during the same summer, other settlers arrived and also begin to Homestead.


According to the original plans of the company, as they were drawn up when the group organized in Chicago in 1867, the company was to be dissolved after five years, in 1872, but before then, it became necessary to divide the land among the stockholders, and for that reason, the land was divided into 40 acre pieces and sold at auction February 25, 1871. The company did not dissolve, however, until 1877, at which time all of the unsold lots that had been retained by the company were sold to the Lindsborg town company. The Swedish agricultural company also owned a general merchandise store that was managed by C. Carlson. When the lots were sold to the Lindsborg company, and when the Swedish company dissolved in 1877, Mr. Carlson purchased the company interest in the store, and continue to operate the business as his own. Thus the Swedish agricultural company, having existed for eight years, disbanded, after having played an important part in building up the largest Swedish settlement in Kansas.


Another organization that did much to promote the welfare and growth of the Swedish settlement in northern McPherson County was the Galesburg company, organized by a group of Swedish Lutherans in Knox and Henry counties in Illinois. In September of 1868 this company, whose president was John Rodell, purchased 14,640 acres of land, mostly in Township 17, range five. This land was purchased from the Kansas Pacific Railroad Company, and was divided by lot among stockholders of the Galesburg company.


In the early spring of the year 1869, about 75 families made the trip from Illinois to Kansas, where he settled on the land purchased by the company, and in October of the same year, about 150 more settlers from Illinois joined the Galesburg group. As soon as each stockholder of the Galesburg company had received his share of land, the company disbanded. Although this company was not in existence as long as the Swedish agricultural company, it also did much to build up the Swedish settlement near the Smoky River.


During the year 1872 another group of Swedish settlers took homesteads in the New Gottland settlement. They later established the post office, and became involved in the struggle between Lindsborg and McPherson for the location of the County seat. During the first years of their life in the new land of America many of the Swedish settlers were handicapped by the lack of experience and knowledge of farming. Many of them worked on the railroads then under construction and farmed at the same time but gradually they became accustomed to the new conditions and many of them became very successful farmers.



Religious faith was one characteristic that was common to all of the early Swedish settlers. As a matter of fact, both the Swedish agricultural company and the Galesburg company provided in their company laws that no person was to be allowed to purchase stock in either of the companies unless he were a professed Christian of the Lutheran faith.


Pioneer Customs of Superior Township

 Inman, in superior Township, was the center of a flourishing settlement of Mennonites. Originally when the town was began in 1887, it bore the name Aiken, having derived its name from the Commissioner of that district, but later the name was changed to Inman, after the large lake nearby that had been first reported and described by Maj. Inman.

Just after the Rock Island Railroad was laid, the little town was founded. It was located by the railroad company at the point where two section lines crossed near the railroad. In order to locate the town at that particular point, it was necessary to move the cemetery some distance to the Northwest.

Many of the early settlers in superior Township hailed originally from Paulsheim, Russia, where they owned brick houses, farmed on narrow strips of land, and live peacefully among themselves. They had thought themselves to be free from military service, but when the Russian government demanded that they enter the service many of them fled to America, and eventually found their way to Kansas.

The Santa Fe railroad built emigrant houses for some of them; others live in temporary structures known as “Sarajs” that look much like barns, for the two longest sides were slanted, in order to meet at the top as does the roof of a barn. Later they build more substantial houses. Although the ready-made house is thought to be essentially a modern idea, his counterpart existed in those pioneer days, for several of the Superior Township settlers built small frame houses from boards that had already been measured and cut for houses by contractors in Hutchinson.

Other houses were built of adobe brick that the settlers made themselves. In order to make the bricks they mixed soil and straw together, letting the horses trample on it. The mixture was then pressed into wooden molds. The usual mold was 12 inches long, 6 inches wide, and had a thickness of 4 inches. By use of such an arrangement it was possible to divide the finished brick into two parts, so the two bricks could be made at once. After the mixture was sufficiently hardened so that it would hold its shape, it was removed from the molds, and the bricks were hardened in the sun. If the adobe bricks were to be used for stoves, they were made more nearly heatproof by adding sand to the mixture, and, in most instances eliminating the straw. The same procedure was followed in making the ordinary bricks.

