Map Documenting the Birth & Shifting Naming of Kinsley, Kansas

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320. [MAP]. [KINSLEY, KANSAS]. CUMMINGS, J.M. (surveyor & draftsman). Petersburgh Pawnee County, Kansas. [below scale] Surveyed and Drawn by J.H. Cummings. All Streets, Avenues and Alleys are laid out parallel with, and at right angles to the quarter Section Line running North and South through the centre of the Section; and the width of each is marked in feet on the map. Residence Lots are 50 x 140 feet. Business Lots are 25 x 140 feet. [inset map at lower right] Topographical Sketch of Petersburgh and Vicinity. N.p., n.d. [1873]. Lithograph town plan with title as indicated above, but marked through in blue ink changing the name of the town to Kinsley and the county name of Pawnee to Williams [sic]; town plan measurement, approximately 28 x 32.5 cm; overall sheet size including large title at top, 44.3 x 35.1 cm. A working map with numerous manuscript annotations, mostly in red, with notes setting aside lots and blocks, such as “For County Purposes,” “Hotel,” “Park,” “For Church,” “For School.” Many lots have the red ink notation “xx,” which is explained in another contemporary ink note on right: “Lots marked xx are owned by the Bureau.” Seven chips to blank margins (no losses), otherwise fine.

     Unrecorded. Kinsley in Edwards County is located in the Arkansas River Valley in west central Kansas. Situated along the Santa Fe Trail where the trail divides between the “wet” and “dry” routes, history abounds in Kinsley, including the 1848 Battle of Coon Creek, which occurred two miles east of the town between a detachment of soldiers marching to the Mexican-American War and a band of Comanche and Osage. The Osage were resident in the Kinsley area at the time the earliest Anglo settlements began in the region. By the Drum Creek Treaty of 1870, the remainder of Osage land in Kansas was sold and the tribe was relocated to Indian Territory. It was many years before the Osage recovered from the hardships suffered during their last years in Kansas and readjustment to life in Indian Territory.

     Obviously, from the manuscript notes on the present map, the town was a work in progress, with even the name of the town and county subject to change. According to the Congressional Record, in 1872 citizens of Kansas petitioned Congress for establishment of a land office at Petersburgh, Kansas. Their petition was referred to the Committee of Public Lands. The Chicago Workingmen’s Town Company founded the town in 1872 and Petersburgh was named for T.J. Peter, General Manager of the Santa Fe railroad, which was then building westward. In 1873, when settlers from Massachusetts came on the scene, the town was renamed in honor of E.W. Kinsley, a Boston philanthropist who donated money to the town to build a Congregational Church. Edwards County was named for W.C. Edwards, who built a block of brick buildings in early downtown Kinsley. As for the original county name of Pawnee County, in 1867 the legislature eliminated Peketon County from the map and formed other counties out of its territory, among which was Pawnee county, which embraced thirteen townships of what is now Edwards County.

     Founded first by the above mentioned railroad workingmen’s group from Chicago, the Massachusetts colony was sent out by the Homestead and Colonization Bureau of Boston. Kinsley had some difficulties prospering despite the infusion of further populations from various Eastern sources. Even a Black exoduster colony from Kentucky attempted to settle near Kinsley in a town they named “Morton City.” After a decent beginning, the area suffered when grasshoppers ruined all the crops in 1875. A drought and a national financial panic also proved to be setbacks. Nevertheless, the town and surrounding areas persevered, thanks in part to that essential element of any community of success—the railroad. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, which was so pivotal to the development of western Kansas towns, arrived in Kinsley in August of 1872.

     L.H. Everts’ Official State Atlas of Kansas compiled from Government Surveys, County Records and Personal Investigations (Philadelphia, 1887 (Rumsey 2818) includes a colored map of Kinsley showing that in fourteen years the town had doubled its size as compared to the present map. The original town plan and street names remained the same. Today the town is the county seat in Edwards County and is still about twice the size shown on this map. Kinsley calls itself the “Midway City” because it is 1,561 miles from both New York and San Francisco. For more on Kinsley, see: “J.A. Walker’s Early History of Edwards County” (edited by James C. Malin) in Kansas Historical Quarterly (Vol. 9, No. 3, August 1940, pp. 259-284).


Sold. Hammer: $500.00; Price Realized: $612.50.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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