In many of the homes, the Russian type heating system was used. The stove provided heat for cooking and smoking meat, as well as for heating the house, usually the stove was about 6 feet high, 4 feet long, and approximately 2 feet wide. It was, of course, build of the adobe bricks made of sand and soil. The stove was usually placed between two rooms of the house, and was a part of the partition. Thus the warm bricks on both sides of the stove served to heed both rooms. There was also an opening to the fire itself; at the back of that there was another opening that circled above the area where the food was usually cooked; the circulation of smoke and heat thus effected served to keep the walls warm. Further ingenuity was shown by the fact that the chimney, instead of serving as an outlet for the smoke, was built so that the smoke from yet entered a room where meat was kept, thus making the fire that was used for cooking and heating, also serve the third purpose of smoking the meat.

Shortly after the Mennonites settled in the region of their choice, they began raising wheat. They were very good at making things grow and experience no particular difficulty in making good wheat crops; however, harvesting and milling was rather difficult for them. In the beginning, they threshed the grain by taking the wheat after it had been cut, and placing it in a large circle on a bit of clear ground. Oxen or horses were then hitched to a large star shaped stone that weighed at least 600 pounds, and the animals then pulled the stone over the week until the grain was threshed out. The chaff that remained in the grain was shaken out by putting the wheat in sieves.

In order to have the wheat made into flour, it was necessary to take the grain to Sedgwick, where the nearest mill was located.

New Gottland Township


There are many tales and legends concerning the efforts made by towns in McPherson County to locate the county seat according to their wishes, and legends are particularly rife about the competition between McPherson and Lindsborg and the bitter antagonism that was stirred up between the two cities when the matter of locating the county seat was voted upon. King city's participation in the contest is also fairly well known, but the fact that New Gottland came into the limelight at that time seems almost to have been forgotten.

Originally New Gottland was a part of Smoky Hill Township, but New Gottland was organized formerly on June 14, 1873 with Gust Burke as trustee, Lars Nordling as clerk and J. C. Hansen as treasurer.

There is a story in connection with the separating of New Gottland from Smoky Hill Township. It was then the custom for men of the Township to work a given number of days on the Township roads; they worked under the direction of a road overseer and each Township was responsible for keeping up of it's roads. When the New Gottland Township was organized Swan Burke was appointed road overseer, which job later proved to involve more than the work connected with keeping the roads in good repair. It seemed that the road overseer of Smoky Hill Township refused to recognize the existence of the New Gottland Township, and insisted that the New Gottland men work for him on the Smoky Hill Township roads. When the New Gottland man refused, the other Township official said that he could force them to work for him; however, the New Gottland men paid little attention to the statement until a constable appeared upon the scene and announced that he intended to carry out the road officials orders, and exhibited a summons showing that the official was bringing suit against them. After the summons was served, Swan Burke went to Salina and laid the case before the attorney, Mr. Brown, who agreed to represent the New Gottland man. Accordingly he went with his clients to Lindsborg on the date set for the trial, and appeared before the justice of peace. After some time had passed it became very apparent that the judge knew very little of the case itself or of the points involved. The Salina attorney perceived the ignorance of the judge, and suggested that the case be dismissed, never to be brought before the court again. The judge, an official of the Smoky Hill Township, although he should have objected in the interests of his Township, agreed, and the case was dismissed, much to the benefit as well as amusement of the New Gottland men.

New Gottland was, with the exception of a few families, almost entirely a Swedish community. They retained many of their Swedish customs, living in sod houses or dugouts, raising sheep and tilling the soil. When the county seat question was beginning to be widely discussed, some of the more ambitious residents of New Gottland wanted to organize a town, and make a bid for the county seat location. With that goal in view they had a town laid out on one quarter of section 2 and one quarter of section 3 in McPherson Township and called it New Gottland, organizing a town company. John Grant was president and G. Burke was vice president. Swan Burke was one of the directors; however the election was called and held in the summer of 1872, and when it became apparent that a town would never be built there, the town company was no longer able to hold the land and had to let it go.

New Gottland received its name from the post office that was started in 1872 when the mail route between Newton and Salina was established. A group of settlers met together for the purpose of naming the post office and to select a postmaster. The name New Gottland was selected as Gottland means “good land” in Swedish. Then, too, there is an island in Sweden that is also known as New Gottland. The men appointed Gust Burke as postmaster and Swan Burke as assistant. The post office was in Swan Burk's home for five years. Mr. Burk's pay was one half of all the money that he received from the sale of stamps.

The first school in New Gottland was established in 1878. It is said that there were not very many pupils at first, but that it was not long until the little schoolhouse was filled to capacity with students, many of whom were grown men and women who wish to learn the English language.

With the help of Dr. Olaf Olsen of Lindsborg, New Gottland organized a Swedish Lutheran congregation in 1872, and today the community has a large well-built church building.

Although it's desire to become an urban center was never realized, the New Gottland community is one of the most prosperous and peaceful spots in McPherson County, and it's people sprang from a line of ancestors who fought hard and toiled long – people who came far from another country, but who took the land of their adoption to their hearts and became true Americans in every sense of the word.

King City History  From 1938 McPherson County News

  Although the westward movement was well defined, even before the Civil War, the conflict between the North and the South added impetus to the settling of the middle West. The founding and settling of King city, for many years one of the most thriving settlements in McPherson County, was a direct result of the Civil War.

At the close of the Civil War, many soldiers returned to their homes and found that there was no work to be had. Many of them, almost destitute, set out to seek a new fortune and one of the Western states. In Ashtabula, Ohio, the ex-soldiers found themselves to be in particularly bad straits. They had heard tales of the rich farmland to be had for the asking in the Western states, and the westward move appeared to be the solution of their difficulties. Accordingly a number of them formed the organization known as the “Soldiers and Citizens Mutual Benefit Free Homestead Colony,” with the idea of going west to establish homes.

About a dozen of the members of the organization were appointed as a committee to go West, across the Mississippi, and find a desirable location. In the winter of 1870-1871, the group made the trip to Kansas, and after having traveled over about 17 counties of the state, they returned to Ashtabula to make the report.

After the entire colony had heard the report of the investigating committee, a vote was taken and it was almost unanimously decided that they would locate in McPherson County.

Whole families gathered together their possessions, said goodbye to friends and loved ones, and set forth upon the long journey to Kansas. Many of them had little idea of what was before them, but the desire to better their fortunes was strong, and they set upon the adventure with high hopes and great spirits.

Upon their arrival in McPherson County, they staked out their claims in the southern part of the new County, and it wasn't long before plans were made for the laying out of a town site. Plans for the new town went ahead, and when these plans and visions became a reality, it was decided that the new little city should be named in honor of Dr. E. L. King, one of the directors, as well as one of the foremost figures and most enthusiastic supporters, of the colony. Thus the settlement and southern part of McPherson County was known as King city.

Not long after the city had received its name, the services of the surveyor were employed and the formal surveying of the town site followed. The following June, the city boasted between 30 and 40 citizens, and seemed to be well on the way to prosperity, despite that the nearest shipping point, Salina, was nearly 40 miles away.

In order to ensure an adequate water supply a town well was dug, and other improvements followed soon after. A brickyard made its it appearance, and in the autumn a good-sized two-story store building was constructed. The lower story of the building was used as a general store, and most of the goods that comprised this stock had to be brought by wagons from Salina, where it was shipped in on the Union Pacific Railway. The upper story of the building was used as a general meeting place by the people of the town and the surrounding territory. On Sundays church services were held there, and other days it served as a place for dances and other social gatherings. It is said that the first service ever to be preached in this county, South of the Smoky Hill River, was delivered by a Mr. Shelley in the second story of the King city frame store building. In 1872 a Sunday school was organized, and D. D. Carpenter served as its first superintendent.

King city continue to grow and develop. New houses were built, and a blacksmith shop at a lumberyard were added to the businesses section. Two hotels were also constructed, one of which was later moved to the city of McPherson.

At the time the King city reached its zenith of its development it was surrounded by many cattle ranches, and Cowboys armed with Winchester rifles and revolvers were a common sight. They often came from long distances for their mail, and as they've lounged about the hotels and store buildings, they added a distinctly Western aspect of the little Kansas town.

King city continue to thrive and to grow, and when the question of the moving of the County seat arose, the citizens of town felt that King city was the logical choice. But in the winter of 1871 – 1872, the Kansas legislature decreed that a tier of townships be removed from the southern boundary of the County so that the Santa Fe railroad could establish County seats at Newton and Hutchinson. The removal of the southern tier of townships from McPherson County sounded the death knell for the hopes of King Citians, as far as the chances for establishing the County seat at King city were concerned. The territorial change placed King city to near the southern border of the County, thus tipping the scales in favor of the more centrally located city of McPherson.

On 10 June, 1872, the election that was to decide the location of the County seat was held, and after a bitterly fought contest, it was decided that the County seat should henceforth be located at McPherson.

Thus King city suffered a fatal blow, and soon after the election the inhabitants of the city begin to move to McPherson or upon their land claims until the city became almost entirely deserted.

So, despite the dreams of the members of the Soldiers and Citizens Mutual Benefit Free Homestead Colony, King city's wave of prosperity subsided, and the once prosperous little city became a ghost town. But most of the members of the colony did establish homes in the county, and did succeed in bettering their fortunes, so that perhaps the rise and decline of King city is more picturesque than sad.